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That evening the nightmares began. A mixture of all the bad that had happened since the AgFlu had surfaced. Sometimes, Skye sobbed as she saw the death of her mother and father. The AgFlu slowly changing them from the healthy, loving people she knew to the drooling, wasted shells they had become.

Other times, she was again in that forest by the store, gripping Jesse's hand. Sweat running down her body, hauling in breath after breath as they fled for their lives from Calvin, Tony, and Pete. Still others, she clung to the smooth, whites sides of the bathtub in her home in Colton gasping, aching for one more day of life.

However, the most frightening nightmares were the ones in which her mind brought to life the horrors that Calvin had bragged about, both in the forest and at the trial. Forced to watch the evils that the men committed one by one, each of the victims pleading for Skye's help, she was helpless to do anything but watch their suffering. In the worst nightmares, she became Calvin.

It was as if, now that it was over, all the emotions she'd been trying to contain were pouring out into her dreams, including her guilt. Even though her beaten body needed rest, she was afraid to sleep. Afraid of what it had in store for her.

At night, she lay with her eyes wide open, staring into the darkness, until exhaustion would finally take over and drive her eyes shut. When asked about her obvious fatigue, she would blame her injuries for her failure to rest.

Two days after the trial, she lay on the couch having finally fallen asleep in the early morning hours. She'd been oblivious to the quiet stirrings of the rest of the household as they awakened, once again in the embrace of those wild, horrible imaginings.

Around noon, when Skye woke, it was with a start. She groaned at the pain that moment of tenseness had caused her body. Looking around, she startled again when she saw Kelsey curled up in a chair across from her, a book in her hand.


"Oh, hi," Kelsey said, looking up from her book, her voice soft and low as it usually was when she spoke. "I didn't know—No one said not to come."

Skye tilted her head. "Is it your appointment day? I'm sorry, I've lost track."

Kelsey scrabbled up off the chair. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come. You still don't feel well."

"No, no. I'm doing better. Maybe, since your here, you could help me out. Sue Ellen is always anywhere but here, and it looks like the guys have all deserted me." Skye laughed. "I'm tired of just laying here. You want to help me make some muffins?"

Kelsey brightened. "Sure."

Skye carefully maneuvered herself off the couch and into the kitchen, Kelsey trailing along behind her.

"Your having nightmares," Kelsey said.

"Yes, I am." There was no sense hiding it from the girl. She'd had her own share of them. "Dealing with those three men still has me on edge, even though it's over. They were just so evil."

Kelsey pressed her lips together and nodded.

"Even before, considering what my job was, and helping people the way I did, I knew. I knew that while some people were just confused or sick or in a bad situation, there were others with a thin mask of humanity that masked their true thoughts. Now with the AgFlu, it's as if that mask has been ripped away and they feel like they have permission to act any way they want. We have to be so careful."

Kelsey said nothing but nodded her head again. Skye reached out and pulled her close for a hug. She hoped it wouldn't be this way much longer, but despaired of what would change it. Would other evil men cross their path? Would her own actions lead to more deaths?

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