It seemed to take an eternity before Julie, Irene, Daphne and Will awoke from their trances. Their writhing faces cycled through expressions so fast they practically seemed like a blur. But finally, the movements slowed down and they slumped down, completely slack. For a moment, they looked like they were sleeping.

Julie woke up first. Tears rolled down her face, but her face wasn’t sad. It was empty, hollow, beaten down. It was the face of shellshock, repeated time and time again. Ellen sat down next to her and gently pulled her into her lap so they were facing each other. She kissed Julie on each cheek and on the forehead, pulled her closer and embraced her. As Julie lay on her shoulder, with that terrible blankness behind her eyes, Ellen began plucking mushrooms off her back and eating them.

Irene was the next to wake up, and in a manner quite different from Julie. She immediately burst into hysterical tears, sobbing in great, wet gasps, while an endless stream of horrified denials came pouring out of her like water. “No no no no no! Noooo no no no! No, it can’t be true… That wasn’t real! I didn’t do that! I couldn’t do that… How could I do that?! I couldn’t… I couldn’t… I couldn’t! I didn’t! But… No! NO! Nohoooo…” Her words turned into bawling sobs as she curled up on the damp ground, alone and helpless to stop the outpour of horror over what she had seen.

And as she lay there, Daphne and Will both began to stir...

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