By the pricking of my fingers ...

    Her eyes peered into the shadows. At first, she saw nothing, but her fingers suddenly felt as if tiny needles pressed into them. She knew it to be sign of supernatural evil lurking nearby, her fingers pricking on other occasions whenever demonic spirits wandered the halls of B√§renthoren castle seeking redemption or revenge.
    By the pricking of my fingers, something wicked nearby lingers.  
    The only object that demanded her attention near the George III globe was the painting her mother had purchased from Augustus of Poland only two years before in 1741—a work by the Dutch painter Vermeer entitled, Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window. Nothing unusual there. But then, about to turn away from the painting and search further, Freddie noticed a frighteningly odd thing:
    The image of the girl in the painting had vanished!
    The princess blinked ... Nothing changed.
    Only a dark silhouette remained, and she believed it a trick of light. Or was she going mad? She knew of elixirs that tortured the victim’s mind with apparitions before they died. 
    Are you trying to poison me now, mother?
    Before she could consider it further, she heard the titter once more, cold and low, poking out from that dark corner just below the painting … and something moved, I know something moved. Fight or flight, Freddie? She saw a roundness, a vague shape take form, and she imagined a head nearly a foot above the floor.
    But no, it wasn’t her imagination.
    The shape floated towards her out of the shadows, slowly, and what emerged into the light appeared like nothing she had ever seen: a thing so twisted, so out of place in her world, in any world dreamed by women or men or God that it made her doubt her own sanity even more.
    The upper body of the unholy thing hovered in the air above the floor without legs or support, drifting into the light. Freddie recognized the muddy blond hair pulled back from her forehead, the thin coils of curl, the colors of the old dress, and that face now dour and smirking at Freddie, as if it knew a dark secret or a wicked event that would soon harm her more than she could imagine.

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