Garth was with April, Kathy and me at the zoo, laughing at the orangutan. Ironically, Garth-the biggest and strongest-seemed to be the only one who had sustained a lasting injury. He was hobbling around with his right foot and ankle in a walking cast.

Madeline suddenly stiffened, as though an invisible metal rod had risen from the ground and skewered her. She flipped the gun around so that it was facing away from her, then raised both arms above her head. She slid up on the skewer, balancing on her toes, extending her arms even higher, bowing her head until her chin rested on her chest.

Now the camera began to grind in ultra-slow motion. Madeline's body had become a ramrod-straight, steel- tipped spear thrusting itself up into the air. She was offering herself, and I knew she was going to be taken.

My brother knew too. Garth and I leaped as one toward April.

But we were moving so slowly, divers straining every muscle to trudge along the bottom of the sea.

April and I had finished making love while Kathy napped. We lay in each others arms, watching snow gather on evergreens outside some mountain lodge. It struck me that months had passed, and we were still together.

I desperately hoped it was more than death's anesthetic dream.

Straining, but still moving in slow motion. Garth grabbed one of April's arms; I grabbed the other, and we dived.

There was an exquisite sensation of floating, totally out of control and thus free of the terrible responsibility of thinking and making decisions. There was nothing to do but ride.

As I slowly flipped over in the air, I saw the bolt of lightning poke its sharp head from its black home. It seemed to hesitate, looking around. Finally it saw Madeline and began to drift lazily down a jagged route toward the gun in her hand.

I wanted to shout a warning to my friend, tell her to throw the gun to one side and float with us away from the lightning. There was time; everything was happening so unbelievably slowly. But when I tried to yell, my voice was no more than a deep rumble, like sounds from a record being played at very slow speed. I could see the words come out of my mouth, explode and stick to my face.

Beyond my horror was a childlike fascination with how pretty everything was-the way the lightning passed through the air, firing the surrounding molecules into a lovely, shimmering white glow. The smell of ozone was pleasant in my nostrils, something like burning leaves on a cold fall afternoon.

But I was losing sight of the spectacle as I rotated in the air. Garth and I bumped into each other, then drifted apart again as we both tried to protect April with our bodies.

I was actually auditioning for an orchestra-but not the New Jersey Symphony. Too bad. It was a pickup group of extremely talented Julliard students interested in playing modern music. There was plenty of Boulez and Messiaen, but no Tchaikovsky. The incredibly complex rhythms were driving me crazy, but I was having a perfectly marvelous time. April was sitting in the first row of the auditorium, smiling broadly at me while Kathy excitedly pounded her mothers thigh.

Garth was in the back of the auditorium, grudgingly-very grudgingly-nodding his appreciation.

At least, the bone-cracking, wet cold was gone. It had been supplanted by a sharp, tingling sensation that hurt my joints, but had an overall warming, liquid feel. The electricity coursing through my body was oddly invigorating, and made me feel as though I could run for hours without getting tired.

If only I could stop floating and get my feet on the ground.

I'd lost sight of Mad during one half turn. Now, as I came out of a slow spin, I could see that the lightning had completed its journey to the barrel of the gun. Mad was softly aglow, like a fluorescent bulb; she would have been beautiful, except for the way the electricity made her hair stand out from her head, each individual strand vibrating like a sliver-thin tuning fork.

Then Madeline began to burn, and I didn't want to look anymore. I didn't want to remember her that way.

I closed my eyes. Holding tight to both April and Garth, I let myself float away into the velvet darkness behind my eyes.

Вы читаете An Affair Of Sorcerers
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату