Enjoy the first chapter of

In A Land Of Hatred...

Chapter 1




           In the sweltering darkness that surrounded her life, she saw the illusions of gray. White was a mask to mix with the black, to color her life each day.



            Driving the back roads to her parent's home, Veronica's high beams blared obnoxiously, reflecting off of the houses she passed.  Although she knew these roads well, visibility wasn't the best on them at night.  Shadows crept out at her, their darkness oozing into larger beings with a gymnastic flexibility beyond what humans could simulate.  Paranoia gave the shadows the power to grow larger, fiercer, so she ignored these harmless entities by focusing on the road ahead.  Country roads always seemed a bit creepy to her, but these ones were much more bearable since she was so close to home.

            Turning a sharp right signified to her that she was only a few feet from her home.  Her soft, blonde curls brushed against her face, tickling her bright, though distant blue eyes.  Just as she took the turn, her eyes were drawn out the passenger side window.  From the corner of her eye, she thought she had seen the movement of a large animal within the bushes, but when she looked, there was nothing there.  She reduced her visual to that of seeing a shadow, instantaneously forgetting about it.

After such a long day, mixed with morning college classes then spending the rest of the night at her part-time job, Veronica was inwardly glad to make it home.  It was9:13pmwhen she pulled into the driveway.  The paved, dark asphalt was a welcoming gesture signifying the end of a long and drawn out day.  She planned on living with her parents only until she finished college.  Then, she would have to find a place of her own, as well as a better job.  Her major was currently undecided.  Two years of college and still, she did not know what her future would hold.

She parked along the driveway where the asphalt led off into the grassy lawn.  Their two car garage was reserved for her father and her mother's cars.  Her car was always parked off to the right side, but near the entrance of the garage.  This didn't bother her; she could care less about the aesthetic value of her car.  As long as it ran well, that was all that mattered to her.  

            She sat there, staring through her windshield at the dark sky.  The stars were hidden from her sight this evening by the infuriating clouds.  She enjoyed looking up at the blackness of the night sky.  There was something peaceful about being outside, alone.  The solitude, the emptiness of the dark was where she felt her greatest peace.  Although tonight, she could not see the moon and wondered which stage it was in.

            "Hmph," she muttered.

            Then she thought about it, calculating the pattern of the past month's moons.  Mid-month, the moon should be halfway full.  She tapped her fingers against the steering wheel, as her mind wandered.  She had lived in her parent's home for the past twenty years.  This place was so familiar to her.  She had all of the streets memorized, the houses- but not the people who lived in them.  She had no inclination to interact, yet her parents were such social beings.  She was sure they wondered where they had gone wrong with her.

            She started to remember her old friend Tommy.  He used to live down the street on the same block- just two houses down. Tommy had hated the night- feared it even.  Her first thoughts moved to something Tommy said, just before nightfall, when they were playing outside.  First, he said he had to be home early one night.  After laughing at him and prodding him, he still wouldn't tell her why.  Finally, he cracked when she threatened to tickle him to death.  Tommy was so superstitious and imaginative, especially at the age of ten, when he should have been moving out of that stage.  She thought she was so much more mature than him back then. 

With the help of his imagination though, he created games for them to play.  She remembered how he created games of fantasy where they pretended they were on an isolated island filled with good, virtuous people until the trolls decided to invade with plans to take over.  They had to devise a way to keep the trolls away from the land, which fared especially difficult since Tommy's made-up trolls could fly.  She pictured the troll, an entity larger than a human, flying fearlessly at them.

She laughed quietly to herself. 

Then her memory flashed to that night again.  She had tickled him so hard before he would tell her anything.  His question had been so strange.  She could still hear the words and see the frightened look in his face.  It was as if he actually believed what he was asking.

            "Veronica," he had said, "Do you think there's, there's real goblins or ghouls that hide at night?"

            Her first instinct was to laugh.  She had laughed so hard at him that night.  She hadn't been able to ask him why he thought that way, or what had brought him to ask such a question.  Instead, he quickly ran home, embarrassed.  That was the last time she saw him. 

She frowned. 

To this day, she still felt guilt for her coldness. 

After that night, his family moved, disappeared even and no one had ever told her why, or even let her say goodbye.  Suddenly her heart felt heavy- heavier than usual.  In her adult life, she had searched his name on every friend internet site she could find, but he never appeared.  It was like he hadn't just vanished from her life but from the entire world.  Feeling the sad emotions rising within her, she chased all thoughts of Tommy out of her head.  She would never get that close to another person.  Tommy was the only friend she felt connected to, the person most like her.  Everyone else she met was just different.  Different to her, could only mean they were different in a bad way.

            Finally finished with her contemplations, she grabbed her black school bag off of the passenger seat.  As she got out of the car, the light connected to the garage slowly started to dim.  She stood and stared at it, watching the flickering light with fascination.  The light kept blinking, until finally it just went off completely.  She slammed the car door shut, then hurried towards the stone walkway which led to the porch.

            "Great," she muttered, "My only light to see and now it's out.  It's a good thing I've lived here all my life."

            She spoke to herself in this moment, not because she had to, but she analyzed it as a sad attempt to comfort herself.  Despite her gloomy attitude towards life, there was something about complete blackness that she just couldn't stand.  There was no moon to light her way.  The only thing that surrounded her home was the thick woods she had been warned about as a child- it was forbidden to play in them late at night. 

            Her father would tease, "Now Veronica, always remember that the monsters only come out at night."

            Maybe Tommy had gotten his own ideas of goblins and ghouls and flying trolls from his own family's jokes.  Perhaps he just interpreted them differently, especially at such a young age.  By now, hopefully he had grown out of such fairy tale stories.  She was quite sure he had.  How many adults really believe that monsters or goblins or ghouls exist as fact?

            As she basked in her thoughts, she heard a scuffling noise to her right, close to where the garage light had blinked off. 

            "Animals," she muttered, but her heart started to race.

            She quickened her pace, as she was just a few feet from the start of the walkway.  Somehow, she felt a child-like fear she had not experienced in so long, she could not have even documented the year.

            As she reached the stone walkway, the porch light cast some reflected relief over the path.  She hurried towards the porch, her bag tucked close to her side.

Suddenly, there was another loud, scuttling noise behind her.  She looked back just in time to see a faster movement out of the corner of her right eye.  Although it was too dark to see clearly, she knew it had to be a wild animal since they did not have any animals of their own.  She caught a glimpse of something running.  There was just enough light for her to see the profile of a darker animal moving.  It was running past the garage, towards the woods it seemed, not towards her.  She turned forward and quickened her pace again until she was almost at a run.


            An unmistakable, almost human-like laughter erupted from the front of the house.  This time it was far off to the left of her, near a large tree in the center of their yard.  The noise hadn't been the sound of an adult, but more like the screeching of a small child.  The laugh was that of a child probably too small to be outside at night alone.  Her heart beat faster.  She couldn't comprehend the laughter.  For a moment, she thought it could be her sister pulling a joke on her, butLydiaknew better than that.  Veronica was relatively lacking as far as a sense of humor was concerned.  There were too many serious issues to contemplate in life and jokes were just a waste of time.  Without realizing or expecting to, her legs gave way to movement and she started to run.


            The sound was louder and seemed to move closer.  Something seemed to be moving towards her rather than away from her.  Her heart raced with a mixture of adrenaline and fear.  She ran faster up the side of the house.  The dim porch light was on, but as she ran, it started to blink off- just like the garage one had.  She felt a dizzying panic overwhelming her, but she was almost at the steps.  Suddenly, she tripped over something.  Not something that had been left in the way.  No, she had seen her path before the light blinked out.  Something had to have jumped in her path. 

She fell hard- her hands and knees catching the pavement, scraping into the cement.  A searing, hot pain ran through her hands and knees, stopping her from standing.  Before she had a chance to recover, she heard a slithering, scuttling noise against the ground.  Whatever had run in front of her seemed to slither away, though not far from her.  Frightened by the noise, she tried to get up, but something latched onto her ankles, tying her legs together.  It was a slippery, wet feeling that made her stomach queasy.  She screamed, but was stopped by the voice of what also spoke like a small child.

            "They won't hear you," it grumbled.

            She could not see what it was that spoke.  All she could feel was the slimy thing that held her legs.  Shaking violently, she reached in her pocket for her keychain flashlight, frantically lighting it. 

            "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH," she screamed, with a greater fury.

            The thing coiled around her legs had the face of a goblin child with a body the thickness of an eel, but with the near-length of a snake.  His face appeared rubbery, like a doll, with small ears which were still too large for his head.  His beady eyes were brown-black in color.  Those eyes seemed to stare into her with a viciousness she did not understand.  It was unimaginable. 

Her unsteady hands caused the flashlight to shake.  Moving the light upwards, the beam shined behind the goblin-snake.  In the light of her flame, other goblins came into view- all of different shapes and sizes, but with the same rubbery skin.  All of them were dressed in the same, monotonous, almost primitive brown clothing.  Before she could scream again, she heard the thing's voice again, directing her attention back to that hateful, vicious face.  Frozen in fear, she watched him flick his tongue before he spoke.

            "They cannot hear you," he screeched, "You are in another world now."

            She stared at him in disbelief and then watched as the world around her started to disappear.  The goblins were staring at her.  All of them stared, but none of them spoke.  A blue flash of light consumed her body.  She looked down at her hand, as it started to dissipate through a cloud of gray.  Her hand became transparent through a gray, smog-like haze.  Her entire body followed, until suddenly, nothing she knew, nothing she could care for existed anymore. 
















If you have already read the first book in the series, here is the first chapter of the second book in its entirety.  Enjoy.


Chapter 1



       Within the dreams, or rather nightmares of Veronica Stoltz’s sleeping mind, the scene opened around her into complete blackness.  There was a frightening silence, signaling complete isolation and solitude.  She knew her eyes were open, blinking them just to be certain, but still she could see nothing. 
       In this former moment, her memory flashed to the dreadful encounter with the first room in the Slipping of the Dimensions.  More specifically, she remembered the imagery of the wall of chained humans and goblins.  The doleful expressions carved on all of those faces plagued her mind with haunting clarity.   
        All of those faces, recognizable or not, called out to her in despair, sorrow and sadness.  This was a group of living beings, surrounded by one another, yet so alone.  They were collectively unable to retain control over their physical movement by the chains that kept them in place.  They were trapped; they were forced against their will to be there, lost in the Slipping of the Dimensions in the room of the future. 
        Although together and yet awkwardly alone, time seemed endless until the entire concept of seconds, minutes and hours diminished completely.  This wall of chained humans and goblins mocked her in that moment, seeming to laugh at her, humiliating all ideas of freedom.  She ended up chained to this wall just before everything went black all around her. 
         Restrained as she was, she could feel the metal cuffs digging into her wrists, a weight around her waist and the shackles anchoring her ankles.  She could no longer see the faces of the others who had been chained to the wall with her.  In the first moments, those faces were recognizable, but once she became a prisoner attached to the rest of them, the faces transformed into those of complete strangers.  None of them seemed to be residents of Hatred Blooms.  If they were, she had never seen them there before.  She still could not understand who they were.  And in those moments, she felt utterly alone.     
        Her mind reeled forward to this present moment of her entrapment.  Within the grasp of this newfound blackness, she tried to move, but the chains limited her motion.  Despite the silence and blackness, she wondered if the others, strangers or not, were with her now.  Were those faces lingering in the dark?  Were they just sleeping or somehow so terrified and uncertain that they were trying to be just as quiet as she?  She did not know but she had to find out.  Perhaps there was someone here who could help her escape.
         “Help,” she whispered.   
         Her voice was weak and barely recognizable as her own.  Even if there was someone to hear her call, the sound did not carry far from her lips.  Despite the weakness of volume, she already knew there was no one here with her.  The room was empty.  She knew it.  It had to be, or else there might have been some sort of reaction to her quiet utterance.     
         “Help me,” she cried again.   
         This second cry was an attempt to make up for her last weakened volume.  This time, it sounded just as unrecognizable as the first.  It was as if someone else was using her voice and she was no longer Veronica Stoltz.     
        Nervously, she moved her wrists, hearing the clinking of the metal chains surrounding her.  She could feel the scratchiness of the metal cuffs pressing into her, cutting slightly into her soft flesh.  To be confined is to be controlled and her stubbornness couldn’t bear this imprisonment.  She couldn’t stand being restrained anymore.  Her heart beat fast in warning of rising panic and helplessness.  Panting with anxiety, she struggled for breath but her lungs seemed to close up on her, tightening in a mixed mutiny with her overly pulsating heart.  Now aggravated by her increasingly helpless position, she shouted out. 
         She succeeded in strengthening her voice but it was raspy now and that of a woman much more aged than she.  When there was no response to her voice, she thought to make more noise.  Within her continuing anxiety, she felt crazed.  Rustling the chains around her, she shook her wrists and ankles in a rhythmic clattering like a rattlesnake’s tail in warning of approaching attack.  Only she was in no position to attack.      
        After some time she stopped the clattering noises and hung her head.  She gave in to quiet sobbing.  Through natural reaction, she moved her chained hands towards her face in an attempt to wipe the liquid from her cheeks.  The chains emitted a quieter rustling this time.  Her hands would not reach her face but the quiet rustling was met by another sound similar to her own.   
        Clink, clink, clink.   
         The sound seemed to rattle with a similarity to her movement.  Perhaps she was not alone after all.  The noise stopped and silence overlapped the room.  She rattled her chains again.  Then she heard another sound echoing from a different side of the room.  She clinked her chains and the other did it with her, in simultaneous motion.  When she stopped, the other sound stopped as well.  Now uncertain of her own senses, she began clinking the chains again. 
         Clink, clink, clink, clink, clink.   
        The noises persisted.   
         She changed the pattern of her noise and the underlying one did the same.  She stayed silent awhile and the mocker did the same.  Who was it in these chambers with her?  Was there really someone here or was she hearing her own echo?
         “Who are you?” she asked.
         There was nothing but silence.  She doubted anyone was with her then and began to question her sanity.  But she knew she heard a sound different from her own.   
         “I said who are you?” she cried, desperately this time.
         She clattered her chains again and the mocker did the same.  Were they hiding or pretending that they weren’t there?  Whoever it was, they were still there.  Yet they would not speak to her.
        “Who are you?” she demanded.
        The answering of silence choked her with frustration.  Knowing that there was another victim trapped with her, who chose not to speak, magnified her desperate position.  Now angry at this possibly passive behavior, she shouted out.
         “I said WHO ARE YOU?” she screamed.
        Finally, a voice began, but it was terrifying and she only wished she hadn’t asked for it to speak.  The voice was grainy and scratchy, burning her eardrums just like the harsh scraping of a metal knife against a pan of the same material.  Fear shot through her body with the force of a rocket, its energy explosively spreading out, rocking every part of her with a trembling aftershock motion.   
         “Who are you?” it asked.
         The voice was definitely inhuman.  Not only was the sound terrifying but this moment of desperation also seemed to be a joke to this creature.  The voice contained a derivation of pleasure, even a devilish or demonic quality about it.  She did not answer, did not move and did not make any noise.  Her fear was at a level strong enough to freeze the anxiety of her pounding heart, leaving her stiffly incapable of any sort of relaxation.  She could think of no way to escape besides silence.
         For a long while, she waited, hoping that the thing would go away.  She did not want to hear it speak again.  She made no noise, no movement, no offering to be mocked.  Some time passed before, unprovoked, the grainy voice spoke again.
         “Who are you?” it mocked.
     The sound made her tremble and shiver, overpowering the effect of the cold air in the darkness.  She retained control over her movement though, refusing to give noise to be mocked. 
        She said nothing.
         “I said WHO ARE YOU!” it shrieked, instilling a greater level of terror into her.
         Still trembling, she said nothing in response.  Her silence was an amenable response but there were times when fight alone could not win.  She started to think of pleasant things in her mind to shut out the uncertainty around her.  Apparently her silence was not part of the plan of the Slipping.
         Suddenly, a light came on above her, shining over her like a beam ready to abduct her to a ship more alien than even this circumstance.  She looked up, the intensity of the white light blinding her.  Without hesitation, she looked back down, blinking lingering flashes of light in her vision.  A moment of helplessness mixed with a beaming ray of hope caused her to forget the creature.
         “Help,” she whispered.
         As the flashes in her vision cleared away, she squinted, looking around the murky room.  There was nothing or no one in the room with her.  The walls, ceiling and floor were completely black.  The room was much smaller than she would have expected it to be, and was rectangular rather than square. 
         Nothing spoke in response to her voice.  Now that she knew she was alone, she thought to call out again, but hesitated.  Where had the light come from?  She looked up, trying to see how the light came forth, but it was still too blinding for her to see around it.  She looked away and blinked her eyes quickly, trying to dispel the light flashes that remained.
         “Help,” she said again.
        Once the glare disappeared, she looked in front of her and was surprised to see that in the time she looked to the ceiling, a mirror appeared before her.  It wasn’t there before, it couldn’t have been.  She couldn’t resist peering into it.  She looked to her face, seeing the smearing of dirt around her cheeks.  Her eyes looked tired and worn, her hair was frizzled and dry, its curly nature standing out in many different frowzy directions.  She could now see the chains, which held her wrists and the solid metal around her waist.  She looked down to her heavy, sore ankles.  She looked back up at the mirror in disgust.  If she could, she would break it.  To see yourself, to physically confirm and force feed pain into a victim like this disgusted her.
 Unable to see herself like this anymore, she looked away from the mirror.  The image brought tears to her eyes, which she could not restrain from falling.  And this time she knew that she could not reach up to wipe them away. 
         “Someone help me,” she whispered.
         “Someone help me,” the creature mocked. 
        The grainy voice arose again to her sound, awakened her with grief, stabbing into her sorrow, uniting her with the terrifying fear again.  Panic and fear rose with splintering anxiety, thrashing through her chest.  Hopelessness seared numbness through her body as she cursed this place.  She thought she was alone but that voice made her tremble once more.  Now shaking, she knew she could do nothing to stop this torture.  Her body shook even harder, knowing that she did not know what was to come.  
        Desperately, she looked around the room.  Still she saw nothing.  Her eyes scanned the room harder.  What was she missing?  She could only tell that the voice was coming from her right.  The searing light above her made it difficult to see every corner of the black-walled room.  She leaned forward, pressing against the chains that held her, trying to block out the light above.  Her chains rustled as she heard another mocking rustling in the same direction to her right. 
        Now she caught a glimpse of a small, green colored object in the corner of the room.  It appeared to be a caterpillar-like centipede, with far too many legs wrapping around its body.  The noise came from its numerous legs scratching against the wall to complete its mocking.  The sound had been echoing from this tiny creature the whole time.  The body was only about three inches long, rounded like an ant and light green in color.  The legs wrapped all around the body, scratching, scraping in different directions to mock her noise.  The bug appeared to have a face, complete with beady black eyes, a wrinkled nose and an open mouth.  It seemed to wear a playfully vicious smile, which reminded her of her first encounter with Sam the snake.  There was no kindness behind that smile, just a retaliatory sort of fun enveloping his entire presence.  She was no longer terrified of the creature as his smallness gave her the courage to fight against him.
         “Stop it!  You stop that right now!” she yelled.
         The bug ceased movement for a moment.  He moved one of his arm-legs to his chin, as he seemed to quietly ponder her words.  Moments later, he stopped scratching his chin.  She watched him open his mouth.  He was a toothless being whose lips flapped lazily without the guidance of a strong facial structure.  He mocked her in response.    
        “Stop it!  You stop that right now!” the grainy voice said.
     Veronica felt her face flush with anger.  She looked to the mirror to confirm the redness.  She shook her head in disgust.
         “Why are you doing that?” she asked.
         The bug remained quiet for a longer moment before he spoke again.   
         “Why are YOU doing that?” he asked.
         His emphasis on, you made it seem as if he was inquisitive and really directed the question at her rather than just simply mocking her words.   
         “Quit mocking me,” she said.
         “Quit mocking ME,” he quickly replied.
         Her heart beat faster and her face flushed red again.  She was filled with an angry heat.  She moved back to her upright position, rustling the chains by accident.  The bug took the opportunity to rub his bristly legs against the wall, simulating the sound.
         “You little…” she started, but did not finish.
        “Somebody help me,” he mocked.
         She shook her head.  Impatience rattled her nerves, now mixing with her fear, helplessness and anger, essentially creating a fireball of impulsivity.
         “Why don’t you help me somehow!” she screeched.
         “Help,” he mocked, curling his lower lip upward in a fake pout.
         She controlled the desire to strike out at this being with words.  She said nothing more.  He made no noise.  After some time, she wondered if he had left somehow or if he was still there.  Her curiosity tempted her and she slowly leaned forward again.  Her light movements made her chains only whisper their clinking this time.
        As she should have expected, the creature’s tiny face looked up at her from the same location on the wall.  He was staring blankly at her.  Once their eyes met, he rubbed his bristly legs, one tiny, stick-like one by one across the wall with a graceful motion, almost as if he were playing the keys of a piano.  The noise echoed precise and unbelievably loud, burning into her eardrums.  She felt the tides of anger brewing inside of her, yet held in her impulsive desires.  If she could, she would smash him against the wall without a second thought. 
        She said nothing, she just watched him, hoping her lack of reaction would stop him from his teasing.  He did stop the movement of his legs against the wall shortly after the sound of her whispering rustling chains ceased. 
         Some time passed of them staring at one another before she watched his wings lift upwards from his body.  They were a diaphanous version of the natural light green shade of his body.  She hadn’t noticed his wings, nor expected him to possess the ability to fly.  Without another word, he came at her with a swiftness she didn’t expect with such a large body and light wings.  She moved back swiftly from her forward position, the metal cutting fiercely into her waist, almost threatening to split her in two.  She gagged at the pain, realizing it had been some time since she last ate.  She could instantly feel the bruising reaching up into her ribs.
        The insect flew hastily at her, but did not land directly on her.  Instead, he zoomed around her head, annoying her like a fly in the summer inviting himself to a picnic.  His pace picked up as he zipped around her, emitting a low buzzing noise whose repetition alone was enough to drive her mad.
         “Stop it!” she shouted.
         He picked up speed against her request.  The buzzing grew louder and louder as he passed closely past her eardrums.   
        “Stop it!” she shrieked.
         “Sto-o-o-ppp I-I-I-t-t-t,” the bug mocked.
        His speech slurred with his movement.  She shook her head.  She was far past the point of annoyed.  She watched in the mirror, wincing at the blur of green movement as the bug beat around her head, never landing on her, just simply invading her space.  She tried to regain her calm, closing her eyes now to tune out the actions before her.  As a method to comfort herself, she started to softly hum.  The bug picked up on the sound of her humming, using it and abusing her comforting noise, warping it into a sound even louder and more obnoxious.  
        “HHHHUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMM!!” he mocked.
        She opened her eyes to glare at him, immediately noticing he slowed his movement around her as he hummed.  She hoped he was running out of energy and would stop harassing her soon.  She stopped humming completely when she realized that the bug was no longer one.  Smaller insects of the same appearance broke off of the body, flying endlessly around her in a dizzying wave.  She tried to look to the mirror, trying not to look directly at them, but the mirror offered no comfort.  In small glimpses of the mirror, they circled around her so fiercely that she appeared as if she no longer had a head.  A green wave of movement, an intangible air around her replaced her blue eyes, clear, pale skin and curly blonde hair.  Suddenly, all of the insects broke into a simultaneous hum in mocking of her previously comforting sound.  Now, they did a perfect rendition of the hum, not just mocking the word.  Her nerves rattled and her body quaked with the building emotions she could no longer control.
         “AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!” she screeched. A crazed moment of complete stress sunk in, but to her detriment.  All of the insects switched from the quieter humming to a complete shrieking of high-pitched, screeching sound. 
        “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!” the bugs screeched in unison.
        The screaming within her eardrums threatened to drive her mad since she could not plug her ears.  She fought hard to keep her senses.  She prayed for them to have mercy on her and stop this crazed, penetrating rattling within her mind.
        “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!” the screeching continued.
        She shook her head violently back and forth. 
         “Please stop,” she whispered.
         The screaming changed then, favoring the mocking of her words.     
         Choruses of, “please stop,” rattled around her from different voices, combined in unison for the sole purpose of agitating her into misery.  Finally, she stopped speech, stopped paying attention and stopped looking.  A cold, complacent look overwhelmed her face.  It was the face of someone who lost all knowledge and awareness of themselves and their life.  Her senses began to fail.
         Far away from this place within the Slipping, Veronica awakened in her bed from her nightmare sleep.  She screamed louder than she ever screamed before.  Tommy awakened from the shortened nap that overtook him by the window.  Hurriedly, he rushed to her bed, wrapping his arms around her.
         “Veronica,” he whispered into her ear, hoping his voice would soothe her.
         He watched as her face wretched in terror, her mouth open wide, locked in a loud and horrifying scream.  Tears flowed violently from her now sunken and pale face.  She appeared as if she had aged dramatically from the stress of the memories.  Still, her eyes did not see or grasp anything around them.  Those eyes were still as distant as they were many hours ago when he brought her home from Hatred Blooms.  There was feeling in them, but it was locked away.  Her mind was chained and imprisoned in another place.  And she didn’t even know that in reality, she lacked control over herself now.
         “Shhhhh,” he whispered.
         She still screamed, but it started to dissolve as he held her close to him, rubbing her back to soothe her.   
         “Shhhhh,” he whispered.
         She whimpered and cried, making uncontrollable choking noises as he held her.  He moved her wet hair from her face and kissed her cheek.  To comfort her, he started to hum.  At this, she screamed again as he held her tighter against him, stopping his humming noise.  Tears began to flow from his eyes, but she could not see them.  She could not open her eyes to reality and see how her pain caused his.     
        Feeling defeated, he just held her until the screaming stopped.  She never opened her eyes to a full, conscious awakening.  Instead, she drifted again into a quiet sleep.  He watched her sleep, as now; she seemed a bit more peaceful than she was before.  Still, there was a stern, cold and desolate feeling emanating from her.  He wondered if things would ever be the same as they were.  He wondered if she would ever wake up from this spell she was under.  It had not yet been 24 hours since they left Hatred Blooms.  This was the first she awakened and he knew she had not eaten.  He could feel the burning in his stomach, signifying he too was famished.  But he could not bring himself to eat.  There was an overwhelming, intoxicatingly sickening feeling within his gut, which threatened to make him ill when he finally did eat.   
        Lying there holding Veronica, he feared sleep, knowing and remembering the disturbing possibilities of it.  Yet he knew there was no way of avoiding it.  He stayed awake as long as he could until he too drifted off into a matching, deep and undesirable sleep.   






Madness and Lunacy...From this, we flee.