Note: This is a temporary chapter and will be taken down shortly! I promised a number of people I'd post a preview/announcement when the sequel was published, so here 'tis! The first chapter of the sequel is online!

Shadow of a Doubt

There should be some kind of decency law against having to answer interview questions in a hospital gown, Danny thought dully as he stared into the gleaming eyes of a dozen cameras. Microphones hovered around his face like large and annoying bumblebees.

Mom sat on the bed next to him, holding his hand. He didn't like it; it made him uncomfortable for more than one reason. What sixteen year old lets his mom hold his hand on live TV? The embarrassment factor alone would be enough reason to snatch it away from her.

And then there was the part of him, as irrational and cruel as it might be, that resisted the idea of his only remaining healthy hand being trapped between the fingers of the woman who had destroyed the other one. She had—she had—

Danny could feel each individual tendon as the unseen person pulled on it, yanking experimentally, forcing the fingers to twitch and move. They... she... kept doing it over and over. Aside from the pain, which after the first few hours he'd begun to develop a dull, desperate resistance to, they were starting to cramp from the repeated movement. Danny sagged in relief as the force eased, leaving his fingers twitching and the nerves raw—only to spike into knifelike agony as she tore the tendons off completely.

"We all found it strange that you made it all the way home by yourself," a woman was saying.

She was a reporter, Danny realized, taking in her neat tailored suit with the pretty pink blouse peeking out between demure gray lapels. Sam would scoff at such a frilly piece of clothing. Danny pictured Sam sitting in her kitchen, eating cereal and watching him sit like a mute idiot on TV. He wondered what she thought of it all.

What were they doing again?

The woman turned to him expectantly, her too-pleasant smile painted in gaudy coral lipstick. She must have introduced herself before, but Danny didn't remember.

"Why didn't you stop and ask for help? You must have passed dozens of places, gas stations, convenience stores, houses."

Danny shrugged, wishing his mom would let go of his hand so he could fidget with the sheets. It felt too weird doing nothing, like he was on display. "I dunno."

He'd spent the first week in the hospital—what he could remember of it—in a blissful haze, isolated from the world, sheltered by his own unconsciousness. Now he felt besieged by endless questions. First from the doctors, then by police; even his own family only showed up in a pack to stand around his bedside and gaze at him hungrily.

"I guess that was kinda stupid."

Head over to Shadow of a Doubt to read the rest...

In other Phantom of Truth news, there's some awesome people doing a reading of it on Youtube! Their username is Mcubedism and they post chapters daily. Go check it out!

And, by the way, this fic has been "clean swept" and tidied up, so most of the typos and such should be history. Many thanks to LunarMothim, Phantomrose96, and AnneriaWings for their help!