No one died last night. In all the city no one died. Oh, I know the victims of Jonathon and Sarah and Baylah died. But they were anonymous, evil souls. They contributed nothing.. Baylah calls them smoke people, good for starting fires and nothing else. But of the rest? No one. Death took a holiday. None of the desperately ill. None of the helpless victims of carelessly spread hospital infections. No domestic abuse victims. No wives. No husbands. No children. No grannies. And no misscarriages too. No one died in prison fights, or in car accidents , or out on the street. They talked about it on television. It was a first. Nothing like it had ever happened before. Why? Edith and her Pineys said nothing. The Red Paint folk, the Captain Jean
Luc Picard and Peekaboo Street look-a-likes said nothing. But they knew. Even Morticia and her couple of friends knew. They had pizza, all the mortals I mean. The two park service employees brought it in. We moved all the playthings of the elves and cherubs over to the side and opened up a great space. And they ate. And they talked. And they discussed things. They talked about how everybody expected a change last night. How everybody experienced an evening of mystery. They all wanted something. They all needed something. They all dreamed dreams. Maybe it was the force of a collective will that brought this all about? Maybe the magic was real? Maybe the collective will was the magic? But the Shaky Hand Man was not there. He was not among them. Yet he was still present. And he was angry. Now there were humans not in the city, but under it. And he set his sight upon them and stalked them like prey. The mole people, always keepers of their own counsel, stand seperate from the other living flesh and know little of events on the surface. But the Shaky Hand Man heard their hearts beating and he went down to them. He whispered in ears. He tormented them with hives and tickling, little itches. Words were spoken. Curses flew. Fights errupted and violence ruptured out from the void and into the hearts and fists and fingernails of the people. And the evil noise was great. But when the sun rose up above, when the surface world was bathed in light, it was over and the evil noise stopped. The mole people will never forget that night. They cried. They prayed. They promised it would never happen again. And Annie? How was she effected by all this? Well, as far as I, Zebulon, can tell, not at all. The Old Woman (that raw boned, virago) kept vigil over her. They drew pictures with black crayons and bit the heads off three dozen Christmas, gingerbread man cookies. They spit in a bottle of apple juice and put it back into the refrigerator. The Shaky Hand Man left something inside of her, some minute vestige of his perfect corruption. A grain. A shard. A malignant particle broken off from the whole. It's lodged within her heart. Deep, deep, deep into the muscle, where it may grow, as she grows. Or then again, maybe it will not.