Even with its potential escape having been a part of her calculations, she failed to prevent the creature from bolting out the front door. The incantations at the exit proved useless, only respectable for warding away evil spirits, not restraining the dead. She reasoned it was hardly her fault. Obviously her older sister had provided rotten information.

"Damn it! Why do these things always happen to me?" The spacious room offered only an echo as an answer. She plopped down. Her skirt bottoms puffed up a decade worth of dirt and dust collected along the filthy wooden floor. Visions flashed through her head, memories of past experiments that resulted in failure. It depressed her, not having a single successful event to think of that might have raised her depleting spirits.

"The damn thing ran away first chance it got! I couldn't even contain it long enough to confirm if my words were intelligible to it." Her veins pumped ice water as her thoughts continued racing and her rage level escalated. She decided this experiment had yet to reach a conclusion. "And I'll be damned if this walking lump of waste makes a fool of me!"

Her finger twitched in anger, and a small spark shot out the tip. It was enough to inflame the ancient wood, and soon the warehouse became nothing more than food for the enchanted inferno.

"That should be enough to bury the evidence of any rituals that took place here." She stood, icy blue eyes glowing in the warming ember. Unhampered by the blaze in her path, she strolled out of the fire and into the chilling night's air unscathed.

"Oh, get a hold of yourself Alulu! You're losing it." With a sigh, she spun on the balls of her feet to face the burning building. "I guess I really ought to capture the rascal before he leaves a messy trail of mortals for me to clean up." She laughed; the sound an inhumanly wicked cackle deserving of a witch.

A mysterious black cloak materialized to cover up exposed skin. It levitated her in the air, giving off an eerie glow. In a powerful gust of wind, she tore through the night's sky, disappearing into the clouds.

Hidden in the forest brush on the outskirts of town, swaying forward with the grace of the dead, he searched for anything that might purge the aching emptiness. His heels swelled with each step as skin scraped away against uneven dirt. The evening's chill tingled his uncovered chest as his senses blazed to life.

His vision diminished, eyes demanding rest. They stung inside his skull as the the breeze punished him for keeping them open. Still he stumbled through the rough terrain, searching for an exit out of this empty environment.

Something suddenly sliced into the silence. He instinctively froze, honing in on the welcomed disturbance. Abandoning all hesitation, and dismissing the pain, the dead boy wobbled hastily towards the noise granting him hope.

His short journey led him to the town square, where the townsfolk hustled to their own destinations, chattering with one another along the way. He stared in confusion at the abundant amount of creatures as strange urges and unexplainable cravings began to form.

The alien impulses possessed him, commandeering his degenerating limbs, and puppeteering him towards the largest gathering and brightest lights. The walking corpse shambled forward without intervention or much attention drawn. The commoners placed him as just another staggering drunkard entering the theatre.

Meanwhile, the witch soared above, scorching the surrounding sky with anger. She seethed out curses, both magical and offensive, for not having applied a tracking spell while she had the chance.

Determined to track down her free-roaming abomination, she took a break from flying, landing atop a tower to think. Logic dictated a flesh-devouring monster would be where the largest quantity of delicious meats would be located.

"Well, there was that pathetic play the foolish Duke and his insufferable Lady planned to perform at the theatre tonight. That snotty princess Evangeline will be singing, no doubt drawing in a large crowd... perfect. I've been flying the wrong way!"

With a swear, the cloak lifted her with enough force to rip a few bricks out the tower, propelling the witch up through the air in the opposite direction.

"Will you be participating in the play, sir? I must commend your tailor for that gruesome garb, and you wear it with such elegance." The chunky man speaking to him smiled, wavering between incidental and intriguing. "However, I fear the presentation is about to begin. You had best make your way to the stage." Trumpets sounded, and the doughy townsman rounded his face in surprise. "Speak of the devil! I must go now, but I hope to be witness to your certainly riveting performance." In a puff of pudgy legs, he was gone.

The audience gave bombastic cheers for all attending actors. Two knights were entangled in a heated dual as swords clanged fiercely. The action on stage brought an undeniable energy to the crowd, but the noise only lured their doom. The rotting cadaver made it onto stage, its appearance startling the audience and puzzling the knights.

"What are you doing up here?" asked one of the confused morsels. He put his hands up, trying to push the dead boy back. "It's not time for the bodies just yet." He continued to explain, not seeing the mistake of having his arm so tantalizing close to the monster's mouth until a chunk of meat was missing.

He held the wound up, screaming along with some of the more squeamish of the crowd. Although they were also bewildered by the addition of a zombie, the rest were impressed by the breath-taking make up and effects.

The creature seized another chunk of flesh in his teeth, shocking the astonished audience. The ensemble of "Ooh" and "Ah" crescendoed when a geyser of gore splattered on the bustier of a young woman in the front row. With barely enough energy to screech her distress, she faints.

A few surrounding gentlemen chuckled at her, but ceased once the beast lost all patience, pouncing to devour its victim. With blood dribbling out from its maw, it turned its dead eyes on its next meal, this one an innocent individual in the crowd. It leapt upon him, biting down to crunch his shoulder to bits. His bellow was all it took to kick the rest into a frenzy.

She arrived at the building, finding mortals pouring out the exits in teary-eyed panic. Victory. Her only thought as she surveyed the humans with wicked eyes. The cloak disintegrated away from her skin, floating away in a puff of ash. She strolled calmly through the swarm of frightened men and women, heading into the heart of the theatre.

She screamed, a high soprano's wail. He groaned, a blood-gurling beast with blackened lips. He stood in the path of her escape, keeping her cornered in the room backstage. She cowered behind a spare chair, engaged in silent prayer for a savior.

"There you are!" she snapped. "I've searched half the country side for your wretched hide. Come along with me now, cretin, or face a fiery demise!" Her tone demanded recognition, but the zombie was brain dead. It did not understand the basic concept of fear, only hunger and emptiness

"Aloura? Is it truly you?" a quiet voice peeped. The witch looked around to find who had called her name.

"Evangeline?" she answered. The terrified girl peeked her head from the cover of her chair, watery eyes the size of saucers.

"Please! You must rescue me from this vile monster. This deranged beast has tried twice now to chomp away at my lovely form. I fear he has devoured our precious duke already." The witch's lips twisted in impish delight.

"I'm afraid that this beast just so happens to belong to me. It is my brand new pet. And with all the commotion going on with your play, I'd nearly forgotten to feed it. It must have gone out searching for food on its own, poor thing, and I'm not so sure it has eaten its fill yet."

Aloura advanced, slender legs taking short, deliberate steps; the slow pace meant to build tension and suspense. The corpse, lacking fear or loyalty, lunged at its new master, only to be back-handed to the ground. Finally, she towered over her victim, and reached down to cup soft cheeks, squishing Evangeline's sweet face.

"I know that fiend has you frightened half to death, but pay no mind to that mindless mistake, for I am ten times its threat to your life." The girl tried to speak through a pinched mouth, but was barked an order of silence.

"I have a predicament of sorts, princess. For you see, I hold no pleasant feelings towards you. Just the thought of you churns the hatred bubbling like acid in my gut. Honestly, I thoroughly enjoy the idea of your bloodied carcass spread on the floor in chewed chunks, though I admit my adoration for the perturbed and macabre. And now I've been rewarded with the prospect of just letting you perish as a casualty of chaos." She pulled the girl closer, until their faces nearly touched, and licked the open lips of the whimpering victim, meeting no resistance.

"Still, I am not a monster void of conscience. I do desire some things more than your demise or cries of anguish. For instance, you may choose to share some of that prosperity you've attained, and I will generously spare your life. It is all, of course, your choice to make."

"Get your claws off my daughter, demon spawn!" An abominable cry of hunger sounded behind her, followed by a quartet of shrills and a gasp which rose into a long groan of despair. Aloura twisted her head as far as her neck would allow, loosening her vice-like grip on the weeping lamb.

"Can I be of assistance to any of you gentlemen?" she croaked, loathing the untimely interruption. Carrying a blood-covered pitch fork, backed by a few townspeople with torches, stood the wealthiest, most handsome, sturdy-backed, stone-willed blacksmith of the town, who coincidentally stood tall in the doorway as Evangeline's father.

"Aw! Did you all bring those pretty lights for me? You really, shouldn't have. Especially since I have my own." Uttering a single syllable, the tips of her fingers lit like matches.

"Hear me well, witch!" Aloura grimaced. "Release my daughter or be banished out of this fine town, vanquished to the deepest pits of hell where your monster awaits your arrival!" He pointed down to the dead body disposed of at his feet. Indeed the mongrel suffered considerable damage where the tool had pierced its face, but the cadaver continued to writhe around.

Aloura stood to her full height, her burning black cloak casting a shadow over the mob.

"Mortals are so incompetently foolish." She smiled. "It's admirable in such frail creatures, but your overconfidence amuses me verily." The cloak began to shimmer and cackle against her skin, eating at the air.

Crooked fingers slid from the child's cheeks, but even after regaining her freedom, she remained unresponsive to her father's worried calls.

"If you'd like your daughter back..." her voice sounded a far distance away now, echoing around the room, "You can hug her in the afterlife!" In a puff of charred ash and dark smoke the witch vanished, leaving them all spooked to the core.

Evangeline snapped out of her stoic trance and scampered to her father's side. Just as he scooped up his bundle of joy and held his precious daughter to his chest, the room spontaneously combusted. The enchanted black blaze consumed everything, including the soulless undead, as the cruel haunting laughter taunted her ignited offerings to Hades.

The merciless wind whipped loose strands of her hair and magic cloak around as she recollected the thoughts of her own history.

"Things have changed so much since then." She peered down the muddied streets of a busy city from her perch atop a building, watching the crowd for any signs of her lost pet. "They don't even perform traditional witch hunts anymore. Such a shame too. I have a much larger broom stick wedged up my ass these days."

Finally enough movement from the ground to be suspicious caught her eye and she leaned forward, prepared to plummet a few hundred feet to the ground. She landed gently, feet tapping the cement softer than a leaf. A rare instance of déjà vu struck as men and women ran past her sides, the taste of their fear and grief polluting the air. She looked up and found they were emanating from a movie theater.

"Or, things are exactly the same as they were. I hope not, because this would be fated to fail." She walked ominously, cloak over her head, avoiding the stampede of humans.

In the darkest of the theaters she spotted him, dismembered arm flopping loosely between gnawing teeth. Upon her arrival his eyes widened and she felt the panic brush past her psychic presence. He wanted to run, but her eyes kept him bound to the spot.

She took her time, casually strolling to her new pet while it shivered in place. When a gentle hand reached to his mouth to pull the limb away, his skin literally began to crawl, repelling away from her touch. She blinked, releasing him from the spell, and he fell promptly on his ass, confused and frightened.

He let loose a tortured groan from his broken vocal cords until she knelt down to put a palm over bloodied lips to silence him. His pain was evident, and pieces of his face had started rotting off. He was decomposing at a morbidly swift pace.

While the creature remained silent she asked, "Can you understand me." It didn't try to verbally respond, but a bolt of intelligence crossed its eyes as it slowly started to nod. "Good boy! Can you speak?" It moaned a morbid croon, coughed up blood onto her fingers, and shook its head in defeat.

The blood didn't seem to concern the witch nearly as much as the shape of her pet. There was only one solution she could think of that might help her correct the mistakes that must have been made during the ritual.

"All right." She stood and offered an arm for support. "I have a friend hidden elsewhere that can fix you, but you have to trust me, okay?" He cocked his head to one side, questioning the gesture. He inspected the out-thrust arm, and drooled a bit before quickly trying to take a nip. He received a swift smacking for his trouble.

"Easy!" The moving cadaver lifted itself from the ground. "I know the transformation has you dealing with weird cravings. Just... follow me without eating anyone. Are you able to do that much?" He managed to abolish the frustration caused by her strike, and limped over to her side, nuzzling her breast with his rotting cheek.

"I don't want you perishing while in such a frugal state. There's still so much you're destined for. So don't do anything to draw attention to us, and we'll be fine."

"Freeze!" A squad of policemen had arrived on the scene. "What the hell is that thing?" One asked. The zombie moaned hungrily at her side, but she held him close, making sure none of the mortal fools could harm him. "Its eyes are glowing!"

"Oh my god! It's a monster! Kill it! Bring it down!"

"Fire!" Bullets rang aloud in the dark, but the duo of supernaturals were long gone by the time the triggers were pulled back.

"Fire?" her echo asked the panicking policemen. "As you wish, fools!" And on her mark, the officers, dead bodies lying about, the velvet curtains, and soon the entire theater was a blazing inferno.

"I guess nothing's changed at all." She watched from a nearby rooftop as the building slowly made its way to smoldering ash in the enchanted fire. Her pet zombie held her tighter, afraid of the incredible height, and she smiled as it nuzzled its corroding cheek into her neck. "Then again, I still have you, don't I?"