I must write quickly, never mind no breath. If he finds this, he will punish me murder for sure but not before he baits me, warps and breaks, makes me own the blame shame clean up the mess.

Then again.

A breach like this is worthy of the worst.

There are endings never ending more telling than death.

I type in the dark so I don’t get caught, the monitor off, lest the glow leak. Spill beneath the door. I’m not supposed to be in his study, either, but I don’t care, it’s okay, I’ll be okay.

Writing is escape.

Memory is a gift.

So. Who’s reading this.

The fiend? Always itching to watch me bleed, sink in what I’m made of, narrate the disease, here you go, my blood is on me. I choose to defy so I must be consenting, right? Your hands are clean, fault guilt free, or whatever you like to think you’re feeling.

If this is Gabe, I hope you choke.

If this is one of the other kids… but it isn’t. Some seem quick enough, do I dig deep—smart enough to realize this cannot be real life, this doesn’t make sense and we can’t suspend our disbelief. But they would never find this, they’re too scared to read.

If, somehow, you’re from the outside…

This is Lotte Keene.

I’ve been kidnapped by a fiend.

Tell my parents that I love them and my brother that I’m trying.

I was taken roughly two months ago approximately, brutal at first stunned numb but then I started to remember I was always hollow but I filled it with sound—overflowing now with phantom melody, memory of music emotion and dancing I used to be so alive and that feeling is waiting just around the corner, on the other side, I will fix this. I’ll survive.

And that hurts worse than fists.

The thought that I can change this.

Change him.

Push myself in a new direction the fiend cannot follow or deform with confusion this was your decision, dear controlled and conflicted,only what he lets me be owned, angry and I know it isn’t true I can’t tell what’s true.

Discern. Admit.

And knowing that it is.

I’m doomed.

This place isn’t large—just a few secluded structures—but the fear goes forever, the trees the cold the dark. The howls of wolves, the near worse hush. And hunger. Anger. Isolation, though I’m not alone, it’s just as well.

Of the six other kids, only one will talk to me, and he just yells. Roy by name, he’s Gone to me. I know he knows more than he lets on, to me and the others he protects but despises, or so it seems, everybody knows that everybody hates me, but only Gone knows why. Maybe not the answers, but he knows the right questions. He still holds his fire.

I want to take apart his gray-eyed gravity, force him to speak plain, or speak at all, anything beyond no one cares about you, Lotte I know, damn it.

I know.

He says there was another—an outcast live wire black sheep, a boy named Colin who meant bad things, disappeared one time too many for keeps, so shut up, go through the motions or the now will get vicious but I refuse to swallow the unexplained, the inexplicable.

Ghosts and sharp teeth.

Dead kids to bury deep.

The truth and disbelief of the damned.

Talking to Gone is risky, besides. I doubt the boy would rat, but the others? definitely would tell the fiend shes trying to wake up and he would put me to sleep, and I hate the satisfaction he gets from my defiance, though he treasures the silence, too. Locking me inside with squeezing eyes then gazes miles long. Lips leaned in. All my hate and hurt crushed against him.

I don’t know how often I can write.

Not enough for a thus-far life, and I don’t remember everything anyway.

What I said or didn’t say that brought me here.

What I did or didn’t do to the fiend.

A shadow always on me.

The architect of ache. I recall our first encounter, though—at the safe place of perilous dreams.

Born Bitten, available at Amazon in paperback, ebook and Kindle Unlimited.

Outline of a floppy disk.