“Choose the lamp on the left, see visions of the future. The right, taste of madness.” The crone’s words burned in the girl’s mind like festering sores.
What kind of choice was this? Madness versus prophecy? The choice itself was madness.
Still, she plunged her hand into the light of the left-hand lamp, feeling its warmth as it gripped her arm and invaded her body. But then it grew bitterly cold as it tore her mind with images of an impossibly horrible future. She screamed with pain and terror.
Her last thought as she sank into madness — I chose wrong.
Shuffling steps. A hunched figure in shadow. The girl was curled in a fetal position, eyes wide and unseeing. She could have been dead, but for the tears streaming from her eyes.
“Your problem, girl, is that you have no imagination, no ability to see the consequences of your choices. So very typical. Arrogance of youth.”
She spat and the rancid spittle slid down the girl’s cheek as the crone shuffled back into the shadows.