QMC: Round 1Even hell can be pretty, she reminds herself. Here, it is her garden re-imagined. Everything is hereher misplaced book, blue pinwheels and the swing her baby boy will grow intobut she can't leave. She walks for hours among delphinium, calling names she knows no one will answer to and looking for an exit that isn't there. Doesn't change the fact it's hell.QMC: Round 1 by marie-berry
She sucks on sunflower seeds as she explores the facsimile of her memories, down to the family pond that's swelled into an ocean so large it touches the horizon. Half-eaten bodies are buried in the tall grassthe pair of swans she feeds on Sundays. Their eggs are smeared across the shoreline.
He has her eyes, her husband's mouth; it is their baby, now a little boy. A thousand leagues away, he waves to her, a make-believe pirate in a pretty white boat.
He is so beautiful.
Her joyful sobs twist into screams as black, horned legs grip the side of the boat.
It rises; naked, craggy body pulsing with e
Glory's Side Story: Part 2As Glory regains consciousness, she finds herself in a room at odds with the cold stone of the underground hallway. The walls are smooth and finished, painted a soft alice blue. She lies on soft, new bedclothes in a darker blue, unmarred except for her presence there. Overhead a gauzy white canopy is supported by elegant white bedposts.Glory's Side Story: Part 2 by marie-berry
The room is tastefully appointed. To the left of the bed is a small study; a roll-top desk, a well-stocked bookcase, and an overstuffed grandfather chair. The door—presumably to freedom—is directly ahead of the bed, down a long stretch of blue carpet. To the right sits a pretty white armoire, touched with accents of gold, and beyond that is a tall window, stretching from floor to ceiling.
And in front of the window stands a boy, arms clasped behind his back as he gazes into the moonless night. From the back, Glory can make up a few details. He is a tall boy, 5'10" or so, and very lank with stilt-like legs, made longer still by the
Glory's Side Story: Part 1As Glory rounds the corner into another empty stone hallway, she hears a voice.Glory's Side Story: Part 1 by marie-berry
"Hey, you. Girl. Yeah, you—girl with the cloak." It's barely above a whisper, but can't be from a boy much older than she is. He has an accent she can't place. "Don't let the others know you can hear me, okay? Because they can't. For all they know, you're hearing voices in your head. Got it? Just mouth an answer back."
Glory paused, resisting the urge to look back toward the group. Silently, she mouthed back an "okay" and waited for further communication.
"What's your name?" says the voice. It sounds like it's coming behind her, but if she turns to investigate, there's no one there.
Glory smiled habitually at the concept of making introductions even if it was to an invisible person. "Glory," she mouthed, then added, "And you?"
"Glory..." the voice says, thoughtfully. "Like the flower. Morning Glory."
Glory can almost hear the smile in his voice; he gives a small, amused laugh. "You
QMC: Round 3Beyond the threshold of the door the world still churns from the attack. The blur of passing trollies and urgent voices signal more arrivals. She wonders how many she didn't save.QMC: Round 3 by marie-berry
But inside Room 108, it is quiet, and the night has painted everything in shades of blue. A bouquet of delphiniums sits on a nearby table. He waits for her.
"Hi, poppy." His voice cracks in the whisper. "I didn't know if you were ever gonna wake up again."
"I wish I hadn't."
The silence between them spans an oceanone large enough that he could fill it with every word he'd never said to her.
"The boys at work pitched in," he tries again, "We bought a headstone for the baby. It's in a real pretty spot, too. I'll take you as soon as you're better."
"Any more reports? Nobody saw me change, did they?" she asked. It was a constant fear.
"No. Doctor Loera took the 'monster' in for an autopsy," he explains. "We've got to send that man a thank-you card."
She looks away from him and to the w
QMC: Round 2There is so little time. Morpheas leaves her footprints in miles of black sand, boat long abandoned. Three of her ribs are broken; an illusion hides her ruined face. She carries her baby. Between pained breaths, she asks him what kind of person he is. He tells her tales of cowboys, rocket ships and finger paint.QMC: Round 2 by marie-berry
Her body begins to fail. An explanation, an apology, a plea for forgivenessshe has practiced this goodbye many times. But faced with him, she only thinks of one thing:
"I love you."
She hopes it is enough.
Ambulance lights glitter on the jagged teeth of broken windows. A police cordon surrounds the diminishing husk of a primordial nightmare, buried in the remains of 33rd street.
It is a place she tries to forget but visits often in dreams.
"None of this is real, you know." Her husband slouches, hands in his pockets. They wait behind police tape. "You've been deluding yourself. I think it helps you cope."
Here he is neither devil nor a saint, just the truth. She hates it.