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"Madwalls" by Rachel Caine

"Madwalls" by Rachel Caine 

This story came from the anthology Unbound.  The entire anthology opens with this story. 

Everything starts with a father taking his daughter, Sammy, to a secret place called the Citadel.  He doesn’t  tell her what to expect, but she senses something big that scares her.  She’s not allowed to tell anyone where she is going and what she is going to do and her mother left her father over this special place. 

After they arrive she discovers a man who is writing on a wall with chalk.  She sees a beautiful man and her lust starts to rise.  She eventually finds out that he is a creature and appears different to each person.  He spends all day and night writing on the walls of the Citadel with chalk. 

She discovers that she must give him a name, and during a terrifying ordeal, names him after the Sikh word for lust, Kaam.  One of the five sins of the Sikh religion. 

After the terrifying ordeal, her father leads her out of the Citadel, which is an entrance, that moves around over years, decades, or even centuries, but ends up in the same place with Kaam.  Just before they leave the Citadel together, Sammy makes the decision to leave. 

She stays with Kaam in an otherworldly place, watching him write his words on the walls of the Citadel.  She falls in love with him and one day discovers the truth behind his existence. 

This was a fascinating story.  It delved into some religious mythology and wrapped it up in a love story.  It also was a story of how writing can stop the hurt in the world.  That writing on the skin of the world is the way of keeping the world sane and keeping stories alive.


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