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Now that the smoke had cleared, she saw that the bulge had burst open, and was hollow. Reams of tree sap dribbled from its fracture. She stared at it as piano music tiptoed up the hall—Maggie's radio, no doubt—resonating eerily amidst the sterile walls. Thinking she heard the ghost-voice of Karen Carpenter—what were recordings if not the voices of ghosts?—she noticed something different about the willow tree. Something other than the weird bulge, now split open.It was an odd configuration of branches, some thick as a person’s arms, others thick as legs. Had those been there before? She was pretty sure they hadn’t. She noticed there were unusual masses of vegetation growing from them; in addition to strands of weeping willow leaves, there were flowers, ferns, lilies, mushroom stools—she knew they hadn’t been there. Taken together, the branches almost formed a human shape—with shaggy shoulders and a mane of green hair—in profile. But since when did trees grow—Suddenly the shape turned its face to her, opening its eyes, and Tika shrieked.
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Wayne Kyle Spitzer
Copyright © 2000, 2017 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. All Rights Reserved. Published by Hobb’s End Books, a division of ACME Sprockets & Visions. Cover design Copyright © 2017 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. Please direct all inquiries to: HobbsEndBooks@yahoo.com
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this book is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Lightning flashed, doing its white-hot paparazzi dance, and Tika jumped — not in reaction to the too-close strike, but to the pale, gaunt ghost of her own reflection.
I’m dead already, she thought.
Then the darkness returned, and she was able to peer outside again, though there were only two things within eyeshot which provided any interest: the DISABILITY CLINIC sign below, banging back and forth in the storm, and the leviathan weeping willow just beyond her window, the branches of which scraped the glass.
She'd gotten nothing but bad news all day, and her head was a cacophony of voices: No, I’m afraid the procedure out of Germany has encountered some setbacks ... Yes, some of the test subjects have regained mobility ... No, I don’t think it will become viable in your lifetime ... Yes, the tumor has grown ... Yes, you’ll die if it isn’t excised ... No, I’m not going to lie to you about the odds. We’re looking at a fifty-fifty chance of survival ...
She realized she’d been toying with a length of her hair, twisting it, tighter and tighter, about a frail finger. She let it unwind, watching it unravel by the dim glow of the nightlight.
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