“Sylvia, I need to make you a vampire.”
The resigned seriousness of the Queen’s statement came just as unexpected as the words themselves. Not that the conversation thus far had been much of a casual one. During their time together, the Queen chatted about how the Keepers of centuries ago kidnapped her to be a lowly child servant. How, as years passed, they noticed she held an aptitude for magic equal to their own (seeing things like a mop and bucket float around by themselves to clean rooms will do that). How a young Keepers apprentice and very mortal Gwendoloena first visited this castle to demand its inhabitants surrender or face death. How surprised she was to find the king quite familiar – her own older brother. How she switched loyalties, the king died during battle, and she used her magic to win the kingdom’s struggle for independence. How the Keepers divvied out the vampire curse before tucking their tails to run away and the kingdom’s people begged their heroine to assume the throne’s empty seat. Still, none of that strange history could have prepared Sylvia for such an abrupt non-transition as this. “Come again, your Majesty?”
Gwendoloena nodded toward her. “Your condition is worsening. And I have no other way to save you.”
“But Uncle Albert made the tablets I can eat—
“They won’t keep you alive, not for long. And you may think it is only the hunger of a zombie growing stronger but,” she motioned toward Sylvia’s hand, “look closer at the finger where the thorn in the swamp pricked you.”
Sylvia rose the hand up, recoiling at the rotting skin covering her middle finger from tip to the first knuckle. The rest of the hand itself upon closer inspection held varying shades of sickly gray and yellowish green down to the wrist before her normal rosy flesh took over.
“It’s spreading,” explained Gwendoloena. “Not that my state is one of life but it is a way to buy more time until you can be healed.”
“When the Keepers’ puzzle is completed – and then destroyed. I still believe that will remove this kingdom’s curse.”
“Okay then, if it’s the only way.” Sylvia closed her eyes. “I’m ready.”
“Very well. What type of cookies would you like?”
The eyes popped back open. “Cookies?”
“And tea,” said the Queen in a tone that suggested this might be an even more important component than the first. “I’ll need to make you some tea as well.”
Sylvia held her mouth open for a moment, still certain this illness must be affecting her hearing. “But your Majesty, I can’t eat anything except the tablets—
“You’ll be able eat these,” assured Gwendoloena, making her way to the door. “Though I must admit, the baking recipe for becoming a vampire is limited to only two flavors.” She turned her head back to Sylvia. “Sugar cookie or chocolate chip?”
The Queen gave a single, almost solemn nod. “Very well.” She rushed out the door, leaving Sylvia alone in the room and completely confused.