//Disclaimer: I don't own Lord of the Flies, and this wasn't done for an English project- though the book was read for English class.

Warning: There will be slash, eventually. This chapter hasn't reached it yet.//

Between Nightmares and Reality

Ralph's eyes slammed open and he stared wildly at the ceiling, wondering what had awoken him.

His heart was pounding maniacally and his breath was short and loud, but the room itself was absolutely silent. Perhaps that was what was bothering him; he now liked to keep a radio running to remind him that he was in London, safe and sound- not in the seething darkness of a forgotten island, waiting for the shadows within and without to destroy him.

Paranoia had never quite left him, not even after two years. His eyes swept the darkness, searching for anything that was wrong or out of place. Nothing jumped forward to claim responsibility for his sudden return to consciousness, which didn't alleviate his fears. A good hunter would give no sign of his presence.

A good hunter...

It wasn't too much of a surprise when they had ended up in the same high school, Ralph thought bitterly. A lot of the island children had ended up going to the same doctors, as some kind of therapy. All the children together, trying to explain what had happened. And then, as Ralph had known they would, the doctors let all the children go after a series of tests for physical illnesses. No one had had to answer for the deaths of Simon, of Piggy, of the missing child with the mark on his face. No one had been blamed. What could one expect of children left in such a situation, during such a terrible time? The war drew more attention from parents and newspapers. No one had had to answer for anything.

Civilization had failed them again.

There was nothing waiting in the darkness. No beast, no hidden creature with a thirst for blood and pale, mad eyes. There was no hunt. There was no dance. There was no beast.

And if he kept telling himself that, someday it might come true.

It was strange, he thought, laying flat on the bed. Both Simon and Piggy had sworn that there was no beast, and they had been the ones to fall to it. He knew now, too late, what the beast had been. Too late; always too late.

His thoughts moved around in a lazy spiral, bringing him back to his upbrupt awakening. He had been dreaming, he decided. He had been dreaming about the beast; something he hadn't done in almost a year.

He knew why he dreamed, though.

"Jack," he whispered, his eyes burning in the dark. In his gym class, of all places. How he hated high school. Staring across the noisy, crowded gym, unable to break his gaze from those pale blue eyes, fear and hatred and some undefinable emotion pounding through his veins like the blood that gave him life, Ralph had seen and known Jack. It was like being back on that thrice-damned island, knowing that the world and all its rules were falling away again and that the hunt was back on- but this time, it would be Jack and Jack alone who brought him down.

What was he going to do, though? Say he wouldn't be in the same class as a murderer? He was a murderer, too. He had helped to kill Simon; he knew he had. He knew that he was damned to hell, no matter what he did in penance. Because he had thrown his soul, the best and brightest gift of wisdom and law and order, away for the dance. He had thrown everything that mattered away for the chance to bathe in someone else's suffering and blood, for the chance to be part of the hunt. The best hunt.

He shivered suddenly and brought his blankets over his body, although it was still early autumn and very warm. There seemed to be a soft current winding through the air and his thin nightclothes weren't shelter enough. Come to think of it, the city didn't seem to be shelter enough. The beast was having no trouble at all finding him despite London's trappings of sense and responsibility.

He told himself to go back to sleep; to pass quickly into the next morning. Tomorrow, when the sun rose and the city woke in a bustle of normalcy, he would have no more reason to fear. Tomorrow he would be able to believe in the distance, both physical and spiritual, between hiimself and their island. Tomorrow he would be all right.

There only remained the problem of falling back to dreams.

//Review if you like, flame if you have to, blink in confusion if you just don't get it.//