Lawrence Kansas, 2007
The temperature is burning hot and little Rowy knew only one way to cool down. She goes into her bedroom and opens the little pig that sits on her nightstand; she takes every penny, a whole five dollars.
She creeps to her mother’s bedroom and finds her mother fast asleep. She bites on her bottom lip and contemplates her choices; she can wake her mother and risk her saying ‘no’, or she could just go and hope she doesn’t awaken before she gets back.
Rowy chooses the latter option as she puts on her shoes and leaves the house.
Rowy sings to herself as she skips down the road to the ice cream shop. As she enters the room the air-cons instantly cool her skin. The man behind the counter knows her well.
“Hi Rowaelin,” the man says, she smiles at the man as she skips to the counter, “the usual?”
Rowaelin nods and goes on tiptoes to look over the counter.
The man, Wilson, grabs his ice-cream scoop and scoops two scoops of triple chocolate deluxe into a waffle cone, he hands Rowaelin the ice-cream and she hands him her money, telling him to put the change into the tip jar.
She walks over to an empty booth and sits as she eats her ice-cream, tapping her feet to the beat of the song on the radio.
And that’s when she walks in. The woman wears a long-sleeved, turtlenecked shirt and cargo pants, Rowaelin thought it strange, but her mother taught her not to judge, so she looked away and continued about her business.
“Hello,” the woman smiles, walking to Rowaelin’s booth, “may I sit?”
Rowaelin looks to the woman and then she looks around the shop, despite the midday heat, it isn’t particularly busy, there are seats still available at the counter and empty booths by the door.
But Rowaelin nods her head respectfully, the woman sits across from Rowaelin and smiles widely.
“I love your pretty dress,” she compliments, Rowaelin looks down to her red, puffy dress, “How old are you?”
“Eleven,” Rowaelin replies, smiling at the woman.
“And where are your parents?” the woman asks, looking around the shop.
“My mommy is at home,” Rowaelin says, swinging her feet as she bites into the cone, “She’s sleeping.”
“Are you telling me that you are here all alone, and no one knows where you are?” the woman whispers, leaning closer to Rowaelin.
Rowaelin nods her head.
“Come on sweetie,” the woman says louder as she stands, “let’s take you home, your mother is worried.”
Rowaelin finishes her ice-cream and then looks to Wilson, she smiles and waves good-bye and he waves back as he cleans his ice-cream glasses.
Rowaelin takes the woman’s hand, convinced that her mother must have sent her, but when the woman begins to lead Rowaelin in the opposite direction she begins to worry.
“My home is the other way,” she says, trying to pull her hand from the woman’s grip, “You said you were taking me home!”
Rowaelin begins to struggle and a car pulls up alongside them, the woman picks Rowaelin up and shoves her into the vehicle. Inside a man puts his arms around Rowaelin and presses a cloth to her mouth.
Rowaelin’s muscles become hard to move, she whimpers as her vision blurs, fear is the last thing she feels before her world is blackened.
Harlem, New York. Two days later.
Rowaelin awakens in a small room, she lays at the feet of another woman; this one is tall with pale skin, black hair and red eyes.
“Where am I?” she asks, her hands shaking in fear, “Who… who are you?”
“Shhh,” the woman coo’s, kneeling down to Rowaelin, “Oh my dear, it’s all going to be alright, I am your Mistress, my name is Thana.”
“I wa-want my mommy,” Rowaelin whimpers, moving away from the scary woman.
Thana’s eyes narrow and become redder.
“You don’t have a mommy anymore,” she hisses, grabbing Rowaelin by the arm and pulling her close, “You have a Mistress, your mommy sold you to me. You have to behave now, do you understand?”
Thana smiles as Rowaelin nods her head, Rowaelin’s heart races as two of the woman’s teeth sharpen to a point.
“Good girl,” Thana hisses.
And then the woman pushes Rowaelin back, into the arms of another, larger and far more powerful monster who bites the small child’s neck. Rowaelin can feel teeth in her neck, pointed teeth like the ones she saw in Thana’s mouth. Rowaelin screams in pain as her blood is slowly drained from her body.