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Chapter Twenty-five

Tommy Troulson awoke to the sound of breaking glass -- or so he
thought. In any case, the noise that had awakened him was no longer
to be heard. But the echoes of his dreams still reverberated in his

"You belong to me! . . . to me! . . . to me!," the blood-red demon had
been hollering as it wound its hairy tentacles around and around his
naked limbs.

Tommy shivered and then took a deep breath. Cautiously he
moved his arms and legs. No demon. It was a dream, Tommy
congratulated himself. Raising himself up on one elbow he looked
around. The hospital room was clouded by semi-darkness, but the
huge clock on the wall opposite his bed was clearly visible. Ten
minutes to eleven, he read it to himself. Mom and dad left two hours
ago. I must have fallen asleep right away. Tommy watched the long
red second hand circle the huge white clockface. Nine before eleven.
He kept watching it. Eight before eleven. The sound of broken glass
shattered the silence again. He turned toward the open door and saw
Nurse French crouched down in the corridor, sweeping broken shards
onto a metal dustpan.

"That's what I get for using a glass instead of a paper cup, and for
being in such a hurry to leave tonight," she was apologizing in hushed
tones to someone out of sight in the corridor. "Randy is driving me
home, and I didn't want to keep him waiting."

Must be some other Randy -- not brother Mason who helped me
escape in the laundry cart,
Tommy told himself. He's probably going to
be put in jail, along with Joe and Larry and my mom and dad. Then
I'll really be all alone, worse than now.

The future was hopeless for young Troulson, and the present was
unbearable. All he felt like doing was sleeping. But whenever he
closed his eyes, the blood-red demon was there waiting for him: a
slimy tentacled serpent hissing horror from a forked tongue as it
slithered over, around, and even through his helpless, paralyzed body.
And tonight a second character had entered his nightmares. It was
the Counselor, a red-eyed old woman dressed in black with a dead cat
in one hand and a crystal ball in the other. Frozen in the center of the
crystal ball was the Key. With it she would be able to unlock Tommy's
head and give the demon access to his brain. Knowing the time was
getting close, the demonic serpent increased the speed of its slithering
and raised the pitch of its hissing. And, with each successive dream
segment, Tommy's hysteria hightened proportionally.

But he feared his waking reality even more so than his dreams --
because it was real life and was inescapable and it would never end.
The polluting blood was already flowing in his veins, and tomorrow
the counselor would start taking over his mind.

In the midst of all this the thought of God brought only fear; the
Kingdom Hall, rejection; the Bible, only one verse that kept coming
repeatedly to mind: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Tommy felt he had nowhere to turn. His dream life was terrifying
and his real life was insufferable. Pushing the covers aside, he got out
of bed. Moving slowly, almost as if in a trance, he walked over to the
window. Built like a sliding glass door mounted above the radiator, it
was a tall window reaching all the way to the high ceiling of the room.
At its base was a broad marble sill just above the radiator cover. He
unhooked the catch and slid the window open all the way. Bright
moonlight bathed his face with the tiny lined pattern formed by the
window screen. It too slid out of the way when pushed to the side.

Never looking down, but gazing straight at the moon as if
responding to its beckoning call, Tommy stepped up onto a chair, and
from there onto the cool radiator cover and then the marble window
sill. Like a swimmer about to dive into a pool, he let his robe slide
down his arms and fall to the floor behind him. Then his bare feet
stepped from the smooth marble to the rough concrete of the outer
window ledge. As he took a deep breath and brought his hands
together for the dive, a naive observer might have expected him to
float upward toward the moon rather than downward to the
pavement six stories below.

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