He didn't meet any resistance, as he had previously anticipated.
Cold fingers tickled his senses, drawing him nearer. There was no fear.
By now it couldn't be described as simple curiosity, something
had infected him, impregnated his mind with all sorts of questions...

He could still turn back.

Again the thirst came, the need to quench the enigma once and for all.
He swayed backwards, but only slightly. He could see the light now,
the sickly red light that poured from under the wooden door. It seemed
inviting, as if to say, I know you are here, little child, come closer.


He was getting accustomed to the noises now, the sharp snaps, the muffled noises
that seemed almost human.


His bare feet now were bathed in the light, it was warm. For the first time since
he started his journey, he felt apprehension. His temples began to throb as he *crack!*
reached for the handle...the warm handle that gave him a chill feeling inside.

He slowly turned the knob...the dim red light slowly seeped from the frame as
the door glided open, no longer aided by his hand. *CRACK!*

The red light lazily permeated the smoke that filled the room. *CRACK!*

Chains...shackles...leather...rubber. The man in chains with the ball in his mouth, *CRACK!*
Mommy with a whip, telling him he was a bad man. *CRACK!
Tommy winced. *CRACK!*

The teddy bear that he had never let out of his sight since Mommy bought it for him
fell to the floor with a dull whuff. The same bear he had shared so many innocent
moments with, had hugged and cuddled with during the lonely nights that Mommy worked.
He stooped to pick it up, but it seemed almost intangible, impossible, as if it
no longer belonged to him.


The chained man noticed him and his face became terror, grunting and wild-eyed.
Mommy swiveled her head and for a moment inherited the man's look, but it quickly
turned to an anger Tommy had never seen before. She screamed at him to get back in bed
and shoved him forcefully out of the room, kicking his teddy bear at him as she slammed
the door.

Silence exploded all around him, enveloped him as he lay weeping on the floor. From deep
within a place he did not know he possessed, a flame slowly grew into a fire.

He yanked his teddy off the floor and headed into the kitchen. Standing on the stool, he prized
a large knife from the block. Sitting cross-legged he flopped the bear onto the linoleum floor.
The fire blazed into a raging inferno as the knife thrust into his teddy bear over and over again;
he began to sob. He spit on the torn remains as tears seeped from his aching eyes.

Again he ascended the stool; this time his hands clasped the jug of lamp oil. He unscrewed the
top and drenched the battered bear, he shook it furiously as the fumes began to sting his eyes.
The oil splashed everywhere; he didn't care anymore, all he could feel was the burning inside.

He took the box of matches from the tool drawer and stood in the dining room, sweating.
He removed a match from the box. He could feel the fire burning within, white hot, pure.
He struck the match. The sulfurous smell rose to his nostrils as the light flared.
He flung the match at the soggy stuffing that once was his best friend. The flames spread,
feeding greedily on the fuel as the heat intensified. Tommy began to laugh, but there was
no joy.

He walked out the side door, he could see the flames licking their way up the walls through
the window. A dull roar emanated from within. The window shattered.

Tommy ran for hours that night. He had nowhere to run to, he just ran as far as his
tiny legs would take him. Tears streamed down his cheeks and he never once looked back
as the flames climbed high into the night sky.

He never looked back.