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Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

“Herman! HERMAN!” A hoarse voice called from down the hall.

A young man, only just recently considered an adult in the legal sense, looked over his shoulder down the exquisite hallway he was just walking down. He was tall and lean, with dark eyes and hair, and a tan complexion that could belong to any number of races. He wore nice, expensive clothes, made of genuine leathers and furs that were crafted to have a more subtle appearance, as was the costly jewelry he wore around his neck and on his fingers.
Herman sighed, frustrated, and turned on his heels with a loud click. “Coming, Mother!” He called back.

He dutifully marched down the hallway and into a luxurious living room, filled with so many beautiful plants and rare minerals on the sprawling shelves. There was even an artificial waterfall built near the center and a few full-grown trees. Throw in the glass ceiling, and the living room might as well have been some sort of solarium. In the center by the waterfall and her favorite mulberry tree was Herman’s mother, who most people just called Mother Eve. She was a fragile older woman, despite having a bit of extra weight on her, with an I.V. bag and an oxygen tank being the sources of the numerous tubes coming from her body.


Despite her weakened state, Mother Eve still had an energetic and playful look in her eyes, and her loving nature was evident in her numerous wrinkles from years of smiling.

However, she was not smiling now.

“What’s wrong, Mother?” Herman asked, his irritation hidden behind a mask of worry.
Mother Eve tried to speak, but her T.V. was blaring from the wall behind them, with some random news report about another giant rainforest fire, so Herman quickly yanked the remote from her hand and muted the television.

“Alright, tell me again Mother. What’s wrong?” He inquired.

“Oh Herman, I just had the most awful coughing fit. I think these old lungs of mine are failing me. Would you mind getting me one of those cherry lozenges? I just love their flavor and it might help with this cough. Or at least keep my throat from getting sore.” She replied, and as if to prove her point, coughed into a closed fist.

“Of course, Mother. One moment.” Herman answered, walking over to one of the many medical cabinets strewn across the mansion they lived in. Herman had protested their installations at first, but ultimately the decision was Mother Eve’s.


I can’t wait to tear all these eyesores off the walls when the mansion is mine. Herman thought as he rummaged through the cabinet for the lozenges. Once he found a pack he brought it over to Mother Eve, warning “Here’s a pack of them, but don’t eat them like candy, you hear? Could be dangerous.”

Mother Eve smiled. “Of course, my dear. You’re all the sweetness I need anyways.”

“Mmhmm. I will be in my study if you need anything else, then.” Herman replied passively, turning back to the hallway he came from.

“Thank you, dear!” Mother Eve called, eliciting only a simple handwave from Herman in response.

Herman considered his study’s location rather inconvenient, not because it was far away but rather because it was too close. Mother Eve’s mansion was one of the biggest mansions on the east coast, with what seemed like hundreds of rooms and numerous sprawling courtyards and gardens, and as such Herman should have had a room that was far enough away that he would not have to deal with his mother’s incessant needs, but no. Instead, Mother Eve insisted that her beloved son’s room be close to whatever area of the mansion she decided to inhabit, which meant constant shifting around, and Herman was never allowed to stay too far away or in one place for long. His mother wanted to make sure she enjoyed and utilized every part of the mansion, so the building would not seem too excessive, and every room used.

As he entered his lavish room, Herman pondered just how long his elderly mother had left in this world.

I could have sworn she would have died by now. He thought as he took a seat at his desk, furnished with the most expensive and high-tech computers that money could buy.

All of which was provided by Mother Eve, and Herman hated it.

Herman, like all children, originally loved, cherished, and respected his mother, acknowledging her as the reason for his existence. But as the years went by, that love turned to greed and respect into resentment. It was not that Herman hated his mother, quite the opposite. He still harbored a love for the woman who had raised him and provided him with this upper-class lifestyle, but he also knew her time had come.


He felt as if his mother was still stubbornly clinging to life only to control him. Herman knew it was his birthright to do what he wanted with his mother’s wealth and mansion, and he had plenty of ideas of what he wanted to do.

Tear it down and build it all back in his image.

It was his turn, after all, his right.

Herman sighed again, shaking his head, and booted up his computer, returning to his work from earlier. He was a geospatial analyst for the energy company Dyre Wulf, the youngest in the company’s admittedly short history. Dyre Wulf, to the public (and the government), was an eco-friendly company, supposedly only investing in alternative energy sources for the new, clean age.

However, Herman knew their dirty little secrets, how they invested in and even helped create smaller, fossil fuel company startups and siphoned off the more lucrative profits from said small companies while funding their clean, eco-friendly image.

It was Herman’s job to find and analyze different locations for oil rigs, coal mines, and even dumping locations for any waste DW could not “legally” get rid of.

Herman did not bother with the moral quandaries of such work, his massive salary was enough to squash any initial concerns he had, and Dyre Wulf was eager to have such a brilliant young mind from one of the most influential families of the east coast on their payroll.

Despite such a lucrative career, Herman still thirsted for more wealth, specifically the almost incalculable amount of assets his mother possessed.


And this inheritable wealth was not guaranteed, at least in his mind. Herman was adopted, not technically Mother Eve’s biological offspring. He was unsure where exactly he came from, his earliest memories beginning with Mother Eve, and she was very secretive about his true origin.

Herman had once been obsessed with finding the answer, as he once was an inquisitive mind with his unquenchable thirst directed to obtaining more knowledge, not wealth.

But money is the most corrupting force ever devised, and Herman soon forsook his quest for knowledge.

After all, he had learned everything he needed to know.


As he shifted through the monotonous files of spreadsheets and analytical graphs displayed on his screens, his drowsiness began to overtake him, and he soon slipped into a dream, or rather, a nightmare.

This was hardly the first nightmare Herman had suffered from in recent months, but their frequency was increasing. The dreams always followed a similar pattern, thrusting him into the mind and body of some stranger in a horrific situation, this time with him being in the body of a young woman deep in the mountains, camping with a group of friends. It was an uproarious affair, with dancing and drinking around the campfire. The night sky shone brightly with stars, reflecting the upbeat mood of the party. The young woman who unknowingly harbored Herman in her mind danced with a young man, everyone seemingly focused on the good time.

Credit: JPWilliams

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