This is an account of a graveyard incident which took place shortly before Mr Desmond Tiny and his Little People returned to the Cirque Du Freak in the
second book of the
series, "The Vampire's Assistant".
The text was found in a hollow skull in the cave of a sorceress called Evanna. It was written in blood on dried frog skin.
A long white worm crawled across Mr Tiny's right wellington boot. The short man in the yellow suit watched quietly as it crept across the toes of the green boot. When it got to the end it stopped and raised its head, searching for a direction. Mr Tiny bent, picked up the worm, then flicked it away over the graveyard wall. Chuckling, he turned back towards the grave and ducked quickly as a load of damp earth came shooting towards him.
"Careful, fools!" he barked at the two creatures in the open grave. "Do you know how difficult it is to clean this thing?" He brushed down the lapels of his smart yellow suit and tutted.
In the grave, two small creatures in dark blue hooded robes gazed up at their master and said nothing, waiting for him to speak again.
"Go on," he sighed, stepping aside so he was out of their range. "Continue."
At Mr Tiny's order, the Little People bent and began digging again. They used only their wide, grey hands, shovelling the dirt out of the grave with their fingers, swiftly working their way down to the coffin at the bottom of the grave.
Mr Tiny sniffed the air and sighed happily. He loved the smell of graveyards. The stench of rotting flesh, decaying bones and fetid earth was perfume to his nostrils. Sometimes he wished he was capable of falling asleep, just so he could sleep in a graveyard and wake up to that wonderfully rancid smell. But Mr Tiny was not a person for sleeping. He was forever awake, forever vigilant, forever fiddling with the living and the dead.
There was a dull thumping sound: the Little People had dug through to the lid of the coffin. Mr Tiny waited patiently for them to clear it, then ordered them out of the grave. Jumping down, he tapped three times on the head of the coffin, then three times on its base. He jammed one foot against either wall of the grave, then whistled softly. The wood of the coffin lid trembled, then crumbled to dust and fell away, revealing the corpse within.
The dead body was that of a man. He had died only a couple of weeks earlier and was in relatively good condition. Mr Tiny reached down, picked him up with one powerful hand, and tossed him to the two Little People standing above him.
"He'll do," Mr Tiny said, climbing out of the grave. The Little People laid the body down next to the four others they had dug up since coming to the graveyard, then quickly filled in the grave and got busy digging on the next one.
Mr Tiny studied the five bodies, all different shapes and sizes. He preferred dead people to the living. There was a strange beauty in death. Living people were always moving and talking and fidgeting. Only when they were dead could you get a good long close-up look at them and appreciate the intricate wonder of their design.
While Mr Tiny was brooding upon the differences between life and death, the heart-shaped watch he always carried with him chimed softly. Glancing down, he checked the time, then nodded understandingly. "How time flies," he sighed.
Stepping away from the bodies, Mr Tiny spread his arms wide, threw his head back, and opened his mouth and eyes wide. The heart-shaped watch began to glow a dark, pearly red. As it grew in strength, Mr Tiny's hair changed colour, from a pale white to a vibrant red. His suit also reddened, and his skin, and soon only his green wellington boots retained their original colour.
When the small man was a pillar of burning, glowing redness, the air in front of him shimmered. A doorway formed, with jagged red edges, and a procession of Little People - just like the two digging in the graveyard - passed through. The land they came from was grey and cold, like their skin, but they took no notice of the change in surroundings, merely stepped through the doorway and circled their demon-red master.
Once the last of the Little People had crossed over into the graveyard, the doorway dulled and disappeared. The angry red glow seeped from Mr Tiny, first from his suit and hair, then from his skin, finally from his heart-shaped watch. His mouth closed and his eyes narrowed. He let out a hot breath of air, shivered, then glanced around at the ten silent Little People.
"So much time to play with," he murmured. "So few servants. Ah well: life would be dull if it was easy."
Clapping his hands, he told the two diggers to quit their task and join the others. When the dozen Little People were standing around him, he turned slowly, casting an eye over them all, and nodded approvingly. He stopped when his eyes alighted on one of the Little People. "You," he grunted. "Step forward." The Little Person obeyed, and took three step forwards, limping slightly on his left leg.
Mr Tiny spotted the limp, recognised the Little Person, and recalled the vital role he was to play in the grander scheme of things. Stooping, he locked gazes with the green-eyed creature for several long, searching seconds. The Little Person gazed back emotionlessly.
"Do you know who you are?" Mr Tiny asked. "Do you remember our deal? Do you know what you have to do?"
The Little Person said nothing, but shook his head slowly, from left to right.
"Good," Mr Tiny beamed. "This is not the time for you to know. But bear this in mind: when we get to the Cirque Du Freak - which is where we are going - I want you to keep a very close watch on the one they call ... Darren Shan. Understand?"
The Little Person paused, filed the name away, then nodded obediently.
"Excellent!" Mr Tiny rubbed his hands together, stepped through the ranks of Little People, and stood looking down at the five corpses on the damp night grass. "Now," he mused aloud, "I wonder what we should do with these ..."
For a moment he hesitated, mulling it over, and then, with a grin born of an inhuman soul, he turned to the nearest Little People, produced a knife and fork out of thin air, and asked conversationally, "Torso or limb?"