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Keep Me Near

The little girl ran through the darkness, her pale blonde hair flowing behind her like the spectre of fleeing light. She couldn't see anything around her, nor feel the ground beneath her feet. The only thing she knew was that she was being chased. Chased by things she never wanted to be a part of. Things that would tear and ravish her small body until there was nothing left but a lifeless skeloton stripped of clothing and memory. Guilty tears streamed down her face freely, like blood from a self-inflicted wound, diamond teardrops flying from her fleeing form to disappear into shadow. Furiously, she whiped her eyes, glaring into the unseen.



"Do not run," they whispered softly, sensuously, their voices carressing her being as the touch of a condemned lover. "Do not hide. Do not do what shall never avail thy spirit. Thou art already ours."



"No!" she screamed back at them. Her frantic fingers ran over her body, searching for proof that she was still herself. Choking in fear as her fingers found a knot of slime between her breats, she dug her fingernails into her flesh, drawing blood, tearing the excremity out. It writhed in her fingers, searching for a hold, sending little tendrils of pleasure rippling through her. Gasping, she flung it away from her, hurriedly rubbing its vile feeling from her palm on the tattered dress concealing her frame.



"But you were such a dear child," the voices sighed, disappointed and saddened. It almost broke her heart to hear them. "Such a dear girl..."



"Leave me be!" she cried.



"Careful," a little boy's voice whispered. "There are casms of unending depth in the dark, if you do not know your way..."



Even as he spoke, her feet flew into oblivion, and she was plummeting down, down into a hold blacker than the forest of nightmares. She screamed, her throat ripping by the force of her voice, and she tasted blood.



"Foolish girl," laughed a resigned voice of a man, husky and deep. He stepped from the fog into her visoin, beautiful and dark and naked. Her eyes widened, reaching for him. She felt th stirring of the black wings on her back. If only she could fly...



"Come, my love," he whispered. She cried to hear his voice. The taste of her tears were bitter and thick, as the liquid pouring from her eyes was black and glistening like the under belly of a hellbeetle. Her wings twitched, their ripped muscles aching to fly, to save her...



His hands came upon her, and she knew the greatest ecstacy known to anyone, gasping and moaning, the sounds pouring form her lips as assuredly as if he had ripped them from her soul. She felt the presence of the Others, touching her as well, singing to her, laughing at her, coming inside of her. As his hands roved over her, she felt them catch and carress the boil-like things leaping from her skin. The deadly venom seeping from the blackened pores ran down her body, soaking everything, and his mouth sucked and carressed them with his tongue. In the whirlwind of sensations, she spread her wings, the still wind of the chasm catching and holding her aloft, covered by a thousand demons.



"Dear child, where are you?"



The little girl started at the new voice, the onslaught of pleasure and pain subsiding until they were the buzzing of a thousand dragonflies in the back of her mind.



"Dear child, what have you done?"



She wanted to deny. She wanted to yell that it was SHE! SHE who was flying, and SHE who was living. ALIVE she was, and she soared and swooped and circled, shoiwng off her strength even as her broken wings molted, their broken bones barely able to sustain even her little soul, laden as is was with the evil webs of lies and lust.



"What have you done?"



She opened her fingers. At the center of her palm was a patch of unscathed, unscarred flesh, white and pure and young. All around her body there were things growing from the mutated pores of insanity and greed, tentacles that writhed from her skin, black slime slippnig like a liquid curtain from their suckers. Long, sickly thin bodies weaved from her breasts, white-eyed worm heads hissing and whining piteously for a taste of blood. Bloodshot eyeballs with no lids opened and reopened along her back and arms and legs, throwing images of red and hate and violent movements into her brain until she longed for them. Her skin was peeling form the bone, which had turned from a pale white to a chalky grey. From every place where her body disentigrated and decayed there arose a smell of burning and death and rotting fruits and animals. Yet the mouth and hands of the perfect man kissed and devoured her. And with every drop of blood and decay that went into his perfect mouth, past his white, pointed teeth and red, dancing tongue, his body grew brighter and stronger and wilder, so bright and beautiful that the little girl cried out in pain and longing. He placed his tongue on her palm, on the last spot of liife, looking into her eyes for her concent.



"Please...save me."



She cloed her eyes then, her body falling to his mouth, his eyes, his evil.



"Yes."



There came the sound of a hundred thousand trumpets, and the voices of dreams too beautiful for any human soul to create or imagine swirled around the little girl. The tongues of pleasure, flames of lust, tears of guilt, slime of shame, worms of uncleanliness and tentacles of contagion utterly deserted her, stripping her of everything. The pain was enourmous, and she wept to be rid of her death. She did not open her eyes, choosing instead to feel. As the last mutation closed and her body once more began bleeding her own blood, her own tears, she felt her nakedness in the dark. Her insecurity. Her foolishness. Her stupidity. Her hatred. Her evil. Her lies. When she opened her eyes, she saw in her reflection not the young body of a little girl but the flawed, uneven, wingless, lifeless shell of a woman. A woman who had allowed her own selfishness to be her undoing. She covered her face with her caloused fingers and wept. Not tears of ecstacy, nor tears of pain or longing. Tears of what had been lost, and what she knew could never be recovered. Tears of hopelessness.



Cool fingers lifted her head, brushed the hair form her face. It was not a sensual movement, and his fingers did not stray from her face. She had thought to have known love before. She had thought love was in the oppisite touch of what held her now. She had thought love came with pain and disgusting emotions. She had thought love was beautiful and black. She had thought she had to give herself away to even get a taste of what love should feel like.



In that one, simple caress, she knew she was wrong.



"Stand up and walk, dear child," he said softly, knowing she would hear his voice no matter how soft he spoke. "You are safe. As long as you are with me, you will be sasfe."



His fingers shifted, as if to leave her cheek. She stood slowly so as to keep his touch with her for as long as possible. It was not something that sent shivers down her spine or set her body afire. It was not something that made her heart beat faster. It simply was. It made everything right, everything simple.



She looked up, staring into the green leaves of the forest. The canopy was thinning, the under brush tangled more with grasses and flowers than with stems and vines. The scent of wheat and open air drifted to her nose. She moved, not to run, not even to walk, but to drift slowly, taking each step softly and unhurriedly. The white train of her gown shifted the leaves and moss beneath her bare feet, and her hair flowed about her shoulders like the spectre of tranquility, ever present on her shoulders. The echo of a distant flute joined the new sounds and sensations, accompanied by the soft sounds of a herd of sheep. The tune was familiar, neither happy nor sad, but full of unimaginable beauty.



The woman stood at the edge of the forest. Her blonde hair was sitll as fair, but it was no longer curly, falling in soft locks down her back. Her skin was not fair and white, but flawed in some places and even scarred in the next. Her face no longer bore the innocence of a child, but worn lines of stress and age. But when she smiled, she was more beautiful than she would ever care to condone.



A small form sat upon a large rock, a pair of pipes to his lips. In one smooth motoin, he slid off and held out his hand to her. Cool fingers grasped hers, and he lead her out into the sun.



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