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She wakes up groggy, and I watch from behind her eyes as she senses my invasion. I drink from her panic, revelling in its energy, so vibrant and alive.

Life, even this one, burning bright, only has so much. Tick tock. She stares at me in the mirror, glass still foggy from the shower. Oh, how I would love to give her a glimpse! One fleck of ember in her eye, a smouldering fire of ruin.

I whisper to her mind that it’ll be okay; I only need to borrow her for a while. She dresses simply. Comfortable clothes, I tell her. It’s cold outside.

This woman drives to the farmhouse and pulls in. It’s the middle of the night, the earth silent in its slumber. An owl keeps vigil from her branch.

She nods slowly as I share the secret armoury within the barn, the scent of fresh straw intoxicating. I guide my apprentice to collect the tools of our trade. Sickle or scythe, she asks. I direct her to the axe leaning against the winter’s wood. She draws her slender finger down the metal blade; the thin line of blood looks enticing, and I swoon as she sucks away the sting.

We look to the house longingly. Three souls inside for Azrael’s collection. Excellent. I bade her open the door and walk inside.

Photo by grongar