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Tabby forced herself out of the nightmare, the House fading already. She found the neighbor’s home, following a trail of blood that seemed to be several hundred years old, the home she found at the end of it abandoned. Her axe dragging behind herself, she hauled it onto the stove, and turned on the flame beneath. She was only a little surprised that it worked, expecting that she would end up dying here, free but dead. It would be very characteristic of the House to dangle the freedom in front of her, make all that happened a lie, and then snatching it away. 

 

She fell into a hazy half sleep, woken by the smell of the heated metal, bright cherry red. Her hand grasped it and she glanced at her body to make sure she knew where to press it.

 

It hurt more than other deaths she had suffered, except, perhaps, being eaten alive. She ranked it around the death caused by her father’s acidic, bloody vomit as he jumped about only as a head. 

 

That thought made her stop thinking about the pain. Instead, she felt… something different. It was strange to feel something different. She did not really know what it was, and it faded back into pain before she ever realized what it could be. 

 

She pulled the axe away, sticky and dark with her blood, cooked clean on the blade. She abandoned it where it was. 

 

Tabby left the neighbor’s home, and exited onto the street.