It was around ten o'clock when I made my move. I knew that Jack didn't take souls until eleven.
I knocked on the door to Lydia's bedroom, where she always did her paperwork. Before waiting for her to open up, I had thrown open the doors and went over to her desk, stumbling along the way. I fell at the foot of her chair.
"Miss!" she yelled, "What's wrong?" she asked, holding my arms to keep me steady. I felt dizzy. My head felt hazy. The image in front of me was blurry.
"Lydia..." I mumbled slowly, "Please. I need a carriage. I have to...get to Lucille's house."
"Lucille? Lucille Husting? The little girl?"
"But-" Lydia sighed and helped me up on my feet.
"Please Lydia," I begged. "It's an emergency."
Lydia glanced out the window before turning back to me and nodding.
"I understand. I will prepare a carriage immediately."
Lydia held my hand and accompanied me to the front door. I'm not sure how long it took, but the two of us eventually got downstairs. Due to my state of mind, my body felt lump and tired. Lydia had already called for one of the maids to prepare a carriage. And so, we began the ride to the Husting's house.
The Hustings were a long line of lords who served the royal family for generations. Their youngest daughter, Lucille, had been sick since she was born. I've forgotten the name of the disease, but it involves the blood not being able to stop bleeding. No doctors can help her. On top of that, she also caught consumption a while ago.
"Miss Alice, we're here."
My sleepy eyes were wide awake as soon as Lydia told me we had arrived. I shook my head to clear the drowsiness and stepped off with Lydia.
I walked over to the front door and waited for someone to open it.
"Uh...Alice?" Lydia asked.
"May I remind you it is the middle of the night? The Husting family does not know we are planning to come here. Therefore, I'm afraid...we must..." Lydia forced herself to swallow. "We must sneak instead if you wish to see Miss Lucille."
My jaw dropped open. Of course. I'm such an idiot. Coming at ten o'clock was literally asking for trouble. But...I couldn't gather the courage to face Jack until now.
"In that case, Lydia you stay here and guard."
"Of course-Wait a minute no! Miss I must come with you!" she hissed as loudly as she could. I shook my head and slowly backed away from her, holding my dress above the ground to make sure I won't trip.
"That'd take too long. I'll be back in twenty minutes," I said with a smile. I hope I'll be back in twenty minutes.
"Lydia! That's an order!" I hissed back at her, turning my head towards her one last time, before racing off to the backdoor of the mansion.
A few things I have to make clear first.
Number one. I have never broken into someone's mansion before. Mansions have guards and security systems. To be able to break into one would mean you were a high-class criminal with a lot of experience in breaking and entering.
Number two. I have never dared to go up against Jack before. Once I found out who he was and what he did for...for eternity, I decided it was best not to meddle with his affairs. I decided that much after I was ten years old; old enough to know that Death was an uncontrollable force that no mortal could ever harness or stop.
I hid behind a bush to avoid some of the guards that were walking this way.
After years of hearing names of people that would die within three days, I've finally had enough of sitting around and doing nothing. I have to use Jack to MY advantage instead of it being the other way around!
I opened a window and hopped in the mansion. As soon as I landed, I heard guards screaming behind me.
When I turned the other way to run...guards came towards me as well. I closed my eyes, waiting for the impact to hit me. The Fimlim name will be ruined. I'll probably be put into jail too.
"Hey! Guys!" one of the guards shouted, "Isn't that Lady Alice from the Fimlim household?"
I peeked open an eye and saw that they had immediately bowed and parted to form a small path which I could pass through. The guard that had spoken earlier (I think it was him) stood up and walked over to me.
"Lady Alice, we are very sorry for the inconvenience," he apologized, bowing down. "We did not expect you to be here at this hour, but I assume it has to do with Miss Lucille's sickness?"
I nodded. "Yes."
The guard talking to me stood up straight, nodding to me. He walked through the path that the guards had made.
"Please allow me to guide you to Miss Lucille's room."
I smiled and curtsied. "Thank you Mr..."
"Jomman. Jonas Jomman."
I followed Mr. Jomman through the crowd and upstairs to Lucille's room. Mr. Jomman seemed like a kind and understanding man. He was definitely old though. I've seen him guarding this mansion for many years.
Watching him filled my heart with sorrow. Will Jack soon ask me about this man too?
Mr. Jomman stopped in front of a door and slowly opened it.
"The young miss is still asleep," he reported. "I will leave you two alone," he said, lowering his head in respect. I lowered my head as well.
"Thank you for all your help Mr. Jomman. I do appreciate it."
I entered Lucille's room. Mr. Jomman closed the door behind me.
Just as Mr. Jomman had reported, Lucille was sound asleep. Shall I wake her up to alert her of what was going on? Or should I let her sleep. Let her sleep until Jack comes?
The moon shone brightly through the windows, illuminating the room that no candle was required to be able to see clearly.
I checked the clock on the mantle.
Ten minutes till eleven.
Ten minutes until Jack arrive.
I stood next to Lucille's bed. Her breathing was uneven. She seemed to be having trouble with it. Trouble with such a simple task...the task every human needs to complete to live.
Just as I was about to sit down on a chair, the windows opened themselves. There was no wind howling outside.
"Jack," I said plainly.
Jack looked surprised to see me there but nodded (as a greeting).
"Alice. Why are you here?" he asked.
Jack wore a different outfit when he came to take souls. Normally, I'd see him dressed in a black coat and funeral attire underneath. Now, he was wearing a black cloak and holding his scythe in front of him.
The sight of the scythe made me worried. It reminded me that this was Death I was picking a fight with.
"Jack," I said firmly. "I can't let you take her soul."
Jack lowered his head, covering his face in the shadow of his hood.
"Alice. I'm sorry it's her time to go."
"No it isn't!" I snapped. "Please...let her live a while longer. I'll do anything."
Jack suddenly raised his head eagerly and grinned.
I knew I had gotten his attention. I took in a deep breath and nodded. Even if it was my life, I would sacrifice it to save Lucille's.
Because Lucille...was so much like Katherine...
"Alice! Alice! Let's play hide and seek!"
I looked at the little girl at the foot of my chair and sighed.
"If I win, you have to bake me some chocolate cake. If you win, I'll play hide and seek with you as many times as you'd like today."
Katherine's green eyes brightened. Her brown curls were bobbing up and down from her excitement. She pulled on my arm as she hopped/skipped down the staircase with me.
If only I had spent more time with her.
If only I had known what was to come.
"Yes. Anything," I answered.
Jack took off his hood and stood in front of the window. He thought for a while before he clapped his hands in excitement like a small child.
"In that case, I want..."
"To use you as bait for demons!"
I almost fell onto the ground.
"Bait for demons?" I yelled in shock. "Why? What demons?"
Jack grinned and put a finger over my lips.
"Shh. Questions later. Now, will you agree to do it?"
I swatted his hand away from me before I nodded. Being used as a bait for demons won't definitely kill me. I have a pretty good chance of surviving...but a higher chance of being eaten alive.
"Yay! In that case, I'll give you a bonus!" Jack said with a wink. "If you survive after tonight, I'll cure Lucille's diseases!"
My eyes widened. "All of them?"
"All of them."
Jack placed a hand on his heart. "The Grim Reaper never goes back on his words."
I smiled. "A member of the Fimlim house never goes back on their word."
The two of us shook hands.
"Well then, we best be going before-"
"Wait!" I whispered. "I must speak with Lydia before I go with you. Could you meet me at the mansion? At one o'clock?" I asked.
Jack rolled his eyes but nodded in the end.
"Yeah yeah sure. Humans are all so troublesome."
Jack squated on the frame of the window.
"See you then!"
And he jumped off without another word, into the night.
I closed my eyes and slapped myself. Hard.
"Alice...what on Earth did you just agree to?"