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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
MYRRH is now available on as a Kindle book, and from Barnes and Noble as both a Nook and as a paperback. --K.G.
October 29, 2014

The Human Game, Pt. 291: After the Miracle

“OK, Doctor, here’s the first thing…” one of the techs said as she approached.
-What do you think? –F.
-…Any snipers in th’ trees? –W.
-You know me too well. –F.
At the work table, about to shut down her laptop, Leah said, “Oh, wait, I have to send a file. Be right with you…”
-Take a look at them, Frank/ they’re conifers/ they’re a bear to climb/ especially with a Mannlicher or a Dragunov over your shoulder –D.
-I learned that the hard way, once. Austerlitz. 1805? –P.
-An’ I’m still laughin’ about it. –W.
-No… I think we’re all right until we/ get back to CERN –D.
-Ironic. –F.
Safe, for now. All of us.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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October 26, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 290: Rainbow's Near End

“Don’t take this the wrong way, gentlemen, but it might be a good idea if you stayed where you are for now.”
The look on Dr. Bernheim’s face made us decide to hold our position. “I’m— I’m so glad you’re here,” she added as if to underline.
“It’s just unbelievable,” agreed Dr. Schneider. “Robot, do you have a Geiger counter program on your laptop anywhere?”
“Searching now!” He would; he was the closest to us. Looking up, he added, “If any of you have sunglasses, now might be the time to wear ‘em…”
“Sure is hurting my eyes,” Thermos assented.
-Odd.../ –D.
“We look like a 1920 photograph to you, I bet,” smiled Vortura. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out. How do you feel?”
“You bet,” Tanker said, bringing out a pair of shades.
-Well… reasonably/ OK --D.
“Are your earpieces still working, lads?” asked the automaton. We agreed, more or less. “Oh, wait, already found that out...”
“Maybe we should… start the debrief?” Tanker asked, but there were no immediate takers.
If this effect didn’t go away soon we would have no small difficulty getting around. Leah leaned down to look at her own screen, paging back and forth with one or two fingers. “Okay,” she began, “while Robot is looking… I guess your appearance is due to Verse I’s prevailing multistructural effect. Your subatomic particles, your atoms, your cells, all are vibrating in a the manner that they do in ‘Verse I. Though to a lesser extent, I guess. Hopefully. You weren’t in there very long. Put a defined web of particles in an environment that has marked differences, let’s say, the introduced structure will begin to acquire something from its new environment. I assume the mechanics are much in the way of how Faraday said that fields influence other fields.” Thinking a minute, Leah also offered, “You know, mechanical or electric. Or, put a glass tumbler full of cold water into a boiling saucepan; what happens? The water in the saucepan’s prevailing difference is one of heat. So the cold water in the glass tumbler gets warmer. Take it out of the saucepan, though, it cools down again. Something similar should happen here.” She thought about but decided not to say “I hope” again.
“Found it!” called the automaton. “Punching up now…”
-Forgot all about this, didn’t we… --P.
{-I don’ think what we look like is all they’re hinky about. –W.}
(-Was about to say that... –P.)
/-Brothers/ they heard us --D./
[-…Talking to the angels… --F.]
/-Has to be/ this is bad –D./
“OK, software’s on line, I’ll have a reading shortly,” Robot informed us.
“We’re just making sure,” Leah agreed. “Uh, how do you feel when you look at one another or yourselves?”
(-Why didn’t anybody tell me to shut up? –P.)

(-Never mind. Do we have an explanation handy? –P.)
-When I close my eyes, it’s OK, Leah. –W.

“Step in the right direction.”
“I’ve nothing here, gentlemen, ladies,” Robot announced. “I don’t think they’re dangerous. Wait.”
[-Our epitaph… --F.]
/-Not yet-- --D./
While the rest watched, Robot World attached a wand to his laptop and walked it over to us, playing out the cord behind him.
“Be careful, Robot!”
“No need, Doctor, I’ve had all the kids I want already… “ He stopped a few feet away, turned towards the laptop by the cellular rig. “Not a tick, only your standard ambient radiation for 3900 meters above sea level.”
“Another step,” Leah agreed. The crew stood up and began to move in our direction, carefully.
“This effect has got to subside; how will you four make a living if it doesn’t?”
asked Vortura.
“Although any number of things should happen but don’t,” Leah said, forgetting to put her hat back on. Always tells the truth, this one. At last, one by one except for Robot World, they stood before us, blinking. The sun passed over thin clouds, a minor breeze blew up.
-We always wanted to join the circus… -F.
Leah gave him a pained glance so Francis said no more.
Our mounts, heaving a bit upon our exit from ‘Verse I, now viewed us, themselves, our ‘fan club’ and each other, somewhat taken aback. Thankfully.
“You’re welcome.”
Though they had, you can be sure, seen far worse.
“All right… I’ve gone through every sensor program that the earpieces have,“ Robot added, “but the only one with the ‘off’ reading is the Higgs field. Mildly serious fluctuations. Nowhere near as wide-ranging as when they were in ‘Verse I, but..”
“Any sign that they’re decreasing?” asked Schneider.
“Maybe by a very small percentage. Explorers, I hope you don’t mind but I have the webcam on my laptop recording you since you came out the companionway. I had it running when you went in as well.”
-Sure, why not. Had t’ have some evidence. –W.
“All right…” Leah said in a small voice, deciding; she came to each of us and in turn she took each our hands in both of hers. Her eyes searched our faces as well; she had definitely heard something.
“Uh, Dr. Bernheim—“ Thermos began, but our Fifth Horsewoman shook her head at him and continued anyhow. “Can someone take photographs of this besides Robot? Please?”
Vortura ran and got her camera. “Here we go!”
Once done with each of us, she said quietly, “My heroes…” To a returning Vortura, “I won’t see these in the local newspaper, will I?”
“Absolutely not.”
"Although, Peter, I could have done without your quoting Catullus."
-Pardon. --P.
"Eventually," she replied. To Vortura: “You’ll try to concentrate on other areas than their faces.”
“Of course.” She took several dozen shots of Leah and some of the others standing next to us. Once done, Leah walked back to Robot. “See, I just touched each of them and look at my hands…”
Robot World lowered his eyeglasses and turned the webcam – and his attention -- towards Leah’s slender outstretched arms. “I see absolutely nothing.”
“Please measure them for radioactivity and so forth, Robot…”
We waited as the Scotsman went through program after program, at last concluding, “Again, I see nothing, Doctor.”
Happily she turned back to the rest of us, palms up. “Neither do I!”
“Possibly you didn’t touch them long enough for any to rub off,” suggested Thermos. “If that was even going to happen?”
“I’d normally agree! If you dip your hands in hot water for only a few seconds, they still get scalded. Not analogous here, though. See? You’ll be OK, gentlemen. I am.” That did it; one by one the crew came to shake hands with us, expressing their disbelief that we’d all survived with our seeming wits intact. Vortura continued her picture taking.
Once pleasantries were exhausted, Leah suggested, “Time to close up shop, everybody. Come on, put a lazy physicist to work, Dr. Schneider, what can I do?”
-What’s next, Dr. Bernheim? –F.
This annoyed her. “For the absolute last time, my name is Leah.”
-Oops. –F.
-Pardon, Leah. –P.
“See, Francis, your brother’s mastered it. Even almost sounds like he means it. Come, we’ll set up a few heaters to keep your horses at least a little warm… oh, wait.” As we dismounted, she went to each one and personally thanked them with a pat each. They stared at her, Red lowering his ears slightly and Midnight huffing. Geist and Whitey remained standoffish. “I’ll assume that’s horse language for ‘you’re welcome.’”
-Pretty much. –W.
[-Maybe she isn’t afraid of them. –F.]
/-We are/ still not getting her one –D./
“So you asked what’s next, Francis. We’ll take you back to CERN for the debrief before we all freeze, and we’ll show you off to the bosses while you’re still a sight. People will insist we made all this up if we don’t. Would that be OK?” She actually sounded as if she might drop the idea if we didn’t approve… but how could we?
-Fine, let’s –D.
“I’m so glad! This is just unbelievable. Every bit of it! Come with me, now…” Leah led us to the main CERN caravan truck. “Here are the heaters, just plug as many of them in as you like. We’re out of coffee, naturally, and I didn’t think to bring horse blankets, but our generator’s working OK, so relax and let us get you back to the office once we’re packed.”
-Leah? There isn’t any press there? –P.
“What? Journalists? Media slime, or however Augustus puts it? No way. It’s still a skeleton crew on site, nobody’ll see you who shouldn’t. We’ll even go in the back door! You’ll keep your anonymity but you will meet Dr. Singh, you’ll also meet Dr. Semmel, you have no idea. We even have heat in the building.” She had only appeared this ‘in charge’ twice before, so we acceded and began to plug in heaters. What must be, must. The endless hilarity of certain angels – fallen and otherwise – notwithstanding. Again. “So.” Pulling her hat down a bit more snugly, it seemed she wanted to say more but just added, “Let the prima donna pitch in, here, I’ll be back.” Hands in pockets again, she turned and stalked towards the crew, now disassembling and taking down.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths.

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October 23, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 289: A Basement Tape

The guest sat in Interview Room 11 in the bowels of Vauxhall Cross. A battered tape recorder stood guard, bolted to the wall. He was no longer certain of the space of time they’d made him wait. At last a familiar face entered, A4 folder in hand. To my brothers and me, not him.
“You’ve been seriously inconvenienced,” Propinq offered.
“I wasn’t going to say,” replied O’Carlan. “You have all but ended my career by allowing Dr. Bernheim to lead you around by the nose—“
“Oh, it could have been you who were trying to lead our physicist, Mr. O’Carlan.”
“Works for you? Was I such an ass to walk into a rat trap that shallow?”
“No, but she did have the intelligence to turn you over. We are very anxious to hear your explanation. I have it from our lords and ladies that your Agency has a willing bankroller. A client. One with the deepest pockets. That’s only one question of many. Wait a moment.” He accessed the recorder after making certain there was a fresh cassette waiting. “One day we’ll get these updated… this is Matthias Propinq, Field Services section chief, initial interview with Patrick Wilson O’Carlan, employee of the U.S. Department of State. Detained November 26 in Geneva, Switzerland. Primary case file reference, ‘Precambrian Era’; secondary, ‘Silent Running.’
State your name, sir.”

“Oh, don’t be shy. We started off so well. Before the tape rolled.”

“Had that something to do with it?”

“We do not employ American methods here but those we do deign to use are, I have been told by those who’ve experienced them, at best very unpleasant.”
“I will only talk to Agent Leila Fatima Al-Adil.”
“…You don’t get to decide to whom you unburden your trousers, O’Carlan. So to speak. Miss Al-Adil is a name slightly known to me, she is a junior clerk in another section. She hasn’t got two years in, and she is certainly not fully trained in interview techniques.”
“I will only talk to Agent Leila Fatima Al-Adil.”
“While from what I hear, she gave you quite the shellacking in Prague. Until you got out by the skin of.”
“It isn’t her prowess as a field agent trainee that makes me want to speak to her. She will understand what I have to say. You won’t.”
”Only Americans understand other Americans, is that it?”
“So I needn’t get an interpreter in here.”
“My information is time-sensitive.”
“So’s everybody’s. Given your calendar age, sir, it would be even more so. Or is there another reason for that?”
“Her insults will also be more pointed.”
“Have a history, do you?”
“No more. Get me Al-Adil.”
“All right, then.” Propinq stood and addressed the tape player again. “Interview interrupted, same date. To be continued.” He flipped off the RECORD switch, then turned back to O’Carlan. “Since your sovereign land once enjoyed what was referred to in the very dim past as a ‘special relationship’ with mine, I will pass on your request. If the answer be ‘no,’ however, and one is pleased to think it will be a quick negative, I will return shortly, expecting far more cooperation. And I will have it.”
“You know what kind of hell HM Government will be in when it’s found where I am.”
At the door, hand on the knob, Propinq replied without turning back: “You shouldn’t assume that you will see America again, Mr. O’Carlan. There is rendition and there is extraordinary rendition.”
“No wonder you had Interpol pick me up. I doubt they’ll do you any favors again soon when we're done with them.”
“The USA wrote the textbook we used today when the World Trade Center was carbombed in ’93.”
“Is this what we get for sharing our wisdom with our allies?”
“Really, Mr. O’Carlan. When were we last Allies, again?”
“I’m not saying one more word. Get me Al-Adil. Now.”
Propinq, never having turned to look at the man, flipped the doorknob. “I’m sure that my leaving the room now is to be considered a moral victory for yourself, even a partial assent on my part to your, ah, order that I produce Miss Al-Adil. Best you not take that meaning. Your request is a formality. The remainder of our exchange will be far less so.” Propinq opened the door and left the room.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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October 20, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 288: ...To be a Vassal?

“So, Horsemen. Will you trust in Him? Without grudge or reservation?”
Another smash against the door, as Gabriel's gown rustled.
-We woke in this universe as we were/ not an atom different/ we were to have been our old mindless selves/ what of that? --D.
"Certainly sounds like a grudge. You would have been of no use to Him in that form. He uses his creations. He uses us. He always has done. But He will keep His bargain."
-This time, yeah? --W.
"This time."
-And this 'freedom' of which you speak... we may use it to lobotomize ourselves? --P.
"If you like."
-…Very well. As Michael put it, this one time. –P.
“You have all but sworn that you will not abandon your friend. It is now time to do so.”
“She will do the same for you. She has done.”
-Our what, then? –P.
-Petey! –F.
-All right, Francis! I heard her thinking it last night. I admit i! Then so she is. I proclaim it. If, angels? –P.
-Then I swear… if--D.
-Yes. If. –F.
-…Aright. If. –W.
"Explain yourselves."
-You will hold that door shut until the window reopens. –P.
“I will make every effort.”
We shall.”
Beyond the door, it was as if they’d gone and hired a rhinoceros. Whatever hit it next, it caused cracks in the wall around the keening metal frame. While in the room, the human virus in us sang no more; it began to scream.
-Petey-- --F.
I kept my eyes on Gabriel and Michael, now both with their hands on the portal.
-If you expect us to swear, you shall do the same. –P.
“What else exactly shall we swear to?”
-You will see to it that we get our payment. You will inveigh for us with the Highest! You will not allow us to be cheated! –P.
-Petey, the CW still isn’t open! –F.
I did not look back again. Why bother….
-For this is so far outside us and what we do that I can barely comprehend it. Preserve...? –P.
“All things change, Horsemen. The generations, the seasons…”
“Even the universes.”
-I have read Ecclesiastes, thank you, and I also know that men who defend a woman’s honor can have entire buildings fall upon them. SWEAR, THEN! NOW! Swear also that you will watch over her when we are gone! –P.
“Why? Where are you going?”
-I ask for my brother's sake. SWEAR! --P.
“No more, Michael. We do, Pestilence.”
“We swear, then! Go!
Another concussion from outside jarred the angels’ shoulders. We’d none of us escape death in the reeds if I held us all up many seconds longer— so yes, I turned and there it was, just as before, the browning field and a slowly rising ecru-colored Aeroflot Tupolev TU-118 jet making for the east. Leah's worried voice filled our ears.
"Peter, William, Francis, David, can you read? Respond, please?"
-Done. We are in agreement. GO, WILLIAM! –P.
Not that he’d waited for my assent… although Gabriel could not resist one last jab…
“May Allah speed you, then…”
As before, sine comentaris, but Francis and David took only seconds more to follow our brother… though I decided not to be outdone.
-Michael! Give my Mary’s statue atop St. Severin my best! –P.
And even I was gone. At which point…
As we flew from the CW on the far side, one last set of hooves striking the earth, I saw for half a moment the angels remaining on post while the wall began to crumble.
“I can hear you!” called the chief engineer some yards distant, hard at his laptop. “We got ‘em!”
The electrical room door all but detonated inward while Gabriel and Michael vanshed and the CW swept itself from the air. With all clear about us, we turned to our intrepid group of mechanics and met their stunned silence head on. Our Fifth Horsewoman stood at near-attention, hand nearly covering her mouth.
We’d completely forgotten! Wrapped in shimmering multicolored diamonds from our heads to our horses’ hooves, we lit and grew dim, tides of pinpoint light washing in and out upon and throughout us all.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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October 17, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 287: Free...

-I think that I want to. –F.
“Help her, in other words?”
-Frank-- --W.
“What are your brothers’ opinions?”
-Slow down, all right? So we’re… what now? –W.
“War, Death: when you and Famine stood astride the air, very early on Monday morning, poised above Europe to fall upon it, you didn’t. Why?”
-This is not a question to which you are owed a reply –D.
"He who sent us is, however."
-Why might He care? While what has this to do with our Fifth Horsewoman? –P.
“No matter. We already know.”
“While kindly don’t call her that before us. If she had any idea…”
-Why, Michael, I’d almost forgotten you were here. –P.
-Talk, then/ you sure can do that/ but we aren’t dying in these reeds either –D.
-And one doubts that you will tell her anyway, Gabriel… that might be one Annunciation too many --P.
“There are parallels…”
-We don’t know why we didn’t fall upon the world, early Monday morning. How’s that? – F.
-Your minds were elsewhere, brothers. That’s all. Don’t read too much into it. As these attempt to do. No one saw ahead of us and found that we'd of a sudden no use for random harvesting any longer. Correct, angels? --P.
"And in so doing, did He throw all of creation to a pack of toothless wolves?"
-Don't you dare mock us! Brothers, you saw me trying to help Dr. Bernheim and you were waiting to see how she might do against O’Carlan. That is all it was. –P.
“Part of the explanation, perhaps. I only ask that you consider it. Now, about Leah herself…”
-Somebody’s PO’d about her turnin’ the old guy in. O’Carlan. Gotta be it. –W.
“Pestilence looked in the right place and found that very evidence. There also are questions about her association with you four. Some who ask them are very insistent.”
-Yer sayin’ we put her in harm’s way. –W.
“Place no words in my mouth, War. I only ask if you will abandon the woman when she has never abandoned you? Death, in your mind’s eye do you still see her crisping on a spit above a great fire?”
-…No –D.
-No? How come? --W.
"What of you, War?"
-Huh. Ain't really crossed my mind. --W.
“We don’t wish to humiliate you…”
-Oh, we’re doing a bang-up job of that/ ourselves, aren’t we; Frank, you had to sit in her living room when she was 13 and listen to practice her violin/ you had to do that! –D.
I pointed to the place where the companionway was.
-Besides… that is not our universe. --P.
“Once, you wouldn’t have thought twice.”
At least he didn’t say ‘it is now’…
"The Horseman prepares to disown what he is incapable of eradicating..."
-Dave, I had my eyes shut while she played. She was so good even then, I may as well have been blind. In fact, while I listened to her in the hall at Cambridge, I all but went blind again. –F.
-That, Michael, is exactly what you would have said of us in this multiverse. Had you had the wit. --P.
-So you aren’t going to/ chase her through a trillion frames of reference, Francis/ like some people we know –D.
-Ahem… –P.
-Hard to do that when you can’t see, Dave… --F.
-I just… –D.
-We’ve always terminated our Fifth Horsemen or Horsewomen – don’t give me that look, Gabriel -- or let others do it for us. You understand, Francis. –P.
Now my brother nodded to where 'the companionway' wasn't.
-I don't know that I do. We didn’t get to her in time, before. Where she and her family were hiding. Shubby's men made it first. -F.
-Shubby Shuba is dead/ I killed him --D.
-That was the last world. We were going to evacuate her and her family! --F.
“While there are others worse now than he, then."
-We were angels at the time, Mikey/ we were following orders! --D.
-Dave... haven't we been doing that here? --F.
"You, Pestilence, hid in the wall in the American Consulate while they spoke of Leah as if she were a piece of meat. I ask again, will you allow them to take her? Are these the same Horsemen who opposed and, I am sorry to say, vanquished our fallen brother Sama’il? Who stopped the motor of the last Creation?”
-Suddenly that’s a good thing? –F.
"In the beginning, was that your commission?"
-How full of queries are these angels! Though their Master already knows each answer. When he has time off from holding every particle still! Which is never. --P.
“You won by a whisker's whisker. You gave a man the fatal weapon. It was a master stroke, Pestilence. Try not to be so despondent about it.”
-Miracle of miracles/ only took them 13.729 billion years to admit it/ --D.
"Fine. Then, we do."
-Though I didn’t have more than a fraction of a thought to strategy when I encountered Chantal in the street before Marie Reine du Monde. Don't entirely credit our tactics either, Gabriel. I had other concerns. –P.
-Petey, they never let us in th’ machine room a’ th’ X-iverse. Why would they? –W.
“Dr. Bernheim has near to opened that very door and let you in. And now, for all, you know.”
-So she’s right, Mikey. – W.
“Spectacularly correct. She may well be one of the most intelligent human beings who have ever lived.”
-Not Dr. Bailter? Or don't he count 'cause he's an atheist? –W.
-Leah's also not terribly hard on the eyes-- –P.
-Excuse me! –F.
-Mea maxima culpa, Francis… although why do you reward her for that, angels? What of Goethe? What of Goedel? Galileo? And that’s just the G’s. William has a good point also; what of Dr. Bailter? --P.
“Dr. Bernheim outstrips them all. She stood on a giant's shoulders, yes, but with your assistance, she has rediscovered her faith, and she has all but found the moving principle of the universes. She understands that science is much as Isaac Newton saw it, a method for discovering how our Heavenly Father hewed creation out of darkness without form, and how He set all in motion.”
-Whaddya know, th' 'blind watchmaker' argument again. --W.
"Call Him blind at your peril, War."
-Don't threaten us when ya expect a favor. Yer not talkin' t' Job here. --W.
“She cannot know who you are. She cannot be told that.”
-I have heard equal parts sophistry and flattery here, but I’ll let them go. –P.
-I don’t think I will/ Azrael did say the last creation was sealed off to us/ we couldn’t get to it/ we had to go look for a scientist to prove him wrong/ no wonder Az isn’t here/ too embarrassed, probably/ --D.
“It was his assumption. You have his apology for misleading you if you require it."
-And we never said we’d tell her. –F.
“Thank you. Now we ask that you decide.”
-I don’t at all doubt the woman is smart. But as you yourself said, look who she chooses to call ‘friends.’ –P.
“Leah calls her own eyes ‘filthy liars,’ and it disturbs not her inner sight. She may well already know you for what you are, and she may not care.”
-Dear me, you don’t expect her to do an Oedipus on them… --P.ah
“Like all wise persons, she takes her friends where she finds them. Whoever and whatever they may be.”
-Possibly then, she has made one mistake. –P.
“The companionway will open soon. Decide.
-I have. –F.
A key was turned in the electrical room door. Gabriel placed his hand on the knob and the lock jammed.
-I have not. --P.
-What he said. --W.
“We must come to some kind of consensus.”
“My brother Gabriel and I agree that she is needed.”
“We do. While I can’t keep this door shut forever…”
Perfect timing! A fist began to quite rudely pound on the door. Not too loudly, though. Swiss craftsmanship, once again.
-Needed? Your Creator moved the goalposts every which way in this universe so that those who led all the rest to understanding of the previous X-iverse would be damned to obscurity here! Why Leah and why not, oh, William James? –P.
“We do as we are ordered by the All-Knowing and Wise One. If you ask for my opinion…”
“…It is possible that she will be needed more in the near future.”
-Petey, that’s all we’re gonna get outta them. –W.
“If we knew anything else…”
-And our payment for this/? --D.
Gabriel appeared against playing the card, but...
-Indeed. --P.
-Define that, Michael. --F.
"No more fingers in your skulls. No more paths laid out for you. No more hands in your heads, piloting you about."
-No more Chennevieres. --W.
-Brothers? What do we think? –P.
Something far larger slammed against the door and the doorframe.
“This one time, Horsemen… I may wish you luck.”
We turned one by one for the CW. Unfortunately it still wasn’t there.
-Maybe somehow you could tell our techies to try a little faster! –F.
“Where the door is open, there you shall go into the house.”
-This is not the time/ for Hasidic tales… --D.
-Not the world, our plaything. Us. At last, unencumbered. --P.
The door shook again.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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