Poem: Running Through a Daydream

I wake up in the morning,

Throw my hair in a bun.

I lace up my sneakers

And head out for a run.

 

I’m out of breath

By the end of the block.

Still I push myself harder,

Never checking the clock.

 

All this time I spend running

My daydreams take shape.

I go into a world

One I cannot escape.

 

There are monsters and demons,

Zombies and vampires too.

A red-headed stalker

With eyes oh-so blue.

 

There are heroes and good guys,

Someone there to save the day.

It wouldn’t be a fantasy

Without them out to play.

 

There are castles and oceans

And skies with bright stars.

I see chaos and beauty

And love hidden behind by bars.

 

All these things that I see

As I jog through the world

Are created by one thing;

My twisted mind unfurled.

 

I can run on forever

In the madness of my mind.

And keep going and going

Until the end of time.

 

But, alas, I cannot

For my breath has run short.

It is time to head home

And rest up from the sport.

 

I’ll start again tomorrow

With my dreams set on high.

I’ll see where they might take me

And always reach for the sky.

 

Copyright 2017 T. R. Justus

 

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What Happened After I Died?

Let me tell you about the day I died. Well, there isn’t much to tell really. I was stupid and young. Driving too fast and texting was more important than looking where I was going. Car accidents happen every day and people die every day.  I simply became part of that statistic.

The day I died isn’t as important as the day I came back. It was your typical Tuesday morning with snow falling from a cloudy sky. After an eternity of floating through a black void of empty space that was my afterlife, a flash of light devoured my eyes and sent a shockwave of torment ripping through my chest. That burst of energy kicked my heart into overdrive which triggered an effect on my brain activity that got me to open my eyes and stared into the buzzing annoyance of a fluorescent light in the ceiling.

Like I said; a typical Tuesday morning.

I woke up in an empty warehouse, strapped to a metal examination table in the middle of a rundown room. That fluorescent light was the only source of electricity in the entire three-story building. No heart monitors, no electrodes attached to my skin. Nothing. It was as if the people who wanted to bring me back, stopped caring if I ever would and took off.

I found clothes in a bag near the table with slip on shoes that were a size too big. I found my way out into the snow, clutching onto the false reality that I was trapped in some sort of heaven or hell. It took a bit for me to realize that the coldness of winter didn’t pierce my skin like it once had. I saw no fog from my breath or goose bumps cascading down my arms and spine. Something about my return to life erased my sense of hot and cold and that was more than fine with me. Sweating sucks and freezing is no cake walk either.

The first town I came to was filled with strange life and fancy new cars and technology I had never seen before. People passed me awkward glances and crossed the street to avoid the strange girl walking along the sidewalk. It wasn’t until I saw my reflection in a storefront window that I realized why they gave me such odd looks.

My hair was a complete disaster of tangled curls and dried blood. Purple bags stuck out against the pale skin of my face and deep veins throbbed on my neck. I leaned closer to the window and noticed a trail of dried blood at the corner of my mouth. I scrubbed it away with the sleeve of my hoodie and ran like hell to get away from the crowd.

Running only attracted more of the wrong attention. Someone called the police and sirens blared through that town like an ocean of madness ready to release a tidal wave of death in my direction.

But I still ran. I ran until the town was a mere shadow in the background of the world behind me. Until the snow stopped falling and I was completely alone in the middle of nowhere.

I ran for days, passing through cities and towns that gave me the same derisive looks. I met the same fate as police cars and governmental figures chased after me. And for what? Because I came back from the dead? Because I walked upright like a normal human being and could put on a damn good act to blend in?

No. They chase me for none of those reasons. They chase me because of what I became after I woke up. After I learned the truth about what happened to my body after I died and the insanity of experiments that brought me back.

You see, as much as I hate to admit this I am no longer a human. I can put on makeup to hide my pale skin and purple veins. I can put in contacts to deceive those around me that my eyes aren’t filled with a hunger drive so strong it could wipe out an entire city block within minutes. I can dress the part and act the part as a normal human being, but deep down inside my once beating heart, I know I’m not.

I’m nothing more than a savage beast, doomed to roam the world until the end of time. A constant hunger always burning in my mind and I can’t give in. I don’t want to give in to the creature I became after death or face the disgusting path my life is now headed down.

The government is after me. People want to kill me. I can blend in with a corpse like there’s no freaking tomorrow. I wish I could find the demented people who did this to me and turned me into a creature I prefer not to recognize, but there is no escaping this. There is no hiding the truth from myself or the rest of the world.

I am a zombie, but I’m trying not to be.

Flash Fiction: 47 Days

Day 1:

Hello, my name is Madison—or Maddie—Parker; age 23. I was asked to keep a digital log upon landing on our new home, Planet Unger; named for the woman who discovered it, Sheila Unger. I’ll send updates as often as I can about our new home to give you all insight on what life will be like here.

Our vessel, the Blue Titan, carried fifty passengers safely to the surface at 10 a.m. this morning. We set up tents and shelters, found a nearby water source with fresh, blue water that’s at the perfect temperature for drinking and getting cleaned up. The sky is a constant glow of red and orange. The air is fresh and warm; cleaner than the atmosphere of Earth before she collapsed.

So far, Unger appears to be the perfect new home for us. Without other life forms to get in our way, we’re free to do as we wish to this land and we plan to start first thing in the morning.

Day 4:

We’ve been busy the last few days and I didn’t have time to update the log. With the tools we brought on the ship, we managed to build an infirmary shack out of the native trees. They’re stronger and more durable than the once mighty oaks on Earth. We also began construction on an irrigation system that will bring water from the blue river to our little village. We will have that finished in two days, then we’ll begin building the housing units. The guy in charge of the village, Hank Testin, believes we can have an established society by the time the rest of humanity arrives in a year from now.

I’m pretty excited for all of you to see this place. The tall, skinny trees are beautiful shades of pink, red, and purple. The ground is soft and supple which is perfect for planting and growing food of our own. I can’t get over how refreshing the water is. It’s like bathing in a pool of heaven.

Maybe that’s where we landed; Heaven.

Day8:

We hit a snag with the irrigation system the other day. Some type of underwater plant clogged the pipes and we had to start all over. That put a damper on other work and we barely got started on the first cabin.

On another, more horrible note, one of the harvesters stepped on a poisonous, black root and has been unconscious since last night. Kaleb’s not responsive and is barely breathing. Not sure if he’ll make it.

Day 10:

We had our first funeral at noon today. Kaleb succumbed to his wounds which left both of his legs black and swollen. The poison from the root spread through his bloodstream faster than the doctors could handle and they didn’t have the proper medicine to control it. I’m grateful to admit that Kaleb went peacefully in the middle of the night and we had a lovely ceremony for him near a ridge overlooking a vast canyon with yellow grass growing far below. I sang with the other women while the men buried him under three feet of burgundy dirt and multicolored rocks we gathered from the river.

I didn’t know Kaleb very well, but he was a funny man in his thirties. He always found a way to make people smile. It’s heartbreaking now that he’s gone.

Day 14:

I went with a small group to explore beyond the village yesterday. We found a cave system with odd colored stalagmites jutting from the ground. Also found a plethora of gorgeous crystals and gemstones we gathered to make jewelry. I can’t leave out the amazing, green berries growing in a field on the other side of the cave. They taste like every amazing flavor all rolled into a tiny ball of glorious deliciousness. Can’t wait for you all to try them!

Day 18:

Don’t try the green berries! I’ve been puking my guts out for the last four days. Haven’t been able to leave my tent or communicate with anyone outside.

I repeat: DO NOT EAT THE GREEN BERRIES!

Day 25:

Now that I’m no longer sick, I finally left my tent. We got the irrigation system up and running and no longer have to carry buckets to and from the river for drinking water. They also managed to get two cabins built for Hank and another member of his counsel. Two more are in the works and should be finished shortly. It’s wonderful how much progress we can get done when everyone pulls together and puts in the effort.

Day 29:

Something strange happened about an hour ago at midnight. Another moon rose; which makes four, white balls of light that make it difficult to sleep. It’s an odd sight to see when you’re used to only seeing one.

Day 32:

The fourth moon stays up at all hours of the day and night. I checked it out through a telescope to see it up close. The surface is dimpled with craters and trails cutting through the dust. It’s similar to Earth’s, only a bit smaller.

Day 35:

Three people went missing overnight. Not sure what happened to them. They didn’t take their belongings or bothered leaving a note. My neighbor was one of them and I checked over her tent for clues. It looked like she was dragged out in her sleep by something. Her blankets and pillows were in a pile by the tent flap and the grass was flattening for a few feet outside. The other two had the same, eerie features and now everyone’s afraid to sleep alone. Some even rigged their tents together to make a large, community sleeping tent with two guys keeping watch.

I’m taking my chances alone. I like my privacy.

Day 38:

There’s something living in the water. We thought this place was void of all life except plants, but we were wrong. A long, thin creature with five limbs and a very round head swims a few feet below the water’s surface. We believe it only comes out at night, but no one has seen it yet.

To add to the confusion, four others went missing in the middle of the night again—despite our watchful efforts. Hank’s been talking about relocating the village to a safer place that’s further away from the river. He sent a team of men in search of new land to call home.

Day 41:

We lost communication with the search team. One minute they were there, talking and describing the landscape. The next, we heard a low grumbling noise in the background and screaming immediately followed. What’s worse than that, we hear the same noise emanating from the river.

With this update, our original count of 50 souls is now down to 37. Make that 33; I forgot to count the few that took off after the last four went missing.

Day 44:

The growling from the river intensifies at night. It sounds like more of those creatures are moving to our location and will strike at any moment. Six more people are gone and the rest of us are starting to get our gear together to head out. Hank’s plan is to leave this place behind at first light and never look back. If we had more people, we could get back on the Blue Titan and head for the Mother Ship, but we need more people to handle the controls. Unfortunately, we’re stuck here on Unger, praying we make it another day.

Day 45:

Hanks dead! I’m sure of it. His tent was empty at dawn this morning with a trail of blood leading into the woods. Everyone’s freaking out and no one has a clue about what to do.

Day 47:

This will be my last post. I don’t have much time, but I needed to make time to send this out before it’s too late. There are only six of us left now. The rest are all dead or still missing. Those creatures pulled them into the woods and river to eat them while they screamed for their lives. They watch our village like hawks and take out anyone who tries to leave.

I know my time is up soon; I can hear the screams outside my tent and the growling is getting louder by the second. I just have to warn the rest of humanity to stay away from Unger. This planet is NOT our new home. You have to keep searching. You have to find a more viable…

THE END

By: Tahnee Fritz 2017

Short Story: The Far Beyond

The ground is thirty-feet below. If I mess up this jump, I’ll snap my ankles for sure. The pain won’t be the worst of it, either. They will catch me and lock me away for being a nutcase and believing in worlds their eyes could never see. But I have seen them. I have dreamt of the wildest and most beautiful places this human world could never imagine.

I have longed to go there for years. I’ve searched far and wide, losing those I once held dear because they failed to see the wonders of this place beyond the stars. The land that is far away from time and space, where human life can be transformed into something mystifyingly beautiful. Every day will be an adventure and have a purpose that will only be meant for me.

After ten years, I finally found the portal to the land in the far beyond and I haven’t much time to make the leap.

The tree is dying and it will take the powers of that land straight to the gates of heaven. I will forever lose the opportunity to discover the true meaning of my existence.

How can I go on with my life if that life is dull and relentless?

I need to make this jump and stick the landing with perfection. It is the only way to escape the madness chasing after me through the woods. I hear them shouting my name and ordering me to return. They threaten and curse, claiming me insane for having visions they could never fathom.

They will never understand the dreams I have.

A dog barks; low and terrifying. They’re getting closer by the second. The sunlight casts their shadows over the grass and heavy boots trudge through fallen leaves of an early autumn. Men, women, and even children are hunting down me—the wild girl standing on the highest branch in the tallest tree.

I inch to the edge, nervously clutching the strap to my satchel. I packed only what I may need to survive whatever lives in the land far beyond. Clothes, water, a loaf of bread, and the only photo I have left of my parents. They disappeared when I was seven and left me with dreams of the place I seek. It’s a longshot, but my gut is telling that I will find them there. That they will be waiting with arms wide open for the daughter they love.

I can’t mess this up.

I take a deep breath. The voices grow louder. One of them shouts that they’ve spotted me and startles me. I nearly fall off the branch before I’m ready. The limb wavers and creaks beneath my wobbling legs. I stretch my arms out wide to obtain my balance. Down below, I see them. They’re running toward my tree now. They carry torches and pitchforks as if I am some type of monster. If only they could see the monsters in themselves before destroying the dreams I hold dear.

The tree begins to quake and I glance to the lowest branches. Two, strong men with thick beards and axes are hacking away at the trunk. I shake my head and breathe a faint no.

I’m out of time now. If they succeed and the tree falls, I will die right along with the land I love so much. My heart pounds wildly and I let my right foot dangle over the branch.

This is it; I think with a smile crossing my face, this is the start of something wonderful.

I step over the branch and shrieks of terror erupt from the hunters below. The wind whips through my hair as warmth wraps around my soul. I bask in a light that blinds me and slip into the land of the far beyond.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 32

Silence flooded the ship. Pirates stood in awe, their mouths agape and curiosity in their eyes. Instead of jumping into a rage-filled battle or fighting to kill the girl who pulled the trigger, they stayed at bay.

Blood pooled around the feet of the men standing closest to her body. All life has been drained from her face in a matter of seconds when the bullet crashed into her chest. She dropped with a thud to the wooden deck and no one came to her aide. Not a single one of her crew stepped up to check on her or even see if she was still alive.

As thunder boomed in the sky, the eyes of many turned to Sam. They lowered their weapons, sheathed whatever sword they carried. Flint quickly got to his feet and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth.

The gun fell from her fingertips. The only sound to echo amongst the ship. Sam slowly stepped backwards, her eyes wide open in fear of what just happened. She clenched her shaking hands to fists and crept backward until she bumped against the railing.

“I can’t believe she’s dead.” A raspy voice broke through the silence as a thin man knelt by Alyssa’s corpse. “The bitch is finally dead!” He shouted.

Cheers erupted from the dead captain’s crew. They jumped for joy and slapped each other on the back. Their cheers were soon joined by the rest of the pirates on the ship in a joyous outburst.

Flint limped toward Sam, his eyes were bloodshot and bruised. He got within a few feet of her before Darrick rushed to stand in his way. He didn’t have a weapon but would do whatever it took to protect her.

“You killed her.” Flint managed to say.

Sam nodded, “I didn’t mean to. I just wanted to stop her from killing you.”

“Why?” He asked.

“I don’t know.” Sam replied.

Flint nodded and glanced to each face belonging to his prisoners. Sarah and Rusty held each other by the life boat. Jonah waited by the pulleys, ready to lower the small vessel to their freedom.

Flint turned back to Sam and looked between her and Darrick. He saw the caring determination in his eyes and realized he no longer wanted to be in the way.

“Take the boat and go. The lightning won’t last for long and you’ll need it to get back to where you came from.” Flint ordered, then turned away and headed back to his men.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 31

Sam ran for Darrick. Her heart raced as she listened to the thunder clapping overhead. It grew loud right along with the shouting coming from the pirates.

She ducked out of sight of the men surrounding Flint and Alissa. Darrick had been thrown to the floor and was slowly pushing himself to his feet when Sam rushed to his side. She reached for his arm and helped him stand. Instead of wasting time by asking how each other was, they moved away from the crowd.

Jonah was waiting for them by the door leading to the captain’s quarters. He seemed frantic and in a hurry, desperately trying to pry open the door to release the others. The knife in his hand was weak and the metal was bending as he used it to pry the door open. It took a few tries, but the latch eventually gave way and the door swung open.

“C’mon we gotta go!” Jonah shouted to the two prisoners hiding inside.

Rusty grabbed Sarah’s hand and ran with her to the doorway. With tears in her eyes, Sarah braced herself for the fighting on deck. She stayed close to her man and glanced to Sam, making sure her best friend was okay.

Lighting flashed brightly through the sky and Jonah said to the others, “We don’t have much time. We need to find a boat and get the hell off this ship.”

Metal clanked from the sword fighting pirates across deck. Many of them were too busy watching their captains battle to the death to pay attention to the escaping prisoners. They shouted and cheered after each time the swords banged together.

They kept their feet light as they raced across the deck toward a lifeboat attached to the starboard side of the ship. Jonah knew exactly what to do and got to work getting the ropes untied and the boat ready to be lowered. He urged the others to climb inside while he and Rusty worked with the pulleys.

Flint shouted in pain and Sam looked over her shoulder. He had fallen to the floor with blood gushing from a wound on his shoulder. Alissa’s blade had sliced him clear to the bone and she stood over him with a happy rage on her face.

“Sam,” Darrick called to get her attention, “We have to go.”

She nodded, but felt something holding her back. An unknown force kept her in place, unable to leave the man to die so she and her friends could get away.

She stepped away from the lifeboat and found a dead pirate on the floor a few feet away. A gun was stuck in his grip and she snatched up, then stepped toward the group of pirates. She raised the weapon and took aim, letting the sharp blast fill her ears and end the cheering from the men.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 30

Sam kept the barrel of the pistol pressed against her temple. Her heart raced and her hands trembled. Her eyes never broke with Darrick’s and she feared what she thought she had to do in order to save him and their friends.

Darrick’s eyes pleaded with her not to do anything crazy. He was being held down by one of Alissa’s men, unable to break free and rush for Sam. For a woman he barely knew, he already had strong feelings for her, enough to never want anything bad to happen to her. He needed to protect and felt weak knowing he couldn’t at that moment.

Flint gripped the handle of the sword as his eyes darted back and forth between Sam and Darrick. He saw the love building in their eyes and knew she would never feel that way for him. He turned his gaze to the amused Alissa and grimaced. The woman he had loved for so long seemed like a stranger invading his ship.

He turned toward her and steadied his hand with the sword. The longer he stared at the beauty on her face and the hatred gleaming in her eyes, the more she became the enemy he needed to destroy. He was the captain of that ship and Alissa was trying to take it over. He grit his teeth, tightened his fingers around the hilt of the sword and stepped forward.

Lightning took over the sky and the wind steadily picked up. Flint let his feet rush to Alissa and he wrapped his arm around her body and held the sword to her throat. In one swift movement, all of her men raised their weapons at Flint, completely taking their guard away from Sam and Darrick.

“This ship belongs to me!” Flint shouted. “I will not have you and your pathetic excuse for men destroy it. Either all of you leave or I’ll kill you Alissa.”

Alissa chuckled and said, “You drive a horrible bargain, Flint. I’m sure you don’t want to start a war between us here.”

“Then leave.” He replied, turning his eyes to Sam, directing his speech to her. “Take your men and get off my ship.”

Sam raised an eyebrow out of confusion and the gun slowly lowered away from her head. She noticed that the other pirates paid her no attention and Darrick had been released. Flint shouted an order to leave once more and she quietly jumped down from the railing.

Alissa’s men had them surrounded with their weapons raised high. They were ready for a fight to the death to win whatever battle would start between the conflicting captains. Flint’s own men prepared themselves, gathered whatever sword and gun they could find, and inched closer to the enemy.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 28

Lightning took over the sky with thunderous roars erupting in their ears. The clouds weren’t threatening with rain or an oncoming storm. The wind wasn’t picking up nor were the ocean’s waves getting more intense. It was strangely calm during the bright flashes of light.

Sam continued her struggle against the tight grip of the pirate’s hand. She managed to free her right arm and dug her fingernails into the skin of his arm still clasping on. She clawed him enough to break the skin and blood began trickling down, but he still held on. She glanced to the sword fight for a short moment and her heart raced faster.

Darrick was able to block another blow coming from Flint. He held the sword with shaky hands, feeling weaker by the minute. He was short of breath and knew he wouldn’t last much longer. The gash on his arm still bled and the pain radiated through his entire body.

Flint stood strong, cracking his neck from side to side. He saw that his opponent was wavering and soon he would fall. Then he’d get the chance to make the last strike and Sam would be his forever.

He stepped closer to Darrick and took another swing which was blocked, “You’re getting tired, boy. You might as well give up and let fate take its course.”

Darrick shook his head, swung the blade wildly through the air, and said, “I’ll die before I ever give up.”

Flint laughed and stepped out of range so Darrick couldn’t hit him. Darrick sliced the air again with his sword, spinning around with his arms. Flint stepped back and Darrick missed once more, but this time Flint struck his back with the handle of the sword. Darrick cried out in pain and dropped to his knees. Flint kicked him down and the sword slipped from his grasp. Before Darrick could reach for it, another pirate kicked it away.

Flint laughed deeper and moved to stand in front of the boy, “It looks like you’ll be dying sooner than you think.”

Sam pried on the pirate’s fingers until his grip finally loosened. Before he could grab onto her again, she slammed her elbow into his gut and dashed away. She pushed through the crowd, moving away from the fight. She stole something from a fat man’s belt, he didn’t notice, and she got away.

Darrick stared at the shiny blade mere inches from his face. Sweat beaded on his forehead and he awaited what was to come. He searched the faces for Sam, only so he could see her one last time. She wasn’t there and he began to wonder where she went.

A loud whistle burst through the air, catching the attention of the pirates, including Flint. Everyone spun around and faced the cause of the noise. Sam stood on the railing of the ship, appearing strong and beautiful. She held something in her hand, pressing the barrel of it to the right side of her head.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 26

The crowd of pirates backed away, forming a circle around Flint and Darrick. They chanted Flint’s name and cheered for the fight. All of them knew who the winner would be and all of them were prepared to celebrate.

Alissa stepped closer to Sam with a smile on her face as she watched two men preparing to fight to the death over a random girl. She lived for times such as that and the voices of her men and everyone around her made the scene even more exciting.

A long sword with an ivory hilt was thrown to the floor at Darrick’s feet. He stumbled back a step and the pirates laughed. He rolled his eyes, took a breath, and handed the pistol to Jonah. As he reached down to pick up the sword, his eyes met with Sam’s. She was terrified, yet seemed to stay strong as a large man held her in place. Her eyes were pleading with Darrick to win or try his damnedest to stay alive. His heart was pounding as he made a mental promise he wasn’t sure if he could keep.

Darrick clutched the handle of the sword, unsure of the correct way to hold it. He looked to some of the pirates standing near him and tightened his grip and angled it the way they had theirs. Next, he turned to Flint and took a nervous step forward.

Flint smiled and pulled the blade from the sheath at his waist. He sliced it through the air, twisting his wrist in a way no other man could dream of. He was very well skilled with a sword, never defeated in a fight. By the uncoordinated look on his opponent’s face, he knew he had this one in the bag as well.

He stepped closer to Darrick and said, “Say goodbye to my Sam while you’ve still got a tongue to speak with.”

His crewmen cheered and clanged their swords against each other’s. Darrick tried to ignore the threat, looking to Sam once again. His heart was pounding and his mind was frazzled.

Flint noticed that the boy was not paying attention. He took the opportunity to make the first move. He raised the sword high above his head, charged toward Darrick, and came down swinging at his head.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 25

Alissa waltzed over to Sam and stood directly in front of her. She stared into the girl’s eyes, glancing at the similarities between the two of them. They were the same height, had the same hair and skin color. They even had the same twitch in their upper lips whenever they got nervous.

Her eyes moved back and forth between Sam and Flint and she instantly knew why he was so attracted to the girl that looked so much like his lover. Alissa could even see why Darrick was so in love with Sam as well and her twisted mind came up with an idea to settle things for both of them.

She passed Sam a snide smile, then turned around and walked toward Darrick, then said, “You want me to let her go?”
“Yes, that’s all that I want.” Darrick replied.

Her smile grew wider as she spoke, “Then I have a proposition for you. I can see that you and my Flint want the same thing and I believe there is only one way to settle it.”

“What are you talking about?” Flint asked, pushing himself through the crowd to approach Alissa.

“You want that girl,” Alissa said to Flint, then motioned to Darrick, “he wants that girl, maybe the two of you should fight for her. If you win, my dear Flint, I will leave and you will never see me again. You can kill the boy all you want and take your prize.”

“And if I lose?” Flint asked.

“Then the boy shall have his love again and I get to watch him do the one thing I never could do to you. He will get to kill you and I will take your ship and let it sink to the deepest parts of the ocean with you and your crew tied to the mast.” Alissa spoke firmly.

Flint directed his attention to Sam for a short moment. He noticed that her gaze was more focused on Darrick than anything else. Her eyes beckoned for that boy to save her and she wanted nothing to do with the captain.

“Alissa,” Flint called out and she turned her eyes to him, “all I have to do is kill that boy and you will leave me with Sam and I will never have to see you again?”

She nodded, “That’s right.”

He smiled and turned his demented glare to Darrick and said, “Very well, bring me a sword.”