This is Part Six of the series of stories whose working title is Blood Thirst. It follows
Baying at the Moon,
The Dark of the Moon,
Ill Met By Moonlight,
Hunter's Moon, and
The Darkness Before the Dawn.
Baying at the Moon,
The Dark of the Moon,
Ill Met By Moonlight,
Hunter's Moon, and
The Darkness Before the Dawn.
DESCENT INTO THE DARK
The cave was a cleft of pure liquid darkness in the tumbled rock of the hillside.
The Woman glanced over her shoulder and pointed. “There it is.”
The Boy looked from her to the cleft, dubiously. “You really want us to go in there?”
“We’ve talked about this already, haven’t we?” The Woman set down her haversack and began unpacking their equipment. “We both agreed we should try it.”
“Yes, but.” The Boy looked around. In the late afternoon sunlight, the forest looked golden and harmless. A tiny, bright yellow butterfly flittered past, seeking shelter from the coming night. “This doesn’t sound like such a good idea, right now.”
The Woman, crouching by the bag, looked up at him, trying to conceal her irritation. “You’ve told me more than once that you want to stop the Change. This way we can at least see if we can stop it. It’s worth a try.”
“Maybe,” the Boy agreed. “Or maybe not. Either way, we’re risking getting lost down there, aren’t we? Just look at it.”
“I’ve been in caves before, you know.” The Woman began to buckle on her harness belt. “Get your equipment on. I want to be as far down as we can before the moon rises.”
“I can already feel it.” Moodily, the Boy fished his own harness out and began to put it on. The hard hat with the lamp was slightly too large for his head, and the Woman helped him pull the strap tight. “I feel like an idiot,” he said.
“You look fine,” the Woman reassured him. He didn’t look fine. He looked appealingly ridiculous in all the spelunking hardware, like a child trying on his father’s things, and the Woman fought down a bubble of laughter. He’d never forgive her the levity.
Shrugging on the pack, she surveyed the cave entrance. From the little she knew of this system, it led straight in for about sixty metres before bifurcating. One branch went straight on, to end in a series of large chambers hung with stalactites. Tourists came there sometimes, but the chambers weren’t especially spectacular, and so the caves were normally deserted. The other branch dropped sharply into the depths, ending in a vertical chimney which gave access to a network of deeper caves, which had never been properly surveyed.
Before entering the cave, the Woman took a last look around. From here, they could just see the roof of the car, where she had parked it as far out of sight as possible. The forest fell away down the slope, to the road and beyond down to the valley. The nearest human habitation was a long way away, and she was reasonably confident that they wouldn’t be disturbed.
She could feel the moon herself, creeping up below the horizon, still far too weak to be a compelling force. And if she were right, if this experiment worked out, then it never would be a compelling force, this time round anyway.
“All set? Are you feeling all right?” She smiled at the boy, reassuringly. “Just follow my light and stick close. We’ll try and get deep inside by nightfall, and wait it out till the moon sets.”
The Boy nodded, sullenly. His body language cried out his unwillingness to take part in this, even though he’d agreed that it was necessary. They simply couldn’t go on this way much longer.
“We’re getting far too many close calls for comfort,” she’d said, many days earlier. “And if we have actually been found, we have to find a way to suppress the Change at least for a while.”
He’d stared up at her from the breakfast table, through the fringe of hair falling over his face. “I’m getting too many close calls. Isn’t that what you mean?”
“I, you, how does it make a difference?” She’d shrugged and spread peanut butter on bread. “Either way we’re in it together.”
“You could ask me to go away.” His eyes were fixed on his hands, twisted together on the tablecloth. “I’ve been a burden to you long enough. I can’t be a danger too.”
“Listen to me.” She’d leaned over the table, almost in his face, resisting the urge to smack him. “I never want to hear that again, do you understand? Never, ever, will you tell me that again. Am I clear?”
He’d said nothing for a long moment, and then, slowly, reluctantly, he’d nodded.
“Good.” She’d sat down and looked across the table at him, anger draining away and sorrow creeping in. “That still doesn’t solve our problem,” she’d said at last. “We still have to find a way to stop the Change, at least for the present.”
Instead of control, he’d been going the opposite way, she thought as she looked for a convenient spot to fix pitons in the rock before they descended the chimney. He had begun Changing unpredictably, whenever stressed, and this was becoming a major source of worry to her. He’d eventually obtain control, she was sure, when his surging hormones settled. But until then the only thing she could do was find ways to defeat the Change, even if it took effort, or danger.
She didn’t hide the truth from herself: what they were attempting was dangerous, and in normal circumstances she’d have called it insanely so. But, of course, these weren’t normal circumstances, and in her own mind she thought it akin to an emergency.
There was the very real possibility that someone had detected them, for instance. Her instincts screamed at her to drop everything and run, to relocate to some far off town at the other end of the country. But of course that wasn’t a solution. In the current economic climate she couldn’t ever depend on picking up a job elsewhere, not to speak of the dangers of Changing in a place she didn’t know and couldn’t predict. And then there was the Boy.
Sometimes, to herself, always late at night, she did resent him. She resented the fact that she needed him, to keep off the loneliness, to satisfy her maternal instincts, or for other, deeper subconscious urges she didn’t care to think about. She resented the increasing worry he put her through. But, above all, she knew that she needed him, and would not, could not, let him come to harm.
Before starting the descent, she silently checked the rope attachment to his harness belt, and then hers. She had caved before, though her experience was rather less than she’d let on to the Boy, and she thought the piton was secured well enough. She began to pay out the tough nylon rope.
“I’ll go down first,” she said. “When I’m at the bottom, I’ll light the way for you to come down. Wait here.”
The chimney was narrow; not so narrow that it was a squeeze to get down, but narrow enough that she could brace her shoulders and feet easily on either side and get down without difficulty. She only had to drop the last bit of the way, hardly two metres, and landed lightly, taking up the impact on her bent knees. When she looked up, she could just see the pale blob of his face.
“Come down,” she called. “Press your back against one side and your feet against the other, and you’ll be fine.”
As he worked his way down the chimney, tiny pieces of friable rock heralding his descent, she took a quick look around in the light of her helmet lamp. The chimney had brought her to a roughly circular chamber, the floor of which was covered with spurs and humps of rock. On the far side of the chamber were two openings, one of which was very narrow and started a little way off the floor, and the other rather larger and going downwards.
The Boy landed beside her in a heap of limbs. “Whoof!”
“Are you hurt?” She reached out to help him to his feet, but he was already scrambling up.
“No, I’m all right. How do we get up again?”
“That.” She pointed up at the dangling rope, and then turned towards the larger of the two openings, the one headed down into Stygian blackness.
“Let’s go down,” she said.
The idea of spending the full moon night deep underground to see whether it slowed down the Change wasn’t new to her. She’d thought of it first several years ago, and it was because she’d been toying around with the idea that she’d joined a caving club and acquired some desultory experience underground. Not that she actually liked caves; she felt vaguely claustrophobic in them, closed in, trapped, as though she could feel the thousands of tons of rock overhead. Each time she’d gone down, she’d told herself that it didn’t really matter, because she would never have to do this for real.
But the time had come now. She reached up and touched the rock overhead, faintly slimy with moisture, and reminded herself that it was real, too. She actually was down here, and they were both dependent on her abilities and experience, such as they were. She told herself firmly that it was going to be worth it.
As she scrambled down the incline of the tunnel, the Boy following just behind her, she took a can of spray paint from her bag and put a bright yellow streak on the rock. She intended to do it all the way, marking their route so they couldn’t get lost. When far enough down, they’d sit and wait it out.
In a few hours time, the moon would be full and hanging in the night sky over the forest, like a yellow cheese spotted with bluish mould. Its reflected light would be beating down on the entire night side of the planet, its gravity pulling at the seas, its other, esoteric influences doing their own magic, magnetic fluxes warping minds and bodies, doing things nobody wanted to acknowledge lest they could not be explained. In a few hours, if she and the Boy had been outside, the moon would have been compelling them to Change, to sprout hair and grow snouts, to fall to all fours and go hunting for raw flesh and warm blood. But, deep underground, what would happen?
She hoped that, if only they could get deep enough, the shielding of the rock and earth overhead would dull the moon’s effects, would hide them from the call of the silvery orb in the sky, would allow them to retain their identity. If they could get deep enough – given time, and if the cave went deep enough.
There was only one way to tell, she reminded herself grimly, painting another yellow streak on the rock. The passage was twisting as it descended, now at an angle of perhaps fifty or sixty degrees, and constricting. She’d heard that there had been some exploration of this level, which meant that the it must be passable, especially since neither she nor the Boy was large. She just hoped that they could move fast enough to get down deep in time. Maybe the moon wouldn’t reach them, and they wouldn’t Change, and then...
And then, she’d asked herself. Then what? Would they be coming down here every full moon? Would she sheathe the house with lead blocks to try and duplicate the effect of the earth and rock overhead? How much lead would be enough?
“Steady on,” she muttered aloud, stretching out a booted foot to rest it on a narrow ledge. “Let’s at least prove the theory’s valid.”
“What?” The question came from behind her shoulder in an explosion of air.
“Breathe in deeply and calmly,” she extemporised. The Boy was beginning to gasp, and she could detect the first beginnings of panic. “We’re quite all right, don’t worry.”
“How much further do we have to go?”
“We aren’t nearly deep enough yet. I can still feel it. Can’t you?” She did feel it, in the prickling of her hair follicles, in the increasing pressure in her sinuses. It wasn’t unbearable yet, far from it, but she knew the moon was rising.
“Yeah.” He was silent for a few moments. “Does that mean we’re just wasting our time?”
“We haven’t even scratched the surface,” she said, annoyed. “We’ll have to get two, three times deeper, maybe more. Wait.” The steeply sloping tunnel had suddenly almost flattened out and bifurcated. Both branches were roughly equal in shape and size, and she stood momentarily irresolute, looking from one to the other and back. “Which branch do you suppose we ought to take?”
“Toss a coin,” the Boy suggested. “I have one somewhere.”
“Thanks,” she snapped, chose the right hand one at random, painting a crude arrow at the entrance. “Let’s not spend any more time dawdling.”
The Boy said nothing. The passage was even narrower than the way down had been, but higher, so that the Woman could no longer touch the roof. From somewhere, seeping water had begun to drip down on them as they went, collecting to form a pencil-thick streamlet trickling between their feet.
“Do you feel whether the moon’s any stronger than before?” she asked at length. The rock was very wet where she touched it, and she pressed her boots into each foothold and crevice so as not to slip. “Be careful at that spot,” she said, turning as far as she could manage to direct her lamp’s beam down at the slippery hump of rock she meant. “It’s dangerous.”
“I can still feel it,” he answered her directly, stepping over the hump. “But it’s not that much stronger. What about you?”
“You’re right. I think it’s not stronger.” Actually, with her greater experience and control, she knew for certain that the moon wasn’t much stronger, if at all, though it should have been. And with the realisation came a surge of satisfaction. In that moment she acknowledged to herself that she’d been on the verge of turning back. “It should be over the horizon by now,” she added, looking at her watch. “Let’s get deeper and see if it weakens.”
“Watch that!” The Boy grabbed the Woman’s arm and pointed, his hand over her shoulder. “You almost stepped in it.”
“Thanks.” The Woman examined the hole in the floor with interest. It vanished into unknown depths below, small, but quite large enough to trap an unwary foot and twist it sharply, straining muscles and ligaments to tearing point. “Water must have dissolved away limestone and made that channel.”
“You and your geology lessons.” But the Boy was sounding better, less stressed. “You can tell me all about it when we’re back up.”
“Don’t push your luck about the geology...” the Woman paused. “Looks like we’ve got to choose which way to go, again.”
Afterwards, try as she might, she could never identify at what point they’d separated. It seemed to her that she’d been making her way down the tunnels, talking to him over her shoulder – as much for her own benefit as his – and seeing her own shadow, projected ahead of her by his helmet lamp. And then, suddenly, he was gone.
He’d certainly been behind her when they’d found the chasm. It had opened abruptly at her feet, deep and so wide that her helmet lamp had barely touched the rock at the other side. She’d fished in her rucksack for her big torch, and switched it on.
They had been standing at the lip of a cleft in the rock so deep that they could barely see the bottom, even when she’d shone the torch down. But from far below had come the sound of flowing water.
“An underground river,” she’d said. “I never heard there was an underground river here, so I suppose we’ve come deeper than anyone else has before.”
“That’s nice,” the Boy had replied, evenly. “But what do we do now? Get across? How? Or do we turn back?”
Without answering, the Woman had shone the torch around and considered the problem. To the left, the cleft had narrowed dramatically, and there was a point where it might be possible to get across. She’d begun to edge sideways along the ledge, face to the rock, hands spread against it to keep her balance. Probably she hadn’t been in any real danger of falling backwards into the darkness below, because the ledge was the best part of a metre wide, but she’d feared it, all the same. It hadn’t been a pleasant few moments.
“Come along,” she’d called to the Boy, when she’d reached the narrow stretch, and watched enviously as he’d scrambled along to her, nimble as a monkey despite the weight of his gear. “If we step up here...” She’d pointed at the shelf in the rock wall. “And stretch...we could get over that side. See that boulder? If we can reach that, we’re safe. What do you think?”
“It’s going to be like doing the splits.” The Boy had swung himself up to the shelf. “Who goes first?”
Fighting down the strong desire to look down into the chasm below her, the Woman had followed him up. “I do.”
Yes, he’d certainly been with her at that point, and had made it safely across. The rock wall on the other side was different, pitted in numerous places by holes large and small, and she’d spent some time deciding which one to take. Finally, marking a likely entrance with another smear of yellow, she’d entered. She’d been pretty certain he’d still been with her then.
This stretch of cave was twisting, descended at a shallow angle, and was so narrow that she’d been forced to crawl along on her abdomen, pushing the rucksack ahead of her. It divided several times, and each time she picked the biggest of the branches and marked it with a splash of yellow. By now the moon was a constant presence, probing at her with its gravitational fingers, its magnetic flux twisting at her synapses, but it was still far below the threshold of agony, and by now she knew she’d proved her point. She could have stopped now, where she was, but the cave was so narrow that, as she told herself, she could never get turned round again unless she found a more spacious spot. At the same time, claustrophobia forgotten, she was taken with the pure thrill of discovery; nobody had ever seen these rocks before. Of all humanity, her eyes were the very first to rest on them.
Of course, she wasn’t really human, not anymore; not at this time of the month, even this far underground. She almost giggled at idea. What would they say if they could see her now, those valiant cavers who loved to boast of how deep they’d gone, in how many caves across the world? What would they say if she Changed before their eyes? The image of their terror was so deliciously funny that she actually laughed aloud; but, as she realised later, there was no query from behind as to what was so funny.
A short while later the tunnel suddenly opened out, widened so much that she could actually stand upright. Breathing heavily, she looked round for him, and suddenly realised that she couldn’t even see the light from his headlamp. He had been with her; now, he wasn’t.
She was alone.
For a long, frozen moment, she was sure he was playing games. He hadn’t wanted to come in here, and maybe this was his way of paying her back. But she rejected the idea almost as soon as she thought of it. He could be thoughtless sometimes, but he was never actively malignant, and anything like this was completely beyond him.
The next thing she thought of was that he was caught somewhere in the tunnel behind, in one of the places where it was such a tight squeeze that she had felt the ceiling scrape her back while her breasts were pressed to the floor. He wasn’t much bigger than her, but even the slight difference in size might have been too much.
Shining the torch and her headlamp back along the tunnel, she called his name. Her voice didn’t echo; it was absorbed, apparently, by the rock and the cold moist air. She listened intently, but there was no response, not even a click of stone on stone.
The metallic taste of fear was suddenly in her mouth. He had to be somewhere, probably not far away, but unable to answer. Crawling back along the tunnel, she tried to sense him, but turned up nothing but an indecipherable jumble. The rocks seemed to be reflecting her image back on herself, so that she was surrounded by a moving, constantly changing, and utterly useless mental cacophony.
Again, she called his name, knowing there would be no answer. The rock around her was suddenly a prison, hostile and crushing, her claustrophobia back and with renewed force. She felt as though the weight of the earth was pressing down on her, would crush her to a pulp, and leave her a broken ruin, still alive, though, in agony and waiting for death to bring release.
Shuddering, eyes clenched in her terror, she clawed helplessly at the rock.
It couldn’t have been long until the panic passed, though to her it felt as though it had been hours. Cautiously, trying to control her breathing, she began to crawl on again, watching for the telltale yellow smears which marked the way she’d come. Surely, he would be here, somewhere along the way. He had to be.
But he wasn’t.
Baffled, she stood again on the ledge beside the chasm, where they had crossed. She’d come all the way back, and yet she hadn’t found him. He had been here with her; he had entered the tunnel with her. She tried to go over her route mentally, but her thinking was getting muddy. The moon must be around the zenith now, its pull at the strongest. She could resist it easily enough, but it made her thoughts turbid, infected them with the urge to Change.
She concentrated her thoughts with an almost superhuman effort. She couldn’t go for help and leave him alone. Leaving him was out of the question. She could, of course, go back along the way she’d come, once again seeking him along the branches and niches along the walls, but with her special sense distorted by the rock she might do it all night and still not find him.
All of which left what exactly?
One answer: the sense of smell the Change gifted her. With that sense of smell, she might be able to find him. It wasn’t much of a chance, but it was the only chance.
Very well, then, she would Change. She would Change, and trust to her sense of smell to show her the way to him. Maybe that would work, if nothing else would.
Stripping, she piled her clothes and equipment methodically on a ledge by the mouth of the tunnel, and began to will herself into the Transformation. It didn’t come easy, her conscious mind driving her into the Change that her body, deprived of the threshold of stimulus, tried automatically to resist.
Crouching at the mouth of the tunnel, shuddering and moaning, she began to turn.
The Boy gasped in pain. He tried to move, but the attempt sent such a shaft of agony through his leg that he lay back, moaning softly.
Gingerly, he opened his eyes. Everything was still completely and absolutely dark, so dark that he wondered if he’d gone blind. Gingerly, he touched his face, his eyes. They didn’t seem damaged, nor the hard hat he was still wearing; but the lamp was out, and refused to be turned on again.
He had little idea of what had happened. He’d been following the Woman, crawling along the tunnel and trying to keep the soles of her boots in view. The tunnel had been so narrow and twisted so abruptly that he’d lost sight of her, and scrambled forwards as quickly as he could. That was the last thing he remembered, before waking here in the darkness with his right leg a shrieking mass of pain.
Stretching out his hands, he tried to explore the ground on which he lay. It was uneven rock, rough but relatively flat, and on the left his questing fingers encountered wetness. Not far away was water, and he suddenly felt immensely thirsty. Raising himself on his arms, whimpering with the pain, he dragged himself closer to the water, until, scooping a little up in the hollow of his hand, he could drink. It was gritty and cold as ice, but, desperately, he scooped it to his mouth over and over again.
Lying back, thirst slaked for the moment, he felt his leg, and instantly encountered the jagged edge of bone poking through skin and cloth. His shin was broken, badly enough to have shredded the softer tissue of his leg and the tough cloth of his denims. The fear that he had been suppressing, somehow, suddenly reared its ugly head, howling panic screaming in his brain. His stomach clenched, mouth filling with the sour water he’d only just finished drinking, his good leg kicking fitfully at the rock walls around him.
His consciousness was beginning to slip away again when he heard a low, threatening growl.
Something was here in the darkness, with him.
The growl deepened to a snarl, and the fear finally took over the rational centres of his mind.
Throwing his head back, he screamed, drew a ragged breath, and screamed again.
The scent of blood inflamed her, threatening to drive all else from her mind.
It was the smell of blood that had drawn her to him; the tinge of it in the cold moist air, growing heavier and more distinct the closer she got. It was the only thing she could sense, in darkness so profound that even her mirror-polished eyes with their extreme adaption for night vision saw nothing. Her ears had picked up some noises, vague scuffs and what might have been a hoarse cry, but in the tunnels it was impossible to tell where the sound was coming from.
But the smell of blood was real. The smell of blood was like a highway, getting stronger the closer she moved to its source. And the closer she got, the more the blood was her only focus, her only reality, for she had no other sense to feed her information. She couldn’t even smell anything else through the blood. It was all that the Universe held, all that there was.
Her heart beating faster and faster, she snuffled savagely at the air and crawled closer to the source of the smell, growling deep in her throat.
The tunnel floor disappeared beneath her. It came so suddenly that she was taken completely by surprise, and snarled as she fell, lashing out with her heavy limbs in a frantic effort to stop the descent. She hit heavily, but on all fours, the thick limbs cushioning the impact but still slightly stunning her. She paused a moment, trying to get her bearings. The darkness around her was thick with the stench of blood and fear.
Something screamed in the darkness, and screamed again.
The thing that had been the Woman roared. She reared up on her hind legs, battering herself against the rock wall. Her mind battled desperately against her instincts, trying to push the bloodlust away, to fight it and get it under control. She squealed, hurling herself hard against the wall, clawing at it, venting her urge to rip everything to pieces. Slowly, though the blood-stench still filled the air and the terrified screaming continued in the background, she fought herself under a certain level of control.
She couldn’t stay like this, she knew. The control was temporary, only, and would last just as long as she could fight the bloodlust. She wasn’t quite sure why she had to keep control over herself – her grip on her other self had slipped badly, as badly as during the days when she’d first begun Changing. She just knew it was very, very important that she did.
There was only one thing she could do to resolve the situation, and, without quite meaning to, she did it. Slipping into a foetal position on the rock floor, she began to Change back.
The gleam of light was like a sword cleaving the darkness in two.
The Boy cried out instinctively and squeezed his eyes shut, raising his arms in front of his face.
“It’s only I,” the familiar voice said, “only I.”
Slowly, painfully, he lowered his arms and peered around through slitted eyes. The Woman crouched naked by his haversack, which was lying a short distance away, and had the torch from it in her hand.
“I’m here,” she told him. “It’s all right.” She crawled towards him on hands and knees, her half-Changed eyes full of concern. “What have you done to yourself?”
Sobbing with the pain of it, he tried to sit up, but she pressed him back and focussed the light on his leg. The broken bone was like a white spear thrusting through the dark flower of clotting blood and gore-encrusted petals of ripped blue denim. She touched the bone, and he cried out, unable to help himself. “It hurts!”
“I’m sorry.” She bent over the wound, studying it closely. As she’d thought, there was not a chance in hell that she’d be able to set it. Not here.
The Boy had fallen down a vertical hole in the rock, into a pit the size of a living room. There was no other exit, not even a rat-hole sized break in the wall as far as she could see. The floor sloped slightly, and half of it was covered by a shallow pool of water. The only way she could get him out was the way they’d both fallen, and he’d never make it with a shattered leg.
“You’re going to have to Change,” she said, sitting back on her heels. “You’re going to have to Change, and heal this. That’s the only thing we can do.”
“”Change?” he whispered. “I can’t Change. Not here.”
“You can,” she snapped. “You’d better, because if you don’t...” Even as she spoke, the hair was sprouting again from her skin, her face elongating, the fangs sprouting past her lips. “If you don’t,” she said thickly, “I’m going to kill you. I can’t control myself much longer, with all the blood smell in the air.”
He tried to say something to her, but she couldn’t understand it any longer, let alone answer.
On all fours, her spine stretching, she could only growl.
“It seems like a bad dream,” the Boy said, glancing around the living room.
It was daylight outside, and had been for hours. After he’d healed and they’d Changed back, it had still taken all the rest of the night to work their way back out. Without the yellow paint on the rock they’d never have managed it. And once they were out, the Woman had insisted on them hiding in the forest until she was sure they weren’t being watched or followed.
“I never really thought we’d see all this again,” the Boy said.
“We might well never have,” the Woman snapped. “I can’t believe how stupid I’ve been.”
“You weren’t stupid,” the Boy said. “You’ve proved what you wanted to, didn’t you? Underground, the moon doesn’t have the power to force the Change. You did prove that.”
“Yeah...but at what cost?” The woman spun round, pointing at him agitatedly. “If you hadn’t Changed then, I’d have killed you. You really don’t understand that, do you? I came this close to it.”
“But you didn’t, did you? I did Change.” The Boy looked at her unhappily. “Yes, the fear did it, but I did manage the Change. I didn’t mean to fall down there either, you know.”
The Woman shook her head, rubbing her eyes, and smiled. It was an exhausted smile. “I’m sorry. I’m just stressed. Let me see your leg.”
Silently, he extended the limb. She’d cut away the remnants of the ripped cloth when they’d returned to the car. The bare shin still had traces of clotted blood, but was whole again. The Boy could remember the cracking noise with which the bone had set back into place after he’d Changed.
“Is it still painful?” she asked, running her fingertip over the skin.
“Slightly. Only when I put weight on it, and when you pressed on it just now.”
“I’ll get you a painkiller.” She paused and looked over her shoulder at him. “You were perfectly right, it was not a good idea to go down there.”
“But we’re going to do it again. I can see it in your eyes. We’ll do it again when you’re good and ready. Aren’t we?”
“You see too damned much for your own good,” she said, and stalked from the room, but not before the Boy had caught a glimpse of her expression.
If he didn’t know better, he’d have sworn she was smiling.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2011