Glutinous tentacles snatching at the skin. The pinches and the scratches cut through flesh. Hot, hot, hot, burning pain oozed through, pumping through the veins. Thrashing drums. Then it came. The cry. Rebecca's face slashed to pieces.

Coverlets strewn amongst the floor as Hal recaptured his breath. Stinging tears had created a formation in his dirt brown irises as he attempted to manually steady his heartbeat. Fucking skitters. No worth now, he knew by fighter instinct approximately the time, his mind had been practically wired into military frame of state. Judging by the shade of the sky, it was roughly two in the night. Or morning. Hal never could tell the alteration anymore. Brushing miniscule particles of dust off his combats, he departed for "some air".

Hal Mason didn't want to close his eyes.

All he would see is blood.

Soft whispers reflected off the walls, as Hal's feet clapped off the floor. Lourdes. Her eyes were pressed together; tears rolling down her gentle cheeks, clasping her hands together, Lourdes was doing the one thing Hal never understood.

She was praying.

Soundlessly, Hal joined by her side, she had rested petals before her. Her parents were lit, encircled by lavender candles.

A velvety "Amen" seeped from her lips. She curved towards him unhurriedly, intuiting his presence, despite his stillness.

Angels cry at her smile, it was striking. She nestled closely by him, as the candles blazed dazzling and danced with shadows across the bottom of the walls and the floor. Hal budged away from her.

"Months I've known you Lourdes, and yet I can't get the energy to try and understand why you still pray." He scoffed at the incredibility of the situation, she continuously enlightened him, and time and time again why her faith was still robust. But in truth? She was just hanging on the last thread. Hal had let go on the day, skitters had flamed his home, his sanctuary.

"I've told you Hal," sighing tenderly, her whispers still sounded echoes across the extended hallway. "I pray because my faith is strong, people need an anchor. God is my anchor. I'm sure you ha-"

"You're so goddamn naïve."

That stung. He saw the dark mask across her eyes; the stunned silence provoked by his statement followed shortly, the fire cracking among them.

"Care to elaborate?" This was new. Clenched teeth.

"Look at you Lourdes! Here we are, in a fucking school, where our children are taken before our eyes, and you hold your hands and bow?! Where's the fucking logic?!" The anger was seeping through him now, the words were erupting.

Hal couldn't stop now.


Then inferno.

"The logic is in the fact I have nothing!" She had rose now, her hair had cascaded around her, eyes the colour of lightning. "You have a family Hal! You have two brothers and a father! THREE PEOPLE TO HOLD ON TO! I saw my mother and father get torn apart before me, the one person I have isn't even family, and you're lecturing me about logic?" Hal drew level, both with square shoulders. Sizing each other up. Except Hal wasn't crying.

"You want me to be like you? Bitter and cold? Someone who doesn't hesitate to decapitate God's creatures? Fine! Let me start now!" Using her left foot, she kicked the photos into the flame of the candles, her parents' faces melting with her tears.

Lourdes did not stay for Hal's smart-ass response, intensity burned in her shadow as she swept down the elongated passageway.

Hal revolved the other way.

Next morning, perhaps he would apologise.

He was not sorry.