There is no such thing as mundane disbelief on the wretched, glittering streets of New Orleans. No doubt lives among the connoisseurs of gin and light. No hesitation hides behind distorted Mardi Gras masks, only creatures moving lithely through the crowd of wayward travelers. The city breathes in a cacophony of sound. Even the steel factory rattles distantly, like a drum beat. Yet, as Thomas O’Clery stood in the braking trolley car, inhaling the piss and bourbon stench of the city, he felt only a cold numbness. Neither the driverless carriages, or the preternatural weight of hot summer jazz, like a voodoo queen’s curse, could frighten or arouse him. Not anymore.
In the Archial, what some call the Little Light Library, it is always night. The distant ceiling is a night’s sky held by pillars, and connecting those pillars are shelves of books coated in leather and dust. The only light comes from lanterns. Inside steel cages, white fires flicker eternally, generated by a lost art. The lanterns are stars if anything. The lower one travels, the bluer those stars. Deep enough and there are no lights at all.
He looked around. It was dark but there were a few lights on the bridge. He stood in the middle and peered over the side, down into the water. The night was still and the smell of the trees and moss made him smile. The countryside always had that effect on him, this was as good a place as any.
I am here. I am here. I. Am. Here.
The last time Christine-Ann Corbin wore a dress was two months ago when she turned twelve. Her parents had a small birthday party and celebrated with a few friends and neighbors. The conversation quickly turned to the unrest in Europe.
The baby had gone to sleep and the boys and Eva, her daughter, had gone to watch Manton drill with the other men in the exercise/muster the village held each month. She cherished the silence. It reminded her of the quiet of the convent—not a pleasant memory, but she did experience some beautiful moments in the years she lived there. She hurried to the kitchen table, wiped it clean, dried it, and spread out the fine linen cloth she had spent too much money on, opened a bottle of ink, got out a stylus, and began to write.
It wasn’t a noise, as such, that pulled Edgar out of his dream. It was an intuition. He sensed the intruder in his house.