there's a demon inside

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When I was very small, I swallowed the pip of a silver apple. My mother had received the fruit from a fellow witch to protect our secluded home from demons.

When she was killed, and I was left with no one to cook for me, I helped myself to the glazed fruit. One bite through the metallic skin was enough to plant the pip, and one pip was enough to plant the demon.

A villager found me and raised me like a human.

When I was young, the demon pinched the armoured heads of ants between my thumbnails. It plucked them from the ground and held them high, silhouetted against the sun for a final twitching moment, until their orbs popped under just enough pressure. No one in the village noticed the seed-sized soldiers enough to know they should miss them.

When I was strong enough, the demon twisted the spines of rabbits until their heads hung loose and heavy. Their limp corpses made warming soup and coats in the winters and protected arable growth in the springs.

When I was tall enough, the demon drained the blood of horses across fields and made the mud thick and pungent. Horses are more valuable alive than dead, so we were chased away under shouts of devil.

We slipped away to school and studied organic magic. The demon learned quickly, and we composed great experiments which pushed the boundaries of carbon and blood. When I was smart enough, the demon slipped strychnine into pots of cafeteria tea and bowls of cafeteria soup.

When I was caught, the demon buried itself deep inside my bones and whispered comforting words into the cold darkness of my cell. The demon had sisters, it said. Sisters from other pips from other silver apples which had been scattered by other witches. We would never be alone, it said.

When I was tried and found guilty, the demon laughed and congratulated me. Death was our favourite experiment, and a short walk and a drop was nothing to fear. We embraced the conviction and awaited our execution in peaceful contemplation of the people who had sought to shape us.

My body perished, dangling under a snapped rabbit neck, but our smart brain continued to observe and understand the world.

When my rotting body was finally cut down, they buried it with a cobble in its mouth and its face flat towards the centre of the Earth.

Hundreds of years passed. They placed a stone above us, marking the only apple witch to allow itself to get caught, and the demon began our next experiment. The pip I swallowed when I was very small sprouted, reaching for the sun through soil pressed together by time.

A silver apple tree has roots where my body used to be, and the demon's sisters thrive within the pips of the mirrored fruit.

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