By Kenji Bohlin|
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.-
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
It rained that miserable day. That cold, sad day in late October.
Rain fell on the black umbrellas that blossomed when the first drops hit. Rain fell
on the slick concrete slabs that decorated the hillside in even rows. Rain fell on the
open grave that would soon bloom a new granite flower.
Alice stood away from the crowd, leaning a gainst a tree for
support. Her shoulder length red hair hung pasted to her skull and down the back
of her neck. Her black blouse and long black skirt hung soaked. Her face was
wet--from tears or rain, she was not sure.
Over the patter of the rainfall, she could hear the priest's
sad litany: "...souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest
in peace." It came in waves, his monotone voice, audible and discernable one
moment, a meaningless mumble the next. The shiny, ash coffin began to lower,
the small lift engine just reaching Alice's ears through the Tears of God. A
wealth of flowers descending to the earth, Scyld's funeral ship was sinking into
the Norse Sea.
"Jesus, Alice, forget your umbrella?" Alice turned her gaze
on the musical voice that was filled with disgust. Laura Harbor. Prom Queen.
Queen bitch. She was so filled with her popularity at Saint George's that she
thought she deserved worship. And practically got it.
Cindy Fletcher and Amy Duncan flanked her on either side.
All three looked immaculate, wearing newly bought clothes for this special event,
this "fashion show."
"Laura, she's been through so much. I don't think she
really cares about getting wet," Cindy scolded, motherly patience in her voice.
"But Alice dear, you really should dry off or you might catch cold." Cindy
Fletcher. Always the cheerful, comforting "friend." Only problem was, in her
eyes, you were a kindergartner capable of nothing more than amusement and
in constant need of direction.
Amy Duncan smiled and nodded in agreement. She always
nodded in agreement.
Always agreed with Cindy, or Laura, or any of the other beautiful people.
You could count on her being with one of them anytime you saw her. She lacked
the possession of her own character, always mimicking that of those around her,
always a leech of the "inner circle." But alone, away from the hubbub of being
cool, away from this and that--away from it all--she was quite nice. Once, Amy
and Alice were friends. Once.
"In the room the women come and go . . ." Alice
Laura blinked and looked at her, "What did you say?" She
shook her head and "apologized," "I'm sorry, Alice." The statement seemed
forced. She hugged Alice. The redhead didn't return the "affection."
"Yo, Laura!" A voice snaked though the rain. John Beckard's voice.
Quarterback. Pompous jerk. "Let's GO!" The three girls waved bye as they
walked away. Alice turned her head without waving.
". . . Talking of Michelangelo," she finished,
smiling a secret smile to herself, almost laughing. Her eyes fell on the
grave again and the smile disappeared. She pulled out a pack of Marlboro's,
unopened. Tearing the package, she placed the wrapper in her pocket and a smoke
to her lips. Lighting the cigarette quickly with a chrome Zippo, she inhaled,
the burning nicotine passing into her mouth, into her lungs. Exhaling, she felt
a tingling passing through her nostrils. Holding the cigarette up, Alice
watched as a lazy stream of gray trailed up off the glowing orange embers.
It'd been a while since she had had a smoke. A long while.
Her face was wet, but now she knew that she was crying.
There was now a sense of finality to this whole event.
Without thinking, she took the butt of the Marlboro and
pressed it to her palm. Sizzling, burnt flesh accompanied searing pain. She
screamed against the rain as it picked up.
Earlier that October
Cold hung in the six o'clock morning air when twilight hit
the Wick household. A radio alarm clock clicked on: "...morning you wonderful
people and thanks for tuning in to WWAR." A hand snaked from the electrically
heated blankets and hit the snooze. "Today's high a chilling--" Another nine
minutes and the process was repeated. At 6:27, after the fourth repetition,
Alice bolted up in bed, a dizzy spell slammed into her. She lay back down.
At 6:34, seven minutes later, she was in the shower,
attempting to wash away sleep.
At 6:41, she was stuffing burnt toast into her mouth in an
empty kitchen. Both parents were at work now (as usual). The daily waltz of
Routine was being danced again after countless other such affairs in the Ball
At 6:46, she had her white teeth brushed, red hair braided
down her neck, Saint George Catholic High plaid skirt on, along with Saint George
Catholic High white Oxford and black sweater (not a Saint George Catholic High
piece of apparel) along with necklaces, rings, and a touch of black eye-liner.
She was out the door, in her old beige Ford Escort, and driving through the cold,
mid October suburb of Eastholmes.
Jerry stretched out six hours of sleep while sitting in
the corner of the cafeteria at Saint George Catholic High. He sipped once on
his Coke and scribbled some thoughts down in a green spiral notebook in front
No one sat near him. No one talked to him. And he was
content. "Hey Jerry, you going to the Homecoming this Saturday?" It was
Cindy Fletcher. Her current boyfriend from the pool of popularity was Tim
Roberts, who stood with his arm draped around the pristine princess and a smug
smile painted on his yuppie boy face.
Her voice was filled with saccharine sweetness, the
mocking kind. "No, I have other plans," he said with equal grace, a cloying
grace. "But I'm sure that you're going." He balanced his words so that the
statement sounded friendly.
"You really should try to go," Cindy smiled, tilting her
head to the side as though to address a four-year-old. "I mean, this
is your Senior year and all."
He shrugged his shoulders, "So?"
"So? You only have one more year in High School left.
You'll regret it." She smiled a perfect smile, showing off her
ordered rows of white teeth, then walked away, whispering something to Tim.
They laughed and walked on.
"Don't you just love her?" Another female voice. A
sarcastic voice. He turned his head on the latest intruder into his life:
a redhead who was regarding him with a "don't try it with me" look.
"Oh, hi Alice." He yawned and looked down at his
"Jer, you seen Holly?" the redhead asked, sitting
down. "I have something to give her." She pulled out a folder from her backpack.
"No, haven't seen her."
There was a pause. Jerry could tell that she was
anxious for him to ask her what she had. Probably another story, but he
didn't want to give her the pleasure.
"I've been working on it for some time in Science and
I'm sure Holly wants to read it. . ." She tapped her black fingernails
against the yellow folder, the demanding rhythm of Wait. "I want to see
what she thinks of it. It deals with extremes, but I hope it's not too
far fetched." Jerry was having trouble keeping the smile from his face. He
covered his mouth and pretended to yawn. He wasn't going to bite. This was
Finally, in a bout of impatience, she pulled a packet
of stapled paper, printing decorating the neat white leafs, and handed it
to him. He calmly put his pen down and focused his eyes on the packet.
"Islands by Alice Wick."
"Theme?" he asked, flipping through the story. 13 pages.
"Life. Our lives. 'Bout how people judge us--and
other 'weirdos' like us--on appearance alone. We are 'evil' in their eyes,
but good in truth. Out of this suffering, we can really see people for what
they truly are."
"'We are Sight amidst the Blind,'" Jerry quoted from his
notebook. A saying that he was proud of. "I've got something kinda like what
you're talking about. Just thoughts really. Want to read?" he asked, flipping
through his notebook.
"Sure." He found the page and slid it in front of Alice.
Mother, who held me when I was young,
I danced in your arms to your music sung.
But life was sheltered, you covered my eyes . . .
Moon Stars Dawn Rise
I grow older, emerged from your arms,
I opened my eyes, saw the Tiger that harms.
You stood back, Mother, and let me go . . .
Mind Thought Sight Know
I picked my path, my path alone.
I lived my live; and moaned my moan.
But it was my live, was my moan . . .
Self Dance Fly Own
I entered the kingdom--the kingdom of man--
Where nobles bow heads; make angels in sand.
Fashions are uniforms created by Queens . . .
Earth Form Rule Teens
But I'm not pattern, I don't like their Law,
The tiger looked 'round, didn't like what I saw.
So I co-exist, yet I live apart . . .
Lone 'Skirts Air Heart
"Tiger! Tiger! burning bright."
There are others in the night.
Laughing with the people show,
Yet sailing 'gainst the river flow.
Kaleidoscope lives--some poor, some grand--
But all gaijin in their own lands.
It's from these nobody someones I draw my fortitude . . .
Strength Friends Fire Mood
"Beautiful," Alice smiled, sliding it back. "Ya know, some
people might not just call it thoughts but poetry."
"Thanks. If it's poetry, it's incomplete. Everything in here
is incomplete," he said, slipping the green spiral into his black back pack.
"But it's my work. My Manifesto. Part of me. And it won't be completed until
I'm completed. Not done until I'm done." He smiled. "To be continued."
Alice laughed, a genuine laugh. "You can keep that copy of
Islands. Oh, and If you see Holly, tell her I'm lookin' for her."
People filed into class at the bell's familiar ring.
Another day of Physics 101 began with a prayer mumbled in the raspy voice of
Mr. Thompson, Science teacher extraordinaire. Alice took her seat in the back
of the room, in the corner next to Holly, who always seemed to get there early.
"Hey," Alice whispered, taking her seat in the uncomfortable
desk. Holly nodded back before sitting. "You all hyped about the Pep Rally?"
she asked sarcastically.
"Oh yeah," Holly smiled. "Go Lions, go." She reached into
her bag and pulled out her notebook. "I heard you were looking for me. New story?"
"New story," Alice replied, handing her Islands.
"I'll read it during the Pep Rally."
"But dear, that's when you're supposed to be offering
forth support for our wonderful school." The two began to laugh.
"Quiet, you two," came Mr. Thompson's voice, pure
monotone. And thus, learning began. Alice chose to use the time to draw
curved abstracts in black permanent marker. Holly got herself locked into
day dream mode and soon her eyes were glazed over in quiet wonder. She
always seemed to be smiling.
About halfway through class, Alice pulled her head away
from her note pad and looked around. A few of the people in the room were
laughing at something. There on the other side of the room where the jocks and
socials sat in a clump of putrid loathing.
"What's the matter? It's so simple." It was Tim Roberts,
mouthing off again. Some thought him funny. Alice didn't.
"Could you please go over it one more time, Mr. Thompson?"
Jerry breathed quietly. Alice glanced up at the white board, diagrams of
projectile vectors scribbled up on the white with Mr. Thompson's blue
marker-script. She had no idea what foreign runes meant, but that was the
norm. She usually waited until the day before the test to figure it all out
by looking over copied homework. She was one of the gifted who didn't study
and managed an A. Jerry . . . Jerry struggled for a B.
"No, Mr. Thompson," Tim cut in as the teacher turned to
write about the vector created by a tossed grenade projected hypothetically
through hypothetical space. "Why should we have to sit through this when we
all get it!?!"
Mr. Thompson wasn't real sure how to answer him. Tim,
sensing the science teacher about to fall his way, pushed on: "If he really
wants the help, he could come to you after school. I think that he just
wants attention and the reputation of being a 'misunderstood child who's
messed up in the head.'"
Jerry looked up from his notes, focused directly at
Tim, stunned anger dancing across his face.
Jerry: such a nice person. Alice wasn't sure why
people picked on him. He was always nice to people, just quiet. His world
was in his mind and in his notebook, not at school. Not in society. He
was misunderstood. But he didn't want or even care what people
thought about him or his rep. And he certainly wasn't messed up in the head.
Jerry was just about to say something, then took a
resigned breath and mumbled, "I guess if no one else needs help, we can
go on. I'll get it myself." Alice couldn't just sit and watch that triumphant
look wash over Tim's face.
She raised her hand while at the same time blurting,
"Mr. Thompson, I don't understand it. Could you go over it one more time?"
The balding teacher turned around one more time, ready to explain the problem
"What!" Tim shouted out, fake shock ringing in his voice,
bringing a few chuckles. "She doesn't deserve an explanation. She sits in the
back of the room, dreaming about last night when she danced around an altar of
candles, singing to the moon or something." Some more laughter. "Just another
pothead who'll forget everything you teach anyway. How did she get into this
Honors class, anyway? I didn't think they let you in with a D average."
Alice almost broke out laughing. Holly did. Her! a D
average?!? "You're so funny," Alice mocked, "like a clown. Didn't I see you
rollin' up last night in the woods with Randy Blackburg. Hey, I think that
was when I was making my altar to Satan!"
"Enough class, enough!" Mr. Thompson finally managed to
get the class under control. "Now I am going to go over this problem
one more time. If you still don't get it, see me after school!"
With that, he turned around and began his lecture in that flat, lecturing
voice of his. That was all Tim said that class.
"Hey, dumb ass, get outta my seat!" Frankie lifted his head
and his vision filled with John Beckard. John "The Missile" Beckard. The star
quarterback was flanked by his usual entourage: linemen Mike Delving and Randy
Blackburg; and class clown slash smart ass Tim Roberts.
They stalked closer to Frankie, who had been previously
resting (sleeping) in one of the green cushioned arm chairs in the corner of
the Senior Lounge. The "Jock Corner" it was labeled. Frankie didn't care
whose corner it was. It was all property of the school. Besides, he shrugged,
he was once member of the ping pong club. Everything was cool.
"Are you deaf, stupid? Get out of my god damn chair!"
John bellowed, now ten feet away. Frankie just smiled and leaned back.
The buffed primates surrounded him sporting tough-guy
frowns, a gathering of wild beasts getting ready to deal with the latest
intruder into their marked territory. John Beckard was leader of the pack.
"Get up, now," he said with total seriousness and total command.
Frankie leaned forward, in a meaningful way, and
answered candidly, "No. I will not stand up for you, for your scum friends,
or anyone else."
John's eyes lit with unbridled fury. "You little punk.
You . . . will . . . pay!" With that, the 6'3", 230 lb. quarterback picked
Frankie out of the seat as though he were no more than a rag doll and slammed
him against the wall.
Frankie lost all breath, as getting thrown against a wall
tends to do. John and Randy and Tim were laughing, paying homage like insane
hyenas to their hollow God.
And then the world flooded back in. Frankie could feel
the light switch digging into the small of his back. He could smell the beer
putrid breath of Mr. All-American wonderboy in front of him, whose face was
inches away. And he could taste the blood leaking in from his broken lip.
Yet he still managed to smile and say (weakly), "Steroids
are bad for y--" That earned him another slam against the wall--the moment of
panic as his lungs scrambled for air.
"Listen, you little shit," the "Missile" gritted, white
spittle flecking out onto Frankie's face, into his eyes. "We don't want your
kind around here. You devil
worshipping, black-wearing, death-monging weirdos in our
school. When we spray painted the pentagram on your locker, ya didn't take
Frankie managed a laugh. A precarious one at that. He realized
that he was in trouble-a lot of trouble--but he still had one more trick up his
sleeve. And what was this pentagram talk. Then he remembered. "You dumb fuck!
That was Jerry's locker you sprayed. Can't even keep us 'Satanists' straight!"
Ah ha ha ha ha--
"You talk, Devil boy, when you are allowed. Now let me tell
you what's going to happen. First, I'm going to kick the shit out of you. Then
my buddies will. Then, I want you to tell all your witch friends to disappear or
risk the wrath of the almighty God."
"One last word," Frankie cut in.
"What?" Mike asked, seething annoyance painting his voice.
"THIS!!!" With every scrape of energy he could muster,
tripled by the adrenaline running through his world, Frankie drove his knee
as hard as "the Almighty God" allowed him with crunching satisfaction into the
groin of the "Missile."
The quarterback dropped to the floor like a lightning struck
tree, groaning in unimaginable pain. His buddies were stunned beyond belief,
staring like brain dead dogs at their fallen master.
Then, they looked at Frankie, pure animal-rage physically
shaking their beefed up bodies.
Then one drove a fist into Frankie's chest, snapping two ribs.
Then another slammed his fist into Frankie's mouth,
breaking three teeth.
Then Frankie fell to the ground, pummeled by fists,
feet, and insults. With closed eyes, you never really see true darkness--always
blood-lit red filled the void, intermingling with a universe of burning white
sparks--but never darkness. When Frankie hit the ground and slammed his lids shut,
he saw darkness.
At the Hospital--A Visit
They went to visit Frankie at the hospital a week later. For
two days he lay on the bed under white fluorescents, dreaming coma dreams. He
awoke on Wednesday morning, mumbling something about not moving from his seat, that
his eyes hurt, and that he was hungry.
Only now was he able to have visitors other than family.
When the group entered, led by Alice, then Holly, trailed
by the ever quiet Jerry, they were a joy to his eyes.
"What are you weirdo's doing here?" laughing at the
Industrial/Goth troupe. Holly had new combat boots, visible under the long
blue dress that nearly touched the floor. Alice had red roses sheathed in
green aluminum, in full bloom. Jerry had nothing, holding his head down and
looking more thought-induced depressed than usual.
"Just visiting the resident freak," Holly smiled, falling
into the yellow upholstered love seat against the windowed wall.
Alice handed him the roses and asked "How do you feel,"
genuine concern in her eyes.
"I'm fine, just fine." He wasn't. Had trouble sleeping.
Pains. But why tell these nice people. He smiled to show his pseudo comfort.
Alice wasn't buying and looked at him warily before joining Holly in the chair.
Jerry was leaning against the wall, his head down and his
shaggy black hair covering his face. Dressed in black jeans and shirt, he
looked like a shadow against the yellow flowered wall paper.
"How 'bout you, Jer--you all right?"
Jerry's answer was a murmur. "No." He raised his head
and his eyes were red rimmed. "Don't think so . . ." his voice trailed off.
"Not at all . . ."
"What's wrong?" Alice asked, concern ringing her words.
"Everything. Nothing. I . . . I feel sick . . . my
stomach--anxious . . . 'bout something. Bad something." Everyone was
concerned now. Alice had stood up and was teetering between staying back
and walking up. Frankie sat up in bed while Holly looked for something to
say. But the room stood silent, pin-dropping silent.
"I'm tired. That's it. Just tired." He slid down
the wall to the tiled floor. "I just want to sleep. Dream away all the
John Beckards and Laura Harbors. Dream away the superficial world and its
superficial ways." He paused, another deathly silence, and looked up. His
eyes were stronger, a decision attained, stress lifted. "Have you ever
noticed that we are treated differently than most?" It was an obvious question
with an obvious answer. He answered it himself. "People seem to strike out
at us 'cause of fear or something."
"You're right. You're so right," soothed Alice. Not
quite right--Jerry was talking extremes; extremes, not people--but close
anyway. "And we all know it. It's our choice."
"But it's not fair. People like Amy Duncan live someone
else's life and she doesn't go through the coldness of Hell daily. Here I am,
myself, and I do!" He was upset now, rocking back and forth, clutching
his knees to his chest.
"Right, Jer! You're right." It was Holly this time.
"Would you rather be another Amy, peaking a pitiful life in your teens and
moving on to coffee breaks and day time soaps, changing the diapers and phone
bills!?! We are who we are and we live with it. There is no other choice."
Her voice trailed off, as though speaking to herself, "In my mind at least."
"What about suicide?" he shot back, licking thin lips,
his eyes burning like furious, white neon.
"You thinking 'bout suicide, bud?" asked Frankie from
Jerry forced a laugh. It's echo hung in the air like a funeral
chime. "Come on, guys . . ." They just stared at him. "Stop gawking at me. I'm
not dead yet. Besides, can't die yet . . . I have to finish my poetry, my
Manifesto." He patted his pocket where his spiral was tucked in. "Okay?"
No one said anything. No one was sure what to say. There
was a knocking sound on the door, then the turning click of the chrome knob.
The head of a nurse popped in, wrinkles of time and anxiety decorating her plump
face. "You'll have to go," she rasped harshly. "Visiting hours are over. You're
not allowed in here anymore." She looked around at them with open disapproval.
Alice glanced over at Jerry, who blinked at the nurse and
ignored her loathing. When her steel gray eyes washed over his crouched body,
he smiled at her pleasantly. Her face contorted and then disappeared, slamming
the door shut.
Everyone stood up and said their goodbyes. "You're gonna
miss one hell of a show this Saturday, Frankieboy," Holly smiled, back to her
"Ah, who needs those shows. A lot of pushing and shouting
and dancing and sweating. Loud music. Who needs it," he waved his hand.
He did, he thought, grinning to himself. He could hear the beat pulsing
through his head now and wanted to dance. Man he was gonna miss one hell of a
show. "You kids have fun. Don't stay up too late."
Alice laughed and waited at the door for the others. Jerry
stood up and stepped toward the redhead. Frankie's voice caught him, "Hey, Jer.
Promise me to stay away from this suicide biz. At least 'til you finish the
When Jerry replied his "yes," everyone in the room
breathed a sigh of relief. And then Jerry was walking out of the room, followed
by Alice. Holly turned just before reaching the door, her braided pony tails
swinging around her like twin blonde vipers. "Catch ya on the flip side,
Frankieboy." And they were gone.
Alice played the dance of Routine that memorable Thursday
morning in October. The wind buffeted her long, gray overcoat, whipping it
around like the banner of a lost battle. She walked through the doors of Saint
George High, under the Great Crucifix holding the Son of the Almighty, waiting
to judge the world on the last day of Time.
An odd queasiness played over the redhead's stomach.
Something bad was going to happen. She knew it, just as she knew the sky
is gray when it's going to rain. But what? "A test. I'm worrying over a
test." It was a lie and she knew it.
She broke into a trot towards the Cafeteria. That's
where he'd be. That's where Jerryboy would be. "Don't trip," laughed some
voice. Laura or Amy or some other member of the Elite Circle. She ignored
them, her mind on other things.
Her shoulder connected with some miscellaneous student,
books crashing everywhere. She shifted her tread to a run.
Bursting through the doors of the Cafeteria, she looked
desperately--for Jerry. Not there. Laughing Sophomores.
Not there, whispering teachers. Where? Where?!?
Turning her head, she nearly fell to her knees with relief
at the sight of Jerry, standing slouched near the Coke machine. "Jer, I'm so
glad to see you."
He turned, eyes eying her. "Why?" His eyes, decorated
with blue brown bags, held a relaxed detachment as they pondered her question.
"Just had a bad feeling. That's all. It's better now.
I'm better now." She placed her hand on his shoulder to reassure herself.
It didn't help, she wasn't better. She still had that nagging premonition.
He smiled at her, "I told you, everything's cool."
Another class of Physics. Surface to surface projectile
motion. Vector addition. Sleep for some. Nervous fidgeting for Alice. She
sat down without glancing at Holly, whose greeting fell on hollow, unlistening
ears. Nervous ears.
". . . AAA-lice. Oh AAA-lice. You there?
You trippin'?" Holly was hunched over her seat, leaning towards Alice, trying
to catch her attention.
"Wha--no. I'm fine. Just a little sick."
Holly looked at her skeptically, then reached into her
red book bag as the bell buzzed the start of class. She pulled out a green
notebook, spiral binding, holding the dog-eared leafs together. "Jer asked
me to give this to you," Holly said, handing her the spiral.
Alice took it. She hadn't realized how much her hands
were trembling until they resonated through cover's glossy green. "What's
wrong Ali? You sure you're not up?"
Alice ignored her friend, her mind focused to a pin on
the notebook. Her fingers moved alarmingly cool and calm through the pages
of half thoughts, scribbled ideas, and almost-verse. She found the final page.
Autumn falls and leaves turn red;
Mother have you made my bed?
I'm coming home at journey's end
And rounding your Cycle's final bend.
I'm so tired, the stigmatas so deep.
Fall Snow Earth Sleep
Her stomach exploded, the world crashed in like a wave of
anxiety. She stood up abruptly, too abruptly. Her legs caught in the desk,
causing it to tip forward and slam loudly into the green, school room tiles.
Alice slid out of the wreckage and staggered backwards, staring with horror
and disbelief at the notebook sprawled on the floor.
All eyes were on her. Whispers. "What's going on?"
"What's happening?" Holly touched her shoulder with an uncertain, "Alice?"
She jerked back, away from her friend. Wild eyes caught Holly's face. Alice
shook her head violently. She was going to scream. She was going to puke.
She was spinning, the world was spinning. Wondering faces
regarded her, shaking their heads. Whispering. The door stood ajar as it slid
across her speed blurred vision. Escape.
Alice bolted for it. The hall stood empty and cold as a
mausoleum. She puked. Her mind was fading in and out, from eternal fields of
white fuzz to painfully sharp reality and a distant voice screaming, "NO! NO!"
A familiar voice.
Her ears were ringing. Her throat was sore. She was
singing with the frantic chorus of that distant voice. Her voice.
Alice found herself in her car now, the peculiar smell
of old cloth seats mixing in with the sharp tang of vomit. Her mind was
racing, spinning, crashing, flooded by the loud hum of the floored engine.
50. 60. 70. Red lights like the eyes of a laughing demon. She couldn't
stop, not now. Not ever.
White picket fences walled in a calm, suburban house.
Alice stumbled out of the car, body shaking, her mind numb. She barely noticed
the dirt gardens and green/brown grass. The flowers had all died. The roses that
Mrs. O'Sombra was so proud of had dried up and faded away. Not the season.
No cars in the driveway. No movement in the windows. The
house stood empty, dead. She tried the cold, brass door knob. It
turned . . . click.
The door glided open noiselessly on silent hinges, Alice
stepped inside. A queer calm settled over her--like the calm before a storm,
she thought as she walked up the stairs. She shivered.