Chapter 4

Empath's personal journal, September 12.
This smurf had an unsettling feeling about this Vladimir Smurfula who paid us a visit last night during the first set of performances in the Smurfstock festival. For a Smurf who has supposedly lived for about one thousand years, something in the way his skin felt when this smurf touched him for a handshake felt deathly cold. But what was even more unsettling was that Smurfette seemed to be attracted to this Vladimir Smurfula. This smurf knows she has the right to choose whom she wishes to be with, whether it's for a friendly or a romantic encounter, but this smurf still feels the need to protect Smurfette and make sure she isn't taken advantage of even by a nightly visitor. Right now, this smurf must check in on Smurfette, for this smurf has not seen her at the breakfast line bright and early like she normally does, nor has any other Smurf. She may not appreciate what this smurf is doing, but this smurf cares for her too much to not even bother finding out.

"Smurfette!" a familiar voice called. "Smurfette! It is time for breakfast!"
It was now morning, and Empath was knocking on Smurfette's door because she had not shown up for the breakfast line like she usually had done. And now it seemed as if she wasn't even answering Empath's knocking. He had a feeling something was wrong with her and took a chance of entering her house to find out.
"Smurfette, are you there?" he asked, directing his voice toward the ceiling. "It is Empath."
"Empath, will you please smurf out of my house and leave me alone?" Smurfette replied from her bedroom, sounding very weak.
"This smurf is very concerned for you, Smurfette, as are your fellow Smurfs," Empath stated. "You have not shown up for breakfast, and Greedy can't keep holding it for you."
"He can smurf my breakfast, for all I care," Smurfette shot back as she let out a yawn. "I'll be up and ready in time for lunch, so please tell Greedy that, okay?"
"What happened to you last night?" Empath asked, not wanting to leave Smurfette's house just yet. "Something must have kept you awake the entire evening to make you oversleep."
Smurfette sighed. "Nothing happened, Empath. Just let me rest here!"
Empath felt that talking to Smurfette through a wall was getting nowhere. He decided to go upstairs to her bedroom and talk to her face-to-face. As he entered the bedroom, he noticed that all the shades had been drawn, and Smurfette had buried her face in her pillow as she laid in her bed. It seemed to be even darker than any Smurf's house would be at this time of day.
"Empath, I thought I smurfed you to leave my house!" Smurfette scolded.
"Not until this smurf finds out what happened to you last night," Empath insisted, "and why you would have your bedroom so dark like this. We need to get some sunshine."
As Empath drew back a shade to let in the sunlight, he heard Smurfette scream and saw her quickly bury herself under her blankets. "Close the drapes!" she shouted fiercely.
Empath immediately blocked the sunlight, curious by Smurfette's horrified reaction to it. None of this made any sense to him.
"Smurfette, this smurf is not going to harm you in any way," Empath assured her as he sat by Smurfette's bed. "All this smurf wants to know is what exactly happened to you last night after every Smurf went to sleep."
"As I told you, Empath, nothing happened to me," Smurfette answered from beneath the covers. "I just smurfed the night listening to some music with a friend."
"That friend being the Lord Vladimir Smurfula that visited us?" Empath asked.
"So what if it was him?" Smurfette protested. "Is there anything wrong with that?"
"This smurf doesn't know too much about this 'friend' of yours, Smurfette," Empath admitted, "but this smurf does remember the handshake last night, and something other than this smurf's minds-eye is telling me that this Lord Vladimir is not entirely what he appears to be."
"Not what he appears to be?" Smurfette snapped. She suddenly threw back the covers and looked at Empath with dead-set eyes. "Are you out of your ever-smurfing mind? Lord Vladimir is a Smurf…a well-preserved Smurf for someone his age, but he still is what he is. And now I suppose you don't want me to smurf with him anymore?"
Empath sighed, not wishing to be on the defensive, but he had to be reasonable.
"All this smurf is asking of you is to be careful around him, Smurfette," he told her. "He may be doing something to you in order to take advantage of you…something that you might not even live to regret."
"Live to regret?!?" Smurfette steamed. She suddenly slapped Empath on the face as hard as she could to vent her rage. "Smurf out of my house right now, Empath, and smurf as far out of my life as possible. I will decide who I want to smurf with, not you!"
Empath looked at Smurfette in disbelief, feeling the sting of her slap on his face. She was angry beyond all reasoning, and nothing he could say could make her change her mind to see otherwise. He quickly left her house and headed for Greedy's kitchen.
As he felt his face, he noticed that same feeling he did when he shook hands with Lord Vladimir at last night's Smurfstock performance. It was as if something dead was still holding on to living flesh when Smurfette slapped him…something so cold that it burned like a hot iron when it touched something warm.

He went to tell Papa Smurf about Smurfette's behavior and what he observed from his visit to her house that morning. He looked at Empath intently while listening.
"Hmm, that is very peculiar coming from Smurfette," Papa Smurf finally said, stroking his beard in thought. "Did you notice anything about her that was different?"
"Well, she did appear to lose a bit of her skin color, Papa Smurf," Empath answered, "and this smurf did notice two tiny holes at the base of her neck when she slapped this smurf."
Papa Smurf looked a bit incredulous. "Sounds like something I've only smurfed in folklore, Empath, but though I don't remember just what it is right off the top of my smurf, it does make me concerned for her safety."
"There's also this very strange Smurf that came into the village last night whom Smurfette entertained his company called Vladimir Smurfula," Empath added. "He claimed to be a Smurf of royalty who lived more than one thousand years ago, and somehow his very touch felt very…unusual for a Smurf. Otherwise, this smurf is unable to sense anything from him."
Papa Smurf's eyebrows furrowed as his eyes looked skyward, trying to find an answer. To Empath, he seemed like he has having a hard time trying to remember what was beginning to sound familiar to him in his younger days.
Finally, the elder Smurf just shook his head. "If this Smurf you spoke of is responsible for Smurfette's recent behavior, Empath, he may show up at tonight's musical performances to seduce her again. We might as well watch the show and wait to smurf what may happen if this visiting Smurf shows up. In the meantime, we should smurf our best to keep Smurfette out of direct exposure to sunlight until that time comes."
"You mean we should keep Smurfette confined to her house and watch her actions as well, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked. He didn't like the idea of having to watchdog Smurfette all the time, even if she wanted that kind of protection.
"I'm afraid so, Empath. If this happens to be the very thing that I remember smurfing about, no other Smurf may be safe around her."
Empath was unsure what it was that Papa Smurf was trying to recall, but now wasn't the time to try extracting any more information. He had only his trust in Papa Smurf to understand what exactly he was doing for Smurfette's safety and everyone else's.
"This smurf acknowledges, Papa Smurf," Empath replied, nodding with grim acceptance. Then before he turned to leave, he had to ask his father the one thing that was on his mind.
"Papa Smurf, do you think this smurf has no soul because this smurf has no song in his heart?"
That question was even more confounding to Papa Smurf than figuring out who this Vladimir Smurfula was or what he was doing to Smurfette.
"Empath, all I can smurf to you is that if you truly believe in your heart what being a Smurf means to you, you will discover the answer," he said with some uneasiness.

Somewhere around noontime, Smurfette woke up from her sleep feeling hungry. However, it wasn't the normal kind of hunger that Smurfette -- or any Smurf, for that matter -- would feel when they haven't eaten food for a while. It was the kind of hunger that made Smurfette feel driven to a particular type of food, and she had no idea what it was or what made her feel driven to desire that kind of food. All she knew was that she was hungry for it, and she was going to find and satisfy her hunger with it.
Realizing that the daylight was now affecting her in a way that it never did before, Smurfette decided to cover herself the best way she knew how. Dressing herself in the same long dress that she wore at last night's Smurfstock performance, Smurfette also wrapped her face in a veil while covering her hands with white gloves and her feet with socks before venturing out of her house.
Everybody was too busy preparing for the next night's set of performances to notice Smurfette sneaking stealthily about dressed the way she did. She soon found herself outside Greedy's kitchen, where Greedy and his fellow kitchen helpers were busy preparing to serve the day's lunch. She sniffed the air and found the scent of what she was craving for, and it was making her mouth water at the prospect of feasting upon it. Now she needed to find just what it was she was hungry for.
Greedy and his kitchen helpers were too busy in the kitchen to notice Smurfette sneaking her way into the storage rooms in the back, rummaging through all the fruits and vegetables stored there, sniffing each of them to find that food she felt hungry for. She snarled and growled angrily as she flung the baskets of food everywhere, unable to find just what it was she was craving.
Just then, Smurfette heard Greedy tell one of his kitchen helpers to go find a ripe onion he needed. Smurfette realized that she needed to get out of there before he found her back there making a mess of Greedy's food supply. She quickly left through the back door before Greedy's kitchen helper entered the storage room to find it in total disarray, leaving him and Greedy puzzled over who would do such a thing.
Meanwhile, Smurfette hid behind some barrels behind Greedy's kitchen, watching as Brainy, Clumsy, and Jokey were walking toward her direction, talking about something rather important to them. She sniffed the air and noticed that the food smell strangely was coming from them. She waited until they came into range of her.
"No, no, no, Jokey," Brainy scolded. "Absosmurfly not. I already have enough problems having Azrael Rocks smurfing their song 'Smurf This Way' long enough for other performers to smurf their songs for tonight. I'm not going to have you smurfing your surprises on stage just to smurf the show more exciting than it probably already would be to the Smurfs listening to this ridiculous song they're smurfing."
"Come on, Brainy, be a good smurf about it," Jokey pleaded. "Sloppy was the one who requested to have the song smurf out with a big bang for tonight, and I smurfed enough of my surprises to smurf enough of a big bang to smurf the crowd."
"Gee, Brainy, I really think you should let Jokey smurf that for 'Smurf This Way'," Clumsy seconded. "It's the best song I ever smurfed since the Smurflings did that 'Smurfbop' song a few years ago."
"Clumsy, you obviously have no taste for good music," Brainy retorted in his usual berating manner. "The Smurflings' song smurfed nothing but steal gifted talent away from a truly deserving group of Smurf musicians like the Village Smurphony Orchestra. I mean, how long are we going to smurf the likes of the Smurflings, the Smurfs Without Hats, and this Azrael Rocks before Smurfs with a truly dissmurfing ear for music get tired of smurfing the same kind of songs they're smurfing out?"
"What's the matter, Brainy?" Jokey asked. "Feeling jealous because your music can't make Smurfs dance and feel happy about being Smurfs like theirs do? I bet even Papa Smurf can smurf a better song than you can, and without even being part of the village orchestra to smurf that!"
"Oh, really?" Brainy snorted. "I'd love to smurf the day when Papa Smurf can smurf a much better song than 'You're Only As Old As You Smurf You Are', and even be as big enough a hit as the Smurflings are with it."
As they were busy talking, Smurfette slowly sneaked up behind them, hoping to catch them unaware, when Clumsy suddenly stopped in his tracks, causing Smurfette to bump into Clumsy and fall to the ground. Clumsy turned around and saw who it was that was walking behind him so quietly, as did Brainy and Jokey when Clumsy stopped.
"Smurfette!" Clumsy exclaimed. "I didn't think I'd smurf into you since last night. I really loved the song you smurfed, about being frozen and all. I thought you had a real pretty singing voice."
"Thank you, Clumsy," Smurfette responded, speaking rather softly, but also sounding rather eager to find something.
"Hey, Smurfette, what are you smurfing out there at this time of day all smurfed up like that?" Jokey asked, rather amused.
"Just trying to smurf out of the sun," Smurfette answered. "Smurfs rather bright out here today. Anyway, I feel rather hungry, and I was hoping to smurf out for a bite before resting until tonight."
Brainy looked at Smurfette rather suspiciously. "Smurfs more like you're trying to hide something from your fellow Smurfs," he stated. "Maybe it's that secret admirer of yours you've been smurfing with last night after the concert."
"Who smurfed you that I even had a 'secret admirer', Brainy?" Smurfette asked, picking herself up off the ground. "Did Empath smurf with you earlier today about me?"
"I haven't smurfed a word about anything with Empath today, Smurfette," Brainy replied. "I was the one smurfing you, Empath, and that dark-smurfed stranger of a Smurf smurfing together at the concert last night after you had smurfed your song. I could tell that he was smurfing after your heart and wanting to smurf you after the concert for some secret smurfdezvous, and you smurfed like Empath means nothing to you now."
"Gee, Smurfette, you really shouldn't be smurfing yourself like that from everybody," Clumsy suggested. "You're much too pretty to smurf your face behind a veil."
But as Clumsy lifted Smurfette's veil from her face, Smurfette reacted with a very scary expression and a fierce hiss that made the three Smurfs gathered around her recoil in fright. Clumsy instantly covered her face again.
"Boy, I wouldn't want to smurf Smurfette's face like that again if she ever gets mad at me," Jokey remarked. "I wonder what's smurfed with her lately that would make her smurf at us like that."
"I honestly have no idea, Jokey," Brainy responded. "Let's get smurfing before she decides to smurf anything much worse."
"And I thought Azrael was much scarier to smurf at," Clumsy commented as he and the two other Smurfs started to walk on. "Did you smurf that she had two pointed teeth? I just wonder where she smurfed that from."

Smurfette watched, somewhat disappointed, as the three Smurfs walked on. Yet she could still smell the scent of that food she was craving for, and she felt like she needed it so badly. She continued on until she reached her house again, where she found her pet mouse Squeaky -- the second pet mouse she ever owned by that name -- hanging outside her door, waiting for his owner to come home. "Come here, my little Squeaky," she called out to her pet.
Squeaky came up to Smurfette as she approached her door, jumping into her lap as she sat down. He had no idea why Smurfette was dressed up the way she was, but he was nonetheless happy to be in her presence.
Smurfette sat for a while, stroking her pet mouse, enjoying the sight of him adoring her with every gentle stroke of her hand.
Then she sniffed the air, and found that the food she was looking for was right in front of her.
And now it was time to feed.