--------- Heart of Darkness : Heathcliff Flowen ---------

Darkness. It extends as far as the eye can see if such as thing is possible. I stand alone in a room or cave or hall. The blackness soaks up my voice without echo. I look down and am suprised to be able to see myself. There is no light, indeed the floor is as black as the walls. My brow furrows at the mystery. Am I glowing? I want to explore this strange place in which I have found myself, but my legs refuse to move, frozen and immobile as if I had taken root. I wait patiently... someone will come.

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I feel it rise over me slowly, like a cold tide. My hands and feet become numb and I begin to feel smaller, as if somehow I am shrinking, but it's worse than that, it's as if I'm losing myself. I concentrate on that primal emotion anger and gradually the numbness subsides, but I feel so tired and each time this happens it becomes harder and harder to regain control. I stare hard into the enveloping shadows that surround me, but there is nothing that is familiar to me and so I close my eyes.

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Such hunger! It permeates every fibre of my being, till I am hunger itself. I have awoken, but why? My prison stirs with new life, it calls to me, filling me with purpose. It will be very soon.

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I open my eyes and am greeted by blinding light. I blink furiously until my eyes adjust. The light moves away and a face floats into view. I know this face. The face has a name, Osto. Of this I am sure but is the face a friend?

He speaks, "How are you holding up Flowen? We are having a few difficulties integrating the system, nothing to be alarmed about of course."

A voice echoes back, "I've been having trouble sleeping... nightmares..."

Was this my voice? It sounded like it came from far away. Familiarity washes over me like deja vu. Did this happen before? It's so hard to think, like my brain is wrapped in cotton wool.

"No problem, we'll just up the dose on the tranqs. Soon you'll be sleeping like a baby"

The face disappears and I feel so tired.

"Don't want to sleep...please..." I protest, but my voice is weak, a mere whisper.

As I slide back into the welcoming darkness I decided that the face is not a friend.

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Once again I stand in that dark place. I realise I am not alone. Before me swirls misty shapes of many colours. They coalesce, forming something more solid. A person. A girl dressed in red. I feel... relief. She walks towards me and I raise my arms to greet her and that's when I feel IT. A presence behind me, how long has it been there, waiting? IT feels somehow... ANCIENT. I shout a warning to the girl. Get away! She smiles and continues to draw closer, oblivious to my panic. I try to turn but cannot, paralysed, powerless to act. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glance of something TERRIBLE behind me.

"Please! Not her!" I implore.

I shut my eyes tight, hoping not to witness the coming horrors.

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I behold a glorious sight, a ship fixed against the starry heavens. It approaches a planet, have I seen this before? I feel the hunger once more, growing stronger with each passing moment. The hunger is not mine I realise, it belongs to IT. IT knows that these people are coming, IT wants them to come. The air crackles with electricity, almost like it was a living thing. There is a great sound, as if a thousand people cried out at once and then silence. The hunger has gone too, yet there is an aching emptiness... something is missing. I am alone again.

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How long have I been here? Is this hell? The red child suffers because of me. Because of IT. I feel her pain and know that IT is feeding off her suffering. I dare not think her name, for fear of allowing IT to take it from me. I'm slipping, falling and I can't get up. It consumes me from within. If I do nothing I feel it grow. I fight and like quicksand it swallows me faster. I only hope that when the end comes it will be swift.

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She is gone now, released when IT was slain. What happens to me now? I have only fading memories and the darkness for company. But it is not enough; slowly the hunger returns, burning inside till it's all I can think about. I sense them nearby, coming ever closer summoned by my calls, so in the darkness I wait. It will be very soon.