Simon Edmund sat cross-legged on the dusty cell floor, absently picking debris from his matted blond mane—which was, he had noticed, already starting to turn grey in places—and killing said debris between his thumb and forefinger if they tried to get away. Not everything he found in his hair was alive, of course: there were clods of dirt in there as well, not to mention the remains of old scabs. A few exoskeletons, too, of a most fascinating and revolting nature.
But the things that he found in his hair were of little consequence. Not right now.
Simon was thinking.
He had few opportunities for genuine pondering these days, not since Snake had begun to frequent his head almost constantly. But Snake was gone, for the moment at least, and when Snake was gone, Simon was free to let his mind wander without fear of the discovery of his deception.
And what was he thinking about?
Various things. Edmund Manor when the sun was out. Girls’ voices. Snow. The sound of hoof-beats on a grassy field. Girls with long hair pulled back in braids, with ribbons and flowers woven in. Stars. Girls laughing. The smell of autumn leaves. The taste of honey, of fresh apples, of clean water. Girls’ soft hands on the skin of his face.
But mostly he thought about Seoc, lying against the wall, dying.
For, by now, it was quite clear that the little fellow didn’t have much longer to go. His skin had taken on a greyish hue, his breathing had turned shallow and slow. A hideous crust had formed around his eyes and mouth, and his eyes were blank and staring, his irises already seeming to cloud with death. He was lying still on his stomach, his back bare and oozing.
Simon had wept for him earlier, out of grief and fear. Then he had wept again, out of anger and helplessness. But now he merely sat and thought, picking mud and blood and small, biting creatures out of his hair and humming quietly to himself.
And then, Snake was back, and Simon reluctantly relinquished the freedom of lucidity and let it pull him back down into the fiery tumult of madness. He knew better than to fight it. Snake didn’t own him, but there was no need for Snake to know that.