Is it not fascinating how quickly those you trust will turn on you?
“Please, mister, don’t hurt me!”
A shriek? Aha. Ahaha. Am I to be offended by it?
My withered hands lower to the small boy’s head. His hair. So soft. Delicate. Flower petals growing from the scalp of an undeserving little–
Oh. Perhaps I was too rough.
I try to be gentle with children. They are the future, you see. It is important that we prepare our children for all the beauty and fear they will be exposed to. And as I use the enflamed tips of my nails to carve elegant designs into the child’s skin, he repays my kind gesture by shouting.
Layers of his skin peel back. Canals carved into his skin flow with his blood. Magnificent. Truly. The manner in which his body opens up these rivers to me and lets the suffocated fluids below breathe in the oxygen they so desperately need. Yes! Magnificent! I could ask for no more of a worthy sacrifice.
How man can fight for a greater good and in the end be isolated from a world he so desperately tried to build?
The child squirms. Ungrateful. Life is so cruel. Unbearably so. I pin him down by his open shoulders. His eyes twinkle. His little lips quiver. Whimpers escape him. How precious. Digging my claws into his ivory skin matches only sinking your teeth into a delicious meal.
He is building up to a climax of fear. Then and only then I will ease his pain. This is a meticulous process.
“PLEASE GOD! HELP ME!”
…An interesting plea. One I must consider.
As the boy’s bones crunch under my iron grip, I do consider this. Of all rituals I have performed and beings I have summoned, no god has shown itself.
I’ve watched oppression bury the innocent and men crumble on the endless battlefields of Europe.
The child requires a history lesson. I curse the teachers that failed him, that failed history. I must teach him. Children are our future, after all.
“The Sun never set on the British Empire, or so the saying goes,” I say. “But the horizon was dyed red with slaughter and the flames that engulfed Orleans would come to devour our Saint.”
I close my eyes. A smile dances on my lips. The boy even hushes his cries to listen. What a good child, seeing the value in his education.
The bones in his shoulders grind as rusted gears. It is not a worry. He needs them no more, and so I tear these useless arms from his body and cast them to the floor.
Oh no, he is screaming once more. What a shame.
“You scream as though you are suffering, but you have never experienced pain,” I assure him, stroking his cheeks. “The Saint bore the sins of us all. She was beautiful. A holy maiden, gifted to an undeserving world by the heavens. Burned at the stake for what she believed.”
Continued sobbing. What a nuisance. I trail my fingers down the child’s face and tickle his neck.
If you are forgiven by your fellows, you shall find peace in the afterlife no matter God’s judgment.
He shivers. Breathtaking.
“I stood beside her on the battlefield. A sight to behold. The sun setting on a war that never ended.” I wrap my fingers around his malleable throat. Soft. Tender. Delectable. “And for what? Land? Prosperity? Religion?”
My teeth chatter. Hands shake. I squeeze. Tighter. Tighter. Such selfishness. Such naïveté. A world where prosperity is valued over peace, where beliefs are cast aside and shamed. All of the wasted centuries. Bodies toppling over each other. Falling like flies.
Tossed into ditches. Worthless.
Death where nothing has become of it. Useless.
Whereas I have repurposed the lives of the wicked and transformed their fear into power. Yes. I cannot contain my joy. A grin should crack open my face.
“Jeanne, is this what you wanted?”
“Ask yourself, my child… If God was real, would he have brought you here?”