The world dripped quietly, a blanket of thick, misty night coating it. Shivering, whispering cold stirred through the mist, like a witch’s wicked curse. Sliding greedy fingers under doors and through floorboards. Worming its way into crying, sickly infants and into the worn bones of fatigued parents, making them ache. The steady dripping wormed too, like the cold, water creeping under paint and decaying wood, until it crumbled and fell away. You smiled your small, evil, little smile as you turned an eye over the world. You felt your distended self, integral to each molecule of malicious mist and maligning water. Your kingdom stretched away with the turn of the earth; and with each endless rotation, your strongest ally did its work. Time, turning endlessly, decaying all, allowing you to wear away cliffs and work your way into every mind, until one and all crumbled into a tumultuous sea. Humans, insignificant to time, were so frail to it. At first, they seemed so hardy, time made them stronger but all too quickly time turned against them, breaking their bodies and minds. Oh, humans tried to fight it. They rebuilt what you broke. They made new lives when you destroyed them. Even in fire and flood, they rebuilt; and they fought despair, at every turn. They kept hope alive. They celebrated the sunshine. They celebrated each other. But eventually, even that would fade, given enough time. Humans never lasted long enough. Besides, they could not see you. You were hidden in the dark or the glare of harsh, murderous sun. In the infected blood of a sick cow that killed a village in pus and fever. No one even knew you were there. Until that misty night, when you felt something new. Away, in the festering remnants of a city, a spark for power. You drifted slowly over the city. Rundown buildings and shantytowns, heavy with precipitation. Each one creaking under the weight of your late night mist. This once great city now lined with the dead, it had been a good plague. Something slipped through the streets until you found the source of prodigal power. A small bookshop, halfway up a boarded-up street. In a cramped apartment upstairs, a newborn cried her first. Through a window, in flicking half-light, you watched as the newborn was handed to her older brother, barely seven himself. ‘Another vestige of hope,’ you thought with a sneer. You prepared to crush this little bookshop when a thought occurred to you. Power was power. You had learnt to work with Time and that had made you stronger, you had learnt to you use both terrible cold and immense heat and that had made you stronger. Maybe you could use this little girl as well. Yes, a lesser god would destroy the potential threat. You, however, smiled again and summoned some of the rats, squabbling in the dirt just outside. They would watch her keep her safe, and when they couldn’t you would. As sure as night turned to day, you would make this enemy an ally.