Lying face down in the stygian mud, hair matted and ginger and clumpy with crud, you try to engage inner feelings of rage; with the witch disappeared, you’re feeling more sage so you manage to shuffle to lie on one cheek (the less-bruised of the two, you think) with a creak of the bones and the tendons and muscles that throb, as the split hair-lipped mess that was lately your gob opens, just once; with a shuddering sigh, you sink into the miry clay, and expire.
Not that you die, but sleep’s not right either; you pass out, ‘cause you’re wounded and running a fever. And when you revive, the first sound you hear is an all-too-familiar screech in your ear.
“Oh, Head,” sings the harpy, her vocal cords straining, “Won’t this be a hoot, I’ve started it raining; I think in your state, you’ll find swimming quite draining,” and with flabby fierce waves of her wrinkled old arms, the grizzled grey hag starts listing the charms of her plan, her idea, her magnum opus; you can’t hear past the pain and the rain, eyes won’t focus, but you spot something odd, in the hocus-pocus; when witchy casts spells, the old human locust, her eyes turn as yellow as a wilted crocus.
The witch and the squirrel, the gypsy from chapter—you mean, from day one; their eyes all turned yellow, they shone like a sun whose insidious rays never warm, only burn; they’ve each had their fun with you, taking a turn to deceive you, bereave you, deny you, and fry you (in the oil, so to speak, of your own slimy plans—but if ideas are skillets, you’re well out of the pan, and you’ve bounced off some brimstone and into hellfire; could this situation get any more dire?) and refusing, at last, to take anymore, you shake yourself clear and shout, “Heyf, fyou olfd whorfe!
That pisses her off, though it’s probably true—how else is she Satan’s girl-to-go-to? It’s Hell, after all, where she’s climbing the ranks; they want lusting and whoring and dirty cheap skanks. But for this observation, she’d give you no thanks, so you stare up malignly, at her cottage-cheese flanks, “Jusft stofp fakinfg, Ife realifsedf now, you’rfe all freally jusft Satanf,” but just at the moment your breath is abatin’, you hear somebody laugh, and it’s instantly gratin’, oh look here comes Lucy, and he’s already hatin’.
“Oh ignorant Head, or ignorant Howell, either way you’re a moron,” he fairly growls. “They all borrow my power, but my minions aren’t ME—I’m one of kind, all there ever need be. I’m Satan, I’m Lucifer, Son of the Morning, when I’m after your soul I give little warning, and this stupid old witch overstepping her bounds, who’s supposed to be sending you straight underground into caverns aflame, where the dead cry, distraught—she’s not me, she’s not following plans that I wrought.”
He walks to the witch, who makes nary a sound, keeps her hands at her sides and her eyes on the ground, “Grovelling submission has come too late; I’m not Jesus, don’t expect me to wipe clean the slate,” and a chasm appears, in the earth near her feet, and she spasms with fear and gets pushed in complete by the foul mastermind, the one pulling the strings, it’s all Satan, always has been, your mind fairly sings and you wish, one more time, to make everything right; then Lucy bowling-ball grabs you, and puts you in flight falling after the witch; which really bites. But at least if you follow her maybe you might get a chance to destroy her, however slight, and you hope for the best as you careen through the night.