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The Gender Game 5 (The Gender Fall)

By´╝ÜBella Forrest

1

Violet


Everything hurt. Every time I struggled to break through the thin web of sleep holding me, I was confronted by the pain. In my hand, in my arm, in my head. Was I dead? Was this the afterlife? Was I finally paying for all the horrible things I’d done?

No, something whispered, reassuring me. This is reality. I struggled as fragments of memories washed over me. A woman with the face of a bulldog, a vicious smile twisting her lips. A boot coming down on my wrist. The flashing silver of a knife as it came for me. A ball of fire that threatened to engulf me.

Sleep was a refuge, the sweet blackness beckoning me in, cradling and hiding me from the pain and confusion. I was tempted to just surrender to its embrace, but a part of me held back, turning toward the light. Something in me burned with an urgency denoting importance. Something was happening. Something worth facing the pain.

The thought created a buoyancy, forcing me to surface. Something was drilling into my consciousness: the sound of urgent voices. My eyes snapped open—and a weak groan slipped from my mouth as daggers of bright electric light stabbed deep through the two treacherous orbs, jabbing hard into my skull.

I clenched my eyes shut as pain and panic twisted my muscles. Someone whispered fiercely, “Hold her!” and hands like vices locked around my limbs—all except my right wrist. I tried to lift that hand to defend myself, only to find it was heavier, more painful than I remembered. Something touched my hand and guided it downward. The touch was agony, and I groaned again.

The menacing woman reappeared in my mind’s eye, taunting me, and I fought harder as I recalled who she was. Her name was Tabitha, and she was going to hurt me. I needed to free myself, but belatedly remembered that she was so much stronger than me. Too strong. I couldn’t let her win. I couldn’t… And there was something else going on, something that needed my attention, something… I couldn’t sleep yet.

Slowly, insistently, something warm and loving cut through my terror. A strong, steady voice, reaching through the hysteria, urging me to relax. I couldn’t understand the words, but the tone itself felt like a warm blanket draping over my injuries. It told me I was safe. I was alive. That woman was gone, and I didn’t have to fear her ever again. The voice was powerful, yet it was also gentle, reassuring.

A face flashed in my mind. A man—his green eyes haunted, a scar across his right cheek, wavy brown hair that gleamed black in the shadows and bright as chocolate when the sun hit it.

Viggo, my mind whispered, and I felt myself smile—then forced myself to stop as half my face erupted in tight, creaking agony. I took a deep breath, trying to soothe the aching area. It took a moment, but the pain receded. My mind felt clearer again.

I shouldn’t hurt this much. Not if I was with Viggo. If I was with Viggo, I was safe. But something in me knew that wasn’t right. Sometimes danger followed us. Was it danger that had woken me? My heart thudded hard against my aching ribcage. If nothing else, I needed to know what was reality and what was just delirium. I forced my eyes open, slowly this time.

Light, less stabbing than before, but still too bright, streamed down on me, and a brown pattern flew over me, unfamiliar, disorienting. It took me too long to realize what should have been simple. We were inside a building… I was staring at a ceiling.

My head bobbed up and down on something firm, but not hard. I could feel fabric under my fingers. There was a smell of sweat, but something underneath it. A scent that reassured me with its familiarity. I was in Viggo’s arms. The thought was absurdly comforting, although everything still hurt, my environment still swinging dizzily before me.

His voice continued to murmur above me, and I turned my face toward the source, listening. He was saying something… something different now. I couldn’t understand the tone anymore. It was… determined. But worried? Was that regret?

I wished I could understand what he was saying.

And then, abruptly, the voice turned to a different tone—sharper, harsher, more desperate. Then it hushed altogether. The sensation was like sitting by a window, reading, only to become aware that the grasshoppers had stopped singing—a sign that a predator was among them, in the bushes, waiting to feast on the first brave soul who started to sing. The quiet convinced me, again, that something was horribly wrong. And yet the ceiling above me continued swaying before my eyes, moving past me, as though our flight was uninterrupted.

I tried to speak, just a word. A question. But my mouth felt like it was stuffed full of cotton, my jaw a taut spring, impossible to uncoil. I rounded my lips, forcing sound out anyway.

“Wha—?”

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