© copyright 2008 

​     The docile mare swished a bothersome fly with its tail. It looked to be nothing other than a horse. The old woman however was beginning to fume. She arched her back and squared her stooped shoulders. Her rumpled complexion grew taught and turned to coal. “Hold that card then, 'swayback'. I'll soon be calling you out—you and your 'ladyship'. She can't dodge me forever. When she returns to this hideaway, she's finished. An easy picking for me and mine, grounded as she is in these woods, like a helpless sparrow fallen from her nest at Highshire. My moth-eaten brother Earth will gladly surrender his crown to save his fair consort from my Pit, then retire peacefully up in Elysium, or wherever bygone gods go to rot.
     “Well, alacorn, are you not angered enough to vouch for your Lordess? Are you not going to sally off and warn her of the peril?” The mare only nickered and made one more lunge at the feedbag. “Have your oats then, you miserable swayback!” The woman scooped up a mouthful of oats and spit into the mare's face, then dumped the rest of the feed onto the ground just out of reach. The horse nickered once more, then lumbered off swishing flies.
     She stood in the doorway cursing the turn her plan had taken. She wasn't gimp or haggard, and far from old. But it was the same woman. Only now regally dressed and fully formed, vigorous and sturdy, with piercing eyes as black as the Pit of Netherlands from which she came. And she had a name, Phaedra. 
     She strode into the parlor and glowered at the site of it. Everything so clean, so tidy. There was no sign of the girl. “Where are you, my little mouse? You and your lady mouse? Do you expect me to wait forever? . . .” Phaedra ran a finger over one of the remaining curios from the mantlepiece. “. . . Spotless.” She then swiped her arm across the mantle, sending everything crashing to the floor. “Curse your Infernal bric-a-brack! Curse your Damn humiliating drudgery!” She slammed her fist against the hall cabinet. Keepsakes tumbled out to be crushed under Phaedra's heel. As she stomped the floor violently the entire room became a tempest of swirling furnishings and fixtures. The sofa, chairs and tables all flung aimlessly about slamming into ceiling and walls. When ash and soot from the hearth engulfed it all, Phaedra shrieked with glee.