helpless sound. Was it coming from him?
    “I’ve never been able to grow an organ back,” Lana’s voice said. “Last time I tried… Let’s just hope you don’t end up with whip eyes.”
    He knew her voice. He knew she was there beside him. Yes. That was her touch on him. Unless she was the creature that smiled before chewing your fingers off and then ate its way up your arms, blood spurting around its grinning, needle-toothed mouth, laughing at his pain, chewing him, ripping until he screamed and screamed and his screaming throat became a roaring animal, a lion’s mouth roaring out of his throat....
    “Look! Something’s happening.”
    Cigar didn’t recognize that voice. A boy’s voice, wasn’t it?
    “Who are you?” Cigar cried out.
    “It’s Lana.”
    “Who are yoooooou?”
    “I think he means me. It’s me, Sanjit.”
    There were snakes in Cigar’s dried-blood eye sockets. He could feel them. They were writhing like mad.
    “Nerves,” Sanjit said.
    “You might be feeling something,” Lana said.
    “Aaaaahhhhhh!” Cigar cried. He tried to claw at his eyes but his hands were pinned. Helpless. He’d had his arms chewed off, hadn’t he? He didn’t have arms anymore. So how had he clawed the roaches out of his eyes if he had no arms? Answer that, Bradley. His real name, Bradley.
    Answer that.
    And if you don’t have arms how did you light those cigars, those big fat cigars and puff until the ends were glowing red and so hot and then plunge those red-hot tips into the empty holes of your eye and then shriek in agony and beg God, “Kill me, kill me, kill me”?
    “The nerves are regrowing. Unbelievable,” Sanjit said.
    “He’s trying to claw his eyes again,” Lana said.
    “Yeah,” Sanjit agreed. “This can’t ever happen again. That witch has to be stopped.”
    “It was Caine’s doing,” Lana said angrily. “He knows what Penny is like. She’s a mental case. She’s evil. She was always twisted, but after her injuries … something snapped in that girl.”
    “My eyes!” Cigar screamed.
    Something. A bar of faint, distant light. Like the earliest hints of sunrise, like the blackness was just a little bit less black.
    “Something is happening,” Sanjit said. “Look! Look!”
    “My eyes!”
    “Not yet, dude, but something is growing. Little white balls, no bigger than BBs right now.” Sanjit put his hand on Cigar’s chest and dug his ripping, tearing, stiletto fingers into Cigar’s heart and…
    No. No. That wasn’t real. That wasn’t real.
    The light bar, that faint glow was growing. Cigar stared at it, willing it to be real. He needed something to be real. He needed something to not be a nightmare.
    “Cigar,” Sanjit said in a kind voice. “It looks like the gouging and the cuts are healing up. And it seems like tiny little eyes are forming.”
    But then Lana’s more astringent voice said, “Don’t get your hopes up too much.”
    Her hands. On his temples. On his brow. Slowly, slowly she probed toward the black sockets.
    “No, no, no, nooooooooo!” he wailed.
    Lana’s fingers slid back.
    Lana was real. Her touch was real. The light he could see was real. He tried so very hard to hold on to that.
    “We’re going to cover your eyes with a cloth, okay?” Sanjit said. “Your eyeballs are jerking around and it may be that the light from the Sammy sun bothers them.”
    An eternity, during which he slid in and out of consciousness, in and out of screaming nightmares. At times he was on fire. At times his skin crisped like bacon. At times scorpions burrowed into his flesh.
    All the while, Lana kept her hands on his face.
    “Listen to me,” Lana said at last. “Can you hear me?”
    How much time had passed? The madness was not past, but it was diluted, weakened. The screams still threatened to tear his throat, but he could hold them off; he could mount some resistance, at least.
    “We’ve been here all night,” Lana said. “So whatever you’ve got is what you’ve

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