Late September, 2012

Mourning the death of summer, the roundabout groaned in the wind as the young lass waded through the shin-high grass. The merry freedom of these few weeks away from school was dead and gone, snuffed out by the application of a school uniform, and due to the lack of kids using the common, the groundskeeper acted with no sense of urgency and had left the grass unattended for some five weeks now, making it difficult to distinguish playground from hedgerow, and offering its patrons a glimpse into a world without people.

This lonely feeling had become a staple of the girl's afternoons ever since she'd been deemed old enough to make her own way home from school. Giving her a freshly cut key and showing her the operating procedure of the gas oven, her mother had informed her that, as money was a little bit tight, being able to work a few extra hours each day could make all the difference.

This was more than okay with Eleanor who, as a "responsible young woman of eleven", as her mother had phrased it, was no longer obliged to spend upwards of thirty minutes shivering in the winter cold outside her school after closing, while she awaited a parent's arrival.

The heightened sense of responsibility did nothing, however, to assuage her unease about walking alone through an overgrown patch of land so close to the church and its grounds' permanent residents.

Attempting to distract herself from the the unease, Eleanor was plucking plump ripe blackberries from the hedgerow dividing Boarell Common from the churchyard, and their juice was steadily staining her fingers a deep purple-red.

The man-thing approached silently while fingers of green grasped desperately for purchase at his hem as he glode through the overgrowth. The girl turned as he reached her, and the last thing she would remember of her life as Eleanor Beeforth was the white plastic mask whose proboscis protruded grotesquely from its center, woollen noodles of pale hair tumbling down around its temples; the mask, whose ostensibly cheery grin belied an undertow of soul-wrenching, otherworldly horror.

The authorities discovered the body of Eleanor Beeforth, who is now interred within the earth neighbouring her friends' summer playground, nestled like a lamb amidst the grass. The blackberries, crushed beneath a pair of dark dress shoes, the officers first mistook for blood.

It turned out that her corpse was unharmed, unmolested, completely pristine. No cause of death would ever be identified for any of this person's victims.

It had simply appeared that the young girl's number was up.