Sulphur no longer smells rotten to her. It is a perfume now, it calls to her, summons her down the cold concrete steps to the basement. A bright light would spoil the atmosphere, a single bulb is all she allows, low-watt and fly speckled, it makes more shadows than it banishes.
Her feet slap upon the steps, one by one, the silken robe whispering as it slinks after her as though ashamed, caught in her wake. There is a groan, deep and masculine from the deepest of the shadows and she smiles as she reaches the last step, exalting in a sense of her power.
The silk slips from her shoulders and, naked, she gleams in the little light there is. Pale and glorious, standing erect, chin tilted up toward the light. It makes no difference but she’ll show no weakness to her quarry. She melts to her knees and prowls forward across the icy hardness of the dim and dusty floor. Hardened wax crackles and flakes from the floor as her hand brushes it and old lines of chalk and blood are smeared.
It matters not.
‘How male,’ she thinks. ‘How narrow and focussed to desire a thing only for its appearance. To be a woman,’ she muses to herself, ‘is to contain a multitude. To be able to desire for strength or looks, for intelligence, for power, for any and all qualities there are to desire.’
Yellow, cat-slit eyes in the darkness blink and a taloned foot scrapes the floor as it withdraws. She prowls forward, in pursuit, on her hands and knees. Her breasts sway and every movement echoes in her belly, lighting a fire in her dark-ringed eyes.
There’s nowhere further it can go. This dangerous thing, this thing of power, this force she has trapped and bound and made her own.
It shows its teeth, but she knows it cannot bite.
It raises its claws, but she knows it cannot scratch.
It speaks threats and promises, glories and terrors, but she knows it lies.
Its skin, under her fingers is as warm as a too-hot bath, it makes her flush, it makes her faint.
Long nails draw down a scarlet, squamous chest, tick-tick-ticking from scale to scale, until her hands grasp the root of its mockery of maleness and its forked tongue stills.
For she knows its name, and calls it ‘beast’.