It had started when Alison Korjensky was only seven years old. And had learned what the word 'defenestration' meant.
"There are actually people who push other people out of windows?" Alison cried.
It was brilliant! She could just picture an elegant-looking lady, skirts ballooning around her, shrieking with a posh-person shriek as she was thrown out the window.
"Course!" said Todd, her schoolyard friend. "My mum says it happens all the time in Prague."
That was the moment Alison knew.
She needed to go to Prague.
So she begged and she pleaded and she told her mummy and daddy that she'd be really, really good, and that she'd do all her homework and all her chores forever, if they just let her go to Prague. Because Prague was brilliant, and people pushed other people out of windows, there!
"I don't think they do that anymore, Alison," Mummy said.
"I don't think you'd want to see it if it did happen," Daddy muttered.
But by the summer holiday, they caved, bought some plane tickets, booked some hotels, and Alison finally — finally — set out for the most brilliant place on Earth!
A place where the streets were made of rubber cobblestones, and there were all these really tall buildings with high-up windows, and everywhere you went, you'd see people pushing other people out of the window! And then the people would just bounce off the cobblestones and laugh with delight, and race off to do it again!
Yep. Alison was certain. That was definitely what Prague would be like.
She wound up being extremely upset when it wasn't.
Nope. Prague was just a rainy, miserable, humid place where the streets were just normal hard stone, the people didn't wear flouncy posh-person skirts, and no one — no one — threw anyone else out the window!
Alison went to the Old Town Astronomical Clock.
Alison went on a river cruise of the Vlatava River.
Alison went to the zoo and the sweets-shop and the Charles Bridge.
No one got thrown out of a single window!
"Maybe we should take Alison to see the window where the Defenestration of Prague actually happened," Mummy suggested.
Daddy leaned in, closer. "Kirsten," he whispered. "It's just a window."
"Well, maybe it'll make her happy!" Mummy insisted.
Alison was happy!
This was a window that people had actually been thrown out of! In the middle of a huge castle, probably all filled with people who loved tossing other people out of windows! Alison had to see a defenestration, there!
An hour later, Alison found out…
It was just a bloody window.
"That's rubbish!" Alison shouted. "Where do you go to see people throwing people out of windows, here? That's the whole bloody point of Prague in the first place!"
Mummy and Daddy tried to calm her down.
But stuff them!
Alison was going to wander around this castle until she found someone throwing someone else out the window. Didn't matter how long she had to sit and wait, she wasn't leaving until she'd seen a defenestration!
She ran off.
Three hours later, the sun had set, and Alison was lost.
Alison looked around herself. Shuddering. It was a really big castle, and it was really a bit scary in the dark. And maybe she shouldn't have hidden whenever anyone had come round to look for her, before, because now she was starting to think she didn't care about people being thrown out a window, she just wanted Mummy and Daddy to find her and take her home.
"Sweet little toy," came an English accent, to Alison's right. "Lost and scared in the dark."
There, standing a short ways off, body covered in shadows, was a grown-up woman with deathly-pale skin, long brown hair, and a puffy-looking skirt. She advanced on Alison, rubbing her hands together, a hungry look in her eyes.
"I met a shiny little thing, once," said the woman. Leaning down, studying Alison more carefully. "You'll meet her, too. In the future. You'll be her little toy. She'll take you out and play with you, like a dolly."
Alison backed away, her heart racing. There was something really scary about this lady.
"I can scream really loud," Alison warned.
"She left me behind, see," said the scary lady, with a pout. "Ran away. I want her back — my shiny, pretty thing. I want to make her dark, like me. Want to tear at her until the shininess bursts, and evil comes pouring out."
Alison turned to run, but the scary lady caught Alison up with a too-cold hand, dangling her in midair.
Alison kicked and hit and struggled, but the scary lady didn't mind.
"But she won't come," the scary lady said. "Not for poor little Drusilla. So I've decided to break apart her favorite toys."
"Get away from Alison, Drusilla," someone with an American accent demanded, from just behind the scary lady.
The scary lady turned, and there, standing in the room with them, holding a wooden stake, was another grown-up. This one with brown hair and flashing blue eyes.
Drusilla frowned. Studying her.
"You're shiny, too," Drusilla said. "But not like she is. There's no darkness in you." She gave a small pout. "Where is my shiny little pretty one?"
The nice-looking grown-up laughed. "Right now? Down there, creating an angry mob. She doesn't know you're here — and it stays that way."
Drusilla whined, like a nursery school girl who hadn't gotten her way. "Not fair! Not fair! I want my pretty little thing! I want—"
"To torture her?" said the nice-looking grown-up woman. "Mess with her head until she's guilty enough to stop the regeneration as you kill her, so you can turn her into a vampire?" She shook her head. "I'm not stupid, Drusilla. I'm not letting you within five hundred feet of her." Muttering under her breath, "She's got a massive enough guilt-complex as it is."
Drusilla yanked up Alison a little higher. "Then I tear apart her little dolly!"
"And the moment you do," said the nice-looking grown-up, "I'm throwing the laws of time out the window, and staking you through the heart." She advanced towards Drusilla. "Now let Alison go."
But Alison had stopped struggling.
She'd gotten a toothpick from a restaurant, earlier. It was made of wood. And if this was a vampire, then of course Alison wouldn't hurt her by hitting and kicking! That was thick. The way to make vampires go away was…
Alison jabbed the wooden toothpick into Drusilla's chest.
Drusilla screamed, dropping Alison to the ground and stumbling backwards. She yanked the toothpick out, then noticed it had only just broken the surface of her skin and wasn't lethal at all… but then the nice-looking grown-up rammed into Drusilla, driving her backwards, and with one huge shove…
Threw her out the window.
Drusilla toppling through the air, and landing in the middle of a group of very angry, yelling people, all shouting for justice to come to the child-kidnappers, and demanding an 'inquisitor'… whatever that was.
The nice-looking grown-up stared out the window, a moment, a self-satisfied smile on her face.
Then turned back to Alison. "You okay?"
Alison was just staring at this amazing grown-up person, who'd done the most truly brilliant thing ever. Who'd made the whole trip to Prague and the whole holiday completely worth it!
"You threw her out the window!" Alison cried. She raced over, hugged the grown-up nice-person tight as she could. "You're my hero forever!"
Seo, standing outside of Oliver, held a newspaper with tomorrow's date on it. A newspaper declaring the death of her best friend, Alison Korjensky, at seven-years-old, who'd been discovered in Prague Castle, drained of blood, and with two puncture wounds on her neck.
"Nice job with the angry mob thing," said Dawn, approaching.
Seo looked up. Newspaper crinkling in her hands. "Did it work?"
"Yep," said Dawn, with a grin. "Alison's safe and sound, with her family. Those vampires got swallowed up by the mob. And history's back on track."
Seo grinned, too.
Then they turned, to go back inside their ship.
"Who were those vampires, anyways?" asked Seo, as she entered. "I never got a good look."
Dawn shrugged. "No one important," she said. As she shut and locked Oliver's door.