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The midnight club, p.16
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       The Midnight Club, p.16

           Christopher Pike
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  "You did a very brave thing."

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

  "You think God will see it that way?" He genuinely wanted her opinion.

  "He will probably give us time off our time in hell because of it."

  Spence finally smiled. "Then after that we'll probably be reincarnated as penguins in that part of Antarctica where the ozone layer is completely wrecked. I'll have skin cancer all over again."

  "Who took Anya's toiletries?"

  The question stopped him. "I don't know."

  "Spence. Don't lie to me."

  "I suspect Kevin took them. After I returned to my room, after I had killed Anya, Kevin got up and left. I was surprised because with his leg it was hard for him to get around. He told me he had something he had to do. He knew I had drugged you and that I had just smothered Anya. You couldn't hide anything from that guy. Anyway, I think he took her stuff."

  "But why would he want to delude me?"

  "You said it yourself in that story you told about Delius and Shradha. The only comfort Shradha had after the death of her child was that her daughter had come back for her things."

  "But that never happened," she protested.

  "I know that. Kevin knew that. But until your Master told Shradha the truth, she was quite happy with the delusion. Kevin wanted to ease the trauma of Anya's death for you, and also allow you to go to your own death with the belief that there was something on the other side."

  "I already believed that."

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE

  "But Kevin said you were still afraid."

  "That's true." Ilonka considered a moment, then laughed. "Kevin did think he was Delius, and that I was Shradha. That rat—he kept denying it."

  "He wasn't trying to hurt you."

  Ilonka sighed. "I know that. He couldn't hurt a soul."

  Spence enjoyed her pun. "Do you have any other questions?"

  "No."

  "Every mystery is solved?"

  "No. The big mystery will not be solved until the day we die. We have our stories, our dreams, our beliefs, but until then everything is just speculation."

  Spence coughed. "We will not have to speculate much longer."

  Ilonka smiled sadly. "That is true.'

  »>

  More days crept by. For Ilonka they were like one long ride through a dark tunnel where she kept imagining—maybe the word was praying —that there was a light at the end. Her pain worsened and it got so that she couldn't even get out of bed. Dr. White visited her daily. He continued to let her live alone in her room. She supposed he figured it wouldn't be long. He brought her white Swiss chocolate—it was the only thing she could eat. Four tiny squares a day—she let it dissolve in her mouth and then took a sip of water. Tasted better than the herbs had.

  One afternoon when she was just lying there as usual a knock came at her door.

  "Come in," she said softly.

  A strange young man stepped in the room.

  "When I first saw him, I thought he looked fiinny. His hair was a weird orange color and he wore an earring that looked as if it had been stolen from an African native."

  203

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE

  "Bill," flonka said with pleasure. The guy had not changed his style.

  He appeared uneasy. "A friend of mine gave me a message that you were looking for me."

  "Yes." Ilonka tried to sit up as best she could. Moving was agony. She had to take a breath before she could speak again. "I was a friend of Anya Zimmennan's. Did your friend tell you she's dead?"

  His cheek twitched, but otherwise he gave no sign of how he felt. "Yes."

  "She was my roommate. She told me about you guys—how you met, how it ended. You can sit down if you want. That was her bed."

  "All right." Bill glanced at the bed nervously before putting his bottom on it.

  "Like I said, she told me how things got messed up between you guys. She was crying when she told

  me."

  Bill showed interest. He was a handsome guy, his hair color notwithstanding. He had a sharp look in his eyes. Ilonka remembered Anya had said he wanted to be a detective.

  "I guess it didn't work out for her with the other guy," Bill said diplomatically.

  "The other guy was nothing to her. Anya didn't even know what she was doing with him. She was happy with you. But you know how sometimes when you're the happiest you begin to feel like you don't deserve it? Then you do something to screw it all up?"

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUE

  "I've never done that, but I understand what you are saying."

  "I hope so because I'm saying it badly. What I mean is, Anya loved you and was sorry for what happened. She wanted to tell you that before she died but she was too sick and too ashamed."

  Bill's lower lip suddenly trembled and he bit it. "I appreciate you teUing me that." He paused and touched the bed hesitantly with his palm. "Did she suffer a lot?"

  "Yes. But in the end she was with friends. That helped."

  "I wish I could have helped her," Bill said with feeling.

  Ilonka smiled, "She left a box of stuff. E>r. White—he runs this place—didn't know what to do with it. It's on the floor of the closet there. Please take it. I know she'd want you to have it."

  Bill took out the box and set it on the bed. The first thing he removed was the small clay statue Anya had been making to give him on Valentine's Day. The two unpainted lovers holding hands. Bill held it up without a sign of recognition. Ilonka supposed he couldn't remember more than the main highlights from that particular night.

  But Ilonka remembered.

  '7 said the only part he broke \^as my right leg."

  Yet the statue was whole. The girFs right leg was in place.

  Ilonka gasped. "Give me that."

  Bill hastily handed it over. Ilonka studied the statue closely.

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE

  There was no sign of repair work.

  It was as if the leg had always been there.

  "What is it?" Bill asked, worried.

  "It's a sign," Ilonka whispered.

  "What are you talking about?"

  "Bill. You know how people say time heals all wounds?"

  "Yes."

  "Well, what if time ran out? Do you think love could heal what was left?"

  "I'd like to think so. Hey, what's so special about those two clay figures?"

  Ilonka closed her eyes and hugged the statue to her heart.

  "Death couldn't tear them apart," she said. "Death couldn't touch them."

  Eventually Bill left, with the statue; she felt it belonged to him. He left but the miracle remained. Ilonka tried to call Spence to tell him what had happened but Dr. White told her he had slipped into a coma. She was sad to hear the news, but her sorrow she now accepted as readily as her joy. It didn't seem she could have one without the other. She lay back in her bed and rested.

  A day and night went by. Dr. White came and told her that Spence was dead. Three down and one to go, she thought. What a story it all would have made. She cried at the news but not for long. She was so tired.

  Then time lost its meaning to her and she drifted on calm waters down the long tunnel. The sun rose

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

  and set. The earth turned. She breathed in and out, more shallow, though, each day more softly.

  Finally a morning came when the sun streamed through her open window and the ocean breeze stirred her parted curtains. She awoke to the sound of a bird singing. The white dove sat on her windowsill staring at her, and as Ilonka looked over, the bird turned its head toward the sun. Ilonka followed its gaze and was surprised to see a bright blue star in the sky, even with the sun's rays burning down. The star shone like a jewel of incomparable worth. For a long time Ilonka stared at it, and as she did so, one by one, more stars appeared in the sky, until soon the whole of heaven was lit with points of light that did not twinkle, even as her eyes began to tire and blink. The entire galaxy shone in all its glory, even as the
sun grew brighter and brighter, and her eyes slowly closed for the last time.

  Epilogue —

  The starliner Space Beagle III was scheduled to depart for Sims in less than one hour. Eisokna stood high up in space on the observation deck of the great ship and stared down at the blue white of earth. The sun shone brilliantly off to her left. The stars were all around. Earth had been her home for all the days of her life, but now she was leaving it with her husband, probably for good, and the knowledge filled her with both sorrow and exhilaration.

  She pressed her nose to the clear plastic that separated her from the vacuum. Her breath flared around her on the hard material with a ghostly fog; it was cool on the observation deck. With Karlen, whom she had only recently wed, she had worked hard to be able to go on this journey.

  CHRISTOPHER PfKE To be one of the first settlers to colonize Treta, the sixth planet in the Sirus star system. They were realizing the dream of a lifetime, she knew, and the best thing about it was that they were doing it together. Yet she was sad because she wanted to say goodbye to her world, to thank it for what it had given her, and she didn't know how.

  Suddenly, as she stood there still as a statue, she thought she heard a bird singing. A wave of nostalgia swept over her, so powerful it brought water to her eyes. A tear touched the clear plastic and momentarily blurred her view of earth. Where was the sound of that bird coming from? It sounded as if it were singing in her ear, such a beautiful melody.

  A strong, warm arm wrapped around her from behind.

  She relaxed into it. Karlen kissed her on the nape of her neck.

  "Ready to leave?" he asked.

  She sniflfed. "I don't know. I was standing here looking at the earth and I felt as if I were saying goodbye to my best friend. But I also felt as if everything was finally settled between us, and now I can move on. Do you know what I meanT'

  Karlen moved to her side and hugged her close. "No," he said, but he smiled.

  She laughed; he always made her laugh. "I don't either. You're supposed to be my best

  THE MIDNIGHT CLUB friend." Wiping away her tears, she leaned over and kissed him. She was happy; it felt as if it had been a long time coming and she was determined to enjoy it. The sound of the singing bird faded into the distance and was gone. "Yes. I'm ready to leave."

  Look for Christopher Pike's

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  About the Author

  CHRISTOPHER PIKE was bora in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Los Angeles, where he lives to this day. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked in a factory, painted houses, and programmed computers. His hobbies include astronomy, meditating, running, playing with his nieces and nephews, and making sure his books are prominently displayed in local bookstores. He is the author of Last Act, Spellbound, Gimme a Kiss, Remember Me, Scavenger Hunt, Final Friends 1,2, and 5, Fall into Darkness, See You Later, Witch, Die Softly, Bury Me Deep, Whisper of Death, Chain Letter 2: The Ancient Evil, Master of Murder, Monster, Road to Nowhere, The Eternal Enemy, The Immortal, The Wicked Heart, and The Midnight Club, all available from Archway Paperbacks. Slumber Party, Weekend, Chain Letter, and Sati — an adult novel about a very unusual lady—are also by Mr. Pike.

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  Christopher Pike, The Midnight Club

 


 

 
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