There is anger like a drug.

The quick blaze stains your guts, twists them. You hate it, that fire flexing within you, lighting veins with purpose, pushing smoke to your tongue.
You hand wants to grip, to squeeze.

Your body wants to show the world how much you hate it. The energy churning inside you ashes restless warnings of what might happen if you do, what might
happen if you don’t.

Something sits in the depths of your mind.

A low hiss slithers. It is darkness and nothing at all, waiting to consume you, singing to you, threading your dreams with black, seething desire. It whispers how easy it would be, how you need that release, that rush, that feeling when you just. Let.
Go.

It feeds tinder to your hatred, stroking flames with a gilded claw, coaxing them into something harder. The feeling is not a good one, but it is one you cannot live without.

A face floats before you.

Perhaps it has wronged you, taken something from you. Perhaps it is better than you, and you can’t stand it.

Eyes glint. Too bright, too mocking, too alive. A pulse fills your ears, it is not your own. Hollow screams echo in the wings of a stage. Irrelevant, futile.
Heartbeats waft toward you; tangible bursts that pop on your tongue, filling your mouth with the taste of midnight. They look like crows. Black feathers brush your skin, you smile.

There is something in your hand.

You watch it, wriggling beneath your grip. Your fingertips are black stains against snow, filing down to bitter talons tipped with frenzy. They remind you of the crows. Your hold tightens.

The prey is soft, pale white in the red fury of your vision. Something thuds within it, a fragile beat just below the surface, stifled by the thin membrane of its prison.

Perhaps you should slice it open and set it free…

Shudders ripple. A whimpering plea seeps through. A throat convulses against the claws, supple flesh presses into your grip. You feel it, but you feel nothing for it. You feel nothing at all – just that consuming force, curling through the moment, urging you to crush, throttle, destroy.

What would happen if you said no?

It whispers threats. It would consume you, throw you to its master’s mercy. It would place the hand of Darkness on your back.

A hand flutters, breath rattles through your fingers.

She is so young…

But so were you once, before the beast curled up inside you, before it made a bed of your thoughts, a playground of your insides.

A merry-go-round creaks in the distance, trees swirl by, whirls of ice and pine. Yur skirt was flying with them as you soared in dizzy circles elated, screaming to stop, to go faster. The memory trembles in the wind. Little red ladybugs on buckle-up shoes. You were so young…

Phantom claws sully the back of your neck with soot.

Keep going, it sighs.

You squeeze her neck harder. She has eyes like a rabbit. Green stained with silver. They hold a reflection, a face; gaunt hollows where there should be chubby cheeks. Dark pits have replaced sunny eyes, they look like wishing wells, pillaged of coins. Red mars the image as her blood vessels pop. She sucks a final breath into moribund lungs. She understands now; there is nothing she can do.

Pleas shrink to rasps. Sweat kisses her skin with beads of pearl.

The beat shivers beneath your fingers. It stops. She is still warm. You withdraw. The bruised print left by your hold glows blue against ivory skin, already tinged grey by Death. The shape is small, quiet. There is no threat in the sight of your hands. You look down, the claws are gone; replaced with the stubby fingers of a child.

You were so young when it took you.

Smoke drifts at your shoulder, tugs at your pigtail. Good girl, the demon tells you.

You look at your feet instead of the body, little red ladybirds glint in the moonlight.

There is an emptiness now, darker than your master. Absence seeps into every pore, every thought. It sits on your hopes, crushing them, feeding wishes to the hounds. It makes you greedy for the kill, for just a moment without it.

You don’t feel the anger anymore.

But you crave it all the same.