Sweeney

Sweeney drifted through strange dreams, punctuated always by the slow, steady throb of his head. In and out weaved Lucy, Johanna... Mrs. Lovett...

Lucy took his hand and her radiant smile put the sun to shame. Her eyes danced as she nursed Johanna, singing under her breath. Sweeney closed his eyes. He was happy. Turning from his desk, he smiled back at Lucy. But then Johanna started squalling loudly, and Lucy fell back in horror, her pink lips in a horrified O... Confused, Sweeney looked in the cracked mirror. He gasped. Blood dripped down from his hair, into his eyes, staining his shirt and covering his hands...

He was pacing back and forth beneath the huge window in his shop, ignoring Mrs. Lovett's soft knocks as she arrived with dinner. She entered anyway, as always, and set the tray on the floor... But as he glanced back, he saw tears boiling on her face as she screamed silently, engulfed in flames...

Johanna crumpled as a bullet ripped through her chest... Sweeney looked down and saw the smoking gun clutched in his own hand...

Shadows coalesced around him in Australia as his former self was scrubbed away...

Turpin laughed as he ravaged a terrified Lucy...

Johanna stared longingly out of a locked window, alone in a cage of damask...

Sweeney jerked awake, breathing heavily and coated with sweat, early morning sunlight streaming through the window. His body convulsed in shivers of horror. He hardly noticed that the pain in his head had abated to a weak, dull pulse.

He pulled himself up and stood shakily. Where was Mrs. Lovett? There was a twinge of worry before he remembered that no one could see her, much less touch her.

Nellie

Nellie was utterly confused. Her mind felt about to explode out of her skull. On one side, she had the Voice's sibilant coercions; on the other, her own strange mixture of devotion and hatred towards Sweeney. Over it all was the sharp ache of her hands, still carrying the razors.

She would drift a little ways down the street, listening to her own passionate love, before she would be won over by one of the Voice's rationalizations and turn back.

"Stop," she sobbed, collapsing against the wall of an alley. "Stop talking to me! I love him, I don't care... you're just-- confusing me!"

Stop acting like a child! You're blinded by your foolish love. The only reason you should have for going back is to give him back what he gave you!

An image of Sweeney burning to ash sent a shock of horror through, underscored by the Voice's surge of triumph.

"Who are you? Why should I listen to you? All this time I've been letting you in my thoughts and you've never told me a thing about yourself! How do I know you're even real?!"

Why Nellie dear, don't you remember me? I almost thought we could have had something, you and I... until that damnable barber destroyed me... but then he destroyed you, as well, and now we are together again!

As the Voice let its hissing overtone slide away, revealing the silky tone of its true voice, Nellie suddenly saw the disgusting man as clear as day, smiling that chilling smile... eyes staring as if they could see right through her dress, right down to her skin...

"YOU!"

Yes, dear... Judge Turpin.

Sorry for the long absence, dearies... been uninspired. Hope this makes up for it... we are nearing the end!