The Dome Spaceman
The town of Charles was small, with a population of just over a thousand. Like most small towns it was quiet, had a certain charm about it, and the people of Charles were a happy people. Being in the middle of nowhere, the people, like the town itself, had a sort of old world rural charm. Many people didn't lock their doors, and a portion of the population held certain… views, on certain things. And certain types of people. But all defects aside, they were the friendliest group of people you could hope to meet.
One of these friendly people was a young boy by the name of Toby. Toby was nine years old and did things that nine-year-olds in the middle of nowhere do - mainly play with his friends and watch the television. Today Toby was running errands with his father, getting milk and the like, and like any child standing in one place for too long he grew restless.
“Dad, when are we gonna go home?”
“Not now Toby, I’m talking to Mr. Heavens. Go see if some of your friends are outside.”
“But dad, I wanna go home.”
“Not now Toby.”
Toby gave up on his father and did as he said, walking out of the grocery store to see if any of his friends were out in front playing on one of the machines. None of them were. It was hot outside, so Toby made to go back inside when suddenly he was taken aback by a strange homeless man.
“Beware!” shouted the man.“He is coming! Hide yourselves, lock your doors!”
Suddenly the homeless man turned to Toby, and Toby could see his mangled face. His beard was matted yet sparse, and he heralded a scar over one milky eye.
“Beware, little boy,” the man said, inching closer and closer. “Beware The Dome Spaceman.” At this point the man was close, close enough to touch, and Toby was too scared of him to move. Suddenly the man grabbed him and pulled him to within inches of his face. His eyes were glazed and bloodshot, as if he'd never gotten any sleep in his life. The man smelled of death, and his breath made Toby gag from its rankness. He was missing teeth and had open sores on his gums. “Beware The Dome Spaceman, boy,” he whispered. “The Dome Space Man cometh, and The Dome Space Man taketh away.”
Before the man had a chance to say anything else a fist collided with his head.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!” Toby’s father yelled. “Get your hands off my son!”
The man fell down and laughed a bloodied laugh, cackling as he scrambled away, disappearing into the cars in the parking lot.
“Get the fuck out of here you crazy piece of shit!” Toby’s father screamed after him, before turning his attention to Toby. “Toby are you okay? Did he hurt you?”
Toby was speechless, simply shaking his head in the negative. Tears were blurring his vision. Tears of fear, tears that could only be shed by a child and the most unfortunate of men.
“Jesus Christ,” his father said. “I’m so sorry Tobes, I shouldn’t have left you alone. Let’s go home buddy. We’ll get some ice cream on the way, how does that sound?”
Toby nodded and took his father’s hand as they made their way to the car, the homeless man having long been out of sight.
Later that night after dinner Toby's parents were talking while Toby watched the television, pretending not to hear them.
“I’m telling you, honey, it was like something out of a horror film.” Toby’s father said. “The police really need to do something about the homeless in this town.”
“I'm sure they're doing all they can sweetie, ” his mother said. “They can't be everywhere at once. Besides, it's not illegal to be homeless”
“I'm telling you they're animals. They should be rounded up and put in a camp outside of town.”
Toby simply watched the television, wondering how sending the homeless people camping would help anything. His thoughts ceased, however, when his favorite show came on. He forgot all about the homeless man as he watched the newest episode enraptured. Soon it was time for bed, and his parents tucked him in and bid him goodnight.
Toby slept lightly, as some children do, afraid of being caught unawares by the monsters in his closet or under his bed. Those terrors so real to us in our youngest years, the ones that inspire our fear of the dark as adults. Sleeping so lightly was he that he awoke sometime around midnight when he heard shuffled and thumping footsteps in the hallway outside his room. He thought it to be his father from the heavy sound of boots, but why was his father up and dressed at such an hour? He got out of bed and walked quietly and carefully to the door, cracking it just so. What he saw was not his father. It was some strange man. Toby couldn't make out much in the ways of features, but the man had an ungainly, fluid gait. As if his bones weren't quite there. He was wearing overalls without a shirt, and Toby could see, even in the dark, something squirming beneath his skin. Toby froze with fear. Thankfully the man was moving away from him and hadn't noticed his opening the door. Toby regained his composure when the man turned the corner to his parents' room, and he hurriedly shut the door and slightly less carefully ran to his bed and got under the covers. He was terrified as he heard his mother scream and his father yell out, and even more afraid of the silence that followed.
Toby heard two thumps, and then the sound of things being dragged. The noise got louder and the same footsteps could be heard again as whatever it was passed outside his room. Then the noise quieted, the footsteps faded away. He cowered under his covers, wondering what to do. After a minute he began to cry, softly at first, then no longer able to control himself he erupted into full-on wailing. So loud were his cries that he did not hear the footsteps once again, but he did hear the creaking of his doors hinges as it crept open. Toby went silent. Now he could hear the footsteps louder than ever as he lay quivering, the only thing between him and the man his comforter. His breaths came quickly, as something slowly pulled back his covers.
And there it stood.
The nightlight on his side table illuminated and cast shadows across the figure. It was a man, or what was left of one; the clothes nearly fell off of a frame so gaunt that it was literally skin and bone, highlighting the disgusting undulations of something just beneath the flesh. His skin was bone white, as if all the blood had been taken from his body. What pulled back the covers used to be a hand, but now was a mass of tentacles, purple and shiny in the dim blue light. But the most disturbing feature was the face. Where once some human visage had been there was now a singular black entity - a dome, shining brilliantly like polished obsidian. Toby made to scream, and that was the last thing he ever made to do. The creature used the opportunity presented by Toby’s open mouth to shove a tentacle from its “hand” down his throat. It hurt. It was a pain unlike anything little Toby had ever felt. He could feel the tentacle working its way down with tiny barbs, reaching into his stomach, ripping and tearing away at his insides. Meanwhile, two smaller tentacles found their way into his nose, working their way into his sinuses and curling up around his brain. By this point Toby no longer felt the pain in his throat and stomach, he’d gone limp in the space man’s grasp. Finally, to top it all off, a small, obsidian dome emerged from the mass of tentacles, and with jagged black spikes attached itself to Toby’s face.
The man grabbed Toby’s now dead body, and began dragging him across the floor. He took him outside, out into the field out back. The moonlight illuminated their bodies, causing the creature's skin to nearly glow from its entirely pallid complexion. He dragged little Toby out into the middle of the field, reuniting him with his parents. The monster laid them out in such a way as to make an equilateral triangle. Despite the sides being uneven it was perfect, their bodies head to foot, their domes shining in the moonlight. Then the creature stepped into the middle and shed its skin suit, its multitude of tentacles exposed and squirming in the cold air. A Lovecraftian horror it stood, being some seven feet tall outside of its confines.
After a few moments, a hole of light opened up above them, like some sort of gate to heaven fifty feet off the ground. The light was focused like a beam, hardly illuminating anything other than the triangle of bodies. But the bodies, they were awash in the glow from the night sky. The light rippled over them, but they cast no shadows as they began floating into the air as if rising from the bottom of the Dead Sea. Before long the four of them passed the threshold, and the heavens closed themselves to the world.
The Dome Space Man cometh, and The Dome Space Man taketh away.
The Bringer of the End
I felt that I had made the greatest scientific discovery in the history of mankind. A bold statement, I know. But to defy death? To be ageless? Eternally young? I had broken through a barrier that mankind had been ramming its head against since its inception.
I had been working for decades, slaving away in a lab. This had ruined me, ruined my family, ruined my life. But it was all finally worth it. I found a particular form of radiation that reversed the aging process. I had found the ever-mythical Fountain of Youth, and it was highly, highly radioactive. I felt like Curie but in reverse. I flourished, glowed, and felt better than ever because of my work.
Of course, people were skeptical. To do what I had done seemed impossible to most. But faced with the proof, even deniers became believers. Not everyone supported my discovery though. Many accused me of playing God. They said that what I had done was unnatural. And it was. But I didn’t care. I was fabulously wealthy and frozen at the ripe old age of 28. I had been for the last few centuries. I saw history books being written in real-time, and witnessed the rise and fall of entire countries, all the while enjoying a near-perfect body.
That all changed one horrible night.
I was in my bedroom when I heard a crash come from the front of the house, a cacophonous medley of crystal and tile. I grabbed my pistol out of my nightstand and pressed the silent alarm. I pulled up the front foyer camera on my phone and confirmed my suspicions. The chandelier had fallen.
Within minutes my house was surrounded by my private security. I saw them enter through secret doors that I'd built into the walls, and watched as they swept through every room in the house. They kept in contact with me via comms built into my ear and jaw.
They called out their clears, checking their boxes of safety as they finished their sweep. Until they got to the basement. I saw them walking around pointing their guns into every corner when suddenly the camera feed cut out. We called out to them, but their comms returned only static.
Suddenly there was a scream through the channels; not a scream of pain, but of horror. I switched the camera feed over to the hallway adjacent to the basement stairs and saw nothing but a pile of gear on the floor. I didn’t have time to process what could have even happened before I heard more screams through the channels. I began flicking through the cameras and all I could see were bodies dropping to the floor. But upon closer inspection, I realized there were no bodies, only more piles of equipment.
Before long the screaming stopped, and my house was eerily quiet, only the static of the radio in my ear. I shut that off too.
Then, I heard laughter.
I began looking through all the video feeds but still saw nothing.
‘You have escaped me long enough, mortal.’
I heard the raspy voice, or rather, I felt it. It was in my head, not my ears. It grate on my mind.
My door, with its reinforced steel core, began to open slowly. It was supposed to be locked. In a panic, I made my way into my en-suite, which doubled as a panic room. When I got inside I activated the lockdown procedure, and the guards came down around me, closing off any means of entry. I was inside a fortress.
But that would not save me. Nothing would.
I watched in horror as the steel plating over the doors began to vanish, rusting at first, then turning into nothing more than dust. It happened so quickly that a cloud the color of dried blood billowed up, and from that cloud came forth something. Something horrible.
It was vaguely humanoid, but it had no true features to speak of. Its form shifted, moving between man and woman, young and old. Any hair it had grew grey and fell out in quick order, disappearing from existence before it could even touch the floor. The only constants were its formidable height and nearly translucent skin. Its veins were entirely visible, and I could see its heart beating in a chest that was too long.
“What are you?” I asked, my voice but a trembling whisper.
‘I am infinite and eternal. I have no beginning and no end. Many people have called me many things: the most common being death. But I am more. I am decay, I am deterioration, I am the inescapable march of time and its inevitable consequences. I know how everything ends because I am that end. You know me, you fear me, but you cannot run from me, cannot hide. So crawl, mortal. Crawl and wallow in your weakness. You too shall join me, for I am a horseman, the bringer of the end.’
With that I felt my muscles begin to atrophy, my bones felt soft, and my skin loose. I could tell that I was aging at a visible rate. I looked in the mirror, and for a fleeting moment, I thought I saw my grandfather. Then, my eyesight began to fail me, and the world went black.
No one knows how many Strangers there are; there may be only one. But they take things - some things worse than others. They are humanoid but naked and featureless, save for a mouth full of jagged and misaligned teeth. Their fingers are slender and boney, sharpened to a point. Like all things, they must feed. Thankfully their appetite is not particularly voracious.
Sightings have been reported all across the world and across generations. They follow the same patterns and contain the same description of a six to seven-foot tall creature with pale skin. Some scientists believe them to be responsible for myths from the Toothfairy, to the Chupacabra. This cryptic creature is a cryptid all its own, however. Modern sightings are more well-documented and shed greater light on the Strangers and their behaviors.
One such instance is the Parker family.
On a particularly dark and moonless night out in the country, the Parkers were asleep in their beds. The house was warm, contrasting the cold and bitter wind that carried in frozen flurries outside. Robert and Joanna were bundled sufficiently with layers of covers, and little baby Jocelyn was swaddled well in her crib and displayed proudly on the baby monitor, the glow from the screen the only light in the house. Everyone was warm and comfortable, and the night was peaceful and quiet.
The silence was broken by a creaking and a shuffle. On the monitor, all that could be seen was a birds-eye view of Jocelyn’s crib. Jocelyn began to stir, bothered by the noise and a sudden cold. Slowly, sinisterly, long and spindly fingers crept into the crib. The boney claws wrapped around the helpless child, and she cried out as she was lifted from her crib.
Her cries woke Robert, who groggily looked over to see a crib devoid of life. Yet he could still hear her screaming. He bolted upright, scrambling to remove the multiple covers. His frenzy awoke his wife, who heard the cries and asked what was going on.
Suddenly they both heard a sickening squelch, and the cries stopped. Robert reached into his nightstand and grabbed his revolver, nearly discharging it into the drawer in his haste. Clambering from the bed, he rushed to the bedroom door and down the short hallway to the nursery. When he threw open the door, he nearly vomited.
Inside was a Stranger, hunched over and holding his precious Jocelyn; holding what was left of her. It had eaten away her head, unwrapped her swaddle, and was chewing on her torso. Its head swiveled toward him, and its bloody maw opened to let out a scream. Robert responded in kind, and through tears, took aim and fired. He hit the Stranger center mass with two shots before it could even react, and it was knocked to the floor.
Robert lowered his gun, but the Stranger came to life and scrambled toward the window, screeching. He raised his gun again and emptied it into the creature's back. The bullets tore open the Stranger's flesh, and it collided bloodily and bodily with the wall under the window. Robert watched it for a moment and saw no signs of life. He then turned to his sweet baby, and he wept. He fell to his knees and crawled to what was left of her.
By this point, Joanna was in the doorway. She saw the blood, the body, and the baby. She collapsed at the sight, crying out in anguish at their loss. Robert cradled Jocelyn’s body in his arms, her blood staining his nightshirt. The tragedy that had befallen the Parkers was one of immeasurable sadness, and the pain in their tears would stain their faces much as her blood soaked into his clothes. They would be forever haunted by the scars this event would leave in its wake, and nothing would ever take their suffering away.
Without warning their two cries turned to three, and the Stranger staggered to its feet. Robert fell silent and Joanna screamed with fear and rage. It howled in agony as it dragged itself through the window and into the cold night. The Parkers simply sat there for a moment, dumbstruck by the seemingly immortal monstrosity they had just witnessed. Before long Robert collected his wits and with a trembling voice told his wife to go get the shotgun and call 911.
When the police arrived the Parkers were still shaken up badly, and when Robert told the officers what had happened they asked him if he was sure it wasn't an animal. While Robert and the police argued, a black and unmarked SUV pulled up outside along with several similarly liveried vans. Four dark-suited men got out of the SUV and flashed some badges identifying themselves as government officials before heading into the house.
They heard Roberts' story and one of them made a call, presumably to some superior, while another spoke into an earpiece. Within seconds armed men began pouring out of the back of the vans and setting up a perimeter. They found the trail of blood leading away into the fields and followed it, but though they searched until daylight they found nothing.
This is one of the best-recorded interactions with a Stranger. Typically they are not caught in the act, much less on camera. Scientists are hopeful that one day we will be able to capture one.
To communicate with it, of course.
Fairies are not the sweet, magical creatures of our dreams. They are horrible nightmares. From the Tooth Fairy to woodland sprites, each fairy has its own horrors. But the worst of them all is undoubtedly the Fairy Godmother.
While most fairies attempt to avoid direct contact with humans, Fairy Godmothers seek it out. They prey on children and the weak-minded, attaching themselves telepathically like mental parasites. Their form itself is veiled by ether so that they are nearly undetectable and untouchable. But unfortunately, there are ways to draw them out of the void.
Charles was only four years old when he began acting strange. He solved problems with violence and seemed to revel in the sight of blood. Doctors called him psychopathic and mentally unwell, so at the age of six, he was sent to a mental asylum. The final straw was the killing of his baby sister - he drowned her in the bath. When asked why he did it he replied:
“She was taking Mommy and Daddy's attention away from me. She was a threat.”
His outlook on the situation damned him to a life of experimental procedures and straight jackets. He screamed when they came to take him away, and even bit one of the orderlies in the throat. That action made him too dangerous in the eyes of the doctors to be allowed into the general population of the facility. So he spent his life in solitary confinement.
After six long years of loneliness and countless hours of poking and prodding and sedation and drug-induced elation, a man named Doctor Jonathan Hollstadd came along. He was a pioneer in the field of lobotomization, and the board felt that he could be of great benefit to Charles. He began with a series of interviews.
“What do you feel, Charles?” He asked.
“What do you mean?”
“When you hurt people, what do you feel?”
“I feel good.”
“So you like hurting people? You want to hurt people?”
“And what do you think makes you want to hurt people?”
Charles paused a moment and thought.
“The voice,” he said.
“What voice? Who is it, Charles?”
Charles struggled more with this question. His brow furrowed in mental exertion, and Dr. Hollstadd waited patiently for his answer. It took some time, but Charles did speak again.
“It’s my friend. I don’t know what they are, but you can’t see them - no one can. No one but me.”
This was in line with the notes that Dr. Hollstadd had in the file he held. But he wanted more information.
“What does your friend look like?”
“They’re old looking. And they used to be skinny, but now they’re fat. They like it that way.”
“Interesting. Are they a boy or a girl?”
“Neither,” said Charles.
“Very interesting. And when they talk to you, what do they say?”
“They tell me what I want, and they tell me how to get it. They tell me what to do to stay safe and strong.”
“Strong? That’s a unique word you’ve used. Why do you need to be strong?”
“Because it’s just me and them. No one else cares or matters. I’ve got to protect myself.”
“Protect yourself from what?”
“From people like you.”
Dr. Hollstadd was intrigued. He asked more questions and got more strange answers. He felt that Charles was a particularly unique individual in the medical sense, and decided he would make a perfect candidate for lobotomy. So he set a date for the procedure.
When that date came, Charles was in rare form. He’d been mostly sedate for the past few months, but now he was lashing out with an energy that they hadn’t witnessed since they had first taken him from his home. He was scared, and even the orderlies felt bad as they held him down and muzzled him. He was just a child, after all. They dragged him kicking and screaming down the halls and struggled to put him into the chair and strap him down. Once they finally had him restrained he thrashed about until they managed to get a syringe of sedatives into him, only after a few moments of the drugs did he settle down.
He whimpered as he saw Dr. Hollstadd approach. Obviously terrified, tears began streaming down Charles’ face. The good doctor took no notice of this as if it were routine. He simply got ready for the procedure as Charles sobbed softly. The orderlies were replaced by two of Dr. Hollstadd’s assistants, bringing with them torturous-looking devices and contraptions.
They set up their equipment next to the chair, bone saws and scalpels glistening with their sterility in the light. Charles continued to sob as they fitted a helmet-like cage with a drill onto his head. He cried out in pain as they anchored it to his skull with screws, all under the doctor’s supervision. Dr. Hollstadd turned around to prep himself at the sink, Charles screaming behind him once again.
“Sedate him further, I don’t need him moving about.”
Suddenly, one of the assistants let out a piercing shriek. Hollstadd spun around and saw red; blood was everywhere. Charles had managed to break free of the restraints and grab a scalpel, slashing one of the nurses throats with it. The other assistant screamed in terror and fell backward as Charles cut himself the rest of the way free and descended upon her. He shoved the scalpel into her eye, over and over and over until she stopped screaming and fighting back - until she lay limp on the floor.
Charles wasted no time and quickly turned his attention to Hollstadd. With a war cry Charles rushed the doctor, but Hollstadd was ready for him. He sidestepped a wild swing, grabbing the wire helmet on Charles’ head as he passed. He yanked Charles backward and threw him onto his back, eliciting another scream of pain from the boy. He briefly wondered where the orderlies were before he felt a terrible pain in his leg. Charles had stabbed him in the calf, twisting the scalpel around in the muscle. The agony brought Hollstadd to his knees and Charles stabbed him once again, this time in the abdomen. Hollstadd roared with pain and hit the child in the face with all his might, knocking him back to the ground. This time the doctor pounced on Charles, realizing that he was fighting for his life. He knocked the scalpel from Charles’ hand and put his own hands around the boys throat. He squeezed and leaned his entire body into it, determined to be the victor. Charles began thrashing about beneath him, but before long his wild movements slowed and his hits began to weaken.
Suddenly Hollstadd heard something prehistoric. A screech from some sort of ancient beast. Before he could turn around he has hit in the head and knocked off of Charles and onto his back. He was woozy, but he could see a large shape approaching him. When his eyes regained focus he saw something that chilled him to his very core.
Coming toward him was… a monster. It stood some seven feet tall, and its skin was a sickly green. Though the rest of its body was long and thin, it had a protruding stomach, seeming to slosh with its distending contents. Its many eyes were jet black, and it seemed to have some vestigial bat-like wings lining its back. As the creatures canine-esque legs carried it forward Hollstadd scrambled backward. The monster was faster though.
It rushed Hollstadd and picked him up by the throat, its oversized hands engulfing his neck completely. Hollstadd tried to fight back, but the creature was too strong for him. He felt a sharp pain in his back as he began to black out, Charles had found the scalpel again. He felt that pain over and over again until he died, bleeding like a stuck pig.
Charles was found some time later, asleep and covered in blood. The orderlies that had been posted outside were simply gone, and never seen again. Eventually Charles was deemed to be too dangerous to be left alive, and was sent to the chair. But that is another story, for another day.
She haunts me. Ever since I saw her in that alley behind the bar I can’t get her out of my mind. Her song plays over and over. She was so beautiful, even bundled up as she was. She seemed to be comforting a dying homeless man. The way she held his head as he took his final breaths was so delicate. His haggard breathing simply slowed to a halt, his death rattle pairing perfectly with her lyrics. I tried to yell out to her as she left, but I simply couldn’t get any words out. She left me cold and shivering in the alleyway, wondering who she was, an empty longing in my heart.
I went home unsure of what I had seen. Was she even real? Was she an angel, or just some horrifically beautiful imagining of mine. I wanted to tell someone about her. I called up a friend of mine, John. He wasn’t supportive. He didn’t understand what I was on about. Said I sounded like a loon. And it was crazy, I knew that. So I agreed with him, that I was crazy. I must’ve still been pretty drunk, I said. But it all seemed so real. Her pale skin, her blonde hair.
A few weeks later and I saw her again. This time at the aftermath of a robbery. I was on my way home from work. She was singing her song once more. That’s how I found her. I was walking along the outside of the crowd when the angelic chords of her voice struck my ears. I pushed my way through to the front, and there I saw her, the light playing off her hair, her skin. She seemed to glow. She walked behind the stretcher, and if anyone else could see her they weren’t showing it. As she got inside the ambulance I wanted to call out to her once more, but I still had my wits about me enough not to do that. As soon as the ambulance took off I felt the emptiness once again.
I called John again. I told him about her, that I’d seen her again, told him about the empty feeling inside of me. He told me he was worried about me. I told him he shouldn’t be. Then I hung up on him. He didn’t believe me. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to convince him. I was still trying to convince myself. No one else could see her or hear her but she seemed so real, like I would feel her if I touched her. There had to be something wrong with me.
Months went by without another sighting. I almost forgot about her. But her song still haunted my dreams. Played a sinful lullaby as I slept. I rested uneasily.
I was walking down the bridge one humid night. When suddenly I heard it. The Song. I looked around but I couldn’t see her anywhere. Then I saw him. Him, standing on the edge. He looked so desperate, so scared. Then he jumped. I rushed over to him when I saw him lean forwards, and then I saw her in the water. Singing her sirens song. Her arms looked so inviting as he plummeted headlong into them. He took her out when he hit the water. I and several other people gathered around the spot where he had jumped. I asked them if any of them had seen a woman in the water. Those that weren’t dialing emergency services told me they hadn’t seen anything.
As soon as I got home I began panicking. I was the only one that could see her, she couldn’t be real. Yet she seemed as real as you or me. I needed help, that’s what I needed. I needed a doctor. So I went out and got one the next day. They admitted me to an inpatient for a week, told me it was to observe me. They gave me pills, for psychosis they said, and sent me on my way. I didn’t see her anymore.
The warmth turned cold again, and I still hadn’t seen her. Still hadn't heard her deadly lullaby. The pills must have worked. I felt fine aside from the numbing tiredness. John was talking to me again. Everything was going well. And then it happened.
I was watching the news when I saw her. I heard her voice from the kitchen, then I saw her on the screen. It was a clip from the war on terror overseas. She looked just as beautiful as I remembered her to. She was only there for a moment before they cut away from the “disturbing images”, but a moment was all I needed. I’d seen her again. I was losing my shit. I wanted to see her more, I wanted to hold her. The emptiness had returned in full force, even stronger than I had felt it before
And then it hit me.
I scrambled over my couch and made haste into the bathroom. I opened up the medicine cabinet and grabbed my pill bottle. I’d gotten the idea from the jumper. So I opened it up, and poured all my pills into my hand. It was a fresh bottle, plenty of pills. I needed something to take them with, so back in the pills went. Into the kitchen, pour a glass, then back out with the pills. I shoveled them into my mouth, their coatings dissolving and sticking to my tongue and the back of my mouth. I drank the water and felt them all slide down my throat. Then, I waited. Nothing happened. Ten minutes passed, and I began to feel like I’d made a horrible mistake. Then I heard her. Her sweet sweet song touched my ears once more, and I saw her come around the corner. She reached out to me, and I reached out to her. Our fingertips touched. And then: