CHAPTER FIFTEENI See YouThe girl caught his eye immediately.She was new to running, new to the trail, and her cheeks were rosy in the misty light. There was something about her, something special, a wobbling beacon shining up to the sky, only she wasn’t calling down the stars.She was calling him.And being a man of great appetites he obsessed to satiate, he knew he would answer her. Because, you see, that is the way it works, and has always worked, and this man somehow knew the girl’s whole life had been leading up to this moment.Wonderful. Simply wonderful.
CHAPTER SIXTEENLive A Thousand YearsRikki-Tikki and Syrina were watching a movie. They had reached that lazy part in their relationship where he was allowed to gain a few pounds and she was allowed to wear sweats, and occasionally go without makeup, and throw her hair back in a ponytail. All of this was perfectly acceptable and downright cozy.Although the term used was ‘watching a movie’, it would be more accurate to say a movie was on and they weren’t exactly watching it. They were dishing up bowls of ice cream and kissing in between strawberry spoonfuls, and Rikki-Tikki was telling Syrina about Samoa. He was also asking if she’d like come home with him sometime to meet his family, and Syrina was equally parts excited and nervous. What if they didn’t like her? What if she didn’t like Samoa? What if it all agreed with her so much that she never wanted to return home? How delightful! During this conversation, Rikki-Tikki brought up the subject of Bryony.“Syrina, she is going to
CHAPTER SEVENTEENA Delicate GuillotineBryony sobbed all of the way to the hospital, the note crumpled in her hand. Not Syrina. Not her dear, brave and true friend. It would be too cruel. It would be too much.She ran through the hospital doors and up to the front desk.“I am looking for my friend Syrina. Rikki-Tikki said she was here, and I’m so afraid! Is she alive? Is she hurt? Oh, won’t you help me find her?”The receptionist stared at this otherworldly woman whose soul was mixing with tears and spilling out of her ephemeral eyes. She wanted to grab the girl’s mitten-covered hands and tell her stories about faeries and trolls and great green monsters born from gardens. She wanted to ask her if she thought it would hurt terribly when death came to take her, as it most certainly would. Why, perhaps even this very minute! Time is of the essence! The receptionist opened her mouth to speak.“Bryony!”Bryony spun around at the sound of Rikki-Tikki’s voice and grabbed onto his sle
CHAPTER EIGHTEENHe Kills AgainFate grumbled and schemed and plotted. Sending an enthusiastic but second rate robber to do a professional killer’s job certainly didn’t seem to work. Now the gloves were off. It was time to call in the big guns.It is time to check in on our murderer.What the murderer really wanted, of course, was Bryony. He did not know her name. He did not know anything about her. She could be a young doll-maker named Cassandra or she could be young man-turned-woman who was originally named Maurice, although he did not quite think so, and he had a fairly decent eye for that sort of thing.But he also wanted to save her, as one saves dessert for a particularly fine reward for a job well done, a job like passing a grueling test at school or surviving this life, and thus he put Bryony away for later.That did absolutely nothing to dispel the fact he wanted to kill now, and to make it good and satiating. One does not necessarily have to have crème brulee to satiate
CHAPTER NINETEENA SongEddie sat with his back against the cloying floral wallpaper in his apartment. He held Jasmine in his hands, and ran his fingers over her strings as he looked through the window. The moon was extravagant tonight. The stars were full of brilliant luster.His fingers never ceased their movement and with his eyes full of the stars he teased out a song. It was something quite unlike anything else he had written before. It was about death and life and a plant that can heal or kill, respectively. It was a song about making the choice to love when you knew that in the end. . . you would only have . . .. . . empty hands.
CHAPTER TWENTYBe AwareSyrina wasn’t home when Rikki-Tikki came by, but that was all right. He mostly came to speak to Bryony.“’Sup, girl,” he said, and hugged her. She had spent the morning paying bills and making Very Important Phone Calls and decided to reward herself for the hard work. She was frosting cupcakes and was careful not to get the frosted knife in Rikki Tikki’s dark hair when she hugged him back.“Hello, how are things? Would you like a cupcake?”He would like one, very much, and there was an impromptu cupcake party full of sprinkles and raspberry lemonade and good times and laughter. It was an enjoyable occasion, and funny stories were told, and each had the choice opportunity to see each other as the enchanting and mischievous beings that they had been as small children. But then it was time to get serious.“They found another body, Bryony. A young woman with all of her limbs broken, stashed behind some trees in the park. She had some sort of book shoved down h
CHAPTER TWENTY ONEA Circle of StarsBryony didn’t know why, but she was nervous the next time she saw Eddie. Usually she said what needed to be said without any embarrassment whatsoever, because honestly, who had the time to dance around what was really important? If there was something to be said, it should be said. There might not be a tomorrow, or even a later tonight. But something in her stomach flipped around, and when she saw Eddie at the market the next morning, she found herself suddenly not knowing what to say.“I called the radio station,” he said to her, and grinned. “I’m going down on Tuesday to introduce myself and play a couple of songs. Which ones do you think I should choose?”She stared at him and her mouth worked, but nothing seemed to come out. Eddie’s smile faded and he looked at her with some concern.“Bryony? Are you all right?”Suddenly she wasn’t. She was tired, and scared, and the feeling of somebody’s eyes on the back of her neck became more intense la
CHAPTER TWENTY TWODear Girl Who is Already DeadThis is what the murderer thought:He thought, “The girl tends to come out in the early evening, except for Wednesdays. On Wednesdays she comes out in the morning when the mist still covers Matthews Beach. Useful.”He thought, “She always runs alone and then stretches out by the water. Useful.”He thought, “She tends to favor her right ankle, which seems to be a little unstable. Endearing, that. She is friendly to the other joggers on the trail, and doesn’t mind falling into step with them temporarily, and will even chat with them. Useful.”He thought, “Something about her eyes. Something about the soft paleness of her throat. She seems to run above the ground, not necessarily across it. I think she was not created for this earth, but from the stars. And to the stars I will release her.”Briefly he thought that this could be a kindness, but then he pushed the thought away. He is not a man who dwells on being kind.Her time is com