Lightening cracked across the dawn sky. He awakened with a shot. Momentarily filled with alarm his orb eyes flitted from side to side, not quite aware of what they would awake to see.
The night terrors still haunted his mind. He could not quite shake the scenes and memories that slowly crept up on him every time he slept. Sitting up straight in his chamber bed, he breathed a sigh of relief as he finally came to his full senses. His hair was damp and matted against his head. Long wisps clung to his forehead; as he pushed the moistened strands out from his eyes and behind his ears he pushed back the covers and carefully put his bare feet on the floor. Hands on the edge of the mattress, his head hung low, he breathed in and out until the frightening images had ceased.
Slowly, he rose from the bed and surveyed the room. The rest of the covers had been kicked off completely and the pillows flung about the room. What sheets remained on the bed were soaked with sweat; there were holes in them from where he had ripped them in his sleep.
He ached; he stretched his long limbs and, going to his bureau, pulled out a pair of fresh under clothes to change into. Getting out of his drenched night clothes proved difficult. He was still sore from all of the changes he had undergone in the last few days. As he dressed himself in the crisp, fresh, and light shirt and pants, he noticed his new body again. His hands amazed him. They were thin; his fingers long and full of skill. His hands were tense, but calm. They had strength, but also a tenderness that had betrayed him before. Before the change, when he had been in a different body. Being human again was a new sensation; he had not been a human in twenty years. He was barely a toddler when he was taken away by the Magi, and made to undergo the family curse. He had been scared of course, what child wouldn’t have been?
“Do not be afraid, Thaddeus.” The hooded figure had said, as the boney hand reached out from its cloaked sleeve to pat the bald head of the boy child. “This is but the easiest step. It is always much easier to get into danger, than it is to get out of it.” His eyes welled up then, he knew it was likely he would never see his parents again. His parents had already lost so much so soon. He was one of the two children who had survived the fire, the slaughter that claimed the lives of his brothers and sisters the year before. “Do not be afraid,” the hooded figure said once more. “If you survive the curse of your family, coming home again will be much more frightening.” The skeletal hand withdrew from the boy’s head, “You have strength; you just don’t know it yet. All will be well, Thaddeus.”From that day on he was Thaddeus no longer. As soon as he and his mysterious guide reached the other end of the misty river, and he stepped out of the creaking boat onto the dock, he was no longer Thaddeus, and he was no longer a child.