The Lion and the Mouse

Assignment: Write a Science Fiction version of a Fairy Tale to discuss this week.
The Lion and the Mouse
by Melissa Moritz

As Ophelia rested in torpor for the better part of two centuries she dreamed of nothing but madness. The blood thinned over time and after years of sleep she would soon need to rise again to seek out the blood of life from mortal victims. An eerie coldness sank down into the crypt at night and without the moon to offer the intruder any light it was a formidable place to be.

“Why do these things always have to be so heavy?” Jonathan asked himself as he strained his back during another attempt to dislodge the lid of the stone sarcophagus. The delicately carved scrollwork on the front of the stone coffin promised him wealth for his trespassing efforts.

“One more go! Maybe I’ll find a ring or a gold necklace. Got to be something worth protecting in a crypt this extravagant” he said aloud to no one in particular. The feeble light of his battery-powered lantern cast sharp, angular shadows around the room.

As the stone lid crashed to the floor beyond the sarcophagus, Jonathan winced. He knew that no one would be in the cemetery this late at night, but he still hated to make so much noise. Risk was a part of this business though and he thought he knew all of the dangers involved.

The site of a woman dressed in rotting, old clothing and fine jewels should have been exciting for the grave robber but something was drastically wrong. Ophelia Reynard was in pristine condition. Her skin appeared soft and supple though very fair. Waves of luscious dark brown hair cascaded around her shoulders. She looked quite alive.

Taken aback by the local superstitions, Jonathan lost his mind for a moment. There was a scream, most likely his own but he did not remember trying to make any noise as he backed away in fear.

After a few minutes of collecting himself, Jonathan came back across the room to the stone coffin. His hands shook as he tried to pry off an onyx and silver ring from the woman’s finger. Ophelia’s hand grasped his wrist violently. Her eyes flickered open and a wicked smile crept across her face as her fangs prepared to sink into a vital artery.

“Hey! Let go of me! I didn’t know you were still… alive in there,” Jonathan hollered in a terrified but angry voice. “I… I could help you!” he stammered.

In a heavily accented voice, the dead woman replied, “You? Help me? Truly absurd,” she chuckled but released his wrist none-the-less.

“Thank you,” the grave robber whispered as he rubbed his sore wrist. He backed away, his eyes full of panic. He was in such a hurry to escape the graveyard that he forgot his lantern and equipment.

A fortnight had passed and the grave robber could not forget about the other fine tombs in the graveyard. He had learned his lesson and chose to go closer to sunrise, assured of his safety. Jonathan did not intend to go anywhere near the Reynard crypt that morning.

As the grave robber quietly made his way past the many markers and statuary, a dark form under a stone bench caught his eye. His fingers crossed his chest and he said an involuntary prayer out of reflex before going to investigate.

The dead woman, Ophelia, lay in heap next to the bench. Her withering dress was stained with blood. A large, wooden stake protruded from her chest.

The sun would soon rise and finish her off Jonathan knew as he turned away to make a distance between them. The thought of his promise to her stopped him. He turned back and knelt by the unconscious woman.

Ophelia awoke to see the grave robber nervously smiling. In his shaking hands he held the stake, pointed away from her. “You were right. You did help me.”

“For sparing my life,” he replied.