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I hunched my shoulders against the rain, trudging slowly through the wet streets of London. I had no umbrella, a choice I had not mourned before, but one I regretted now. My thin clothes were soaked; and I shivered slightly, flicking my wet hair fro, my pale face. I smacked the pipe I was carrying against my palm to dissuade the man who had been following me for quite some time. A quick look over my dripping shoulder showed that he had not left.
“Well,” I murmured, soft enough that it was obscured by the rain, “I gave you your chance.” I abruptly ducked into an alleyway, hiding behind a pile of rubbish. I held my breath, striving to make as little noise as possible. I heard his splashing footsteps grow closer, the footsteps of this vile man whom I had almost been forced to marry. I could also make out his dim mutterings; even his voice made me shudder.
“Where is that w****; she couldn’t have traveled far… I should’ve insisted on that condition, that she be sent to that prestigious boarding school before becoming my wife. They would’ve beaten this nonsense out of her by now. Maybe, when I catch her, she’ll become a little more civilized.” I closed my eyes, praying to any and every god with powers above mine to turn him away from this place. Judging by what happened next, either there was no god, or they had shoved away my request with nary a second thought.
“There is always supposed to be a right choice. Well, I see two choices; but neither of them is right in my mind. What should I do? Are you out there, saints and heroes about whom the Father preaches? If you’re out there, by some chance, please… please…” my last desperate entreaty faded into nothingness as I bowed my head to the mercy of the world. I could cripple my follower, which was right in my heart, or go with him and be an unwilling wife, which was right in my mind. Or I could keep running, running like a scared deer flushed by the hounds, and be jumped and torn to pieces when I got too tired to continue. What should I choose?
“Hey, miss,” a hoarse voice whispered from further down the alley. “Ifn’s you be lookin’ to get away from Himself over there, then maybe I can be helpin’ you.” I turned to see a street rat with filthy, matted clothes and hair, beckoning to me from the shadows. I crawled hesitantly to him, not caring that my threadbare dress was getting mussed.
“In here,” he said quietly, but not quietly enough.
“Hah!” The man exclaimed with a laugh. “I found you, miss!” He hurried down the street, his approach coinciding with the growing pit of despair in my stomach.
“Hurry!” The street rat managed to get out before hobnailed boots delivered a swift kick to his stomach. He hurtled backwards into the brick wall, coughing up something that looked terrifyingly like blood.
“St- st-“ I tried to get the word out, but the walls of my windpipe had adhered themselves to each other; and I couldn’t talk, no matter how much I wanted.
“As for you,” he growled, bushy brows drawing low over his ice-cold eyes. He abruptly grasped my neck with both hands, shoving me against the other wall. “You’ve caused me more than my fair share of trouble, missy. And you’d better hope –for your sake- that I stop beating you before you’re an invalid.” My eyes widened involuntarily, I had tried not to show fear, but this small action betrayed me. “Scared now, are we missy,” he sneered; shaking me so my head hit the wall until my vision went blurry. “Now, let’s see to that other worthless piece of trash,” he muttered.
“Please, mister,” the child managed to squeeze the plea out, “please don’ hurt the lady there.”
“She’s my property, you b******’s child.” He yelled, bringing his fist up to strike. I vaguely remembered the pipe I had acquired, and picked it up from where I had dropped it earlier. My mind clouded, body moving stiffly, I positioned myself behind him and swung downwards.
“Come, we must leave before the law arrives.” A swift current ran through my mind, sweeping doubt and horror aside, but insisting that I save this child. “We must leave!” I repeated, not sure he had heard me.
“Yes, miss…” he whispered, attempting to smile but failing. I averted my eyes from the man in front of me, picked up the child and rushed away. I had no destination planned but simply wanted to get away from the spreading puddles of blood and rain. I caught my reflection in one of them, a crimson pond that tinted my every feature red. My eyes, skin, even lips and hair. I realized what it was portraying was true, that the demon in the ground was, in fact, myself. In saving another from a demon, I had turned into the demon myself.
“Perhaps it’s for the best,” a part of me murmured. “After all, what life would I have had otherwise? This reflection- it’s true. Painfully, terrifyingly true, but true nonetheless. At least, I saw my true face before I died. At least, I know what I really am.” And with that, I collapsed on the street, taking the knowledge and making it a part of me. I am a demon. A demon. Demon. Demon. Demon.