Dream: Some Vacation!

My best friend has decided I need a vacation. He has, by some way, removed me from the dull urban sprawl I call home and taken me to the midlands of America. We are hanging out with some several times removed cousins of his, at a farm.

It’s harvest day. I am being taught how to drive a combine harvester.

His cousins are a little wary of me. I am an Outsider, after all. But they see there is genuine friendship between me and my BFF, so they tease us and crack jokes about geeks and sunlight.

It’s harvest day. My BFF and I are in the cab of a combine. There is just one long row of wheat left to gather for the season, and I’m told to take over controls. I sputter and decline at first. Not wanting to damage expensive equipment. My BFF teases me about being able to take on computer problems, but balking at the jiggling of a stick. It is a barely concealed sexual challenge that infers I am unable to participate in hetero couplings.

Challenge, accepted.

While his cousin laughs heartily at the words, I scoot them both over and take over the combine. A slow start. I get the feel for the controls and feedback. I charge forward at a proper harvesting speed. The grain truck driver did not hear that the last row was going to be left for gleaning. He only sees the combine going forward at normal speed. The truck lumbers into position, and without thinking, I activate the controls that swing the grain boom over the truck, and start harvesting the last row.

My friend reaches over to stop me, but his cousin holds him back. They watch me with curious faces as I complete the season’s harvest of thick heads of grain. I hear his cousin say to him, “I thought she never did this before?” My friend replies, “She hasn’t. She just picks things up really fast.”

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say that she grew up on a farm, and is now remembering. She’s city?”

My friend pauses, gauging how much to say. “She’s military. Grew up on military bases. Quite sure she never did this before.” My position directly in front of him allows me to catch the final words half breathed. Not meant for the cousin to hear, probably not meant for me either. “At least, not in this lifetime.”

The harvest complete, the decision is made to process the wheat that was meant for gleaning, and donate it to various shelters and homes in the area.

My friend takes me by the arm. “Would you like to have your morals tested?” “Here? In public? Where all can see? My dear, I’ll have you licking…*”

“No! I mean… Dammit!” He cuts me off before I can fully embarrass him. There is no ‘relationship’ between us, but we are both very guilty of making double entendre and other verbal games.

He pulls me to the car. “Just get in! I can’t take you anywhere!” Despite his protests, we are both laughing.

He drives a way down the road. Could have been 2 blocks. Could have been 20 miles. With no burdens on my shoulders, and the company of my best friend, I was in a good place.

He pulls into the parking lot of some large store with blue flags everywhere. “Now then, as I was saying. Time to test your morals. Let’s go.”

He took me to WalMart. I protest severely at the destination choice. He shrugs. “There is no other place to shop for a hundred miles all around.” He waits for me to understand he is serious. “Even the boutiques in downtown are supplied by WalMart.”

We go in the store. I’m grumbling and fuming about the collapse of the local economy. The outside of the store is grimy & dirty. The fastidious appearance of my friend’s cousins are not shared by the larger population. I look around to see if there is anyone taking pictures for the “People of WalMart” website. A few look at my friend in askance. The handful that look at me quickly look away. Do not acknowledge the Outsider. If you don’t see her, she can’t see you. As I drift through the ocean of people outside the store, I get the first feathers of instinct that I am dreaming.

We enter, and my friend takes me straight to the electronics section. And there, my morals are tested. Big screen TVs, flat screen, built in BluRay players. Enticing audio arrangements. Gaming chairs with hydraulics so when your space craft gets hammered, so do you.

“There is nothing to do out here after the work is done. Except drink and play games. They make their own grain alcohol. WalMart supplies the games.”

I am filled with lust and envy. Fingering an XBOX displayed on the floor, I note it is not bolted down. I check the other consoles, none are secured in place. I look at my friend in askance. He chuckles and tells me to look around the store.

As I look, he talks. “I said ‘drink and play games’. Well, there is another. Nothing out here to do but drink and play games. Or go to church and pray. My family, we like to play games. Most other folk out here, not so much.” For all the people that was outside the WalMart, inside is almost completely empty. Looking around, I see most of the shoppers are in the clothing section, and the books. My friend and I are the only shoppers in electronics. Despite the late afternoon, the majority of the store looks untouched. Cleaned before opening, and clean still. The floor had a glossy reflection from the lack of feet scuffing up the wax.

Pristine interior. Unsecured electronics. In a WalMart. This was the last clue I needed to realize I was dreaming. I turn to my friend as the realization sinks in. “So…” His voice changes ever so slightly. “Are you going to get your souvenir? My treat.” He hands me five hundred dollars. Enough to get the gaming chair I was lusting.

“I don’t shop at WalMart. I’d rather do without than support WalMart, you know that.” His appearance starts to change. He is growing taller, and slimmer.

“But if you lived here, you would not have a choice.”

“If I lived here, I would find a way. Even if it meant spending more money. If you were who you appear to be, you would know that I have done as such already.” I tilt my head, trying to see who he really is. “In the Waking, that is.”

My last words shatter the glamour over him. I know who this is. The blond man laughs at his uncloaking. “So you do. You’re Dreaming! I’d say surprise, but you’ve been playing along for a while now.” I toss the money back at him. In midair the twenty dollar bills becomes delicate links of a chain I know to be unbreakable. The chain falls to the floor. He steps on it, the links shatter like glass, and evaporate into quickly fading smoke.

“Why am I here?”

“You needed to step away for a while.” We are still in the electronics section of WalMart. Only now we have become invisible to even the staff. One blue vested clerk checks the consoles. Finding them slightly out of place, she nudges them back into their proper place. Taking a blue cloth, she buffs off my fingerprints and restores them to pristine splendor.

I complain about his choice of venue. “WalMart? Really?” He laughs again. He places a hand on my shoulder, sharp nails scratch through the cloth. “Something a little different from your usual Waking paths.”

He stops laughing. His voice slips into seductive tones. “Want to go deeper? You’ll forget you’re dreaming again.”

I look around the store. Wondering what part of my psyche does this represent. Of all the sections within WalMart, the shoppers are solely in the two sections of WalMart I loathe the most. The bland, fall-apart clothes, and the formulaic books. I certainly do not want to stick around here. And now that I know I’m dreaming, I am deprived of the company of my best friend.

I turn to the blond man. “Yes. I want to go deeper.”

“You may not become lucid again. You’ll be at the mercy of the Dream.” Is he warning me, or taunting me?

“Let’s go.”

He leads me to the back of the electronics department. We enter the stock area. Not surprisingly, I see crushed boxes and failed electronics. A TV held together with duct tape and glue. We continue through the stock area, each passing row of electronics is in greater and greater condition of decrepit disarray. I wonder if I’m making a statement of my perception of WalMart goods, or the intransitive nature of the things we think will fulfill our lives.

Finally, the back wall. An emergency door. The white lettered sign clearly states: “Warning, alarm will sound when door is opened!” I try the timeworn test of dreaming. I read the sign. Turn away for a moment, then read the sign again. Nothing changes. The blond man looks at me and grins a sharp toothed gleam through tattered lips. “What I love about dreams. You can change anything to suit your desires.” He punches through the alarm box next to the door, destroying it. His fingers tinker with the wiring inside and the glowing red “EXIT” sign above the door disappears.

He pushes the door open, holds it so I can pass through. The WalMart is a single level store. I should be looking at the flat land behind the store. Perhaps only a few feet above ground level to accommodate loading trucks. Either way, I should be looking at Outside.

There is a stairwell before me. Fully enclosed. Bare of any soft surface, it reminds me of emergency stairs in a clinical building. Bare concrete. Grey painted steel tube railing. Looking around the corner, I see a door, with an indistinct marking telling me nothing.

I look back at the blond man. “Are you coming with me?” He just smiles. Such sharp teeth he has. And yet, I fear him not.

“You’re coming with me.” A statement, not a question. He raises an eyebrow in askance. “The idea of you running loose in my psyche does not thrill me.” His free hand swiftly grabs me by the neck. The heat of his skin quite uncomfortably hot. “My Dear, I think you’ve forgotten your place.” He pulls me close to those sharp teeth. “Your psyche, your mind, your body… You. Are. Mine.” He waits for a reaction, I give him none. He laughs and easily pushes me back as he releases me. “Good! You do not fear me. I do not want you to. You’re much more enjoyable when you are not cowering in a corner.”

He looks in the stairwell. He looks back at me. “So… Deeper?”

“Are you coming with me?”, I calmly ask, again. He roars in laughter. “And still you push your luck!” His eyes glint with excitement. “I haven’t decided yet.” He suddenly becomes somber. “You have to decide soon, however. Or the decision will be made without you.”

I nod. Walking through the door, I throw one final tease at the man with tattered lips. “You’re a Bastard, but you’re a Chivalrous Bastard.” His eyes widen at the taunt. I feel a presence push me fully into the stairwell. I stumble down a few steps. His laughter echos in my ear. I think him to be behind me. As I turn the door slams shut. The sound blows through my body, the shock wave pushing away my lucidity.

~~~

“Okay. I’m here. What was so important you had me break in?” I’m looking around anxiously. I’m not sure how I got here. Only that there was some sneaking and dodging involved. The man I’m talking to is standing a few steps above me. He had firmly shut the door behind him. I wince at the echoing sound, hoping no security has been alerted to our presence.

“If you go any further, you’ll step in it.” A thick chested man, of Hispanic descent. He reminds me of the Inca. Would seem more at place in the high altitude mountains than in emergency stairwell of a Los Angeles skyscraper. I look at him closely, inspecting his features. I’m not sure what I’m looking for. I know him, he is a friend. His name is Juan. I trust him. Don’t I?

I turn to look down the stairwell. Strange colors on the bare concrete. On the steps directly below me is a scattering of crimson. Blood. Carefully, I maneuver around the blood splatter to get a closer look. My senses tell me this is fresh. Four hours old at the longest. Leaning forward, I inhale the scent of the blood deeply. Closing my eyes, I let my instincts tell me what my eyes can not.

Knowledge wells up from forgotten places. The blood was not offered freely. There is a fading scent of fear. It is splatter from a wound. The wound is clotting however, the piquant scent betrays the clotting agent. Estrogen, a woman, of childbearing age, not pregnant. Perhaps soon to her cycle. It’s hard to tell from scent alone. A bitter echo of canine, scent from the family dog, I wonder. I drop to the floor, my face a finger’s width from the sticky blood. “Tell me”, I whisper to the blood, “Tell me who you are.” My body heat radiates from my face and warms the blood ever so slightly. It releases more scent in response. One last piece of information before the decaying blood loses its integrity. It bears a familial relation to Juan. Juan’s sister.

“Your sister!” He just nods. “She’s still alive!” He looks up and down the staircase. Searching, he spies his target. On the landing above us is a cell phone with a dead battery.

“She was able to make a phone call, but the call dropped when I picked it up. I called in some favors to find where the call came from. I thought your skills would come in handy to find her.”

My head now full of her scent, I stand erect and feel the surroundings. “She went down.” Juan races past me down the stairs. As I follow, I detect another trace scent. Baby powder mixed with musk. The musk is sharp from arousal. “Wait.” He stops a full landing below me. “She’s not alone. There is another female with her.” He looks at me, the question wrinkles his face. “The other female, is enjoying the chase. Your sister is being hunted.” He explodes into various curses and resumes his charge down the stairs. I follow, using the shadows we cast to hide our trail.

As we follow the scattered drops, I confirm that the wound is not a fatal wound. I verbally wonder, if Juan’s sister is intentionally leaving a trail to follow. Juan posits that a trail that would persist for several hours would give her away to her pursuers. “Not if her pursuers are already hot on her ass.” As I pull the shadows behind us again, I detect a new sharp scent just as Juan kicks a small, round, metal object.

“Gunpowder!” The tinkling of the spent casing sharply accentuated my concern. “Juan! Why is your sister being hunted?” He pulls out his knife, and gently teases the casing out of the corner and towards me. I pick up the brass casing, and note it has chrome surfacing. Juan doesn’t answer my question, just points at the casing.

I lick my thumb and wipe off the floor debris from the casing. The “chrome” tickles my thumb. I concentrate my senses on the casing. This isn’t chrome. It’s silver. I look at Juan and hold out the casing for him to examine. He refuses to take it.

“Juan, I’m not taking another step until you tell me what the hell is going on.” He sighs, takes the casing from me with his fingertips, and holds his fingers up for me to examine. He is reacting to the silver, his skin turning deep red, then black. He can hold the casing no longer, dropping it to the floor.

“I didn’t inherit the Blessing. Not in it’s fullness. That has always been my shame. You, an Outsider, are able to detect the clues from my sister’s blood. It might as well be water for me. Selena inherited all of the Blessing. And now that she is leaving puberty, the Blessing is blossoming into its fullness.”

“Blessing? What Bless…*” He raises a hand to cut me off.

“I’m surprised, with your abilities, that you had not discovered the truth on your own. But then, you are not of the Blood, and you are not trained, so of course you would not detect the Blessing. I suppose that is why my kin tolerated our friendship. You are not a threat.”

“I was supposed to protect my sister. She wasn’t feeling well. She never does the days before her period. It was just her and me alone in the apartment. Hunters came in, and dragged her away. They beat me until all went black.” He sat down on the cold concrete. “If I waited for the kin to return, I would lose the lead. I already called them, but they are too far away at the Meet. You are the only one that is beyond Normal that I could call on for help.”

“I’m covering our tracks, Juan. How will your kin follow us?” He looks up at me and smiles. “They know what you are. They know what you can do. You are covering us from the hunters, and leaving a great blazing trail for the kin to catch up to us.”

“Juan, what is the Blessing?” He looks up at me with tired eyes. “I can not tell you. You may figure it out on your own. But I can not tell you. Because I don’t have it.” He smiles sadly. I pull him to his feet. Now knowing his kin can track me, I cover him and me in many layers of shadow. A blazing trail? He and I will be beacons in the night. “Let’s find Selena.”

I suspect the Blessing is lycanthropy. His reaction to the silver casing, that the bullet casing IS silver, and the odd canine tinge to Selena’s blood trail leads me to that conclusion. The time for further questions is later. If there are werewolf hunters, then I may be next on their list. Juan doesn’t know that I too can shift my form.

Normally, silver has no reaction on me. Unless in the form of jewelry, it is inert to me and my wallet. But this silver, felt horridly uncomfortable against my skin. The round bore a magic working on it, I’m sure. The wound caused by such a round, would cause great discomfort and pain. A glancing strike could cripple. Whoever shot this round is not aiming to kill, but to capture, and has no concern for the sentience of her prey.

We continue on to the bottom of the stairwell, burst through the ground level doors and out into the humid night of Los Angeles. More wound drips. The level of fear is increasing. But now there are two sources of blood. One is Selena. The other is the baby-powder scented pursuer. I tarry over her blood, bringing all of my senses to bear to learn as much as I can about this woman. She is in the height of her life-cycle, about late thirties. I smell artificial progesterone, she is taking birth control. An acrid scent of antibodies, recently vaccinated, she has money for medical care. Arousal, anger, and a sprinkling of fear. The chase is thrilling her, but something is not going her way. “Fight or Flight” response was active. Selena fought back.

I tarry too long, I hear a sudden rush of quiet footsteps. In the heartbeat I paused to count rhythms, I noted at least seven distinct individuals. Their footsteps muffled, I panic. Grabbing Juan, I try to pull him to the side, away from the blood path. I did not even begin to move before the followers were upon us.

Hands grab me, pulling me in all directions. I hear a shout from Juan before he is quickly muffled. We are dragged down the alley I had sought to escape to. Five men are on me, trying to keep me under control. Hands cover my eyes. My arms are roughly wrenched into unnatural positions. I allow my joints to become fluid, will my bones to be as rubber. They are trying to manhandle a boneless body and barely succeeding in doing so.

“Keri! Stop fighting! It’s my kin!” Juan’s voice freezes me in place. Still blinded, I realize I can speak. “Tell me you love me, and I’ll consider it.” Shocked noises from my captors, an arm tightens around my neck. Juan laughs. “I love you, Keri. I love you and worship the ground you walk on! Now stop fighting my kin!” From the relaxed sound of his voice, I can tell he is not coerced. I can also tell he is not completely lying, but I’ll torment him about that later. I will my body to be normal human flesh and bones again, and surrender to my captors.

In response to my surrender, I am roughly dropped on the ground. I stand up, slowly, observing the seven, no… eight, no… nine men and women that have now joined us. The canine scent is overwhelming. The five that had wrestled with me were eying me warily. I overheard one telling another, “she isn’t Deadblood, but she isn’t Kin, either.” Two strong Kin were standing with Juan. Strong Inca features. I felt as if standing among nobility. I bowed to them. Unblinkingly, they nodded their heads to me in return.

“Juan, what is this? Where is Selena?” The woman on Juan’s right gestured to me when she said “this”. Juan repeated his kidnapping story to her, and merely mentioned I was his friend. “But, what kind of friend? And why did she demand you profess your love? Are you mated to this thing?” The woman’s persistence in referring to me as a lesser creature was really getting on my nerves.

“A close and trusted friend. ‘Professing love’ is a safe phrase between us. No, we have not fucked. And she is not a thing! I don’t know what she is, but she has her own gifts.” It was odd to see Juan standing up to his Kin. I had always known that he felt like an outcast in his family.

“Why did you not wait for us?” The man on Juan’s left was angered by my presence. I did not wait to hear Juan’s response, but answered for him. “Because Selena’s trail was already fading. It was easier for he and I to follow the trail, while you and yours follow our’s. And while we stand around jawing over how great a sin Juan has committed against propriety by including me, Selena falls further into the trap!” The man’s face flares deep red in anger as he strides towards me with raised hand. Juan suddenly stands between him and me, facing him. The man would have struck Juan, if the woman had not grabbed his hand as Juan stepped forward.

“The Shifter is right. This is not the time for placations.” The man pulls away from her and sulks at the edge of our grouping. She turns to me. “This I am willing to tell you. I can not trace Selena’s trail. I could barely trace Juan’s. This is not normal. We caught up to you, only because the trail you left was meant for us to find. The hunter that chases my niece, he is setting a trap. I do not know yet, if the trap is meant for her, or for us.”

“The hunter is a woman. I think the trap is meant for Selena. But we all have need to be careful.” I hold up the silver bullet casing. The woman’s eyes widen at the sight of it.

“Tonight, Shifter, you run with my pack. Juan will translate our ways to you, and your ways to us. You may call me Marda.” She holds out her hand as she speaks. I grasp her forearm and allow her to grasp mine. “The name I gave to Juan, I give to you. You may call me Keri.” We repeat each other’s name. Some of her pack approves the alliance. The man and two others do not. But they give no verbal indication. Marda, it would appear, is Alpha Female.

Together, we set off after Selena. This time, I make no effort to cover our tracks with shadow, instead concentrating on the faint strains of blood and scent. Further and further we go, through twists and turns. I keep finding fresh blood, but her wound refuses to clot. She has been struck by the enchanted round, not enough to place her in physical danger, but I fear what the pain is doing to her mental state.

It is nearly dawn. I can sense weariness in both Selena and her hunter. Marda’s pack and I, however, are buoyed by the closeness of our collective prey. Instead of drawing the shadows around us, I have been consuming the shadows and radiating the energy for the good of the pack. I hear whispers of “Darkblood” between them, but do not understand the connotations of the term. When we started out, we were four hours behind Selena. When Marda caught up with us, we were three. Now, we are minutes behind them. I expect to see either one at the turn of every corner.

Near one of Los Angeles’ concrete canals, the trail becomes strange. There is doubling back and scent laid over scent. I mention this to Marda and point in the direction I think Selena departed the area for the last time from. As Marda and most of the pack look in that general direction, I hear the most subtle of clicks directly behind us.

I hear myself shrieking, “GUN!”. Instinctively, all eleven of us drop to the ground. The round grazes my right arm as we scatter. The wound itself is superficial, a friction burn. But the skin is broken, and the enchantment soaks in. My arm is swallowed up in mind shredding agony. The shock of the pain is so great, I am unable to scream. My fall to the ground complete, my muscles lock up as the pain induced seizure torques my body to the point my joints threaten to dislocate.

My eyes roll up into my head. My lungs beg for air, but the diaphragm won’t move. I try to shift form, anything to break the muscle lock, but my body is unresponsive. As from far away, I hear Marda give orders to capture the hunter, dead if necessary. Juan is calling my name. He kneels above me, but I can barely sense him. There is an acrid taste in my mouth. Then the holy state of unconsciousness overwhelms me and banishes me from the disemboweling pain.

~~~

I am being rocked gently. Resting in the branch of a large tree. My arms and legs have been interwoven with the branches, holding me in place. It will take maneuvering to extricate myself without harm. The branch is rocking me. The man is rocking the branch. He is standing on the same branch that holds me, and is pushing gently against another branch overhead. Rocking us gently up and down, side to side. I look at the blond man, and know that he is quite familiar. I know him from somewhere.

“You’re not going to fall.” I merely nod. My muscles are sore, but not from the branch. There was… pain? “You’re not entirely here. I didn’t think you would be responsive after enduring that. Not for a while anyway.” I stare at him blankly. He stops rocking the branch and deftly walks over to me, displaying no fear of falling. He traces a line on my right arm, I scream from pain I should not have. “No, you’re still there. It’s just as well, you should finish what was started.” I note his lips are rough and ragged. He leans over me, and presses on my chest. I struggle to breathe. “Do you understand? Sometimes, to live, you have to die.” He sit on my chest, restricting my ability to breathe. He covers my mouth with his and pinches my nose. I start to struggle against the restraining branches. He is chuckling in this bastard kiss. With no warning, he sucks all the air out of my lungs. There is an acrid taste in my mouth. The blackness comes quickly.

~~~

I am being rocked. Sometimes gently, sometimes roughly. I am restrained with large warm bonds. A hand is on my face. “Ah! No! Let me breathe!” I jump from fright and pull away from the bonds. “Lay down, Keri! It’s okay. It’s over.” Juan’s voice floats over me, as his scent accompanies his large arms as he embraces me. I open my eyes, to see Juan over me. Another rocking motion. Confused, I look around. We are in a cargo van. He, I, Marda, and several others of her pack are in the open back area. The man that had wanted to strike me is driving. Yelling, he asks what is going on.

Marda yells back, “It’s okay. Keri has woken up.” Softly she says, “Keri has survived.” I look up at Juan. It takes me a while to remember what happened. “Selena!” I try to sit up. “Juan, where is your sister? Where is Selena?”

“Aquí.” Her voice is thin and ragged. The small word betrayed much exhaustion. I try to sit up, but find myself at the limits of movement. Juan helps me lean forward. She is cradled in Marda’s arms. Her shoulder is bandaged. Her face is shallow and pale. She hasn’t even the energy to turn her head in my direction. But her eyes, her eyes are lit with internal flame. “You led my pack to me.”

“No, I led your brother to you. Your pack followed him.”

She curses at me mildly under her breath. “I’m trying to increase your worth in their eyes. Damn you Shifter, do you always fight those that help you?” Marda chuckles.

I lay back against Juan. “No. I just want credit placed where credit is due.” We both are fighting hard to breathe, our war of words exhausts us and forces a truce of silence.

Another pothole, another rough rocking. “Juan. The hunter?” He strokes my hair gently. “She was killed. When she realized we were on her trail, she changed her target. She knew she would not escape Marda’s pack.” Another light stroke. “But don’t worry about that. You have to recover from the enchantment.”

“I can’t feel my right arm, Juan.” Marda’s voice answers my concern. “You won’t for some time. It’s still there. But the enchantment is still active. Until you recover, you will stay with my kin.” It wasn’t a request, nor an offer. I had no strength to say otherwise.

“Does it bother you, Juan, that you have so little lycanthrophic blessing on you?” “It used to, Keri.”

“Does it bother you, Keri, that you are a Darkblood?” “Juan, if you’re talking about my skin color…”

Marda speaks up again, this time in incredulous tones. “You don’t know what you are?” “What to you mean, know what I am? I know what I am.” Marda doesn’t respond for a while.

The ride become more bumpy, as we depart the freeway. “We will teach you what we can, Darkblood. We owe you that for helping us save Selena. Do not betray my trust in you.”

“Hey Keri.” Juan interrupts the somber mood. “Want to see what I learned I can do?” I look up at him in question. “I found this out when you collapsed from the shot.” He places his right hand on my forehead. In the distance of my mind, alarms began to ring. “It doesn’t matter that I don’t have the Blessing of the Wolf. I have a different Blessing instead.” A slight pressure from his hand, a great pressure from his mind. I was forced into deep dreamless sleep.

***

My alarm clock was gently ringing beside my bed. My right arm was sore and I stretched it gently as I greeted the morning. Having seen the movie “Inception” a few days ago, I was chuckling at my double layer dream. I sarcastically noted that Christopher Nolan only had to talk to any journeyer for one night’s dream, than spend ten years trying to figure it out.

But this dream would not leave me. Even after two cups of coffee and breakfast. Certain phrases stuck out at me. “Do you understand? Sometimes, to live, you have to die.” “You don’t know what you are?” “My Dear, I think you’ve forgotten your place.” “At least, not in this lifetime.” And just what the hell IS a ‘Darkblood’, anyway? Never heard that term before in any myth or fiction.

My disdain for WalMart… that has no bounds. My disdain for the people that shop at WalMart… varies. I’m quite the misanthropist. Just ask my daughter about her Evil Mother.

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