It was New Year`s Eve and dreadfully cold. The snow fell quickly in the darkening night as evening came on. In the cold and the darkness, there walked along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded and with no shoes on her feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true, but they were much too large for her feet. Her mother had used those slippers ’til then, but the poor little girl lost them running across the street when two carriages were passing quickly by. When she looked for them, one was not to be found, and a boy grabbed the other and ran away with it. So on the little girl went with her bare feet, that were red and blue with cold.
In an old apron that she wore she had bundles of matches and also carried a bundle in her hand. No one had bought so much as a bunch all long day and no one had given her even a ha’penny.
Poor little girl! Shivering with cold and hunger she crept along, feeling miserable.
The snowflakes fell on her long hair, which hung in pretty curls about her neck, but she did not think of her beauty or of the cold. Lights shone from every window, and she could smell the beautiful aroma of roast goose and turkey being cooked in all the houses… for the New Year’s festivities had begun. She could not bear to think about it. Honey roast hams, and sizzling bacon rolled around spiced sausages (pigs in blankets they were called by the wealthy who could afford them); game pie, pork pie, pheasant and rabbit, duck pâté and a host of other succulent rich savouries.
In a corner between two houses, she sat down. She tucked her little feet in underneath herself, but still she grew colder and colder. She did not dare to go home, as she had not sold any matches and could not bring any money. Her father would certainly would not be pleased. Besides, it was cold enough at home, as they had only a roof above them and that was full of holes.
Now her little hands were nearly frozen with cold. She thought that maybe a match might warm her fingers if she lit it, so at last she drew one out. She struck it: and oooh! How it blazed and burned! It gave out a warm, bright flame like a little candle, as she held her hands over it. A wonderful little light it was. It really seemed to the little girl as if she sat in front of a great iron stove with a lovely fire inside.
So nicely it burned that the little girl stretched out her feet to warm them. How comfortable she was! But then the flame went out, the stove vanished, and nothing remained but the little burned match in her hand.
She rubbed another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall she could suddenly see right through it into the room beyond. A snow-white cloth was spread upon the table, on which beautiful china plates were laid, while a stuffed roast goose cooked away and gave off a most delicious smell. And what was more delightful still, and wonderful, the goose jumped from the dish, with knife and fork still in its breast, and waddled along the floor straight towards the little girl.
But the match went out then, and nothing was left to her but the thick, damp wall.
She lit another match. And now she was under a most beautiful Christmas tree, larger and far more prettily decorated than the one she had seen through the glass doors at the rich merchant’s house. Hundreds of candles were burning on the green branches, and little painted figures, like she had seen in shop windows, looked down on her. The child stretched out her hands to them, but then the match went out.
From the distance in the darkness there came a mischievous cackle. But when the girl strained to look – there was no one there: only the shadows and the night.
Still, looking up along the arch of the alleyway, to the market square and the lights of the big public Christmas tree which burned higher and higher into the sky… she saw one candle light fall from the branch, forming a long trail of fire.
“Now someone is dying,” murmured the child softly, for her grandmother, the person who had loved her the most, and who was now dead, had told her that whenever a star falls a soul goes up to Heaven.
She struck yet another match against the wall. It lit and in its brightness her dear old grandmother appeared before her, beaming love and kindness.
“Oh, grandmother,” cried the child, “take me with you. I know you will go away when the match burns out. You, too, will vanish, like the warm stove, the splendid festive feast and the beautiful Christmas tree.” But when the match died away, only an evil cackle remained, quite close by this time.
The girl lit another match and allowed its warmth to fill her soul with radiant warmth. But when the flame went out the girl could feel hot breath on her neck, and fingers curling around her shoulder. “mine now” a guttural voice whispered in joyful glee.
The girl was so woozy she hardly felt scared, but to make sure her grandmother would not disappear, she lit a whole bundle of matches against the wall this time.
And they burned with such a brilliant light that it became brighter than the midday sun. In her mind`s eye, her grandmother had never looked so grand and beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms and both flew joyfully together, climbing higher and higher, far above the earth, away from cold and hunger.. away to Heaven, the little child hoped.
But the vicious imp beside the child held her by the throat, by one hand, and long fingers grasp, and turned her round by the neck so she could stare into the child`s glazed over eyes. The child murmured a word and smiled.. “Grandmother?” But the vicious little old woman merely grinned and slashed once with her other hand. The knife danced in the glorious blaze of the match light, and sliced the match girl`s throat open from ear to ear so that her head pulled back from her neck, to lean awkwardly looking the wrong way, down her back. Blood pumped from her wound and formed a rapidly growing, steaming puddle of crimson on the ice and snow covered cobblestones.
“Now she is mine.” The vicious female imp leaned in close and placed her mouth over the wound and drank her fill in great gulps of passion and hunger.
They found her the next morning, slumped against the wall, with pale bloodless white cheeks, and a sweet smiling mouth – frozen to death on the very first day of the New Year. A gaping wound revealed yet another dead victim of `the Beast`.
“She wanted to warm herself, the poor little thing,” the people of Whitechapel said.
“I wonder why she looks so happy?” some people asked.
Good people might have imagined what beautiful things she had seen, and how happily she had gone traipsing with her grandmother into the life beyond.
No one knew of the vicious little bitch who had stolen her life, and dragged this child’s soul down to hell and eternal torment. No one saw the imp place her long clawed fingers to the child’s face and twist the silent horror filled scream into a mimicry smile of peace and tranquillity…so the little match girl appeared happy at last.
No one saw that night, as the imp changed shape, just like she had done so many times before… and no one watched the thing walk away, looking the very aspect of the little dead girl, dress and matches and all.
That night.. the first of the New Year, the vicious little bitch would kill again. And when she was done, the doppelganger set lighted matches under the finger nails of its victim; and jabbed red hot lucifer’s of spent light into the sightless eyeballs, to create little carnivals of delight: and the imprisoned agony of eternal unrest.
The vicious little bitch was very old you see, and knew how to play a merry jig with the dead.
Another `soon to be` victim of the night, of a punter scoring some cheap fun?
This little RPG tale was actually played out using rules (above) created by Stephen Gilbert.
End Comments. I figured if Seth Grahame Smith could rewrite Jane Austen`s Pride and Prejudice – and add Zombies to it, I could rewrite “The Little Match Girl”, and add a bit of horror hehe. I hope you enjoy my macabre little Victorian tale. The idea was totally inspired by one of Jez’s throw-away comments about an unresolved Black Museum case file. Well, I thought I`d just fill in a few blanks **grins**