|Chapter 1: The Danger in Dreams|
But when he looked into the sack in the bright light of his kitchen, he found he had decided to eat. Vengeance required strength; there was nothing he could do to strike back against his tormentors if he were too weak to hold himself erect. He took a package of buns from the sack.
The wrapping of the buns had been neatly cut on one side, but he ignored the thin slit. He tore off the plastic and threw it aside. The buns were dry and stiff from their exposure to the air. He took one and held it in the palm of his hand, gazed down at it as if it were a skull he had robbed from some old grave. The sight of the bread sickened him. Part of him longed for the clean death of starvation, and he felt that he could not lift his hand, could not complete his decision of retribution.
Savagely, he jerked the bun to his mouth and bit into it.
Something sharp caught between his lower lip and upper gum. Before he could stop biting, it cut him deeply. A keen shard of pain stabbed into his face. Gasping, he snatched back the bun.
It was covered with blood. Blood ran like saliva down his chin.
When he tore open the bun with his hands, he found a tarnished razor blade in it.
At first, he was too astonished to react. The rusty blade seemed beyond comprehension; he could hardly believe the blood that smeared his hands and dropped to the floor from his jaw. Numbly, he let the bun fall from his fingers. Then he turned and made his way into the littered wreckage of his living room.
His eyes were irresistibly drawn to Joan's picture. It lay faceup under the remains of the coffee table, and the glass of its frame was webbed with cracks. He pushed the table aside, picked up the picture. Joan smiled at him from behind the cracks as if she had been caught in a net of mortality and did not know it.
He began to laugh.
He started softly, but soon scaled upward into manic howling. Water ran from his eyes like tears, but still he laughed, laughed as if he were about to shatter. His bursts spattered blood over his hands and Joan's picture and the ruined room.