The slippery ropes bound him as effectively as a steel wall. Futilely, he wriggled against the beasts, the minnow in the jaw of the shark. The monster merely waited, amused at his efforts. But only one thought reigned in his mind: Lauri. Lauri. Lauri.

Hanging his head, he tried to telepathically communicate, Laurel, please don’t come. It’s you they want. It’s you I’m trying to protect…No, please, sweetheart, don’t come…

Then the monster used its awesome power, the one that had let it reign the river for hundreds of years, breaking all in its path. Matt could see, all too clearly, his Lauri: Lauri searching for her car keys, Lauri getting in the car…Lauri crying as she drove to the river.

No, please…no, Lauri, don’t come…I love you too much, don’t come baby, please…no, Lauri! No…no…not Lauri, please not Lauri, I’ll do anything… he sobbed in his head.

And the monster replied:


Anything, repeated Matt, broken and forlorn.

In his mind, he saw Lauri arrive at the river.

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