Beatrice squeezed her eyelids tighter, flashes of colour sparked on the insides of the lids and salty liquid leaked onto her smooth cheeks.
She wasn’t going to do it.
There was a fire raging in her belly, her blood pounded with it, molten tungsten beating through her veins. It was what she was meant to do, it was her very reason to be, it was why she existed, and the torment of rebellion was physical pain.
Spawned by a hag there was no other destiny but that she too became a hag. For years Halloween had been her big night, the gates to the nether world opened and the beings would emerge. As the guardian of the gates she would direct them and have ready for them sacrificial offerings. She had done it for sixteen years, since her mother had left to join the hell hoards and she had done it well.
She hadn’t been cursed with a conscience and so she had recited the incantations and cast the spells and then stood by as the awful scenes were played out before her, goat, dove, child, anything with warm blood and a pure heart.
She had turned into herself and accepted, there was no other way. Not this year though, not this year. The young creature that she now cradled in her hand flicked out a sandpaper tongue and rasped at her skin. Great green eyes studied her face, questioning and unafraid. Tiny paws flexed and the kitten began to wash herself.
Other kittens had come and gone, other creatures warm, breathing and born to die but this tiny scrap of life had found her heart and softened it against all that was reasonable and she must find a way to save it.
Gently the bundle of fluff and purrs was tucked into the basket, the night was moving on, the sparks of small stars pricked the dark orb and colour had been wiped from the field and hedgerows.
Beatrice lifted the wicker carrier and began her escape. She headed for the cathedral, if she could find sanctuary for her tiny charge perhaps there would be hope.
She dragged open the great door and made her way along the aisle, her feet making small sounds on the old flagstones. The kitten mewed softly and she took a moment to gentle it, stroking and murmuring as velvet slipped beneath her fingers. She would leave the kitten here and she would face the demons and perhaps she would die but at last she had turned away from the dark and the small black cat had shown her the light.