Yeah, liquid fire. We've all seen it, flames that flow with viscous intent, coming our way to burn us to the center of our being. 

Liquid fire doesn't have to be actual fire. Our spouse, one more betrayal, and then it's slapped in our face. Yeah, liquid fire. Or one more slight by our boss, bypassing us for promotion once again. How can this be happening? It's our career we're talking about, not some fly-by-night moment that no one cares about. Sheesh!

What about bigger slights? Or bigger yet, whole swaths of our lives we've planned out in meticulous detail, only to have some errant fool bumble onto the scene and wipe it all out.

Then we have to start again.

It makes us angry. All the years wasted, as if they never were. Our time, our effort, our youth, frittered away on useless pandering to unnecessary frivolity. Some jerk's taken what's ours, and we have nothing left. We are forced to dig yet another foundation to begin yet again.

The dreamers in The Wheel . . . what can I say? They aren't the good guys, yet they feel the fire flowing over them. Read in Chapter 36:

The map churned within its glowing table, for everything was in flux: time and space and the very fabric of reality. No one stood near because no one dared.

"Perhaps, if we are lucky . . ."

The words, whispered, carried throughout the chamber, the space within vast, yet intimate in feel.

"Another . . . change must be made. Dream the dreams." Urgency resonated within the voice.

"Dream the dreams," from yet another.

"Dream the dreams . . ."

"We must dream the dreams . . ."

And the chant rose, until the words filled the space that contained even the stars themselves.

And still, the map churned, and no one dared step near.

Here's my question: Do bad guys, I mean really bad guys, like Hitler and Nero and Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden hurt when their plans go awry? Do they feel the same disappointments the rest of us experience when carefully laid plans crumble into dust? Or is the blackness in their souls different than what affects the rest of us? Does the blackness insulate them from the pain that drives the rest of us? Instead of rocking in despair when relationships crumble, do the bad guys shift different gears inside, releasing flaming rivers of hate while still consumed with their own self-importance and rigorous self-aggrandizement? 

In other words, do hiccups in the lives of the truly evil spur ever greater levels of evil, wiping the pain of disappointment away?

To quote: "Another change must be made. Dream the dreams." What was the dream? (This is a spoiler, so skip this if you haven't completed the book!) It was lunch time, and not finding Slate in their dreams simply made them hungrier . . . and angrier, and ready to do anything to feast upon the race that existed for only one purpose, to feed their children.

Chill bumps. Makes you see Al Capone a little differently, huh? Then there's Stalin, Pol Pot, Caligula, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Mussolini, Nero . . . liquid fire, all!