They’d driven furiously, until it became apparent they were not being pursued. Adrenaline petered away, and their fuel followed soon after. In the bathroom of a gas station alone at the border of the endless plains, Sebastian splashed water on his face to wake himself. Somehow he couldn't quite clear his mind.

Free now, he was free. For the first time in years, there were no cells, no locks, no guards. He was almost afraid to think too carefully about it, lest he notice that it was all a dream and wake up yet again in a cell, either in Haven or Dambel House.


Sebastian shut the faucet. It was Erika, from outside the bathroom.


Indistinct, she said, "Where do you want to go next?"


Sebastian froze. He almost hadn't thought about it, not for years. At times, imagining his return home had been one of the few pastimes available to him. At others, he’d clung to it like a lifeline. How many hours had he spent, fantasizing about what came next, when freedom seemed like a far off dream? See his friends, finish his degree, apologize to his aunt and uncle...

But now that it was a reality---Sebastian looked in the grimy mirror. Two dark eyes stared back at him: one blind and dumb, the other tired beyond measure. Knots of scars were beginning to creep up his neck and onto his cheeks. His skin was pale and haunted with shadows Sebastian knew was more than an effect of the bathroom's darkness and grime. The way things used to be---the person he used to be, seemed unattainably far away.

"I was thinking, middle of nowhere," he heard her say.

Sebastian dried his hands and stepped out of the bathroom. Erika was waiting for him, eyes shut against the new warmth of the sunlight.

"Nowhere sounds good to me."