~*Chapter VII*~

Dear God, please let her still be alright... Michael thought to himself as he finally reached the Flinders' home. He leaped off the horse, patting it as he ran to the door, dashing in valiantly... to find Polly wielding a hearth poker with her mother backed into a corner.

"Polly! What in the name of Hell are you doing?!" he said loudly, causing her to glance in his direction.


Molly screamed hysterically and huddled into a ball on the floor, clutching at her ear which really had nothing more than scratch on it. Polly shook her head, tsking softly at her mother. She let out a rather dainty titter that rang loudly through the house. "Mother, dearest... you've put me through pain far worse than that before." Polly's voice was filled with a sinister laughter that sent fear coursing through the veins of Molly Flinders.

Polly, in all of her bedraggled and formerly rain-soaked glory, grabbed her mother by the back of her shirt and dragged her out into the living room, dropping her girth before the hearth. The fire blazed peacefully, the flames happily devouring the chopped tree carcasses with snaps and crackles of bliss. Molly stared up at her daughter in abject horror, the girl's eyes seeming to glow red from the light of the flames.

"Polly..." her voice quivered uncontrollably. She cleared her throat to steady it. "Darling... what are you doing?" Molly asked sweetly, now trying to negotiate her way out of a bad situation.

Polly clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, shaking her head sadly. "Mother, Mother, Mother... You've gotten your clothes all covered in ashes!" Molly's mouth gaped wide in a silent "o" of terror as Polly picked up the iron fireplace poker and brandished it like a weapon. "You shall have to be punished for that, you know." She said in a singsong voice, sounding extremely happy that the time of her vengeance was at hand. It was time for her to turn the tables on her mother and make her experience all of the pain she'd gone through since as far back as she could remember.

Polly stopped midswing, a thought crossing her mind. She lifted the poker and rested it against her shoulder, appearing like a knight errant who was completely at ease, yet ready to strike at any moment. She wanted to make this a little more interesting. "I'm giving you to the count of three to run, Mother. I suggest you do so, if you wish to prolong your life... One..."

Molly looked up at her daughter, not able to comprehend that this was really happening. It wasn't just some booze-induced nightmare. "Two!" Polly said impatiently, wanting her mother to get up and at least try to run. There had to be some sporting aspect to the punishment, otherwise Polly wouldn't feel totally avenged.

Molly pulled her large self to her feet and looked about for a place to run, taking off at a horribly slow pace, one that Polly could have matched when she was three, had she ever had the desire to run. Polly grinned, something flashing in her eyes that was bordering on insanity.

This was what she needed. Taking this out on her mother would be the way to rid herself of nearly all of her problems. Her mother was the source of them all, so why not simply cut off the conundrum at its point of origin? "Three..." she said with a slow relish.

She now pursued Molly, who had foolishly run herself into a corner with no place to escape to. Polly took her time in stalking her, her boots loudly clicking on the hardwood floor as she approached the woman wedged firmly into her not-so-clever place of attempted refuge. Polly finally stood before her, the poker cradled in her hands as though it were a precious child rather than a cold, hard, unforgiving piece of iron. She ran her long and slender fingers up and down the handle, petting it lovingly as though it were a cat.

"Make your peace with God in the few seconds before you die, Mother. I really don't wish to see you in Hell..." Polly said icily, lifting the iron bar and preparing to swing it downward and rid the world of this blemish that constantly marred its flesh, ever spreading and making the whole place far uglier than it should be.

Molly screamed and Polly heard the door burst open. She didn't turn around, not wanting to risk losing her prey. She heard Michael call her name loudly. "What in the name of Hell are you doing?!" he added, obviously shocked to see Polly about to smite her mother.

Polly glanced his way, giving him a small and sly smirk. "Michael, darling. Did you decide to believe me, after all?" He stood there in the door, mouth agape, his jaw moving but his mouth not making any sound. Polly giggled. "I'm glad you came to rescue me, but... I don't need to be saved."

She held the poker above her head, the cold black iron glittering in the light like justice from the blade of the Reaper. She swung it once, hitting her mother hard in the side with the blunt edge of it. Molly Flinders cried out loudly, crumpling to the side from the force of the collision. Michael knew that he'd heard a crack, the sound of breaking ribs was unmistakable. He called loudly to Polly, afraid that he'd become the next victim if he got too close.

She swivelled to look at him, something dark in her eyes. It was an emptiness, an absence of innocence. Polly'd never had the chance to truly be a child, and now was her chance to exact revenge from her mother for all the pain and suffering she had endured through the seemingly long years of her life. Michael knew he couldn't interfere in this, but he also couldn't watch. With a deep sigh, Michael turned from the door. "I'll be outside, if you need me..."

"Michael." He glanced back over his shoulder at her. "There's a notebook in my room, under my mattress. Could you get it before you go?"

The preacher's son nodded and headed into the smaller room which was obviously Polly's. He emerged a moment later, holding the notebook aloft and heading outside. He shut the door behind him, sealing Molly Flinders' fate as surely as if he had killed her, himself. He walked over to the panting horse and gently rubbed its velvety nose. The poor thing had run hard, and he'd arrived on time. He just wasn't needed. He was glad that the walls of the Flinders home were thick, so he wouldn't have to hear Molly's screams.

Molly sobbed hysterically, her cries becoming louder as she gazed up into the crazed eyes of her daughter. Polly chortled, a dark and ominous sound that could mean nothing good. Polly made a disapproving noise. "Mother, Mother, Mother... Don't you know that screaming and crying will do you no good?"

Molly was frightened beyond words and Polly didn't care. She used her free hand to slap Molly across the face, the stinging contact stunning the woman to silence. "Mother, you seem shocked. Did you really think that all those years of chores the man of the house should have done wouldn't make me stronger?"

Molly whimpered and attempted to crawl backwards, shrieking in pain as her broken ribs drove further into her lungs. She'd be dead soon, drowned from the inside. Polly kicked Molly beneath the jaw, knocking her onto her back. The force of it caused her to slide partway across the floor, stopping with an agonized groan. Polly advanced on her, not wanting to draw it out any longer. Her whole objective was to be free of her mother. She'd make sure that she died painfully enough...

To ensure that Molly wouldn't be able to crawl away, Polly swung the poker twice more, effectively shattering her mother's shins. She moved with the ease of a practiced killer, although she'd never done anything remotely close to hunting, before. Molly was numb, shock having taken over her system to protect her from the pain.

Polly Flinders walked over to the oil lamp sitting on the kitchen table. She pulled the globe from the top and unscrewed the piece that held the wick. She smiled at the yellowish liquid inside the lamp, knowing that this would be the ultimate revenge, even if it did come at the last minute. She tilted the lamp and poured small pools of the oil over various areas of the main room. She went into her room and grabbed a pair of leggings, soaking one of them in the oil that was left in the bottom of the lamp. She took the lamp, and the trace amount of oil in the bottom of it, and threw it onto the floor beside her mother, the glass shattering on impact.

The sound seemed to draw Molly from her pain-induced stupor and she saw what Polly held in her hands. Her eyes grew wide, the whites of them seeming to take over. Her nostrils flared like those of a frightened horse and she dragged herself slightly backwards with her arms. A shrill scream pierced the air again as she pressed her palm down on a piece of glass. She jerked her hand back and the oil-coated glass gleamed at her, embedded into her palm. Molly yanked it out, blood flowing to the surface as the foreign object was removed. Her dirt brown eyes were filled with tears of pain and hopelessness. She knew that her fate was inevitable, but she still wanted to deny it somehow.

"You're a monster, Polly..." she said, hoping to distract the girl. Polly smirked, not bothering to stop her search for the other three oil lamps in the house. She brought them out and meticulously spread the oil about, taking her sweet time as she did so. She knew that her calm display was driving her mother insane, and that was part of the plan. So long as she made Molly suffer before she met her end, Polly didn't care what she did to cause her mother pain.

"You're the monster, Mother dearest. Not I. I'm the one who suffered through your nearly demonic episodes, be they drunken or not, for nearly all of my life." She tossed the last lamp down beside her mother, causing the woman to jump with surprise as best she was able. "You are about to experience a wondrous thing, Mother. 'It's called justice.'"

With that, Polly walked over to the hearth and plucked a small branch from it. She smiled as fire nearly dripped from the tip of it and she walked to the far pools of oil, lighting them with a sick sort of glee. She giggled as she neared her mother. She set fire to the puddles of oil near to her mother and tossed the burning branch down a few feet away from Molly.

Polly dashed back to the hearth and grabbed pieces of burning wood, tossing them about randomly. The oil roared to life, burning the wood beneath it. Fire, the universal destroyer and purifier. This place would be purified, cleansed of all evil ever done under this roof...

Polly, seeing that she soon would no longer be able to escape, glanced back at her mother once more. "I love you, Mother dearest..."she said, her eyes cold as she turned and ran from the burning house. The door slammed shut behind her, as if the house itself wanted recompense for the wicked deeds done within it.

Polly called to Heather loudly, looking around frantically for the cat. She wanted to make sure that her one true companion was still well. There was a loud, questioning mew from next to Michael and his horse. Heather was sitting atop the saddle, her head tilted to the side as she looked at the house. Polly gagged on the smoke that was beginning to seep from the house. She ran to Michael and fell into his arms, exhausted, but feeling justified.

All four of them visibly cringed as the glass blew from the windows a few moments later, the heat so intense it caused the glass to burst. A loud crackling sound filled the air, and Polly couldn't be sure if it was the crackling of bones, or simply of the wood as the whole structure fell in upon itself.

She couldn't help laughing with relief and she walked over to the large fire, standing as close as she could get without burning herself. She let out a titter that bordered on madness and complete happiness. Michael came to stand beside her in the growing pile of ashes, holding her close as she cried and laughed, all at the same time.

Little Polly Flinders

Sat among the cinders

Warming her pretty little toes

Her mother came and caught her

And whipped her little daughter

For spoiling her nice new clothes.

Now she's a grown-up Polly Flinders

And she laughs among the cinders

Of her Mother's burning home.

She is such a good little daughter

Watching as the flames rise and grow hotter

And her revenge is found amidst the crackling of bones.

El fin.