I woke up suddenly, lying completely still and straining my senses for any hint of what had woken me. Another knock came at the entrance. Jumping up out of the leaves I slept on, I sprinted over to touch the spot in the pulley system that would quickly roll the stone away. Vole was standing outside, looking guilty.
“It’s coming for you.” he said, “The most we can do is warn you. I’m sorry, Snaps.”
He stretched out a hand to me, holding a blue and gold Hope Tree leaf.
“I understand.” I said, taking it.
As he walked away, I let my feet wander while I thought. Hopelessness hardened into resolve as I walked: I can’t make a difference by fighting back, but I can sure as hell try. I found myself at the river, the water reflecting the torn clouds and bloody colors of the sunrise and the dragon-scale dull red of the Blood Flats. Cupping water in my hands, I dropped the Hope Tree leaf in and waited until its color leached into the water before drinking.
As I swallowed the soothing liquid, a mystifying realization crept into my mind: if my hands were cupping water, from what did I drop the leaf into them? My skin flushed and beads of sweat formed on my brow as I looked down, horrified to discover that I had three hands! How had I never noticed the hand growing from the crook of my left elbow, the hand now straining toward my throat as if with a mind of its own?
As the life drained from my body, I couldn't help wondering whether, behind my left knee, there might be a previously unnoticed third foot.
Opening: Fiona Green.....Continuation: EE
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