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Title: Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate Part Three
Author: Vivien/ [livejournal.com profile] kirsteena
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] reynardin
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 13,226 total (5,575 this chapter)
Warning/s It goes a little bit dark =)
Summary: Sam thinks he knows what Hell is like; that is, until Hell decides to pays him a visit
Disclaimer This is a work of fiction. Any events similar to real life are a coincidence and I don’t claim any ownership of characters portrayed.
Thanks to my wonderful betas [livejournal.com profile] snowbunny22 and [livejournal.com profile] verdantgt. Many thanks to everyone who has given me support in the time it's taken me to write this.



Three concentric rings. How long would it take to pass through them, Sam wondered, trying to work out just how long he had spent in this dream, quickly realising the futility of it. It was a dream. He would either wake up when his body chose to, or when this thing had run its course. He turned his attention back to the rings. The closest seemed to have a river running through it. As they slowly approached, Alice holding onto Sam’s hand once more, he realised that it was coloured red – the kind of red that brings you in mind of words like ‘fiery’ and ‘boiling’. He didn't think anything more of it until they got close, and he saw that it wasn't flowing as a normal river should - it was constantly altering itself, reacting to some unseen external forces. Or maybe it just seemed like it was thinking. Rocks were bobbing along in it, ruthlessly being driven back by figures on the far bank.

Sam shuddered, taking his eyes from the river to look more closely at one of those figures. It was what appeared to be a horse standing impassively, watching the drama unfolding in front of him. Then, as the dawn sunlight hit the creature, he realise it wasn’t a horse – it was a centaur of legend. In its arms was a bow and arrow. It had been impassively watching the river, and at some command, raised the bow, firing an arrow at a rock that had moved too close to the shore. Once it was satisfied that the rock had been returned to its proper place, the Centaur returned to its silent vigil.

“Ok... now my mind is just playing nasty tricks. Have we slipped into Narnia?” Alice just rolled her eyes at the comment, but Sam ignored her, continuing. “Seriously, is Harry Potter coming to visit next? This is less and less like a fairy tale, more like someone’s sick imagination thinking up a twisted idea of Hell – someone who has watched far too many horror movies.”

“Even horror movies have to have a basis somewhere, Sam. What better than Hell itself?” Alice asked him. Sam had no answer, merely walking towards the river.

“How do we cross?” he asked. His voice was numb, as he gazed around, trying to find where he was supposed to go now. Part of him just wanted this whole thing to be over, to not have to deal with whatever was to come.

“We have someone waiting for us to guide us through this ring. He has agreed to let us cross at the narrowest part, but...” Alice trailed off, looking at Sam thoughtfully.

“Why is there always a ‘but’?” Sam asked. “Go on.”

“It is the widest part as well as the narrowest. It will take time to cross, and who knows what we will see there?” The smile that Alice gave Sam was disconcerting to say the least. Sam paused, looking at the young girl, before turning and looking towards the river.

“There,” he said, pointing some way in the distance. Being taller, he could see further into the distance, and had spotted a point, guarded by more of the centaurs, and was obviously the lowest point. “Not too far to walk.”

He knew he should offer to carry her, but a part of him was feeling vindictive, and besides, could you get tired in a dream? Since moving onto the lower sections, Sam could feel a headache starting to build.

They walked together side by side, staying as far away from the edge of the river as they physically could until the ground dipped, and they were naturally drawn to the water’s edge. Except, as Sam suspected, it most definitely wasn’t water, or even fire. It was too vivid, too deep for that. His mind was taken back to the mills, to the pool of blood spilled across the floor in the area that would be his kitchen.

“Blood?” he said, moving backwards, the horror and disgust evident in his expression. “That is blood?”

“Boiling blood,” one of the centaurs confirmed as he approached the pair. He stared are the two humans, alive, and on land. Sam noted with a shudder that although the torso and head was human, the eyes were most definitely not. There was an underlying cruelty there that Sam could only look at for seconds before he had to tear his eyes away.

“You have been given permission to cross?” Sam could sense some kind of underlying ritual accompanying the words, and he glanced at Alice, looking to her for guidance.

She rolled her eyes at him, then skipped forward. “We have. Minos himself allowed us safe passage. You will guide us across the Phlegethon safe to the other side.”

Sam held his breath, waiting until the centaur inclined his head. “And thus it shall be,” he said, walking forwards, towards the river.

Sam and Alice followed him closely, drawing in a breath as they approached the river. Sam could see no way to cross. Surely if it were boiling blood, it would kill them instantly. Could he die in a dream? He’d certainly believed he could at one stage. However, as they approached, they could see a path appearing in front of them, allowing them free passage over. Behind them, Sam was aware of the other centaur watching them, closing the gap behind them. His mind supplied memory of the damage a bow and arrow could cause to a man’s body if it were fired at close range. Not the sort of thing he wanted to imagine when a row of powerful centaurs were behind him, malevolence on their minds.

He took that first step onto the path created for them. The far bank was visible in front of them, all he had to do was walk across, not look to the side. Easy.

Until he looked at the rocks floating in that foul river, discovering that they weren’t rocks, unless rocks had suddenly grown eyes. He gasped, taking an involuntary step backwards, close to the edge of the path.

“Sam,” Alice barked at him. “Stand still.” The tone of her voice demanded instantly obedience – which Sam provided.

He stopped dead, holding his breath for a moment before looking down at where his feet were placed, moving more fully into the path.

Alice crossed her arms as she regarded him. “You idiot. Are you trying to fall in?”

“They... they are alive,” he said, pointing at one of the figures trapped in the river.

“Yes they are alive. Yes they are kept at a certain predetermined level due to their wickedness. Yes they have bows and arrows fired at them if they stray from their path too far. Any other questions?”

“You’re cross with me,” he noted, giving her a disconcerting smile. After all, she’d kept him off balance for so long, he was trying to return the favour in a small way.

She stared at him, then smiled. “I like you, Sam,” she said, before skipping off behind the centaur, leaving Sam staring at her, oddly more disconcerted than he’d ever been with her. He was sure that being liked by the very strange girl was a bad thing.

As they continued to cross, Sam was aware that the beings... people in the river were beginning to converge on them. What struck him was the eyes – full of pain, but with visible hatred for the small group crossing safely. He stared resolutely ahead of him, his focus on the far bank, but it was a familiar voice that eventually drew his attention from what was ahead.

“What’s wrong, Tyler? Did I finally get to you? I remember, you know. Remember what you did to me. You changed my future.” Sam stopped, turning to the side to look closely at the face in the river. Tony Crane, neck deep in the boiling blood, obviously in agony. “’Int there supposed be laws of physics against that? Grandfather paradox, and all that jazz?”

Sam took a careful step closer to Crane. “I stopped a dangerous man from killing an innocent woman. I’m a policeman, it’s my job.”

“Ah yes, by any means necessary. Isn’t that the way, Tyler? Bet you miss the days of being able to beat up a prisoner to get a confession. By the way, the years have been good to you. Looks like you haven’t aged a day.”

“What do you want, Crane?” Sam knew he probably shouldn’t have asked that, but the question was out before he could stop himself. Which Crane was this? The one he’d had committed in 1973, or the old man who’d tried to attack him in 2006?

“What do I want? I want United to take home all the silverware, I want to get out of here and I want you to pay for what you’ve done!” Crane had risen up, moving closer to the edge of the path, rising up so his burnt, weeping chest visible above the liquid level, forcing Sam to wince in agony for him, before Crane cried out, a hail of arrows from the centaurs on the shore pushing him back down to his prescribed level. Sam watched as the arrows appeared to do no physical damage – at least, no more than had already been wrought on his body by the river – but somehow caused him intense pain. Crane screamed in agony for what seemed like an age, but couldn’t have been longer than ten seconds. When he got himself back under control he glared at Sam.

“Listen to me, Tyler. You think you can keep me here forever, while you sit unassailable in your ivory tower, protected by whatever the hell it is that’s watching you. But it won’t protect you from you. Because I’ve seen Sam Tyler lying there all vulnerable in a hospital bed, and he’s not coming back from that – at least not with all his faculties intact. Enjoy it, Tyler, because sooner or later it’s all going to catch up with you, and I’ll see you right back here.”

Sam watched as Crane moved away, back to his original position in the river. After a long moment spent watching over the river, his eyes trained on Crane until he moved to far away, he turned and resolutely walked toward the other side, not stopping to wait for Alice and their guide.


It seemed like they would never cease walking. The river gave way to woodlands, knarled, thorny trees lining the path. Sam and Alice were kept away from them, but if Sam concentrated, it seemed that he could hear wailing on the breeze. He crossed his arms in front of him as if shielding himself from all around.

The imagined cold quickly gave way to heat, becoming oppressive all around them, as the land changed once again. Sam paused on the line between wood and desert, marvelling at the clear demarcation between the two. He squinted against the brightness as he took in the desert. Like the river, there was an almost overwhelming sensation of fire, of redness everywhere. He shrank back from it, but could see the point far in the distance they could leave this version of Hell – and of course, they had to cross the desert to get there.

“Why is it in normal dreams you can get to places instantly with a thought?” Sam muttered to himself as he stripped off his jacket, unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled his shirt sleeves up, cursing 1970s material. Polyester would not help him to keep cool.

He looked for the sinners. He knew now, especially after seeing Crane, that anything that appeared to be out of place would be the inhabitants of that level. “Well, that took you long enough,” Alice mocked him. “How long have we been here?”

Sam ignored her, continuing to look before walking out into the desert. He spotted groups of people together, with others either sitting or lying on the ground. It seemed almost civilised in comparison to some of the other levels. He shook his head, took a deep breath and prepared to cross the desert.

The true nature of the desert quickly made itself known, as without warning, the sky suddenly grew dark, and with a crack of thunder, it began to rain – a hot rain, comprised of tiny firey sparks. Sam could feel the intensity of the heat when he put his hand up to touch them. He quickly drew his hand sharply back, expecting his skin to be burnt, but it wasn’t. It was affecting the denizens of the level, though, as they searched for non-existent shelter.

“I don’t even want to know,” Sam shuddered, as he once again got a visible reminder of the powers involved in being here.

"Why not, Sam?" Alice asked. "Isn't the point that you find out all about this place, that it teaches you, that you take it back to the real world?"

"What is the real world?" Sam stopped, asking her. "Because right now, I don't know at all. Everything at some point or another just seems so damn real."

"That, Sam, is the whole point."

As they continued walking along the path, one of the groups of people came closer. By now, Sam was unsurprised to recognise one of them. Stephen Warren. The criminal peeled away from the group and walked over to Sam. "Mr Tyler. Fancy seeing you here. Come to gloat?"

"No, I did all that when we arrested you," Sam said, a smirk crossing his face.

"Well, I have no doubt you think that I got what I deserved," Warren said. "Still, it could be worse."

Sam looked around. "Compared to some of what I've seen, I think you got it kind of easy here," he said, almost disappointed.

"Well, I knew I was going to end up here from the very first moment that I had sex with a man," Warren said, shrugging as he looked around. "That old faithful Catholic upbringing. Having that knowledge makes it that bit easier the deal with what you have to do in the real world. Besides, apart from the firey rain and being stuck here for all eternity, it's not so bad. People of a similar mind, the occasional visitor like you... I can live with what I've done."

Sam pursed his lips together. "All those people you hurt. Joni..."

"What, Sam? You think your world is ordered, that everyone gets punished as you see fit? No, I think I'm perfectly happy right here." With that Warren turned away, back to the group he'd left to talk to Sam.

Alice had remained silent at Sam's side during the discussion. She looked up at him curiously. “Sam? Are you ok?” she asked.

“I, uh, yeah. I guess. Just seeing them there, like that...”

“Didn’t they deserve it?”

Sam stopped and looked at her. “Deserve it? How can you say that?” The little girl just looked up at him, waiting for him to carry on, hugging her clown closely.

He stood silently for a moment, collecting his thoughts. “Crane? Yeah, I guess he did get what he deserved. Morgan did as well. But what about the rest? Nelson, what did he do? Is he stuck there, destined never to move on? And Annie? What about her?” Tears were running down his face now. “Warren, what about him? He didn't get what he deserved for killing Joni - instead he gets to suffer for some other sin that what, he committed first? I know all of them, and they end up here? Here, in... in Hell? What does that say about where I’ll end up?”

“I don’t know, Sam. This is your dream, I’m just here to guide you through it. Again.”

“I take it I can’t wake up till I finish this, can I?”

“I don’t know. Why don’t you try? But, don’t you really want to know what this dream is all about?”

Sam bowed his head, and let out a strangled sob. After a moment, he faced Alice. “Where now?” He watched as the little girl looked around, obviously seeking something.

“This way!” Alice grabbed Sam’s hand, having found what she was looking for. “We get a ride down, cross the bridges, then we are there!” Sam let himself be dragged along behind her, desperately trying to avoid the edge of the cliff. He had caught a small glimpse over the edge, and was freaked out by just how vast a drop to the next level it was.

“Erm... just how do we get a ride down?”

“He will do it, won’t you?” Alice pointed at the object of her search.

In front of them was a huge winged creature. They stepped onto its waiting back, and held on as it swooped down from the ledge. As they gathered pace towards the level below, it seemed as if they were going to slam into the surface, but at the last moment the creature flared its wings, and landed smoothly. Alice impulsively hugged it in thanks, then petted the monster for a moment. As Sam stepped off the back of the creature, he looked around him. This area seemed to be one large field, separated into smaller areas. Bridges linked them.

“So, what is here?” he asked, wearily. He was starting to feel the strain of the encounters, and was as tired as he could remember being.

“The fraudulent – of all types,” Alice answered. “Here is where things really start. Are you ready?”

Telling himself that it was only a dream, and that he just had to get to the end of it to wake up, Sam nodded.


“So, what’s special about the fraudulent, compared to everyone else we have seen?” Sam asked as they stepped over the first bridge.

“There are just so many of them!” Sam was concerned that Alice found this fun, as a huge grin lit up her face. “So many, all choosing the path they do. Up till now – they are led more by nature than anything else. Here is where it all changes. That’s the point. It’s choice. For good or ill, the tormented chose their path – and live with the consequences.”

Sam peered at the landscape in front of him. There were ditches all around, separating out various areas. He slowly turned around in a full circle, taking it all in. Suddenly, he wrinkled his nose. “Something smells... bad,” he commented.

“Of course it does. Did you think Hell would smell of roses? But we don’t need to go to that part... unless you want to?” Alice grinned up at him.

“We don’t? So I can go home?”

“I didn’t say that, but what you need to see is a bit further on. Of course, we will have to walk past the smell... Follow me!” And Alice moved onwards, climbing up onto one of the ditches. “We go this way.” She pointed in front of her, towards a bridge. “Over there. They are waiting for us.”

Sam took in all he could as he followed the little girl. Men and women who had been placed upside down, in holes in the rock, fire burning the soles of their feet on one side. He didn’t dare ask what they had done. He stared at the other side of him. People were walking with their heads on backwards! How...

“False prophets,” Alice replied to his unasked question. “They can only see what is behind them, not the future. Fitting punishment perhaps? Someone thought so. Though it smells much nicer than that.” With her words, she pointed off to the far left. Sam could see people, buried up to their necks in...

“Shit.” He said suddenly, more as a general response to what he saw than anything else. But Alice giggled. “You aren’t supposed to swear around me. I’m only a little girl. But... accurate description.”

“What the...? Why?”

“Flatterers. Horrible lot. They talk it all day, so they end up buried in it.” She had stopped to wait for him. Sam looked at her, all he had seen wearing heavily on him. He felt emotionally drained, in a way he hadn’t done for some time.

“Ok, where now?” he asked.

“Over here. There is someone waiting for you. Come on.” Sam was helpless to ignore that command, and mindlessly followed her. Better that than think about what he had seen. They climbed over first one bridge, then a second, and found themselves with a broken ditch in front of them. It left them very little option as to where they had to go.

“I suppose we will have to walk down in amongst them. Don’t worry, they shouldn’t bite.” Alice gestured to Sam, who scrambled down where she indicated.

Once he reached the bottom, he looked back up at her. Alice launched herself, giggling, into his waiting arms. The weight took him by surprise, and he gasped as he fell to the ground. As he sat up, Alice briefly hugged him, then skipped around in a circle. He got to his feet, and looked around.

“Ok, so I’m guessing we are here. What am I supposed to see?” Sam’s voice sounded dull, even to himself.

He looked over the length of the field. He could see shapes constantly moving in front of him. As he focussed on them, they gradually changed, morphing into something recognisable. Snakes. Sam unconsciously took a step backwards, suddenly faced with one of his phobias. Intellectually, he knew that most snakes couldn’t harm him, but he still had an entirely primeval response to them. He closed his eyes, trying to catch his breath, attempting to ensure that the bubble of fear he felt building at the base of his spine wouldn’t move out to paralyse his body.

“This... is... a... dream...,” he sternly told himself. “They can’t hurt me...” Slowly, steadily, the rush of adrenaline dissipated throughout his body, and at last he felt able to open his eyes. “This is just a dream,” he continued to repeat to himself, using the mantra to calm himself. As he came back to himself, he noticed Alice watching him, her amusement only showing through the slight quirk in her lips.

“Snakes?”

“Just... don’t. OK?”

“OK. Whatever you say, boss.”

The writhing mass in front of Sam had started to alter in appearance, making it far easier to look on it. They were constantly on the move, seeming never allowed to stop and rest. Gradually, some of the mass of snakes began to alter form. Sam watched as one snake reared up, and deliberately bit down on the one in front of it. The bitten reptile seemed to shriek in pain, then vanished, leaving behind it a mass of ashes. Sam swallowed, hard. What was this? He watched as a human popped into place a few seconds later, and began the same process of running forward, only to be bitten once again, and this time transformed into a hideous beast, which in its turned bit down onto another snake. Sam continued to watch the field, trying not to shiver in fear.

“Sam? Sammy? Is that you?” One of the snakes had stopped to look at Sam. “Oh, saints preserve us, what are you doing here?” Sam stared at the snake, and watched in horror as one of the creatures bit down on the talking snake. It screamed in agony, and vanished in a puff of ashes. Sam gasped, then watched as a familiar figure appeared in front of him – one Sam hadn’t seen since that family wedding, back in 1973.

“D-dad? What... how did you... no!” The last was yelled out at anyone who would listen. The centaur in the distance started moving over to where they were. Sam’s eyes filled with tears, and he shoved the knuckles of one hand in his mouth to stop the whimpers that were threatening to overwhelm him. Alice stood impassively beside him. Vic Tyler looked over at his son, then ran towards him.

“Look son, I know there is so much you want to ask me but... argh!” Sam watched in horror as his father was bitten by another snake, and once again turned into ashes, blown away by a sudden gust of wind.

“Dad!” Sam’s heartbroken cry came out of nowhere. “No, he can’t...” Sam watched as once again, his father appeared as if reborn. “Dad?”

“Sam, why are you here?” Vic continued to make his way towards Sam, but was hampered by snakes that slithered up his body. Two pinned his hands behind his back, a further two writhed around his legs, forcing him to kneel upon the ground.

“I don’t know, I’m... passing through, seeing things. I th-think it’s a dream.” Sam replied quickly. He fell to his knees beside his father, and slowly reached out to touch his cheek. He half expected his hand to pass through, as if it were a ghost in front of him, but was relieved when he felt solid flesh. “Oh, Dad...” he whispered.

“Sam... I’m so sorry. For everything.” Vic was speaking quickly. “Please... pl-... I hope you can forgive me, son. Everything I did... I did for you and your mum.”

As Sam watched, another snake wrapped itself around Vic’s neck, dragging him back to the ground. Another snake leapt out of the tangle, and, mouth open wide, bit Vic’s face in a grotesque simulation of a kiss. Vic cried out once, and Sam helplessly looked on as Vic changed form once again, going back to the form of a snake. He reared up, looked at Sam, shook his head once, and the compulsion to move took over. He moved in the same direction as the rest of the snakes, reared up, and bit one, which turned to ashes.

Sam stood silently for a while, tears flowing down his face. A little hand creeping into his own startled him out of his reverie. He looked down at the little girl clutching her clown.

“I’m sorry you had to see that, Sam” she said quietly.

“Are you?” Sam lashed out. “To me, you were perfectly happy to let it happen.”

“Conscious sin, Sam. You knew what was here. This level... well, this is for the thieves.”

“Gene... Gene was right, wasn’t he? About his suspicions. I didn’t want to believe him, but now...” Tears flowed freely once more.

Alice looked at Sam for a while. “Only one more level to go, according to this dream,” she said. “Shall we get this over with?”

“Yes.”


They took the path which wound down a long, stone staircase. It was narrow, and more than once Sam had to stop and pick Alice up to carry her. Suddenly, it opened out onto a large clifftop. They made their way towards the edge.

Once there, Sam looked down across a frozen lake. Below him, trapped in the ice, he could see seemingly endless faces looking up at him, twisted in agony. In the middle, feet locked in the ice, was a huge beast, three headed, his wings beating constantly, desperately trying to escape from the frozen depths. Sam shuddered in a way that had very little to do with the ambient temperature.

“Almost at the journey’s end, Sam.” Alice said. She was peering at him, amusement evident in her eyes. “Just a little bit further.” She skipped off towards a ledge, where there was a man waiting for them. “He will lower us down, so you can see for yourself.”

As Sam walked closer, he looked at the man. He was huge, and dressed in classical Greek garb. He bowed deeply, and held out a rope for Sam. Sam looked down at the lake below, and gulped.

“We go down, Sam.” Alice stated. Sam nodded, then bent down and offered a piggy-back ride to the girl. She jumped onto his back, giggling as he grunted, then Sam stood up and settled her carefully. He took the rope, and walked carefully to the edge. Looking once at the man waiting patiently for them to start, he nodded once, closed his eyes, and took a step off backwards. The giant held him in place easily, and slowly started to lower the rope down. After a few minutes, Sam could feel earth underneath his feet, and they came to a halt. He glanced up, and saw the giant staring down at them. He let the rope go, and watched it slither back up to the top.

“Only one way to go now, Sam. Time to see what all this is really about. Let’s go.”

As he took the little girl’s proffered hand, they stepped cautiously out onto the ice, towards the beast trapped in the centre. All around, he could see people, bodies trapped in the ice, part of their faces only above the surface, staring up at him, their eyes pleading for peace. Most of them, he realised, he knew from his time in 1973. Slowly, carefully, they walked closer. Sam recalled the story from his school days. Lucifer had three heads, each one of those holding a traitor within the grip of its jaws. Condemned to weep eternally, the tears of the devil mixed with the blood of the traitors. He remembered who they were. Brutus. Cassius. Judas Iscariot. The three traitors Dante had condemned as the most vilely evil men to have lived. Brutus and Cassius were held in the lesser heads, with the worst of them, Judas, suffering the eternal torment of his back being continually flayed by Lucifer’s central head. Alice looked at Sam, her head cocked to one side.

“Want to know more Sam?” she asked. Sam, not trusting himself to speak, closed his eyes and nodded once. “Then walk nearer, look at the faces.” The little girl seemed to be crowing with delight, hugging her clown close to her.

Sam crept closer, trying not to disturb the tortured beast in front of him. He got as close as he dared, and looked up, then gasped. The three heads of Lucifer were terribly, horrifically familiar to him. Holding one of the two Roman traitors, the face on his left was distorted, but was unmistakeably that of Chris Skelton. The face on the right, holding the other Roman in his jaws was Ray Carling. One of Ray’s weeping eyes fixed on Sam.

“Judas!” he growled. Sam felt a wave of nausea pass over him. Reluctantly, he turned his face to the central head, instinctively knowing what – no, who was going to be there. His deduction was correct. The third, and most vicious head had the face of Gene Hunt, fangs ripping the back of a man who was incoherently babbling in pain.

“Oh god, what have I done?” Sam sobbed, falling to his knees, not caring about the ice beneath him. The Test Card Girl came skipping over to him, putting her hand on his shoulder.

“Oh Sam, don’t you know? This is, after all, the level of hell reserved for traitors. Look!” She pointed up, towards the three souls caught in Lucifer’s mouths. As one, they turned their heads to look at Sam, and Sam did the only thing he could in response.

He screamed as he saw the face of himself on all of them.


Sam woke with a start, shaking with fear, sweat pouring off him. The dream had been so incredibly vivid he could have sworn he was frozen when he woke, like an icy air being blown off a lake.

He shook his head, calming his breathing. Slowly he pulled himself out of bed, heading for the shower. He took his time, soaking his face especially. The look of horror on their faces... but, 1973 and everything was all a dream, wasn’t it? He knew that he had a reason for everything he thought of in 1973, but after last night’s dream – seeing his own face as the traitors. They wouldn’t leave him as he pulled on his suit, ready to face the day ahead.

****

Another day, another meeting. Hell really was in this police station. Sam let his mind wander, away from the grey suits in the room, in his daydreams seeing Annie in that beautiful red flowing dress, wondering what it would feel like if he touched it. Velvet he decided. Heavy red velvet. He sat there, playing with the pen in front of him, totally ignoring the meeting.

“Sam?”

Sam glanced at the man, and blinked a few times. “Sorry?” he asked.

“Is it unethical to move for forty eight hour custodial without formal charge in violent cases that may require detailed psycho analysis?”

Sam shook himself back to the present, and looked around the room. He was faced with blank stares from all of the officers there. The man spoke again, this time quietly.

“Sam – look at your hand.”

Sam looked down at his hand. Blood welled from a cut in his thumb, from the scalpel he hadn’t even realised he was playing with.

“I can’t feel it,” he said quietly to himself.

Nelson’s voice came to him suddenly, the clarity of it cutting through the greyness of his surroundings. “When you can feel, then you are alive. When you don’t feel, you’re not.”

“Sorry, excuse me,” he muttered, as he pushed his chair back and briskly walked out of the room. He knew what he had to do.
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