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The thing about choices is that you don't often have warning before you're forced to pick one. Intersectional paths don't often appear a week in advance with a binder full of notes to help you decide which is the right one to take. Life doesn't have a convenient map to show you exactly where you'll end up if you make that left turn at the light.

I had some advance warning. I knew a little of what I was getting myself into. It wasn't pretty, it was cruel, and it wasn't necessary.

But bad shit happened and I was in a position to make it a tiny bit less horrific. More to the point, I was in a position to prevent it from ever happening again.

Even knowing now what my decision would unleash, I would make the same choice.

There needs to be at least one person in the world willing to do a little evil to protect some good.

I've done a lot of evil.


It was time.

If we didn't do it soon, I wasn't sure I could make myself go through with it. I'd walked my own nightmares. I knew what it could do to a person. Under any other circumstances, I couldn't imagine letting someone else live that hell.

Given that these were the circumstances, however, we intended to make the most of them. We would make him suffer the rest of his pathetic little life. Every waking and resting moment would be plagued by those he had hurt and tormented. Abused, used, and discarded. His victims would haunt him and hunt him through every world he chose to enter. Until we finally drove him to suicide.

That was the plan. Our entire outline of revenge. It would be sweeter than justice, and it was hoped that his other victims would get to witness his downfall. I was pretty sure we were the only two who would actually enjoy the unraveling of his mind. But we were the only two that would have the front row seats to the whole barrage.

"It's time," I assured him yet again.

"You're sure? Is, you just came out of the nightmares. We can wait—"

I held up a hand to shut him up. "They're not going to be my nightmares. I'll be fine. Now, are you ready? Can you do this?"

He nodded. "Oh, I can do this."

In the next moment, his eyes became a flat black. The hint of a snarl pulled at his upper lip while the rest of his expression shut down. They said revenge is a dish best served cold. He was going to serve it up on a platter of ice.

Nodding, I motioned for him to go ahead. The gray place provided the facsimile. A caricature of the man who'd attacked his mom stood before me. His features were frozen in the act of the assault, as that's the clearest image he'd taken from his mother's memory. Seeing the twisted triumph on his face steeled everything in me and my heart froze over. This man would take his own life after what we put him through, but it would be a long time coming. I would make sure of it.

Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and let the gray place melt away. I would not taint our sanctuary with his presence. Instead, a dream of a thick, dark wood formed around us. Light from a full moon punched through gaps in the foliage, and one of those landed on the image of the man. Using his image, I called to him.

It was almost too easy now. To drag him from whatever dreams he was already in the midst of and pull him into one of my own making. I'd grown too strong to be denied or ignored. Fantastic.

When he arrived, he wasn't lucid at first. He found himself in a dark forest whose shadows were long and eerie sounds lingered in the trees—a product of the nightmares lingering by their keeper—and turned slowly, waiting for the dream to drive him. If I had wanted to, I could have sunk all kinds of depraved impulses into his pathetic mind. But this was a way station. Soon, he would know the nightmare for what it was. Just, not before we were done with him.

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