Chapter Four

     Benny was urinating when they captured him. He had no clue how anyone could be so quiet with all the dead or dying foliage on the forest floor. The person grabbed him by his neck and put him in a choke hold. Benny had just managed to put his tool away and zip up his pants when two other people began tying his hands. He knew that if he struggled, it would make things much harder for him later, so he cooperated and went with whatever they tried to make him do. After binding his limbs, they turned him around and began pushing him toward what appeared to be a large scale version of the carts that the people of Hayvan used for transportation. Benny looked with some awe and a touch of pity for the large group of children who were tied to the front of the gargantuan cart, in the place that the large taxi-men of Hayvan usually occupied.

     “You make your children pull you everywhere?” Benny asked, not really expecting an answer.

     “It’s their way of showing respect and honor to their parents,” said the man behind him. “And if I were you, I’d keep such thoughts about our ways to yourself when around the rest of the clan, especially around Beaner.” He pointed at a fat man in bright colors standing by the cart, watching their approach, arms folded across his enormous chest.

     Benny was surprised into laughter. “Beaner?” he said.

     “What is funny?” the man behind him asked.

     “Nothing,” Benny replied. So far he didn’t feel panicked. Compared to being tortured and ripped from his own body by Natas, these folks didn’t seem so awful. “So, is your name Chink?”

     The man obviously didn’t catch the joke. They had reached the fat one, Beaner, who Benny supposed worked as the leader of this little congregation. This close to the cart, Benny could better tell just how large it really was. Almost the size of a small building. All along the top and sides, heads could be seen popping up to glance at the new comer, some of them talking animatedly to each other in a strange yet somehow familiar language.

     “Me La Uncalla?” Beaner asked of the man who was still behind Benny.

     “English, m’lord,” the man replied.

     “So then you no doubt come from Hayvan, correct?” the fat leader asked.

     “If I told you where I came from, you wouldn’t believe me,” Benny said. “But Hayvan is, indeed, the place where I have been most recently.”

     A child from the front unlatched the straps which attached her to the cart and came over to Beaner. This blew Benny’s idea that the children were forced into the labor. They simply wore the burden of their own accord, and didn’t have to be locked up at all. Beaner bent down and the little girl, no more than seven or eight years old, whispered into his ear. When she was done he stared at her for a second before saying, “Are you sure?” The little girl nodded vigorously. “Bring her to me.”

     The little girl stole a look at Benny and ran toward the back of the cart and into it.

     Beaner turned back toward Benny. “These people are my clan, my family,” he said. His accent was like a mix of Italian and some sort of Native American. “We are all that remains of the once prosperous Vanjii tribe. This horrible and endless war has all but destroyed our way of life. My children must constantly live in fear of death. Fear of him. While passing, a very talented child of mine sensed you in the woods, so I called a halt and sent Brun after you.”

     “What do you want with me? And why was it so important that you had to take me while I was doing my business?”

     Beaner stood looking sternly at him for a while, making Benny feel slightly awkward. Then his eyes flicked down and to the left of Benny and Beaner began to laugh. “Brun likes to make jokes, that’s all,” Beaner said jovially. “Turn around and meet your mighty captor. Ha ha ha!”

     The man behind Benny released his grip, and Benny whirled around. He had believed this “Brun” would be a man much taller than himself, so his eyes instinctively went up. All he saw, however, was the strange yet amazing greenish blue sky of this new place he was in. Confused, he cast his eyes in both directions, left and right. “I don’t see—“

     A small pebble flew up from somewhere near his feet and hit him square between the eyes. He winced in pain and then looked down. In front of him stood what he thought of as a midget, one with freakish, colorful hair and two oddly proportioned eyes, one of which bulged from its socket. The eye was compound, like a cat’s eye, and the iris was a milky blue with lightning shaped streaks of electric blue that gave the little man an intense, almost angry look to him. The other eye was for the most part normal, the iris a plain light brown.

     There was a brief moment when Benny felt heat rising up his face, the embarrassment of being subdued by a dwarf blaring red hot in his mind, and then he realized he was staring and suck out his hand. “Name’s Benny,” he said, trying no to let his shame show through. The little streaks in the man’s bulging eye that had reminded Benny of lightning suddenly flared bright and Benny heard one word in his mind: Brun.

     Benny’s next question was going to be How could I hear you so well when you’re so low to the ground  but then he decided against it because he already knew. The little man, Brun, had not spoken into his ears, he’d spoken into his thoughts. Obviously, Brun’s eye allowed him telepathic abilities. Or maybe, Benny thought, it might just wake up the little bit of telepathy that everyone possesses. Instead, he asked, “How’d you sneak up on me? Everything’s so dry in the forest that I thought for sure I’d hear anyone coming.”

     I made you think you were hearing nothing but silence and forest noise. You heard me, but I didn’t let your mind comprehend that.

     At first Benny didn’t quite understand this, but after some thought the concept became pretty simple. Brun had gone into his mind and “switched off” the little things in his brain that say “Twig snapping, right behind you!” or  “Someone’s footsteps, better look out!” Brun could have been yelling at the top of his lungs and Benny wouldn’t have heard more than his own urine splashing on the rock in front of him. “Nice trick…Brun,” Benny said, dropping his outstretched hand at last.

     Benny turned back to the leader, Beaner (whose name still reminded Benny of the term his father used to use to describe the Mexicans that inhabited the east side of Bonhelm Hill back in his home town.) “You still didn’t tell me what you want with me.”

     “To help!” Beaner said with a grin. “Come, follow me, and well have us a little talk.”


The cart was indeed like a building without a roof or a back wall. Well, there was a back wall, but whenever the cart was stopped, it was lowered on thick chains to the ground and functioned as a ramp. The people that Benny had seen peering down at him from atop the walls had been standing on a giant platform that also worked as the roof of two rooms. Another “duplex-within-the-cart” lined the opposite wall as well. As far as Benny could tell, the cart had been stuffed full of as many people as it could contain. But somehow the crowd that filled the space between the two duplexes separated and allowed the three to pass.

     Benny was more than a little intimidated by the utter silence of  the clan of travelers as they stared at him from all directions. To Benny they looked like a cult of brainwashed Natives watching some sacrifice. Suddenly Beaner yelled, “What the hell are ye’ all lookin’ at? Go on! Get about your own businesses!”

     The wall of people seemed to shrink back a little (Is there really enough room for them to do that? Benny thought,) and then everyone was moving, either to work on raising the back wall or to get out of the way. Beaner chuckled and led Benny into the farthest room on the right side. As Benny was going in the door he got the first sense of something being wrong. It was like a feeling coming from behind him, from the room on the other side. He couldn’t describe it exactly to himself, but the closest he could come was to say that it felt like being watched by something extremely hateful that was just out of sight. But it could see him. Oh yes, it could see him just fine.


     The room he entered with Beaner was dim and smelled heavily of incense. And something else. At first Benny couldn’t quite place where he recognized that smell from, but when he saw Beaner reach into a box and pull out an all too familiar pipe, Benny figured it out.

     Pot. The other smell was definitely pot smoke.

     But it wasn’t the pot that made his heart begin to pound heavily in his chest; it was the sight of the small glass pipe. It was exactly like the one his friend Jerry had carried everywhere, somehow filling it often without ever having money to afford to do so. It was dark blue with green streaks that swirled around it, all except for a small circle right above the bowl. This circle was red and had a small, peculiar symbol in the middle.

     Benny had never seen that symbol anywhere else besides on that pipe of Jerry’s. “Where’d you get that?” Benny asked.

     Beaner shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve had it for as long as I can remember,” he said. He pulled out a small deerskin bag that appeared to be crammed full of marijuana, loaded the pipe, and continued. “My clan has always grown the Lana plant in the Ring of Ednim, and when we were forced to flee our home, we made sure to take large quantities of supplies. I know, I’ll give you a gift.” He reached down behind his seat and brought out a back pack with many pockets covering its surface. “This is the last of the hide-packs my people used to trade so proudly. The second largest pocket, that would be the one on the front, is stocked with the Lana plant, and you will find various supplies in the other pockets. But talk of travel is for later! Right now, you enjoy a nice punch at the Lana plant with me. You’ll tell me of your journey, much of which I prob’ly already know, and then I’ll tell you all that I may know that I think will help. Deal?”

     Benny took another look at the pipe. “Deal,” he replied. Beaner held out the pipe and, gaining a strong sense of  de ja vu, Benny accepted it. Next to where Beaner now sat there was a small table, cluttered but retaining a strange feel of organization. On the far side of this there sat a box with about eighty holes in the top. Roughly sixty of these were occupied by small sticks, one stick per hole. Beaner removed two of these and struck the tips together, and the ends immediately caught fire. He handed one to Benny and set the other back into the holder (well away from the others.)

     The leader of the strange clan made gestures for Benny to go ahead, smoke up. Benny raised the pipe to his mouth. He was about to touch the flame to the crystal covered greenbud when the door to the room burst open. A boy that seemed to be around Benny’s age, maybe a little older, came bustling in. He went over to where Beaner sat and stood waiting for acknowledgement.

     Benny lowered the pipe.

     “Glon,” said Beaner, making a twirling “go ahead” gesture with his fingers. The boy began to speak in a strange, guttural language, what Benny believed was probably their native tongue. At first, Beaner only seemed vaguely interested in what the boy had to say, but as the conversation progressed, Beaner asking and the boy answering, his face grew more and more dark. The color drained out of his skin and he excused the boy. He stopped the lad again though, when he was nearly at the door, giving the boy one last order. When this was issued the boy nearly sprinted out of the room.

     Beaner sat thinking silently, and the feeling Benny had felt at the door, like something was terribly wrong in order to make something else seem right, swelled and pulsed inside him. It seemed somehow familiar to him, a faint tickle of recognition at the bottom of a sea of uncertainty. Where had he felt that beckoning fear before, seeming to both lure and repel him at the same time?

     He didn’t know. But he realized he had been holding the pipe without ever smoking it, something he figured might come across as rude to Beaner, so he raised the over sized match to the bowl and pulled in that sweet, skunky smoke with more than a little satisfaction. It tasted just how he remembered it on that day that already seemed so far away. When he inhaled air and felt the faint irritation in his chest cavity, Benny heard Laura’s voice in his head.

     I’m not the one who went away, that voice said. Then, in a man’s voice he remembered all too clearly, I am Natas, and you are under my control. With this all came an image he recognized, though he didn’t remember where or when he’d seen it. The image was of a vast crater surrounded by a deep, wide crack that made a complete circle around it. The dark man, Natas, stood in the center, laughing.

     Benny exhaled and held the pipe out to Beaner, surprising himself by not coughing this time. As he did so he felt himself jerked forward slightly as the cart began to move. For a moment Benny was alarmed, and started to get up lest they try to restrain him, but Beaner touched him gently on the arm and bade him to sit back down.

     “Come,” he said after taking a hit off the pipe and handing it to Benny. “Tell me how it is that you managed to leave that place on the side that you did, and where it is that you’d go, and then I’ll give you some news that may or may not help you.”



     Benny left out a great many things, trusting two instincts; one instinct still insisted something was wrong here, telling him not to trust Beaner, at least not entirely (after all, hadn’t his dad always told him not to trust beaners?) The other instinct was that Beaner would not believe the things that led to Benny’s arrival at the cliff, and if his host believed he was crazy (maybe even mad enough to bring harm to his precious clan) he may very well turn Benny away and refuse any hospitality he may have otherwise shown.

     So Benny doctored his tale so that it all began in Hayvan. He said that LeVille himself had sent him as a scout to see if any war activity was nearing his beloved town (Benny pulled this little fib from something Beaner had mentioned about a war when the two were first introduced.)

     It turned out that lying was pointless, in the end. Beaner said that there was no need to distrust them or lie, at least not to him. “Around some of the others, though,” he said, “you’d do well to watch your tongue. Truth is, I came from that damn place myself.”

     Benny experienced a brief flare of wonder at this. “From Hayvan? Really?”

     “No, no, boy, not Hayvan,” Beaner said. “I come from the upper realms, like you Benny. Only I came here a long time ago, when this world you find yourself in was first created. In your world, that’s only sixteen years, but over here… well, let’s just say I’ve had six wives, and I got to live a long and happy life with each of them in turn, one dying, the other coming. So I guess, to the people here who know me as their Undying Leader, I have lived well over three hundred years.”

     Benny had been taking a hit of the pot when Beaner said this. The surprise of it made him do an odd gasp/snort that sent all of the smoke out of his nose. Sure, the pot was already doing its work (his head felt full and relaxed and he could imagine everything in his mind with a clarity that was almost like watching television,) but surely he had not just heard this man say that he was three hundred years old, had he? The man he saw before him, the fat leader named Beaner, appeared to be no older than thirty five, forty at the most. “And just how do you explain that?” Benny asked.

     “Well, time runs much slower over there,” Beaner replied. “You were just being born when I came here. You see Benny, the only way I managed to get here was by using the energy you gave off while being born. When children first come into light and their minds start processing all the things their bodies must do to remain independently alive, they give off great waves of this type of spiritual energy, and with you it was phenomenally strong. I had been doing experiments on this type of energy for quite some time, and I was in the operating room with your mother as she was giving birth to you. And as I stood there, the waves coming off of you were the strongest I’d ever experienced, and right then and there I knew I had to take my chance to try what I’d been wanting to try for years and years. As far as anyone over there knows, I’m in some odd coma. But to me, I’m inside a most wonderfully detailed Dreamscape that I’ve got to watch develop as the boy who created it grew. That boy is you, Benny.”

     “So, you’ve just been wandering around in my mind?” Benny asked.

     “Yes and no. What is known as the Inner is really a world created by the subconscious mind of every living being. Each person makes a small part of this world, and when they dream they send a small portion of their spirits deep within their own minds, to their own chunk of dreamscape. Yours is unique though, because you seem to “own” small portions in everyone’s dreamscapes. Because of this, you are not limited to your own scape. You are free to wander into anyone’s that you want to, and since I entered here through your mind, I too can wander much farther than anyone else from the Upper Realms. My children here are all from the Inner, however, so they are not limited in where they can go.

     “I must thank you, Benny. For you have given me a most wonderful place to live. It has proven most full of resources and adventures. But for the past twenty or thirty years, about two of your Upper Realm Years, your little world here has been in turmoil, and since bits of yours are scattered all throughout the Inner, this has caused a growing tension in everyone else’s dreamscapes as well. War, disease, famine. I have had to pack up my precious gathering of people and keep them in constant migration, always hoping I won’t discover that at one point your Scape stops reaching out, leaving my people and I waiting for our pursuers to catch us.”

     “Do you think that will ever happen?” Benny enquired.

     “Well,” Beaner said, “I’m not sure if the world of the Inner is round at all like the Upper realms, but I think if it was I probably would’ve come back to my starting point. And if your mind didn’t have pieces everywhere in the Inner, I think I would’ve found a place I could not go by now. So in all honesty, no… I do not think I will find the end before something or another kills me.”

     Benny was flattered that everyone seemed to think his mind was so powerful, but he just didn’t buy it. Why had he sucked at math and been even worse at creative writing if his cognitive powers were so great? Why couldn’t he think of anything to say to a girl once he’d crossed the line and made her angry? How had Natas stolen his body if he was so damn strong?

     “Its really very simple, Benny,” Beaner said, apparently guessing what was on Benny’s mind. “Natas is an ancient and very powerful being. You may have subtle control over much of the Inner, but you can’t let yourself be fooled into some notion of having created the Inner. It has been here since the earliest of men began to think. And Natas… well… he is really the old mage Sanrunai, who’s constant attempts to use magic against the world and to revive his master led to much of the darkness of the middle ages. His henchmen became world renowned as the “witches” and “warlocks” of children’s nightmares. Magic went from being a peaceful thing to a bloody thing, and the world turned its back on it in favor of the anti-mystic religions, such as Christianity and such, for they offered protection against the darkness of Sanrunai. But sometime before he disappeared from the written pages of history, stories tell that he was devising some sort of way to get into people’s minds. This wasn’t telepathy, this was entering their minds. So just think… if sixteen years of the upper realms makes me three hundred years old here, imagine how long he’s been here if he entered the Inner in the thirteenth or fourteenth century?”

     Benny didn’t reply. He merely looked at his hands.

     “Yes. I think you understand. Here, Natas is the most powerful thing anyone could imagine, and to the people here, he is Legend. He is the Devil. He is Satan.”

     Benny raised the all to familiar pipe to his mouth, and once again said nothing.


     Laura could hear screaming and nothing else.

     From all sides, the noise rang out, and even though everyone was shouting to hell their problems, she could not for the life of her figure out what was actually going on.

     She had left the Mansion in order to go talk to a special friend of hers, but as soon as she’d stepped out of Einsqua Circle, all the lights in Hayvan went out. All except the purple light behind the mansion, that is. This was the first time Laura could ever remember such total darkness. With all the fake lights that got brighter and darker to simulate day and night, she had never really felt like she was underground at all. But now when she looked away from the mansion and the purple glow, toward the rest of Hayvan, she saw nothing but absolute and total darkness.

     For a while she just stood there, frozen, wondering what had just happened. But then the panic that had begun when she overheard Mr. Vonwell talking to her father rose up inside her once again, like a bile threatening to break free of the stomach. She ran in the direction she had been looking before the lights went out. Surely she had lived in this cavern of a town long enough to be able to find her way around in the dark, right? It was better to try than to wait here.

     After all, she was Benny’s Inner Twin, and she was special.

     If they wanted Benny, they would want her too.

     Suddenly to her left a light popped up, small and insignificant in the oppressing darkness all around, but it gave her something to go towards. It was someone’s lighter. She didn’t think she had been running that long, but she supposed that it was possible she may have run all the way to Ku On Hu’s hut already. He was one of the few people in Hayvan who felt shameless enough to smoke in public, so maybe that lighter was his.

     Ku would know what to do. He was the oldest man in Hayvan, and even though everyone else in town thought of him as a senile old cook, Laura thought he was fascinating and wise. “Ku! Is that you?” she shouted out as she approached the light (now no longer a flame, but a burning ember floating in the dark.) At first there was no reply but then she saw the cherry flair up and whoever it was began coughing. It didn’t sound like Ku, but maybe his son, Fusa.

     “My father has gone missing,” the man said as she finally reached him. It was indeed Fusa, Ku’s son. “I do not think I will be seeing him again.”

     “What? Ku On Hu is missing?” Laura simply couldn’t believe this. The old man possessed certain powers that only Laura had been able to witness, and she knew that beneath his façade of a feeble old man, Ku On Hu was really a powerful warrior, and he was one of the people to help re-build Hayvan, he was that old. How could he have allowed himself to just be captured without anyone even hearing the struggle?

     “I woke up and he said he was feeling ill,” Fusa said. “He told me he was going down to the market place to get some herbs to make one of his concoctions, and after an hour I was going to go look for him. But when I got outside the door I found his smokes and his lighter. My father never drops his smokes, and he’d never ever part with this lighter unless someone forced him to. Whoever took my father, and believe me, someone did take him, must have been someone very powerful or very cunning, and there is only one man I’ve ever seen around here who might come anywhere near matching the great Ku On Hu.”

     “Fusa, who could it be?” Laura asked. She had a funny feeling in her stomach.

     “Only the biggest slime ball this town has ever seen,” the man said. He was very tall, Laura noticed as she looked up at the cherry floating above her. “There’s only one man who comes and goes, works as a pawn for the highest powers. Who knows if those powers are good or bad… All I know is there is only one man. Perhaps I shouldn’t say, young Miss LeVille.”

     “I’m not a child you know,” she said, “even though I may look like one.”

     Fusa laughed out a cloud of cigarette smoke and put the cigarette out. “Yes, I guess you’re right. This man… he is closely involved with your life.”

     The feeling in her stomach became a snake writhing around in her insides, for inside she knew who was going to be responsible for capturing the most powerful man she could ever hope to ask for help…

     “Ardemeus Vonwell, vampire wannabe and servant to the council of Valence, puppet master of your father, Monsieur LeVille.”

     Laura could no longer stand. Her legs gave way and she sat at the large man’s feet weeping. What was she going to do now? Once Vonwell found out that she helped Benny escape, he would surely begin searching for her. The only person in the whole of the Inner that she could think of to ask for help in any way was the great elder Ku On Hu, and now the man who would come seeking her, one of the (apparently) most powerful men in Hayvan and probably the entire Inner, had captured the man she thought would be her savior.

     But one thing about both Ku On Hu and his son Fusa Gon Ku, they were both very blunt and very opposed to whining. “Oh good god, stop your crying, would ya?” Fusa said harshly. “The only good that’s going to do is to slow us down.”

     “U-us?” Laura asked, choking back a sob.

     “You want to find father, right?”


     “Well so do I. So shut up, stand up, and buck up. We got a sage to find.”

     Laura felt her despair begin to seep away as Fusa’s words warmed her. She had never thought of him as a particularly nice person, but he always found a way to make her see past the junk in life and get to the point. That seemed to kind of be the motto of both Fusa and his ancient father. Get to the point.

     He returned inside the cabin and returned with a small bag full of stuff and a flash light. She didn’t know what all he was planning for, but it was obviously something more than just a trip around town hollering “Ku! Hey Ku! Where aaaaaarrrre you?” Judging by the way the pack was crammed almost to bursting with several odds and ends of survival goods, Laura guessed they had a bit more to do than just that. Though she couldn’t think of any place outside of Hayvan they’d need to go (Or want to, she thought.)

     “I think the first place we should go is back to your little abode,” Fusa said, lighting another cigarette. Now that he was smoking again, Laura realized for the first time that Fusa never smoked. He always gave his father guff for smoking so often, and as far as she was aware Fusa had never touched one of the things. That would explain why he was coughing so often when she first saw the cherry of his cigarette in the dark. This must really be affecting him bad, she thought. She remembered several instances where Ku had wanted to leave the hut to go off on his own, and Fusa was always against the idea. Laura had known from the beginning that Fusa was an adopted son of Ku On Hu, and she could only imagine the bond that must have grown between the two. She had never been to the hut when both Fusa Gon Ku and Ku On Hu weren’t both there. Fusa was very protective, and somewhere deep down she guessed that he was probably beating himself up for not following his father to keep an eye on him, like he normally did.

     She didn’t think it was his fault at all. Vonwell probably would not have been stopped by anyone very easily, much less a full mortal Outsider like Fusa.

     “Did you hear me?” Fusa said. He sounded a little impatient.

     “Yeah, sorry,” Laura said. “My thoughts were elsewhere.”

     “Well if you’re going to be by my side, I need you to do me a favor and keep your head in the here and now, okay? The clouds are no place for someone’s head when danger is afoot. What’s the most hidden way into the Mansion?”

     Laura shivered. “I can’t go back there.”

     “What the hell do you mean? I’m almost positive that’s where they’re keeping my father.”

     “The one they were after was with me, and I helped him escape before they could try to take him. If I go back, I’m sure they’ll try to kill me.”

     “That’s not particularly my concern, now is it?”

     Laura couldn’t see him, but she looked up at him desperately anyways, tears in her eyes. How could he just blow her safety off like that? Ku would never do something like that…

     “Look, I’m sorry,” Fusa said, letting out an exasperated sigh. “I’m just a little worried right now, and just the thought of your family makes me sick at the moment, so you have to excuse me if I’m bitter towards you a bit. I know you’re different from them and I’m sorry. But right now, I need you to at least pretend that you don’t care about dying, okay? And remember… You’re born of the Inner, of the stuff of dreams… Of your double’s dreams. As long as she’s alive in the upper realms, you will always be able to re form.”

     “That might not be true in my case,” she said quietly.

     He turned the flash light on and began walking away. “What do you mean?” he asked over his shoulder as she followed.

     “It’s a long story…”

     “Well, explain as much as you can. But do it on the way, come on. We need to hurry.”

     With that he broke into a confident run in the direction of Einsqua Circle. Even though she hated how he constantly was running off from her, she smiled and broke into a run herself.

     This was all terribly exciting.


     No one could properly explain what had happened to the town of Minde.

     Some said it was a curse for all the prostitution and drug use that went on in the small rural town.

     Some said it was just that too many “crazies” gathered in one spot, and so everything went to shit.

     Some people said that God himself was angry at the town for some reason, and some said it was the Devil himself who had come and taken the sheriff and the child away, and that the Devil was playing games with them, trying to get them to sin even more.

     Of all of these explanations, the latter was probably the most accurate. But really, the people of Minde were just under too much duress to really be able to assess their own situation effectively. Some people had died, a couple were missing, and one was… well, he was something, that was for sure. Most people who had gone to see the strange new Benny Jorgens had left with the idea of never coming back to see him again. It was just creepy. His blank eyes… his pale skin… and his stark white hair. The boy looked like death in a can.

     At least thirty people had helped in the brutal slaying of Jerry Patterson, and yet no one talked about it. They had left his mutilated body laying in the street, with the flames of the burning restaurant flickering in the pools of blood. No one knew exactly who had done what to the man, all they knew was that they had collectively killed for the good of the group, as a group, for the group. None of them felt shame, but none of them wanted to discuss it either.

     But that’s the thing with any terrible deed that is kept secret in a small town that usually talks about absolutely everything… a rift occurs, and the comfort and security vanishes from a place like Minde. Distrust becomes the name of the law. For really only about a tenth of the population had turned out to see the flaming restaurant with the dead woman burning in the flames, and not everyone knew what happened that led to the termination of Jerry Patterson. All they knew was that something awful had happened outside of The Great Shavo restaurant, and at the end of it two more police officers were dead and several people seemed to bear the stain of blood on their souls. Since everyone who was involved in giving Jerry Patterson what was coming to him would not speak of the night, the rest of the town folk were left in deep suspicion and fear… How could they know who was a murderer and who was not? What if half the people they trusted were murderers? And now there was really no where to run to for help… The town’s police force had been reduced to shambles, and since no one was feeling particularly motivated to carry on their everyday lives, nothing seemed to be working right. No song had played on the local radio station for days, due to the fact that no one had gone in to work there. The phone lines were down because the fire (slowly becoming known as The Great Shavo Fire) had damaged many different telephone poles when it burst into flames and done even more damage on the few occasions that it let out small explosions. Contact with the rest of the world was lost.

     And of course, no one wanted to leave… There were only two roads out of Minde, and along one of them, one boy had been found dead, an officer of the law had vanished, and there was still no sign of the drug addict boy Richard. But then again, none were willing to venture into the woods to go looking for the boy either.

     The people in the town of Minde were scared.

     They were confused…

     But most of all, as any of the town’s smartest could already see, they were forever more damned.

     The only future that loomed on the horizon for Minde was doom.

Jon McAchren
10/10/2011 12:26:26 am

Not my usual type of read. However, the first four chapters have me wanting to read on.

The parallel worlds of Minde and the Inners are suffering from an evil that is both mysterious and realistic at the same time.


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