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  1. Thanks to all who helped me edit this! :)

    It took him a long time to die.

    She stood and watched him, the moonlight running rivulets down her cheekbones. She watched every spasm and shiver that wracked his body, the way his spine twisted like a rainbow, arched and snapped as each paroxysm bent him further out of proportion. She watched his mouth gape open and shut, a wound that wouldn’t close. She watched a glimmer of blood run down the side of his mouth and taint the pearliness of his skin with its monstrous red. But most of all, she watched his eyes, for even through the horror wracking the rest of him, they remained clear. Clairvoyant, even. A bit of pleading was all that touched the pale irises round his dilated pupils.

    And then it was done. His limbs were immovable constructions of muscle and bone; they sank into the ground, anchoring his body to the soil. She stepped over him, eyes fixed on the wet redness of his chest. She could see what she sought through the serrated edges of his skin. But taking it? She didn’t know if she should. Some small part of her, a part she’d thought she’d gotten rid of long ago, clung to her consciousness and stayed her hand. Her fingers hovered over his skin, pale and splayed out like the legs of a spider. After a moment of thought she reached down and ran her finger around his wound. The blood, once it touched her skin, turned a crazy red color she thought only existed within the tubes of neon signs.

    She sighed. What was the point now, really. Taking the heart and cutting out the Inner would take far too long, especially with the amount of time it took to stop beating already. She swept her gaze over him one last time, then turned away, one hand rising to tuck her coat more securely around her.

    The hand reached out and grabbed her ankle before she even had time to take a single step. He stared at her, an opaque sheen over his eyes. They sparkled wetly, reflecting the corners of a golden light shining from within. When he opened his mouth, liquid poured out in a continuous scarlet sheet. His voice made him sound as though shards of glass had been shoved down his throat which, she thought, wasn’t too far from the truth.

    “You’re accursed.” His eyes solidified the claim; they glared through her as though he could see right down to the tattered remains of her soul. “This will… live with… you. Inside you. Festering… growing.” He coughed more blood, one hand pressed to his chest. Surprise widened his eyes, and he scrabbled at his ribcage, pulling it apart as though it were cloth. After a moment he glanced back at her. “You didn’t take…it.”


    He settled back down with surprising gentleness and control. His eyelids obscured his eyes. “One…way…to save yourse…heart…cannot notice…”

    She looked at his silver hair, the sweet way it curled around his temples, and felt vomit rise in her throat.

    “Take…it without…noti…” He exhaled the ce with a final relaxation of his lungs.

    Her eyes were riveted to his face. There was a tiny mole near the corner of his left eye, and another by his mouth, on the side of his face not covered with blood. The pressure on her throat rose, and she turned to the side.

    When she was done she wiped her mouth with one glove, which she then tossed down. It settled over his wound, the stillness of the heart within obscured.

    Her feet carried her away, her mind turned inward. She hadn’t even known she was capable of vomiting.