Mom

gothic_church_by_snowelfwithsun.jpg

He finished through the last row of vines and entered the tower in a blaze of panic. It had been 2 days since his last full glass of water and a meal a few berries. Lenny was in no mood to make new friends.

They smiled at him. Sharp, ear to ear grins.

“Congratulations,” the one with a black pendant necklace said. “We believed in you.”

A colony of men and boys. Heads, eyebrows, and faces all completely shaven. Wearing white, priest-like robes.

Lenny, on the other hand, had a beard, a torn Metallica shirt, and tennis shoes.

“Who are you?” said Lenny.

“I’m your keeper,” said the one with the black pendant. “My name is Sugar.”

“Sugar?” began Lenny, still panting. He grabbed the glass of water before a colony member had offered it and took a swig. “Your momma name you that?”

The colony grinned smugly, but none so much as chuckled.

“No,” said Sugar. He reached out and retrieved the empty glass. “But momma would like to meet you.”

Two of the more husky-looking colony members grabbed Lenny by each of his arms. Lenny resisted, snapping free from their grasps and turning for the door. He was stopped short by a dagger point aimed at his eye. Lenny returned to Sugar.

“I don’t know what this is,” Lenny gritted out. “I don’t remember what happened before I entered that bullshit maze. I just want to go home. I just want to return to my boring life.”

“Meet mom, and you’re free to go,” said Sugar.

Lenny eyed the rest of the room. These bald-headed clowns all displayed the same mindless expression. He’d been kidnapped by a goddamn virgin convention.

“Let’s do it,” said Lenny.

He followed along with the colony outside of the tower. So far he had seen swords and daggers, but no sign of any guns. Even if he was to fight his way free, where would he go? Lenny had fought so hard to escape that maze but he never imagined he’d find himself in a more perilous situation.

The walk from the tower was illuminated with Tiki torches lining the dirt path. The fires ran tall and provided some welcome warmth. White-robed colony members flanked Lenny on all sides as they walked in step-by-step unison toward the Gothic Cathedral. The outdoor area was surrounded by an Iron gate. Arrowed spikes decorated their peaks. Then Lenny spotted something – a gate, appearing badly damaged. It had been busted apart by some kind of army jeep. Whoever had tried to break in hadn’t made it very far – there were pikes still sticking out from the windshield.

“This way!” One of the colony members with a thick, low voice shouted at him.

“You might not be afraid of us,” Sugar said to Lenny. He stopped at the doorway, flashed a devilish smirk, then yanked the fat spiraling door handle to the large door of the cathedral and directed Lenny to enter.

The rest of the colony laughed.

“I ain’t afraid of your fucking mom,” Lenny said.

A set of hands shoved Lenny from behind, and he fell onto his hands and knees inside the building. The door shut behind him, and he was filled with cold dread.

The pews were of old wood, vacant of any church parishioners. The statues inside were nothing like the Catholic saints he had seen growing up – these were of dragons flying, wolves eating, and at the front one giant black leopard, in the pouncing position.

“Hello,” said Lenny, surveying the empty building as his voice echoed through the chambers. His foot struck something – a spotted dog, with a knife in its head. Blood pooled around it.

The sound of glass shattering brought Lenny to jump. It had come from up ahead.

Lenny knelt down, rubbed the bloody dog behind its ear, then tugged the knife out from its skull. He stuffed the blade into the waste of his jeans, then adjusted his ragged shirt to hide the handle.

“Lenny,” said the voice ahead. It was a sort of whispered moan. The type of voice you’d expect to hear from a dying creature. “Bow down to me.”

“Fuck you.”

“Bow down to me!”

The smoke from the candles inside swirled together, materialized into a sort of foggy witch, then sucked the knife out from Lenny’s waistband and plunged it straight through his foot, nailing him where he stood.

“Arrgh!” grunted Lenny. He gripped the knife but a sort of magnetic energy kept him from withdrawing it. The black smoke dispersed into a cloud of locust, swarming the inside of the church. Lenny slapped as they attacked at his face, and when he opened his mouth two crammed their way into his throat. Lenny coughed them out.

The locust dissolved into dust, floating like a dark cloud throughout the empty church.

“You’ve caused me great distress.”

Lenny shook his head, and returned his focus to the knife. He couldn’t get it to budge as his own blood puddled around his foot.

“You entered and were never invited. You destroyed my gate, and have brought with you a curse upon my sons. You will die for this, Lenny.”

  • Return for Part II tomorrow
    • Thomas M. Watt

 

 

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Storytelling Essentials: Deep 3rd Person Perspective

*This was originally posted over a year ago. I will have a brand new sketch posted tomorrow at 7:00 AM PST tomorrow. See you then!

STORYTELLING ESSENTIALS: DEEP THIRD PERSON PERSPECTIVE

So you’ve decided to write fiction, but have no idea what perspective to use. You love the way “Hunger Games” reads in first person, and wish to emulate it, but are uncertain how to describe situations and events that might be beyond your main characters current level of intellect. You decide to move to third person, but a short ways in realize that your story lacks emotion – and every time you try to broadcast the feelings of your protagonist, they come directly out-the-mouth through dialogue. Not very effective, seeing as how everyday people don’t commonly say, “I’m really scared right now.” And if they did, they’d be a pretty wimpy hero (Sorry, just saying).

I prefer deep 3rd person perspective. It’s sort of a hybrid of 1st and 3rd person that has become increasingly common in recent years. Here’s what it looks like –

* * *

George walked over to the wobbly wooden table, sat down, then stared at his now-cold cup of coffee. Since he’d first set that mug down, so much had changed…

George took a sip. He needed to think. He needed to be awake, no matter how much he needed to sleep. George groaned, ran his fingers through his oily, slick-backed hair, then crossed his arms and hunched over the table top. What could he do? Where should he start?

He winced his eyes closed, then gulped. The fact that he’d lost had yet to sink in. It was a terrible thought, but the fact that her murderer was still out there gave him something to keep his mind off her gruesome death. The way she looked, half naked, burn marks everywhere, and that thing she had on her face. What was that? Was it even human??

George shuddered then smeared his face. He took another big gulp of coffee, then smeared the brown from his sun-worn lips. He stood up so fast he knocked the mug down to the floor, bringing it to shatter.

He caught himself just short of swearing, then grabbed the chair backing with the tightly closed fold of his hand.

“Barbara,” He said with his eyes closed, then sniffed. “Who did it. For the love of God, show me something. Tell me who murdered you.”

After a short wait in dead silence, George let out a muffled whine, then scrunched his eyelids together.

A creak.

George’s eyes shot open. He slowly raised his gaze, and looked in the direction of the ominous sound. It had come from just above the mantle piece, right where he kept the picture from the fishing contest. The one Barbara always begged him to take down.

George remembered that picture fondly, almost able to smile even now from it. He’d caught the biggest fish in the water that day, won the contest and everything. He never understood why Barbara refused to smile when their photo was taken. He never understood why she always hated that photograph.

The creak sounded again. Same spot.

“Barbara?” Said George. The grin left him. He walked with a kind of slanted focus, keeping half-an eye on the picture. As he crept closet to it he felt his heart begin to beat a little faster.

“Are you… trying to tell me something?”

A thump. The sounds were coming from straight above, up in the attic. George didn’t think much of it – He was too rusty to even consider climbing the ladder to check it out.

George stopped by the picture. He placed his hand over the corner of the frame.

“Oh my God.”

He fell back a step, tripped, then crashed onto the short living room desk. He shut his eyes and pressed his hand to his heart. That man. That man in the picture Barbara had always asked him about. Jim was his name.

George gulped. A quick race of noises came from the attic – like footsteps.

After George won the fishing contest that day, he’d never seen Jim again – until this day. At the crime scene. Why the hell was Jim there, anyway?

George’s eyes flew open. He remembered something else – Jim asked where he was living at nowadays. And George had given him his exact address.

There was another thump from above. George had to get up, but he needed Barbara to help him…

* * *

Okay, so a lot of deep third person perspective in there, but you know what other story telling element was frequently employed? If you tuned in to my post a few days ago, you may have guessed it already – suspense. Once again, suspense is information withheld. Every time you found yourself asking, “Who? What? Why?” That was thanks to suspense, and is an effective tool to keep your readers reading. If you want to be a diligent student of the craft, you’d be wise to find and circle those sentences on your own, that practice employing them in your own scenes. When writing suspense, the questions are more important than the answers. In other words, your mind doesn’t compel you to keep reading because of how awesome the thing on Barbara’s dead face was – it compels you to keep reading because you don’t know what it was, but want to.

Deep third person perspective is merely a blending of plain, straight-forward depiction of events, persons, and things, with the inner thoughts and feelings of the protagonist. To better display the difference in perspectives, let me show you how the opening to this scene would have looked had I written it in third person limited:

George sat down at the wobbly talbe. He rested his hands on it, then let out a short winded breath. He balled his hand into a fist, then uttered a soft moan.

“Barbara… I can’t believe I’ve lost you.”

There was a creak. George raised his eyes to check it out.

The reason you now feel alienated from George, rather than involved with him, is because every description is entirely physical. The voice is that of the author, rather than George’s own, and the scene is akin to what you would see if observing, rather than partaking in. Here is how it may have read in first person:

I sat down in the chair and looked at my cup of coffee. It was cold by now. I couldn’t believe all the events that had transpired since the time I’d first brewed that cup. I couldn’t believe I’d lost Barbara. I couldn’t believe how she’d been killed; the way her body looked.

One of the drawbacks of first person is you must remain in character at all times. Your descriptions, your insights, even your suspense – everything is coming straight from the mind of your protagonist. She is the writer, not you.

Deep third person perspective may sound confusing, but after some practice you’ll get the hang of it. Of course, deep third person is my preference, and every author is different. Some even prefer second person:

You see George sit in the chair. You can tell he’s nervous by the way he stares at his coffee. You watch his hands tremble.

Blows, doesn’t it? Yeah, don’t ever write in second person.

 Hope this helps!

– Thomas M. Watt

– Script Analyst for SpecScout.com

– Author of A New Kingdom

Master – 9.1

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CHAPTER 9

It’s the last person I ever want to see – Ashley Dupont. My first real girlfriend. We dated through high school and the first two years in college, up until I got with Loretta. She’s also Loretta’s ex-best friend. And that’s a capital ‘X’.

“Are you… carjacking me?” she says in her typical high-pitched voice.

My gun hand won’t keep steady.

She blinks, then holds her pink nails out like an invisible plate rests on the top of her hand. “Like, for real?”

My blood boils. My adrenaline rushes. A realization has dawned on me – If I leave Ashley behind, she’ll be waiting to tell the authorities who I am and what I look like, not to mention the exact license plate number of her red mustang. I have to kidnap her. I aim at the diamond in her ear.

“Scoot over.”

“This is a jay-kay, right?” She looks around. “Some new reality show or something? Carjack your ex?”

The gun fires. We both jump. I accidently shot a bullet through her blonde hair and into her headrest.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Ashley scurries over to the passenger seat, then fastens herself in.

“Holy fuck, what is wrong with you! Don’t kill me!”

“No-”

“We were together for like, 6 years! What the fuck Phil!”

My arm is locked in the air, my eyes can’t stop blinking. I’m in disbelief – nearly killed my ex-girlfriend.

“You want the car? Me? What is it?!”

I shake my head, then cough and lower into the vehicle. My knees jam into the steering wheel, but I find the lever and scoot the seat back. I start the mustang, turn it around, then head for the Sheraton Inn. I let out a breath. Holy shit, I can’t believe I just did that.

“Where’s your phone?” I say.

“What’s going on? Are you gonna kill me?”

“Just give me the phone.”

“Did I do something? Why me?”

“The phone, Ashley.”

“Phil! You’re a criminal now? Why? What happened-”

“The phone goddammit!”

“It’s at home… Don’t kill me.”

I take a good look at her. She’s wearing a black mini skirt. Her legs are clamped together. “Take your phone out from under your skirt.”

“I told you, I left it at home.”

“I carjacked you. I’m not afraid to wrestle your legs apart.”

I can’t stop thinking about how close I came to cracking her skull open with a bullet. This sucks; every part of this sucks. I decide to give up on the phone thing. I’m a married man; the thought of touching Ashley inappropriately sickens me. Because I’m a married man and my wife is missing, not because I’m not attracted to her. Ashley is every man’s dream – she’s even better looking since I left her, in a materialistic sense. Her breasts perk up like they’re resting on an invisible shelf, and they’re twice as plump as they used to be. Plus now she’s got these big fisheyes like the Kardashians after applying ‘make-up contour techniques’. Ashley got work done, and the doctors knew what they were doing.

I hate every part of this. I hate that Loretta and Avery are in danger, and I hate that I’m on my way to a hotel where I’m supposed to kill whoever is in room 203. I don’t even know what I’m going to do when I get there.

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CHAPTER 8

I wake up screaming. I’m bloody, my shirt is ripped, and I’m surrounded by desert. My head is attached to my body; my upper torso is no longer spooned clean.

A brief chill. Then the torment returns.

“No.” I push myself up. I grab my expos cap, jam it on until I’m eye-deep, then rip it off and throw it to the ground.

Somebody’s handgun is in my pocket.

I pat my pockets down – no phone, no wallet. I do a three-sixty. My family is gone. Loretta and Avery are hostages.

Master has them. In real life.

My eyes glaze over the sand, then the rocks around me. How is this possible? Am I delusional, have I gone full-blown insane?

I pick one of the rocks up, then hurl it. How could a psychopath from my dreams kidnap my family? I snatch another, then fling it forty plus yards.

I grab a third, then sprint forward. I swing my arm back, then hurl it through the air. My pace diminishes to a clumsy limp. Two more lifeless steps, then I stumble and fall, face-first into the sand. My wrist jams from my half-assed attempt to catch myself. Grains of sand fill my mouth and catch in the cracks between my teeth.

I slip the handgun out from my pocket and stare down the barrel.

The sicko has my family. He could be raping them, torturing them. Maybe he’s killed them already. Maybe he’s right – maybe I’m doomed to fail.

Have I lost my mind? Has ‘Master’ really infiltrated my dreams and abducted my family? Does he even exists, or has paranoia deranged the shit out of me?

I think hard about my morning with Loretta, searching for some alternative explanation. Is it possible our love wasn’t mutual, and she opted to take our daughter and run? No – She wouldn’t do something like that, I’m sure of it.

That cop who pulled me over – he seemed tormented, too. Especially when he blew his brains out. Maybe Master had him.

I flip the gun aside.

I’m dehydrated, hungry, and disoriented. I push off my belly then sit on my knees, gazing absently at the sun. I remain there until only a faint orange glow remains. I drop my head, let out a breath, then rise to my feet.

I have to get going. I have to save my family.

There is a roadway in the distance. I look down at the handgun, bend over to grab it, then stop. I swipe my expos hat up instead, then fix it over my shaggy hair as I walk toward the roadway.

I’m not going to kill anyone. Like I said before, I’m not a man of violence, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to let Master get to me. Even with my family in jeopardy, force and intimidation is not part of my lifestyle. I clean pools for Christ’s sake.

I pause short of my fifth step. What choice do I really have, though? My wife and daughter are in his hands. He’s the one calling the shots.

I shut my eyes and sigh.

“Goddammit.”

I return to where I sat, grab the gun, then tuck it in the waistband of my jeans and hike through the desert sand over to the roadway.

I’m not going to use it. But I’d be an idiot not to take it.

I wish going to the authorities were an option. Too bad cops don’t file police reports about nightmares. Plus I’m freaked out about how Master tracks me in real life. Could be some wacko shit like Being John Malkovich, where there’s this portal that allows people to observe life through some famous actor’s eyes. I forget the actor’s name.

Master? Who is this guy? Why did he pick me to carry out his dirty work? Somehow this complete stranger has jacked the steering wheel of my own life and taken me for a joy-ride.

I reach the road, then wait on the side. A trailer approaches. My arm is outstretched, thumb aimed skyward. I step out for the driver to see me. He tugs the horn and swerves around.

Five minutes pass without a single other vehicle passing. Then a truck rumbles my way. This time I jump in the road and wave my arms frantically. They slow to a roll, and I move aside and signal for him to lower the window.

Guy laughs and gives me the finger, then drives off.

Enough with the bullshit.

I hold the gun firm with one hand. Next car is mine.

A red mustang comes tearing down the highway. I flag them down from the middle of the road. I hope to God the driver isn’t one of those mad-as-hell gun owners who live for murdering in self-defense. The mustang pulls over and stops, but the tinted window remains up.

I take one last breath, then aim my gun at the driver’s side window. I fight jitters as I reach out for the door handle. Part of me fully expects my head to be blown off before I ever see who’s inside. I tug the handle, and hear the snappy click – it’s unlocked. I bring the door toward me.

“O… M… G,” she says.

Fuck me.

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  • Thomas M. Watt

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Master strolls over to his desk, then searches through the various drawers. “I need you to kill the man staying in room 203 at the Sheraton tonight. Sleep in his bed and wait for further instruction.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m looking for…” He says, more absorbed by his search than our conversation. “Ah, here it is.” Master returns into view with his hand wrapped around the handle of a spoon. He holds the rounded tip up to his nose, then sniffs it.            “What?”

Master makes his way over to me, stops, then stares plainly into my eyes.

“What?” I say.

He places his thumbs on my temples. “I don’t think you’re half as handsome as she thinks.”

“As who thinks? What are you doing?”

Master stabs the blunt end of the spoon into my chest.

“Ah!” I scream.

He grinds it in until the pressure is enough to break through my skin and tear into my muscle. I rock my head back and scream. Master carves out a portion of my flesh, then digs in again. And again. The pain is real – I feel Master scrape out my chest, piece by piece, with the round tip of the silverware. He plucks out one chuck of flesh after another.

The pain from his endless digging only intensifies as more time passes. My eyes roll back in my head, and I shout in terror. So much blood splashes off my tongue I’m forced to shut my mouth to save my nose from the stench of it.

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CHAPTER 7

It’s raining this time. I can tell through the window. Down below I see the same trees and cars as last time. Sitting in the couch opposite my own is Master. My first instinct is to stand and charge him, then beat his ass to a pulp. But I can’t move any body part lower than my jaw – this dream belongs to Master. He scribbles in his notepad.

“Ever had your heart broken, Mr. Gordon?”

“Where are they?”

“Some say the emotional wrench of lost love far surpasses any harm that can be inflicted physically.”

“You have them, don’t you?”

Master stops writing. He folds his hands and sets his heel over his opposite knee. “Your wife and daughter have been kidnapped. They will be returned, alive and well, as long as you observe my instructions.”

“What are you? Who are you?”

“We discussed this already. I am Master.” He sets the notepad aside, then adjusts the square box glasses sitting over his nose. “Our meetings will take place in your subconscious, though the threats and demands I will make pertain to the real world. Your wife and child are mine, I told you this during our previous session together.” He rubs the tip of his index finger against his temple. “Tell me, Phillip, how would you react if the love of your life left you for another man?”

My teeth clench shut.

“Well?”

I breathe through my nostrils. “Return. My. Family.”

Master sighs, then traces his finger along his chin. “You are important to me, you know. If I am Morpheus, you are Neo.”

“You touch Loretta, I’ll end you.”

“Loretta and Avery will be returned to you, unharmed and intact, so long as you comply.”

“Lay a finger on either of them I’ll slit your god-damned throat.”

I breathe. I stare.

Master rises from his seat, then strolls around the room. His wrist swoops up imaginary snow as he talks.

“I don’t think you’re capable of saving your family, Phillip. That’s just me being honest, man to man. You might be big and strong, but underneath all that meat you’re nothing but a coward.”

My head rattles in place. He stands still and faces me.

“I’m inside of your mind, and all that surrounds us are your countless fears, troubles, and anxieties. You do not think you can save your family, not even for a moment. You plan to try, yes, but you don’t plan on succeeding. Oh, no, no, no. And it’s not the first time, either.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Football, Phillip. You quit. For so long you persevered, for so long you improved. But at some point along the journey, a realization occurred to you – you’re just not good enough, and never will be. The thought of failure doesn’t bother you; not in the slightest. You’re happy to walk around town as the loser you are. You hate success because it doesn’t match your personality. Failure, yes, that’s your comfort zone. And after your family is killed, and everybody is telling you how sorry they feel, you’ll be ecstatic deep down, your little secret between you and yourself – you lost; the side on which your personal preference resides during competition. You’ll be relieved to no longer concern yourself with providing financially for other humans beings. Gleeful that Loretta didn’t live long enough to leave you – and yes, she would have anyway. A woman like that deserves better than a failure like you.”

Master grins, then continues. “Loretta will be murdered before she can divorce you. Remind you of anything?”

I don’t respond.

“You quit before you had a chance to enter the NFL and become the wasted draft pick you knew you were bound to become. Just as comfortable as you are with that decision, so shall you one day be with the death of your family – with your inability to save them in time.”

He clicks his teeth together so I can hear them, half a dozen times, then speaks.

“I don’t understand why you failed to properly warn Loretta about our last therapy session. I told you I was going to abduct her.” He balls his hand into a fist, advances forward, then knocks his knuckles against the side of my head. “You could have prevented all of this, you know.” Master returns to his seat, crosses his legs, and taps his fingers on his kneecap. “Sheep would sooner follow the herd off the cliff then risk communal castration by reversing their direction.”

“I don’t care what anybody else thinks.”

“Of course not, you’re a loser. That’s what losers do; they accept their inability to contribute to the rest of mankind. You’re dead weight, lying down and covering your ears is what you do best. Allow others to step all over you, allow others to take the little you have. You don’t care, after all you’re content with just being ignored. You don’t care what others think because you know what they think: You’re an embarrassment – your entire town is ashamed of you. You, more than anybody, should have escaped this dung-ho community and made millions of dollars with all the fame and fortune a celebrated life entails.” Master breathes a laugh. “Pathetic. A miserable wash-up. Why did I pick you?”

“Why did you pick me?”

“Oh, oh-oh oh.” Master points his index finger at me, then stands again. “Now you’re asking the right question.”

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  • Thomas M. Watt

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Master – 6.1

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CHAPTER 6

My left hand chokes the steering wheel while my right sticks to my phone. I flip it open, push ‘send’ for Loretta, then wait. Voicemail. I ring again. I speed along the roadway. I’m not far from home, and I’ll see that white van coming a mile away.

“God, protect my family. God almighty, for the love of God protect my family.”

I don’t breathe. I’m locked on the road. I enter my neighborhood doing 50 plus. When I see him, it’s too late. Charlie – wearing the red-shirt, playing with chalk.

Now he’s drawing in middle of my street.

I press the brake pedal down, but I’m way too late. I rip back the parking brake – fumes from burnt rubber swarm my pick-up. I’ve veered right, straight for my neighbor’s oak tree. Charlie flees blind – and heads the same direction.

“No!”

I punch my horn and hold it down.

He watches me barrel toward him like a dumbfounded deer.

I crash.

Airbag deploys. Everything’s hazy. Blood and glass are everywhere.

Oak tree splits the front end of my truck. I wobble outside, then search my surroundings.

“Charlie? Charlie, are you okay?”

I’m dizzy; my brain is still bouncing. I don’t see his body anywhere. Then I hear crying. I turn to see –

“Oh my God.”

Hand to my chest. The kid dove into some bushes. If it weren’t for the tree, my Dodge pick-up would have obliterated him. He’s got a few twigs and thorns in his arms, but that’s it.

Charlie screams and goes running inside. I don’t blame him.

Tires screech. I turn around – the white van. It just turned onto my street. I see one roided-out driver, but his comrade from the passenger seat is gone.

“Loretta!” I scream. I pump my arms and race home. “Loretta!”

I reach my driveway. The van skids behind me and stops with a loud ‘bang’ against my garage door. I fly up the front porch and turn the door handle.

“Loret-”

Shotgun clicks from the monster holding it the second I shove the door open. He smiles, then stabs my neck with a syringe. A shooting pain enters my neck as I crumble to the floor. The injection comes from the man I saw in the passenger seat of the van – one with the cleft lip. He’s been standing here, waiting for me.

I’m too late.

I slip out of consciousness.

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