|Chapter 2: Black Mood|
Joan lay there, possessed by a cruelty so acute that it stunned Linden to the soul. Then Covenant took Joan's place, and Linden broke free, began running down the hillside to save him, forever running down the hillside to save him and never able to reach him, never able to stop the astonishing violence which drove the knife into his chest. It pierced him whitely, like an evil and tremendous fang. When she reached him, blood was gushing from the wound--more blood than she had ever seen in her life. Impossible that one body held so much blood! It welled out of him as if any number of people had been slain with that one blow.
She could not stop it. Her hands were too small to cover the wound. She had left her medical bag in her car. Feverishly, she tore off her shirt to try to staunch the flow, leaving herself naked and defenseless; but the flannel was instantly soaked with blood, useless. Blood slicked her breasts and thighs as she strove to save his life and could not. Despite every exigency of her training and self-mortification, she could not stop that red stream. The firelight mocked her. The wound was growing.
In moments, it became as wide as his chest. Its violence ate at his tissues like venom. Her hands still clutched the futile sop of her shirt, still madly trying to exert pressure to plug the well; but it went on expanding until her arms were lost in him to the elbows. Blood poured over her thighs like the ichor of the world. She was hanging from the edge by her chest, with her arms extended into the red maw as if she were diving to her death. And the wound continued to widen. Soon it was larger than the stone on which Covenant had fallen, larger than the hollow in the woods.
Then with a shock of recognition she saw that the wound was more than a knife-thrust in his chest: it was a stab to the very heart of the Land. The hole had become a pit before her, and its edge was a sodden hillside, and the blood spewing over her was the life of the Earth. The Land was bleeding to death.