There are few professions in life that are more trusted and beloved than the humble Lollipop Lady.
Their sole purpose is to ensure a safe passage across busy roads for our children. A watchful protector dressed in neon yellow, wielding their lollipop in hand like an enchanted staff.
Mildred was one of these bright yellow angels. She had been at this particular post for a little under a year now, but for over twenty years, Mildred had been the port in the storm which allowed children to go and learn and then return home to their family.
She had also been responsible for nineteen deaths of children.
Never staying long in any one place, she had pretty much covered the whole length and breadth of the country. Once she had performed her grisly deed, she upped sticks and left, only stopping moving when she found the right place to begin her nefarious work again.
It wasn’t just Mildred’s nomadic tactics which allowed her to slip the net of capture time and again though.
Think of the stereotypical grandmother. Apron permanently tied around their ample midriff, always smelling of delicious confectionary, with rosy red cheeks and wanting nothing more than hugs and good times. That – on the outside – was Mildred.
The kids from every town where she had made tragedy tangible, absolutely adored her. The pockets of her hi-viz oversized jacket always crammed full of butterscotch, and never did the smile slip from her intricate mask.
No-one ever suspected her. Who would ever think that the Lollipop Lady – that lovely woman who always crafted those mouthwatering brownies for the Bake Sale’s and charity events – could be at the fulcrum of such evil?
But it was her alright, and as soon as one child was dispatched, her mind would yearn for another.
Her thoughts were not just hardwired for murder though. She was always careful. Talking to everyone, but never getting too close. Building rapport, but never friendships. If you were ever unlucky enough to be a parent in a town where Mildred’s presence blighted the landscape – you would say that she was a wonderful woman who loved kids.
You could almost appreciate the genius of her social interactions and escapism, if you overlooked the fact they were all in aid of feeding her bloodlust.
And it was exactly this that was the key to her murderous longevity.
You see, Mildred could not stop. She needed to feed, and it could only be children that would satisfy her longing. Every fibre in her body would slowly turn and cry out for the only thing that would sate the thunderous appetite inside.
Mildred may have been a genius in terms of her careful measures, but the lynchpin of her masterplan was that she had not aged for thirty years. Bitten when she was in her late fifties, she had stayed in this guise of ‘warm grandmother’ since then.
Anyone looking for her for murders a decade ago would inevitably be looking for a geriatric, but Mildred stayed the same. So she just had to stay careful, and she could continue to travel up and down the country, littering these beautiful towns with heartache as she went.
This town was no different.
She had put down just enough roots to establish trust, Working every day in her hallowed capacity, kids soon started making a beeline for her. The surefire sign that she was close to dinner time was when parents would relinquish their grips on their children’s hands when their pre-pubescent objects of affection clapped eyes on Mildred. The kids would run to her, gorge themselves on foil wrapped sweets and always a hug.
Soon. As their tiny arms were wrapped around her, she closed her eyes and conjured up images of previous kills. She was struggling to keep her excitement in check, it was as if she could feel the warm blood rushing around their bodies.
Mildred had already picked the night when it would happen. She had even picked the kid. This needy, greedy little bastard who would always wilfully ignore anything his parents said. Mildred would always offer a chuckle and some inane comment like “boys will be boys!” He was perfect, and the fact he was a little overweight meant just that little extra to guzzle on.
Soon enough, the school’s end of term disco was upon the town. It was a pretty big deal for all concerned, and Mildred of course was involved. Runs to the supermarket for cups, decoration-making, and of course – being a chaperone.
The night was going well. The DJ was playing all of the favourites, and the usual tradition where the centre of the dance floor was no-mans land was again in place. Boys too shy to talk to girls, girls giggling about the boys but no interaction extended over the floor.
Crucially though, the few parents who were here had also done the same, congregating in the corner, and trying to make the best of the situation. They were happily letting Mildred do all the work, plus it left the parent’s consciences intact as Mildred just loved the children.
So when Mildred’s chosen kid wouldn’t leave her alone all night and insisted he go with her everywhere, the three or four other adults paid it no mind.
They would remember it when they were quizzed by police later that night.
Mildred had been milling around, being her usual busy self, so when she made herself scarce, no-one batted an eyelid.
Everything was going according to plan.
Of course, the main course wanted to go with her to the back end of the school to ‘pick up more cups.’
She had banked on it.
His eyes, when it finally dawned on him that he was going to die, was almost as satisfying as the hot liquid which gushed from his neck. She grabbed his head to savour his eyes, which had fixed on the last emotion he had felt – fear.
No drop had been wasted, and Mildred felt more alive than she had ever done before. She would always forget just how amazing this felt, until it happened again. This intoxicating feeling would stay with her for weeks.
Mildred dropped the now feather-light carcass of the young boy. Sucked dry of every last bit of moisture, he did not resemble anything like he had done five minutes before.
Mildred simply left everything and walked out the back door. She would leave everything in her temporary home too. She would just obtain some form of transport – which was always readily available for someone of her unique ‘talents,’ and go.
She would put distance between her and this town, and look for the next.
Every place needed a Lollipop Lady.