had not been replenished or cleared.

Going directly into the kitchen felt to her like the wrong thing to do. Somebody could be just inside the door waiting. She altered her course slightly, and moved past the accordion divider that separated the wide cafeteria entrance from the decorated and specially lighted area where the benefit was being held. The wall helped preserve the soft, unreal atmosphere of the party.

Jane held the napkin with the knife in it close to the skirt of her gown and took a step into the hall. She turned toward the outer door that led to the kitchen. There were two men in dark suits standing on both sides of the kitchen door with their backs to the wall. They were strangers, and she had not seen either of them inside the party. They didn't seem to be aware of her, so she looked away, but held them in the corner of her eye as she drifted in their direction. There was something odd about the way they held themselves, as though they were holding their breath, waiting. Were they going to harm somebody coming out of the kitchen?

The floor beneath her seemed to bump upward as though the whole building were taking a breath. Then came the noise, a deep, deafening thud, and as it tore the air the force of the explosion blew Jane off her feet and across the hall into the smooth marble wall where the names of past donors were carved.


Sky Woman was contented, living above the clouds with her husband, whom she loved with a fierce, steady passion. There was no time then, because there was no change, and so she was always the same slender young woman who lived in the firmament. She was the one who witnessed the first change ever to occur, because it happened to her. She wanted to get at the roots of a big tree and prepare them as food for her tall, strong husband. She asked him to push over the tree for her, but when he did, the roots came up and tore a hole at Sky Woman's feet, and she fell.

As she dropped from the sky she felt the wind streaming through her long black hair and heard the fluttering of the fringe on her deerskin skirt. She was falling toward the vast and ageless ocean of dark water far below. She knew that this must be dying, and that she would never again see or touch the husband she loved so much.

It took time for her to fall so far, and the animals, who had acute senses, could see her from below. The birds felt sorry for her, so they flew upward to meet her. They placed their soft, feathery bodies beneath her, and spread their wings to slow her fall into a long, gentle glide to the dark water.

JANE WHITEFIELD FOUGHT the darkness. She struggled to hold in her mind the possibility of waking, and then to make her way toward it. She felt the pain where her body was in contact with the hard, cold terrazzo floor. She opened her eyes to the sight of the overhead lights flickering and then steadying to a sickly yellow glow as the hospital's generators came on. She could hear the voices of confused people, some moaning and others calling to each other. 'Marie! Are you all right?' 'Lie still.' 'Mark? Where are you?'

She sat up, then placed one hand on the wall to steady herself. As she gained a sense of where the pains were coming from and how they hurt, she formed a working theory that they were all only bruises and minor sprains. She got her feet under her and stood. She could hear a clanging alarm and another that made an electronic tone, distant sirens, shouting people...

The hallway seemed at first to be full of white smoke. She could see human shapes, some on the floor and some moving half-blind through the haze. Jane sniffed and smelled no burning, only plaster dust. She covered her nose and mouth with the fabric above the hem of her gown and looked toward the door from the hall into the kitchen. The two men were gone. She moved to the cafeteria, dodging a stream of men and women in ruined evening clothes, some of them staggering, a few men carrying injured victims in their arms.

She stopped just inside the cafeteria. For a second she was amazed at the orderly, expert way the party guests were already taking care of the injured, but then she remembered that many of these people in tuxedos or satin dresses were doctors. Where was Carey? She craned her neck to look for him, and then she saw him across the cafeteria. His tall, thin body was so much a part of her world after ten years of marriage that it wasn't exactly the body of another person anymore, and when her eyes found his shape she felt as though she were touching him. He knelt for a second, then stood and lifted a woman in his arms.

Jane saw Carey's eyes find her, and then saw him grin. 'You're all right?' She could barely hear him. Something had happened to her ears. They felt as though she were at a high altitude and they wouldn't pop.

'Yes. You, too?'

'Yes.' He kept walking, glancing down at the inert woman now and then, and Jane walked with him. He said, 'You saw it coming. Do you know what caused the explosion?'

'No, I was trying to get to the kitchen. There were two men guarding the door. I didn't get that far. Did you see it happen?'

He shook his head. 'I didn't see the flash or anything, just felt the force of it. I think it was from the back of the cafeteria. We're moving people into emergency, and I'm pretty sure some of them are going to need surgery right away, so I don't know when I'll be out again. You'd better go home.'

They had reached the door to the emergency room, and she watched him step through the automatic double doors with the woman he was carrying, and then he was gone.

Jane moved back up the hall to the cafeteria. Not an accidental explosion, then. A bomb. She fought for calm, to make herself think clearly. This was the only chance to try to see the people who had done it, but the two men she had seen before had vanished. As she passed the accordion room divider she noticed it had been blown off its track. Now that she was closer she could see places where it had been pierced and torn by flying metal. Jane ran to the kitchen and reached for the door, but at that moment the door burst open toward her and three waiters shouldered their way out past her. All three had their wrists bound with duct tape and more tape wrapped across their mouths and around the backs of their heads. They ran into the lobby, moving toward the front of the building. She could see that they had cut or partially pulled off the tape around their ankles. The people with the bomb must have tied them up.

Jane moved back into the cafeteria and stepped toward a group of people who had pulled themselves or crawled to the far wall. Monica Kaminski appeared at her side. Now her shiny blond hair was tousled and powdered with a thin layer of plaster dust. Her milky complexion was red and raw as though she had been in the sun and wind, and the seam of her bright yellow dress had separated at the waist, so it looked like a camisole and skirt. 'Are you hurt?'

'No,' said Monica. 'But I'm pissed off. It's got to be the abortion freaks. I guess shooting one doctor at a time is too slow for them.'

'Have you seen any police yet?'

'Yes.' Monica looked around. 'No. I guess they're just the hospital guards. I want to do something. What can we do?'

'Let's try and get some of these people into the emergency wing,' said Jane. 'See if you can find a wheelchair, and I'll see who looks most urgent.'

'There are always wheelchairs in the lobby.'

Monica hurried away toward the hospital lobby, weaving through the people in the corridor. Jane stepped toward the people in the cafeteria. She saw an elderly woman lying alone on the floor near one of the tipped-over tables. She reached her and saw the woman was conscious. 'I'm here to help,' she said. 'Is anything broken?'

'No. I just got the wind knocked out of me, I think.'

Jane said, 'Can you walk?'

The woman nodded. 'I think I can.' Jane put her hands under the woman's arms and pulled her to her feet, then took her arm on her shoulder and walked with her to the emergency room. Inside all was motion and voices. Doctors and nurses in dusty evening clothes attended patients in cubicles. There were already people on gurneys lining the walls. Jane helped the woman to a chair. 'Just sit and rest for now, while I try to get someone to help.' She waved at David Meyer, the chief of pediatrics, and he hurried over, nodded to Jane, and focused his intense gaze on the elderly woman. 'Hello, ma'am,' he said. 'Are you having any trouble breathing?'

Jane turned and rushed out. As she reached the hallway, Monica came by pushing a wheelchair with a man in it who sat very still with his eyes closed. Jane hurried back toward the cafeteria, making her way among the gaggle of confused, frightened people in the hall, when suddenly a hand closed on her wrist.

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