The knocks on Marcy's door were almost soundless—three soft raps. It was a signal that had come to be routine. Tonight, however, the young girl failed to answer. Instead, she watched… as a rectangle of hall light spread its shape across the floor then quickly shrank as Sister Dana deftly entered. Marcy closed her eyes. The nun approached, drew up a chair beside the bed, sat down, got settled—listening all the while to Marcy's breathing… waiting… listening.

At last she whispered.

"Are you awake?"

The girl lay still, did not respond. Would Sister Dana do the usual: light the lamp, modestly clear her throat, and read a passage or two from the gospels, read softly until her patient fell asleep? Like many of the things they had come to share, this, too, was a secret—although Marcy, in light of the Miniature Man's caution, was beginning to wonder why. She could not imagine how Sister Dana could pose a threat of any kind. Perhaps this vigilance would produce an indication.

The silence in the room began to weigh heavily. What was Sister doing? Marcy longed to peek but was afraid the nun would see. She heard a subtle rustling sound, the sound of cloth. She felt it stirring. Feigning as naturally as she could a sleepy head-toss, she freed her ears. The rustling stopped.

A minute passed. Then gradually she became aware of Sister Dana's breathing. At first it mirrored her own. But soon it quickened… grew more pronounced… breathier… shivery… full of little hitches… faster, faster, faster, until, with a last inhaling gasp, it halted! Marcy's heart throbbed sixteen beats before she heard the breath escaping with a long and low alleviating sigh.

A kiss was tendered lovingly on Marcy's motionless lips. The rectangle of light swept to and fro. Darkness, with confusion, settled in.



It's Saturday, October 17th at 12:03 in the A.M. I can't sleep. I have too much on my mind. Tonight Sister Dana came into my room to read to me like usual only I pretended I was already asleep. I did that because the Miniature Man told me she was a poisoned pawn. Now I didn't know just what that was, or is, but it didn't sound good. And I definitely got the idea to watch out. So I figured if Sister Dana thought I was sleeping she might do something she wouldn't do normally. She did! I don't want to write down what, because I can't be sure. I had to keep my eyes closed. But after, she kissed me on the mouth and went away.

What's kept me awake is the feeling I got when she was doing what she was doing. It was sickening. I didn't know how, though. Not until she'd gone and I started to think. Then it got bad. The insects came.

When that happens I have to scream to stop the horrible noise. I must have buried my face in the pillow because nobody came. I don't want that ever to happen again. But I don't know what to do. I can't tell Sister Zoe because I promised not to. And the Miniature Man is no help either. He doesn't come whenever I want. And anyway, he says I have to ask the new patient.

I'm scared of him. He's the man in ivory and also this oddball patient who wears sunglasses at night. I don't understand what he has to do with anything, but more and more I'm thinking I'm going to have to ask him some things. Like what he's doing here. And if he knows the Miniature Man. And what a poisoned pawn is.


The dim horizon...

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