Amy, who would be killed instantly.
Amy, who would make Arthur Rook a widower at thirty-two.
"Hey, Arthur, your phone." Between students, Max jerked his head at Arthur's coat, draped over an open equipment trunk. "Been ringing like crazy."
Arthur set down his empty coffee cup and flipped his cell phone open. He had ten missed calls.
Of the ten calls missed, there was only one message, left by Amy's boss, Stantz. His real name was Bill Bittleman, but he loved Ghostbusters and wanted everyone to call him Stantzeveryone Amy worked with loved at least one movie like a religion; they loved movies, period, but there was always one movie above the rest. Bill Bittleman's was Ghostbusters.
"Arthur, I'm so sorryoh, Christ, Arthur, I'm so sorry," said Stantz's message. "Call me. Call me on . . . this phone, this number, I couldn't find your number so I looked it up on Amy's . . . phone. Call
me immediately. Where are you?"
Arthur was cold. Freezing.
His fingertips were numb when he redialed Amy's number. Her picture appeared on the tiny screen of his phone: Amy with Ray Harryhausen draped across her shoulders like a fur wrap a very alive, very pissed- off wrap.
Why was Stantz using Amy's phone?
"Arthur!" shouted Stantz. "Arthur, II don't know how to tell you this."
Bill's voice cracked. Bill was crying.
"It was an accident," Stantz said. "It was just a stupid accident, a stupid"
Arthur heard a high whine. The sound of crystal vibrating.
Arthur was lying in bed in the dark, under the covers, fully clothed. His sneakers were still on and his mouth tasted like tin. He couldn't remember Max dropping him off after work. He didn't remember if he'd fed Harryhausen. He kept more regular hours than Amy, so feeding the cat was hisresponsibility
Arthur was standing in the shower. A freezing cold shower. He was resting his head against the tile in the corner, and when he stood back, he felt a ridge pressed into the skin of his forehead. His throat was sore. His handhurtJesus, what did he do to his hand? His knuckles were raw and stung, bloody, under the cold spray from the showerhead. He turned off the water and stepped out of the shower and there were little red polka dots all over the bathroom sink, and Arthur saw that someone had punched the bathroom mirror. It hadn't shattered but it was cracked in one corner and dangling off the cabinet's glide track.
He wrapped a towel around himself and opened the door.
Ray Harryhausen was lying in the middle of the hallway, his furry bulk puddling over his paws so that he looked like a striped brick with a cat's head.
"Are you hungry?" Arthur asked him. "Did I feed you? Huh, Harry?"
Harryhausen, who tended to be either inert or asleep, wasn't exactly behaving oddly by lying in the middle of the hallway, but something was wrong about it. Something was wrong about him. Arthur and Harry had never liked one anotherHarry was really Amy's cat, had been her roommate for years before Arthur came along
Amy's catHarryhausen made a horrible, horrible noise and Arthur sank to the carpet on his knees. Everything that had happened that day, everything he lost, flooded back as a nightmare: Max driving him to the hospital, to the morgue. Standing there while Stantz, red-faced, explained that Amy had blown a fuse while working on an armature and went back to the breaker and there was a wirethat was old or stripped Arthur couldn't understand, didn't want towires were crossed. Electrons flew. Into the tip of her finger (her left index, he had kissed it a thousand times) and up her forearm (pale underside, purple veins) and through her bicep, her shoulder. Straight down into her heart. Fibrillated, they said.
Stantz kept talkingabout the sound and the blowback and the smelland Max told him to shut the hell up, and the morgue was cold, and Amy was blue and dull and not-Amy. Her left hand was angry and swollen. Burned.
Excerpted from This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia. Copyright © 2010 by Kate Racculia. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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