I can feel my body surrendering to the drugs. It’s a heavy, drifting feeling. I’m relieved insomnia will not find me tonight. I can feel myself sliding into a dream state, that half conscious place where the thoughts in your heard slowly turn into reality. I find myself walking through the woods, alone at first, but soon I am escorted by a little red fox that runs alongside me. My bare feet crunch on the autumn leaves, and the night air chills me through the long, sleeveless, nightgown.

The fox jogs ahead of me as we reach a small clearing in the woods. A cottage sits at the center. Yellow daffodils line the front porch and there’s a worn path leading to the front steps. I follow the path and climb the stairs. A gentle breeze tosses my hair and caresses my bare arms into goose-flesh. I smell the light scent of the flowers drifting over the earthy scent of moss, dirt, and decay. From the porch, I stop and survey the surroundings, mostly woods and a low stone wall. My friend, the fox, stops at the bottom of the stairs, sits, watches, and waits.

I step to the front door and press against it with my finger tips. There is no resistance and the door slowly swings open. The warm air curls out around me as I hear the crackle of a fire inside. I step across the threshold. The interior is simple, but cozy. Fresh cut flowers sit at the center of a wooden table with a single chair.

As I move into the room, the door slams behind me and the fire goes out. Startled, I turn as the cold and dark rush in from all sides. I hear hooves pounding down the path. As the strangers come to a halt outside, I hear the men calling, “Victoria! Come out or we will make you!” I can’t respond. I stand there shocked and confused. I have the odd feeling they are talking to me.

“Victoria!” I hear the heavy thud of men dismounting and climbing the stairs. They try the door knob, but the door is locked. Boots scuffle across the porch. I smell smoke and hear the crackle of fire as flickering light moves back and forth under the door. Are they carrying torches? They rapidly descend the stairs, but the flickering light remains. It grows brighter and crackles with a desperate hunger. Smoke begins to billow underneath the door as I hear the horses galloping away.

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