One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

-Emily Dickenson

The Devil's Love Song


Mommy? Mommy? Where are you, Mommy? Why did you go?

Was it 'cause of me? Was it my fault, Mommy?

It's all my fault... I'm sorry Mommy. I wasn't strong like Daddy.

I'll get stronger, Mommy. I'll get lots stronger. I'll get stronger, and then...


The sun shone brightly through the leaves of a great oak tree, casting shadows on the ground that danced to the tune of the gently swaying branches. Somewhere nearby, a bird chirped, its call disturbing the sleep of the boy who had nestled himself in the tree's shade. Slowly, he opened his eyes, contemplating whether or not he should abandon the comfort of his sleeping bag in favor of facing the new day. He might have decided not to, opting to rest for just a while longer, had a familiar voice not interrupted him.

"Good morning, Lloyd!"

Lloyd groggily turned over to see Colette hovering over him with her usual warm smile. He rubbed his eyes.

"Hey Colette," he mumbled. "Can't I have five more minutes...?"

Colette giggled and shook her head. "Oh Lloyd," she said, "you sleepy-head. If we don't make it to Meltokio by lunchtime Zelos will be awfully worried."

He supposed she was right. It had been a while - what, three or four months? He couldn't quite count in his morning daze - since they had last visited the imperial city, and their good friend, Zelos. Even Lloyd had begun to miss his obnoxious mouth and perverted shenanigans. So he and Colette arranged to meet up with the former Chosen for a few days, taking a much-needed break from their exsphere collecting.

"Okay, okay," he yawned, slowly peeling the top of the sleeping bag off of him, "I'm up."

"Good!" said Colette, clasping her hands together. "I'll go get breakfast ready, then. We'll leave as soon as we're finished, okay?"

Lloyd nodded and watched her walk back towards the campfire. It was strange, he thought. Without the others, traveling around and camping out was... well, it just wasn't the same. But for some reason, as long as Colette was around, everything seemed to be okay. Even on the days that didn't go so well, he could always count on her to be a bright and cheerful as ever. After all, she always was the friend he knew would be there for him no matter what.

He stood up and stretched, rolling his head from side to side to wake up. Once he was alert, the boy reached into his bag and pulled out his gloves and boots.