Chapter 1



The world comes to me in snapshots.

The sound of laughter at a party.  A hailstorm of camera flashes.

Reality is like a dream that turns to vapor the moment you try to remember. Here one minute, gone the next. I fight for consciousness like the drowning gulp for air. When it finally comes, it’s too brief and I cannot control my body, my speech, my actions. I’m like a passenger on a ship that was once mine, but now someone else is steering, and all I can do is watch. Scream silently in my head. 

Awake for an instant, I glimpse lines of paparazzi. I climb out of a limo, wearing silver platform boots up to my thighs, a skirt made of strands of silver chains, and a mesh top that barely covers my breasts. They’re taking my photo—why?—and the flashes come in successive bursts.


Rose-scented perfume.

Large headphones, pressing against my ears.

My mouth touches something metal and I sing breathy words to a pop song. The beat thumps my chest, fills my vision with black leather with bright blood-red splotches. They pulse and spin like a wheel on a truck.

I stop singing, and hear myself talk, but it doesn’t sound like me. “Really? I should so fire you right now.”


The yellow sound of a tinkling coin dropping onto the pavement. Clicking heels. The smell of hamburgers cooking. I cast a quick glance back over my shoulder; a young girl picks up the coin. She looks up at me, curious, with large round eyes, sorrow coloring her downturned lips and chipmunk cheeks.


The theme song for a reality TV show. I catch something the host is reciting, about people living in a forest. A stark hotel room with sleek, modern furniture. I brush the soft, silky texture of my pajama top with my fingertips. In my other hand, I’m clenching a toothbrush, swiping it fiercely across my teeth and gums until the metallic taste of blood fills my mouth.


Plumes of cigar smoke. A toilet flushing. My hand, squeezing clear liquid into a drink. A man with a bulbous nose unknowingly drinks it, and then he freezes. His eyes grow wide. He grabs his throat. Begins to cough.

I stand stock still, watching as he struggles to breathe. He’s dying. I stare at him for a long time….smiling.


The cotton-candy pink sound of an ocean wave, and the smooth texture of chocolate pudding in my mouth. I’m on a sunny deck, and the sun heats my skin. A glass of white wine sits on a nearby table. Dots of condensation slide down the glass.


Black-colored humming voices, chanting. Flickering candles. The smell of campfire. The shuffling of feet. Lines of people wearing dark-hooded robes, moving past gray stone walls, past a girl with short brown hair lying still on a stone table. A fire burning beneath her. The room feels electric, and an energy pulses through my veins. Hypnotic and powerful, the sound crescendos into a chorus.


I feel sick. I want the nightmares to stop.

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