The shoulder high grass tickles my nose as I creep through the hedge. As far as hedges go, this is a large one, the concealment it offers is magnificent, and the view it offers me of the cottage is fantastic. I must be about twenty cat paces from the gate to the green yard surrounding the house. Milking is going on in one of the near sheds. I can hear the cows, stupid beasts cows, and there is a bovine hint of warm milk tainting the air.
It has taken a while, but I can now see her. She is much smaller than I had anticipated, her hair is the colour of straw, and judging by her body shape, she is in her prime to breed. My pet human, Bast, is a wee female, but this one, the one the who smells positively divine, how I love the heady scent of old blood, would be about five feet tall in the human measure. Fifty paw widths, give or take, in the correct one. She seems positively jubilant in the way she is sauntering toward the front gate of the large cottage. She has gone through it, and a young human is talking to her, he appeared from behind some nondescript shrub, and seems to be quite serious in the way he speaks. For some reason, she, the little female, is reaching for something in her belt. It looks like it might be a fish knife.
Mother of God! She has stabbed him in the face! Stabbed him through an ear! I can smell the blood and the torment of his soul! The useless black and white sheep dog is doing absolutely nothing about it! She has taken her cloak off. She is lifting, dangling the wee mite upside down by his ankle above it, and is carefully cutting his neck. Blood is running down over his tiny innocent face, through his red hair, and onto the cloak. She is swinging him around gently, spreading his hot blood all over the cape on the ground; blood draining from his wounds above. His soul is screaming, it is filling my ears as much as the smell of blood fills my nose, I have not heard a soul scream so much, it is wailing, now keening, and screaming once again. He is screaming for his mother, calling to her! It is decimating my heart of hearts, the poor wee thing. I can see his soul now, light blue and transparent, straining, fighting to escape her and his corpse. He is just a child, just a child! The soul can’t flee, his necrobilical cord is anchoring it to his bloodless corpse. He is pulling at it, thrashing against it, and screaming. And she only sees the lifeless child hanging weightless from her hand. The bitch is smiling! She is enjoying it, and the wee lad who was light of complexion before, is now positively white, no, colourless. Now she is tossing him to the ground behind the shrub in the yard, just as one would discard lint from their coat!
She is strolling through the yard! Strolling! Strolling down the narrow wee path between the gate and the cottages front neat door. And I am running to the yard as fast as my four paw’s will carrying me through the paddock to the fence. She hasn’t seen me, and I have cleared the yard. I am banging on the window of what must be the kitchen, but the girl making bread in there does not hear me. I am climbing up into the thatch, but I can’t get through, it is too new, too well made, too thick, too strong. I can not warn her! I can not save her, I am back at the window, banging it with all of my might, but she is leaving the dough on the kitchen table, and is opening the front door! She is talking to the fell wretch! Talking to Black Annis as if she is a neighbour come a knocking!
I must flit, I must step through time, I must get Bast, I must save the wee lass. Bast can save her, the Goddess and the Sidhe can save her! I am running, I am in the wrong time! I am time shifting, and I am here. I am clawing at Bast, and she is yelling. They are in Death’s car, and the Goddess is driving. We are back at the cottage, but we are late! It is the wrong day, and they are all dead! Dead! Those tender wee innocents! Dead! All dead! All have been bled dry! No one is talking, Bast is vomiting, and all so-called rescuers are crying. I feel ill, truly ill, ill’r than I have felt for centuries. And Black Annis is gone. No tracks. No trace. Just gone.
And I, Sardine, cat of ages, have failed.
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