I need human fear to survive.
We all do, but there’s less and less of it to go around since humans came out with that make-me-happy pill. An average mind is only the size of a plump grapefruit, but the one I hold is abnormally precious, so I press it next to my chest with both hands, running my fingers along its soft, milky surface.
It belongs to a girl—more than that, a teenage girl in America.
This means two things. One, because different parts of the world breed different fears, the fertile ground of her subconscious has been affected by a culture and way of living that could feed any number of specific Nightmares. And two, because of this, her mind is one of the last of its kind.
Personally, I don’t need her. I’m the fear of hell. My primary victims sleep in jail cells and Christian monasteries. No one’s handing out dream pills to convicts. But in America, the pill is rampant, especially in youth. The fear of high school acceptance? The fear of adolescent male rejection at a dance? The fear of ugliness? They’re starving, because the minds that feed their very being are forced into artificial dreams of bliss.
I can’t let this mind get lost in the billions of others. But neither can I broadcast its existence. At least not yet. A stampede might overwhelm, even kill her, if we aren’t careful. “Hello, sweetheart,” I murmur, bringing the glowing orb close to my face, stroking the edge of its barrier with a finger. “Let me have a look at you.”