It is midnight, and the ghosts and ghouls have gathered around the sleeping woman. This has become their favorite haunt, particularly on inky, starless nights such as this. They cavort to and fro across the bed: slavering, leering, screeching, committing unspeakable acts atop the counterpane. Hal's mistress slumbers on, unaware of the extant evil. When morning comes she may recall some remnant of a ghastly nightmare; perhaps there will be a tinge of uneasiness in her mood, but she will not understand the source of her discomfort.
There is much sadness in this, Hal's ninth and final journey through life. He adores his mistress, but she is evil. He is her one companion, the only one that has remained to endure the abuse that she takes such pleasure in inflicting. He has watched as she has lied, manipulated, cheated, even murdered. He knows that her salvation can come only through understanding, repentance, and abandonment of sin. But Hal is helpless, for he can do nothing himself to bring about such change.
So it is that each night the imps return to their playground. Some mist-shrouded morn, Hal will emerge from his hiding place to find his mistress gone, and he will know they have carried her off to spend eternity with the maleficent creatures that dwell within the bowels of the earth.
© 2004 Margaret B. Davidson
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