Jeremy wiped at the tears burning his eyes, certain that his mother was dead, and that he also would be if not for her sacrifice. Something had passed between them, some unspoken understanding, when his mother had screamed at him to run. They had both known what the outcome was going to be, and as much at it tore at his heart and soul, Jeremy had fled, knowing that his mother was willing sacrificing herself so that he could escape.

Andy finally slowed to a stop, doubling over with his hands on his knees, his lungs gasping in great breathes of air, and Jeremy halted next to him. Looking back, in between his own deep breathes, Jeremy saw that they had run three or four blocks, the hospital a distant, dark silhouette.

"It won't take her long to find us," said Jeremy, finally getting his breath back. "You saw how fast they can move."

"We're not far from his house," stated Andy, looking about at the profaned dwellings that were once homes. "Maybe he's here, too."

"Why is this happening, Andy?" asked Jeremy.

"Lisa…. Lisa told me that her uncle molested her," answered the youth, his head hung low.

"Her uncle?"

"I…I didn't believe her. I mean, I guess I kind of did, but I didn't want to. She had to be wrong. I talked to the guys about it, and they told me she was full of shit, that there was no way Coach Robbins would do that."

"Coach Robbins?" blurted Jeremy, shocked. "Our Coach Robbins?"

"Do you know any other damn Coach Robbins?" yelled Andy.

"God damn it, Andy, why in the hell didn't you guys tell anyone?"

"I tried to talk to the Coach about it, but he told me to keep my nose out it. He said Lisa had a history of mental problems."

"And you believed him?" admonished Jeremy.

"I didn't know what to believe! Damn it, Bowman, the Coach was like a father to a lot of us. He was always there for us."

Jeremy just glared at him.

"Do you know why Mike and Axel hated you so much? It was because of your mom."


"Their mom died years ago. All they had was their dad, and he was either drunk and beating them, or never around. They saw you with your mom, and how much she loved you, and they hated you for it."

"And now she's dead because of all you!" screamed Jeremy, grabbing a hold of Andy's shirt collar and shaking him.

"Coach Robbins looked after us, man. All of us. He can't be the one that did that to her. He can't be, can he?" asked Andy, looking lost.

"Show me where he lives," commanded Jeremy, pushing Andy away.

Thomas Robbins groped blindly for the pack of Camels that he had left on his nightstand, cursing as his hand failed to find the cigarettes. Deciding to turn on the light, rather it woke his wife or not, Robbins swore again as he found the lamp not where it should be either.

Had the cat maybe knocked the lamp, and his cigarettes, off of his nightstand? Maybe the noise had been what had woken him up, though he had no recollection of having heard anything.

Sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed, Robbins swore that he was going to find a way to make that damn cat disappear, and to hell with how much his wife would bemoan its absence. That thought was reaffirmed as his feet touched down onto something wet and sticky, and he swore even louder, thinking that the cat had gotten sick by their bed.

Muttering curses that would embarrass a Marine, Robbins rose and stomped over to the doorway of the bedroom, yelling out "Where are you, you little shit?" as flicked on the light switch.

The bedroom remained in darkness.

"Ah, for crying in a bucket," griped Robbins, flicking the switch up and down a few times.

Tromping over to the window, Robbins raised the blinds to see if the rest of the neighborhood were also without power, and gaped in wonder at the scene outside. The street, the entire neighborhood, was in shambles; houses dilapidated and crumbling; cars sitting in ruins, many of them burned out husks; the trees dead and leafless, and all of the yards filled with brown grass.

Everywhere that he looked, Robbins saw desolation that was bathed in a thick, red haze that seemed as if the world were being lit by a sun that was nearly dead.

Spinning around, shouting for his wife to wake up, Robbins froze as he saw that he had not stepped into vomit from the cat, but into what nauseatingly appeared to be the remains of the cat.

A moment later, he realized that his wife was not in the room; a room that had been trashed and vandalized, and was now nearly unrecognizable as his bedroom.

"What in the hell's going on?" he wondered aloud.

"It's that one," said Andy, pointing up the street. "Third one on the right."

Jeremy looked at the house, taking in its tarnished appearance, and thought that he had seen someone standing in one of the second-story windows.

The air, which normally hung heavy and motionless, suddenly stirred up, the first time that Jeremy had ever felt a breeze in 'The Other', and he looked about nervously.

"What's wrong?" asked Andy, picking up on Jeremy's unease. "Is she coming?"

"No. We'd hear that damn song of hers," answered Jeremy, continuing to look about them.

"What is it, then?"

"I don't know," blurted Jeremy, angrily.

Papers, leaves, and other debris began blowing together, as if caught up in a cyclone, and formed a whipping, spinning column before the pair. The pillar of trash abruptly halted in its movement to take on the vague, indistinct shape of a person.

"What the hell?" muttered both youths, almost in unison.

The wind dissipated as quickly as it had rose, but the figure made of rubbish remained before them, its anomalous face looking at them with eyes of stone.

"Mom?" wondered Jeremy, scrutinizing the alien form before them. Something in the way the pieces of trash were melded together gave Jeremy the subliminal impression of his mother's face.

"Violence can not stop her," spoke the figure, in Vivian's voice.

"Holy shit," swore Andy.

"She is eternal, Jeremy. She always has been."

"Mom!" cried out Jeremy, stepping closer to the figure.

"Violence begets violence. You must quell her anger. Her hatred. Her need for vengeance."

"Mom, what's going on? What's happened to you?"

"They want you too, Jeremy. They can feel your own hatred, and they want you to join them."

"My hatred?" wondered Jeremy. "I don't hate…"

"Your stepfather, Jeremy. They know what you do not. They know how you hate him for what he did to us. You have to let go of that hatred Jeremy, if you ever want to free of this place."

"Mom, you have to help us. You have to…"

"I must go now," said the apparition of Vivian, her voice fading as her form began loosing its cohesion, bits of it dropping to the ground.


"End the hatred, son," pleaded Vivian, her voice barely a whisper. "It's the only way."

What was left of the form collapsed, the debris that made it up spilling into a motionless pile before Jeremy, and he dropped to his knees, calling out for his mother.

"What in the hell was that all about?" asked Andy.

"She's right," sobbed Jeremy, mulling over what the ghost of his mother had said. "I try not to think about it, but I hate him. I hate him so damn much."

"I didn't know you had a step father, dude," said Andy.

"No body here does," stated Jeremy, wiping the tears from his eyes as he stood. "No body knows what he did to me."

"What was that?" asked Andy, genuinely concerned.

"He killed me."

Andy looked at Jeremy in stunned silence.

"Come on," said Jeremy, starting to walk away. "Let's see if this bastard's here."