Once upon a time, in a land only dissimilar to our own in the extent to which its name is Ireland, there lived a young gypsy girl called Jane. At the mere age of twelve, Jane was fascinated by the detailed complexities of nature, from the tuneful bleating of mountain sheep, to the pubescent mood swings of her pet squirrel; Ernie.
One day she was taking Ernie for a walk in the heights of the Irish Mountains.
“Jane,” said Ernie, stopping dead in his tracks. “I think we’re being watched.”
Jane looked around her and saw, a couple of yards up the track, a wisened old soothsayer staring down at them.
“Ur, hello,” said Jane nervously, her eyes fixed on the double barrelled shotgun held tightly in the soothsayer’s fist. “We were just taking a refreshing mountain walk.”
The soothsayer smiled at them, displaying a mouth full of yellow, cracked teeth.
“Thirsty work,” she croaked, “why don’t you come in and have a cup of tea?” She turned around and entered her caravan, which neither Jane or the narrator had noticed until this moment.
Jane was sceptical about entering but she had been walking a long time, so decided to enter anyway.
The inside of the caravan was dark, lit only by a low-burning candle in the corner.
“Bloody hell” muttered Ernie, who had entered behind her and was staring at the ominous, red stains that covered the ceiling, walls, floor, everywhere really. “Either that’s blood or she needs a new pack of red biros.”
“Well,” replied Jane, “the pen industry isn’t what it used to be.” She seated herself at a table and moved a variety of needles, knives and sacrificial apparatus to make room for the mug of tea the soothsayer placed before her.
“What’s up with him?” asked the old woman, pointing at Ernie, who was staring in disgust at the floor, where a man lay dead, a pool of congealed blood forming from a large hole in his chest.
“He has a sceptical mind,” Jane remarked, paying no heed to the body. “His into that Richard Dawkins stuff.”
“I know just what to do” said the soothsayer, picking up a box labelled ‘Rat Poison’ and pouring a decent portion into a bowel for Ernie. “This might be a bit stale,” she told him. “Haven’t had a small to medium sized mammal in here for a while.”
“Oh don’t worry about it,” remarked Ernie, tucking in. “I have a curious love for stale things.” He then dropped down dead.
“Now then young lady,” the soothsayer said to Jane “I’ve got a little problem, could you possibly help me with it?”
“Of course” replied Jane, how could she refuse a woman who had displayed such hospitality.
“I’m just going to need to harvest a bit of your blood, I drink it you see.” Even Jane could see this to be an odd request, but allowed the woman to stick a few needles in her and fill up some milk pales with her blood.
“That enough?” she asked. She was feeling a little dizzy now and expressed that feeling to the old woman.
“Dizzy aye?” I’ve got something to help with that. Just pass me that knife will you?”
Jane passed the knife and leaned back, watching as the woman approached.
“This’ll stop it,” she muttered kindly, before sliding the knife across Jane’s throat.