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The whole place erupted in a terrifying, thrilling vat of red.

The whole place erupted in a terrifying, thrilling vat of red.

The whole place!

Smoke and flames, destruction and desolation, fury and rage. Everything seemed to clamor and collide, all at once, all with an intensity not even Brida could have expected. The anger and bitterness of her soul had not at all been as shallow as she had imagined; no, not even she herself had known the dreadful height of the emotions that had been suppressed for all the ineffably torturous years of her life. She had expected flames, but what she had not anticipated was their magnitude, their ferocity! Coughing violently, eyes swimming in smoky tears, Brida lunged backward, catapulted by fear. Like a coward, she fled for the doors of the asylum, wondering if she would die, and all the others, with her. Disoriented, she flailed in the chaos.

Was the exit of the asylum to her right or to her left? Or was it another level up? No, that would not make sense; she was on the first level. But where was it? The flames obscured her sight...and her reasoning. The shrill cries of the residents pierced her spirit. Only when she had reached the end of the hallway did she realize that no, not the whole place was aflame. There was still time.

There was still hope.

Attendants were piling into the rooms, acting quite calmly, all things considered. The souls were herded toward the doors, the windows, the anythings that would aid escape. Exhausted but fueled by the thought of meeting Shale outside, Brida ran forward and leaped through the first door she saw. Residents were behind and before her, having been unleashed by the attendants. Vaguely, Brida wondered whether or not they would all be found. She sincerely hoped they would not. Imagine the glory of so many overlooked minds, living their lives as they were intended to be lived!

Moved along by the swarms of those around her, Brida's mind registered the sound of the warden, calling for the residents' attention. Some stopped, no doubt comforted by the sound of their caretaker's voice. Still others kept running, Brida among them.

She had done it. She had released the captives from their chains. A heady, empowering feeling arose in Brida's heart, and she threw back her head and laughed. "We've done it!" she cried, turning around and surveying the damage she had inflicted. "We've done it, Shale!" And she kept running, running, running to the place she and Shale had chosen to meet.

The End

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