The Long Road Home, Chapter 15: The Path of Discovery

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Chapter 15:

APOV:

Black black black black black.

Why did this seem so familiar?

I was dreaming?

I was there. I smelled, I tasted, I felt. I remembered.

I remembered.

I want to forget!

Pain, loneliness, abandonment, self-hatred ...Body cramped and aching, every muscle screaming in protest, a taste in my mouth like metal... hunger twisting my stomach and thirst burning my throat... an itching longing scratching at the insides of my skull, a longing for something that wasn't food or water, but something different, that could take me away from this dark cold hell... Smell of my unwashed body and dankness...sound of dripping water somewhere, of my ragged breathing, of my own heart beating and my blood pulsing...

I felt my body! I felt it, so fragile and weak and full of grasping needs. It disgusted me.

Faces. Voices. Images flashing by like barely-seen glimpses of the landscape from a speeding train. People from my past, before the black room and all the pain. Mother. Sister. Father.

Father?

He put me there! He wanted this for me!

Shocks! Burning heat! Icy cold needles flaying the skin from my back! Gagging, retching, begging to die!

Ten years!

!!!

Why had I wanted to know all this? Why had I wondered and wanted to remember? Why had I let the absence of these memories torture me for so long?

I cast about for something worth remembering. Was there? Anything? Something good and safe and sound and wonderful? Was there anything?

No, not in those memories. Not in those memories, those vague and muddy memories, they were almost all of pain and sadness. But briefly, after those memories...

One figure, one figure only glimpsed briefly with my weak mortal eyes, seen more with my human mind's dull eye, he was white and beautiful and cold...

He loved me.

Did I love him?

Yes.

Then more pain...

What more? I was adrift at sea, lost in a dark and bottomless ocean, and I couldn't swim, I was sinking, drowning...I slipped beneath the waves, oblivion sucking me down into a featureless blackness that wanted to swallow me whole, leaving nothing of me behind. Madness. Chuckling low and sinister in the back of my head, wrapping its cold fingers around my ankles and pulling me, yanking me away, down into the depths with it.

Alice!

My body responded immediately to the sound of that voice, recognized my name. My mind pushed ahead, past the invisible barrier and into clarity. I struggled and kicked against the black ocean, breaking the hold of madness, breaching the surface of that sea, gasping, struggling against the hold of the darkness. I knew I was looking for something, I knew what I was looking for.

And I found it.

Jasper.

I saw his face, his beautiful face in my mind, in my dream, heard him cry my name, and it helped pull me up out of that blackness, out of that sea of pain and horror. I knew that I had won. I reached out and I grasped his hand in my dream and I pulled myself up with all my might, he tugged me up toward him, and the darkness fell away.

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