Her lips were on mine. They tasted like strawberries. She smelled like vanilla. The room was dark but her hair draped down over my face and neck.

“Nathaniel,” she whispered, her lips moving along my jaw. My hands roamed, mapping the curves of her body.

“Nathaniel,” she said again.

“No. Not again,” I whispered. “Stay with me. This once, please stay with me.”

“I have to go.”


“You know why.”

“I don’t. You should stay here with me. I’ll never leave.”

She was sitting over me. Even in the darkness, I saw the shimmer of her eyes, the gleam of a tear down her cheek.

“You can’t stay either, Nathaniel.”

My hand was in hers. “Tell me one reason why you can’t stay.”

She smiled. Sad. “Because I’m dead, Nathaniel.”

“Nathaniel,” a disembodied voice whispered.

“See,” she said. “They’re calling for you.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“Good-bye.” She placed a delicate kiss on my lips.

“Nathaniel.” The voice again.

My conscious mind swum from the depths of the ethereal. Back to reality.

I suppressed a groan of anguish, as I did every morning.
I’d been dreaming again. Of that place. The place where everything went to Kaazlimat. Everything. The dreams tormented me not because I relived that night, but because I relived what my life would’ve been if it all hadn’t have gone South. Before I had lost my soul.

Back in Cresek-Tawn. But Cresek-Tawn was five years and countless bodies behind me.

My heart was hammering as it did every morning I wakened. Because every night I journeyed back to that city, to a life that didn’t exist. And when my eyes opened, the weight of reality nearly suffocated me.
Leviathan. I was in Leviathan. Which meant…

The disembodied voice belonged to Amber, who stared at me, chin on her hands as she relaxed on my naked chest. She had been waiting for my eyes to open. Now that she saw me awake, she pounced.

“I didn’t think you’d ever wake up,” she said.

“What time is it?”

“Time for you to get up.”

“You’re a little too excited.”

“I am excited.”

“Most girlfriends might be concerned for my safety, you know. I could get hurt. Maybe even killed.”

“Killed, most likely. Am I your girlfriend? That’s sweet.”

“If you’re not my girlfriend and we’re sharing a bed, what would that make you?”

“I’m your girlfriend then.”

I stretched and I felt her body coil against mine. She tucked some of her long blonde hair behind her ears. She was an attractive woman, as woman in the upper class of society usually are. Her chin was soft, her earlobes delicate, flowing into her pronounced neck. Amber stared up at me with her grey eyes.

She must’ve felt my arousal. “There’s no time for that,” she said. “You’re already late.”

“What about when I get back?”

Amber paused. “Are you dead?”

“No, I’ll still be alive.”

“Tell you what, you come back, alive, and with all your body parts, then I’ll do that thing you like.”

“What thing?” There were so many things that I liked. Amber was an expert.

“That thing. You know, the thing we did at the Ridges.”

“Oh, that thing.”

“But you can’t be missing anything. Not one finger, not one toe. Nothing. Understand?”

“You really don’t think I can pull it off, do you?”