A Somber Duty




It hadn’t started as a serious desire. Her doll told her about her previous experiences, back when it was still a human. The person – if he could be called that – that broke it. She held her doll and reminded it, night after night, that it was safe. That it had the power to protect itself – more than that, she would protect it. It was a duty they both swore to each other years ago.

Tonight, she sat in a dark car, parked between street lights, watching. Her doll was at their hotel, soundly asleep. Safe, as always. “If I ever find him, I’ll flay him alive.” It was a promise she’d made, years ago, soon after her doll became her doll. She hadn’t meant to, but all these years later, she did find him.

Half a world away from their home, the pair had visited the country on the pretext of a much-needed vacation. That was all she told her doll, anyway. She didn’t want it to worry about her on the nights she’d spent casing the next town over, searching. It was rather easy – he was a fairly well-known figure, and between her magical and technological prowess, locating him wasn’t that much of a problem. Doing the deed wouldn’t be, either – a normal human, against a Witch with years of experience?

This wasn’t to be a duel, but a slaughter. Simply exterminating vermin, and exacting just a slight bit of vengeance. She had firsthand experience with what he’d done to her darling doll, the sheer damage to her mind and soul that would never truly heal.

With a sigh and a shrug, the witch collected herself, and stepped out into the black. There would be no shortage of blood tonight. Such a shame, she thought to herself, that it’s tainted and worthless.

Gaining entrance was no problem. Modern locks and security systems were no match for someone able to pull at the threads of reality.

“Hello. I’d like to have a…talk…with you.” She took a seat at the kitchen island behind the man rummaging through the refrigerator.

“W-who the fuck are you?” A thick Scottish accent, equally thick red hair. Late thirties. This was the one. Late-night confusion turned to fear when the man noticed the nine-millimeter handgun she had tucked between her hands on the counter. “I-I don’t have anything of value! Take what you want, okay? J-just leave me alone!”

Begging? Already? This is going to be too easy. “Oh, believe me, I will take what I want from you, when we’re done here. My doll sends its regards. Lilith sends her regards.”

“W-who? I don’t know any Lilith!”

“Oh, right.” Venom dripped from the witch’s words. “You might know it as ████. The name you forced it to hold on to.” The urge to end him then and there was strong. That’d be too kind.

“W-what? Him?! He hurt me, you know?! Did he tell you that?! What’d he do now to fuck with me, fucking get turned into one of those thin-” He stopped mid-sentence at a gesture of the witch. Reality shifted just enough to replace the oxygen in the room with nitrogen. The witch sat in barely restrained rage while the man gasped for air and collapsed onto the island.

“What the hell do you want, bitch?” He gasped out.
“I’m going to teach you respect, worm. I’m going to show you just a fraction of what you forced my doll through. I’m going to give you just a minuscule portion of her pain, and when we’re done, I might let you live.”

It turns out, he would not learn respect. He would alternate between cursing the witch and her doll the entire night – at least, he would before she broke his mind. A Witch’s powers are not just limited to the physical realm, after all, and she knew very well how to manipulate the mind in just the right way to produce the desired effects. She’d had plenty of time to learn, experimenting and toying with her doll – but this was not the gentle touch and nudging of a lover. She was vicious and merciless, first destroying his physical body bone-by-bone, then, ripping away ego and will layer-by-layer until she held the entirety of his being in her grip.

Manipulating one’s soul is an ever-so-delicate process. One wrong move and their personality could be irreversibly altered, memories lost, or even the entire ego lost to the aether. The witch didn’t feel any need to exercise any caution now.

She would simply lock this soul away for a while, forced to relive her doll’s worst memories, until the day came she saw fit to crush it between her fingers.

And hundreds of kilometers away, a doll slept just a little bit more soundly.