A Snapped Twig I opened blind eyes and before me, hanging heavy and low a full moon in royal bled. Its waters seeped toward me as I stood on the soft ground. I spread my arms wide as pain blossomed within my body, and to the moon, I let my blind eyes delve. Though I stood and the blood rose to cover me, I remained and trusted in the moon. The moon saw my unseeing trust, and its light opened a path. I followed as it guided my feet, and my body in another place far away moved with strength not my own, all while I followed the winding, splitting path. I took every fork, splitting to multiples as I passed each, and another me walked the way I did not tread. Those destinations, I knew, would be known to me when I found that self that traveled its road or passed near beside it. Even as these facts, undeniable and true, slid through my mind, my feet moved still along the path. Knee-deep blood pushed back against me, but the moon led, and to resist the moon would doom... The recipient of the doom escaped me, but that didn't matter. So many things didn't matter. I closed my eyes, and felt my every step carry me miles forward. The blood's pull grew stronger, but the moon's strength overpowered it, though both shared the same source. One was the blessing forced upon me, and the other, my own mortality. My blind eyes opened on their own, and before me, I Saw. I Saw myself, my body, mind, soul, and vision, all together in one. This vision showed my own future. Absently, I remembered the gun shoved under my rib cage, cold metal pressed into my bleeding flesh. It shoved deeper, my back arched, and my flesh parted before it. Even now, I felt the heat of the muzzle lodged under my ribs. The moon grew brighter, scolding me. I turned my eyes forward again rather than back. The Unifiers would record it. I forced my body to scream. They would gloat, send the recording to the Council. My body screamed, and I stared at my future before me. The self of my future laid on a slab, covered in a cloth stained with wet, steaming blood. Not yet dead, but dying. A shadowed figure removed the cloth, and another poured water. A familiar face, the head of the Unifier interrogation division, stared down at my body. He told me that he knew how to kill me when a silver bullet to the brain would not. My torso bled from a wound where my organs slowly regrew after removal. He wiped blood from my chest and black ink shot with many needles into my flesh. He bisected the black tattoo line about my neck. He supported my head with a gentle, gloved hand. His thumb rubbed my chin as strength left me, and he ordered the others to leave. Each shadowed figure left in turn, and the man whose face I could see leaned down. He saw something that I could not, and his lips spread into a smile that made every part of me shudder. With that shudder, a powerful blow knocked me under the current of blood. It rushed me, and my eyes open, but saw only blackness. A scream ripped from my lips as a click by my torso sent a powerful explosion through my torso. Metal shards split and filled my left lung. Panic filled me, and I tried to move, but straps dug into my arms and legs. My lungs burned as the silver fragments seared and cooked my flesh. I smelled like bacon. Hot metal pressed against my forehead. My scream had no time to leave my lips. I woke on a metal table. My torso felt sticky and wet, and something laid on top of me. My blindfold was gone. I heard voices, and then felt something vibrate against my neck. The blackness faded, and the man above my head, cradling it in a gentle, gloved hand, grinned. Sadism twisted his face into something demonic.