The caretaker’s story

They closed the place after the riot. Within ten years the roof in the north wing had collapsed. After the fires I was hired to stop the vandalism and the theft. I chased out squatters and bums and freaks looking for kicks. I rehung the old doors and refitted iron bolts to them. Once the place was secure the job was easy. A bit of maintenance during the day, then I’d do my rounds before settling into my quarters for the night.

I had it pretty good until the day the locks jammed. Every one closed up as tight as if there never had been an opening. The power and phone lines went down. And from the exercise yard the dull echo of a slow march I’d grown used to turned to chaos and cries of vengeance.


One evening, while walking, I happened upon Cordelia’s MG near the lake. With the sun about to set it wasn’t the place to be. The paths there were unlit, the terrain unpredictable.

I called but there was no reply. Then I heard crackling undergrowth some distance away. I followed the noise until brambles blocked my path. The last rays of sun streaked the tops of the overhanging trees yellow, amber, red, then faded through indigo. I found a gap and pushed through, thorns dragging at my skin. Framed by barbed and twisted stems I watched the moon rise on her. She had undressed. On her marble skin fresh cuts showed clearly. I heard panting, saw her twitch.

I gasped.

Cordelia sniffed the air and turned. I glimpsed the face I knew for an instant—a look of pain and despair as she saw me in the moonlight. Then the change overtook her. It rippled through her and when she rose again she was the beast and I was helpless against her speed. Her power. The passion of her strike.

Now I go with her to the clearing when the moon is full. Never again shall we spend those nights apart.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (