Gobbleratches had arrived in droves and the sky was filled with twisting, plummeting forms. He sank to his knees.
“I could have prevented this,” he wailed, curling into a ball. “Why did they do this to me? How could they expect me to kill thousands to save more? I’m just a boy.”
He screwed his eyes shut and pressed his palms against his ears, trying to zone out. It did no good. The battle consumed his senses. He could taste it.
“Are you alright?” asked Blodwyn, her voice appearing to come at him down a tunnel.
“Why did you bring me here?” he cried angrily, his hands trembling uncontrollably.
“I’m so sorry,” sobbed Blodwyn, dropping beside him. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“I can’t get away,” he screamed. “I’m scared. I want to go away. I want to go home.”
Feeling her hands on him, he pushed her roughly away, but when she persisted he found he had no fight left and he let her fold herself around him, opening his eyes to her hypnotic gaze. He saw her raise her arm and bring it toward him, felt the branch touch his brow, and as her lips brushed his lobes and her tears kissed his face, heard the words she whispered in his ear, knew, even as he dissolved into sleep, that he had never heard anything so wonderful in all his life.
“Child of my heart,” she murmured. “Child of my heart.”
Author Brendan Murphy Brendan Murphy was raised in Sheffield, England, with dreams of becoming a writer, and has written every day since he was nine years old. After reading medicine in London and psychiatry in Manchester, he moved to Australia in 1999. He is an Associate Professor at Monash University and has written widely on youth mental health. His nonfiction work on the development of football in Victorian society, From Sheffield with Love, was published in 2007. He is contracted to Assent Publishing for his six-book fantasy series, Sebastian and the Hibernauts. The first adventure, Beyond the Gloaming was published in 2014 and the sequel, The Traitor’s Trap, in 2015. He is a columnist for Aontacht magazine. He lives with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Sebastian and Violette, in a sprawling property built for the composer, Dorian Le Gallienne. They share their garden with a mob of kangaroos, a wombat, two possums, any number of creepy crawlies, and some very feisty kookaburras.
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