by Catherine Stine
Publication Date: June 26th, 2013
I crawl into bed exhausted in a good way. I’ve eaten, I’ve gotten exercise, and I’ve managed to fend off Blane. I’ve checked on Thorn and Radius seems to be leaving him alone. Bea hasn’t said anything truly nasty to me today, though she’s rolled toward the wall again without a word. Now she’s breathing steadily with a soft snore.
Progress, I may not even need Oblivion tonight.
But as I lay there, staring out at the orange-streaked sky and the distant, blinking stars, my mind sinks to a dreadful reverie. I’m standing in front of the garden shelf where the red leaves are trapped under those wide stones. The Fireseed seems to be emitting a high-pitched wail. Blane is there too and he’s pressing his face into mine, his lips biting at my own lips. His meaty arms trap me. He shoves me down on top of Fireseed stalks that crack and split, sending out more high-pitched whees. As Blane’s weight pushes hard against my chest, his face becomes Stiles’—the flared nostrils, bloodshot eyes and accusing stare. “You are mine,” Stiles says. “How dare you…”
I bolt upright, sending such a flurry of fearful energy into the air that Bea chokes in her sleep. Coughing, she turns my way and returns to her steady breathing.
Her eyes could snap open at any second. She could steal my bag of Oblivion or knock it from my hands, scattering the powder over the floor. It would be lost forever. I hold my breath as I pad across the room, reach for the velvety sack in my cloak and feel the reassuring give of the powder. It’s diminishing with every dose, and I won’t be able to make more here. I need to ration it carefully. My heart hammering, I flutter into the bathroom, inch open the drawstring and shake a line onto my wrist. I inhale greedily, desperately.
Stumbling back to bed, there’s only enough time to thrust the precious bag inside my pillowcase before sweat erupts on my upper lip and my eyes roll up.
Then I bump off swollen ridges of pain as I fall deeply into never.