Russell trudges through the filthy streets of London, tail between his legs, not bothering to glance at the smug alley cats perched atop trash bins that reek of seafood scraps. He doesn’t have the energy to chase them, and cats make a pretty unsatisfying meal anyway.
The moon is full, and Russell’s pure bronze fur shines like a beacon in the street.
A little girl tugs her father’s hand. “Papa, look! It’s a lost puppy!”
Indulgently, the tired man allows the girl to lead him by the pointer finger to the corner where Russell now sits on the slippery pavement, staring up at the humans with big round vulnerable eyes. He tries to keep his rear glued to the street, but the girl smells like hot rolls and lavender bath soap and he can’t help just a playful little jump at her neck, baring his massive fangs, eyes glowing red with the bloodlust that landed him on the street in the first place. He misses her neck by an inch and plops back onto the ground, feeling like the lowest scoundrel in the city. The girl leaps backward, screaming like a banshee. Her father looks about ready to scream as well.
“I ought to call the pound,” the man declares while clutching his daughter to him. “Animals like you don’t deserve to live.”
Russell shivers as a drop of icy rain lands on his nose. The father and daughter disappear into a mansion, probably one with a fireplace.
Persephonie happens to be at her window in the tenement across from the mansion. She sees the dog overcome by instinct, and she sees the fear in the girl’s eyes and can relate because that’s the way people look at her when she goes to work in the factory. She knows they all whisper about her witchcraft, and she much enjoys striking fear in the hearts of adult Londoners, though it can get lonely being the neighborhood sorceress.
Now the puppy crouches under the eaves of the tenement, barraged on all sides by rain, a little black nose poking out to smell for danger or maybe prey.
Persephonie presses her hands to the window as rain rolls down the dirty glass like tears. She wants to touch the cold warmth of that dog’s living dead flesh, and know that she isn’t alone, and let him know he has a home.
Who needs stairs? Persephonie grabs her broomstick and slides the window open just enough to launch out over the street. She lands right on the corner and kneels before the little black nose emerging from the shadows. In a language only the two creatures themselves can understand, she begins singing a lilting tune, a lullaby for those condemned to drink blood or cast spells, a song that will cause nightmares for twenty years in a normal human being who hears it.
Russell’s ears perk up for the first time in weeks upon hearing the tune his mother’s womb conveyed to him over and over before birth. He creeps out to sniff this kindred spirit. Soon, she’s stroking his head, scratching behind his ears, hitting spots no one has bothered to massage since he was abandoned. She smells like rats’ wishbones and ancient cinnamon – not a mix that appeals to Russell’s appetite, but it does make him hungry for a juicy steak.
“The family downstairs from me usually has steak on Sundays,” Persephonie remarks as if she can hear the dog’s thoughts. “Care to come inside?”
Persephonie opens the door so the two monsters can come in from the rain. For a minute they just stand in the stairwell, waiting for the sky’s tears to dry from their unsympathetic shoulders. Then they head upstairs to share a spot of blood.
Image credits in order of appearance:
By Stan (Hoi An Street Dog) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
By Sahilrathod (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
“BigBenAtDusk”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BigBenAtDusk.jpg#/media/File:BigBenAtDusk.jpg