[13] Sage

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"Jake. Jake, you have to get off of the chair now," Deirdre says worriedly, prodding the boy's shoulder urgently. The child's expression shows that she is scared, but her steely tone of voice suggests that she is about to take whatever the Albino does to her. I can't help but admire her bravery.

Finally, Jake stirs. He stands abruptly and Deirdre slithers to the floor at the sudden, unexpected movement. The Voice forces me to laugh at the comical sight - comical if the viewer forgets that Jake's thoughts, memories have just been turned inside-out, causing his disassociation.

"Why would he pick you?" Nicole asks with contempt upon hearing my chuckles, looking down snootily at pathetic little me. I grin wordlessly and she growls in response, baring her sharpened teeth in what seems like a threat. I can tell that it in a show of strength she is used to displaying.

Jake strides over to me, still not registering Deirdre as she stands, wincing at being so rudely tossed to the floor. He helps me stand up, but I can tell he's not all here. His gaze is distant and broken and I understand with certain clarity what exactly the claw does.

Deirdre is not as strong as Jake. Her guilt is almost immediately dragged to the surface and her screams pierce the small room.

Deirdre, only slightly younger than she is now but still looking quite different, is shooting her family - the screams that are quickly cut off by gunshots make me feel sickeningly at home.

The holograms show her court case, from an angle underneath the table at which she is seated. She is driving a pin deep into her thigh to force tears, and people in the audience and jury alike are looking at her pityingly.

Then comes the moments when she decided to pull the trigger on each of her kills, focusing in on their faces, their lives...and finally getting caught by the government. It fades out as the girl sobs, huddled in a corner of a padded cell, her hair tangled and dirty. She looks utterly broken and painfully alone. I wonder if I looked like that when I got captured. I know for a fact that I didn't cry.

I remember that I laughed.

Jake has to carry Deirdre from the chair, just as Deirdre had to talk him out of his stupor. She, too, is too shellshocked to move.

Nicole is next. She walks nervously to the chair, her teeth likely unconsciously bared. Of course, scenes from her abusive past surface first. She alternates between screaming and grinding her teeth together, trying to suppress the rising guilt.

Her stepfather is kicking her tiny, prone form as her mother screams for him to stop, grabbing at his clothes. He ignores her, keeping up the steady rhythm, the only emotion on his face being the hatred in his eyes.

Her stepfather is reading her books of vampires, clearly meant for much older children, showing her gruesome pictures that make her squeeze her tiny eyes shut for a brief second in an attempt to purge the image from her memory. With every story, she leans further and further away from him.

Her stepfather is bending over her, running a file over her teeth as her chest heaves with suppressed sobs and tears stream down her cheeks and pool in her hair. Her limbs are tied to the chair on which she is seated, and they buck against their restraints.

Child-Nicole is cupping a hand over her mouth and slowly backs out of a dining room as her mother screams hysterically, "What did you do to my daughter?"

The now-preteen is bending over a woman on the street, messily collecting the blood flowing from a horrible bite in her neck in a glass jar. Glancing furtively around, she stands and shoves the bottle into her bag.

She is watching from the top of the stairs as her stepfather is dragged away by policemen and her mother sobs brokenly on the couch.

The projections show Nicole collecting blood from all her other victims. The smallest is a girl no more than eight. Nicole's eyes sparkle with tears as she collects the blood, but she does it anyway, driven by some unseen force.

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