Ate, who preferred that men pronounce her name Artay, arose from the litter mountain. One moment empty, greasy pizza boxes decomposed quietly atop potato peelings, mouldy woollen cardigans, plastic milk containers with white, quasi-liquid dregs slowly moving about inside them and torn magazines, and the next the Goddess was rising, her fury a wonder to behold, the litter transforming in some glorious golden haze into a dress that rustled like dry parchment and was covered in ever-changing writing. The Litter Ate was reborn, and feeling vengeful.
In a cold attic bedroom, Morgana sat hunched over a desk intended for a child and not a grown woman. Her back ached, her toes were numb and blue, and her fingers cramped painfully every few minutes. Behind her, a baby lay silent in the crib, and Morgana was quietly praying to herself that the child was sleeping and not yet dead. In her hands was a disheveled copy of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, and on a tiny web-book screen she was typing invective into an internet forum, excoriating some other commentor for having never read it. She heard a sound, and she lifted her head, wondering if it had come from the window. Without questioning why, she decided to stand and throw the sash window open, letting the marginally colder air from outside in, and lean out looking for the source of the noise. As she did so, her eyesight failed, her vision shrank down to a tiny tunnel through blackness and then went out altogether. Uncertain and unsteady now, she put her hands down on the window-sill to steady herself, and found that it had gone. Plunging forward, her feet caught the edge of the opened window, causing it to crash back down closed behind her, even as she crashed to the ground below.
At the crib, the Litter Ate looked down at the child, who had died in the night while Morgana had spent hours on a language forum arguing that the English subjunctive was not only well-defined and clear to all right-thinking people, but demanding that people who failed to use it after the word whether (which could only imply speculation, she stated) should be publicly flogged and egged. Ate closed the child's eyes with two fingers and, reaching out into realms reserved only for Gods, Goddesses and their servants, nudged the child's soul away from its mother's.
Somewhere, where the aether shimmers and records the tiniest nuances from the most insignificant things, a harmonic was struck, and a shiver went down the shoulders of many men and women, who for the briefest of moments realised unconsciously that the Litter Ate was aprowl, and hunting for sacrifices.