I swore I caught a whiff of perfume embroidered into the damp smells of mud and rain. I squinted into the shadows along the hill, expecting, at any moment, the bright red cut of her coat. Maybe she'd be sitting on a bench or standing on the bridge. Had she come here to harm herself? What if she climbed up onto the railing, waiting, staring at me with a face drained of hope, before stepping off, falling to the road far below like a bag of stones?
Maybe I'd had a fifth scotch without realizing. Or this damned city had finally gotten to me. I took off down the steps, heading down East
Drive and out onto Fifth Avenue, rounding the corner onto East Eighty-sixth Street, the rain turning into a downpour. I jogged three blocks, past the shuttered restaurants, bright lobbies with a couple of bored doormen staring out.
At the Lexington entrance to the subway, I heard the rumble of an approaching train. I sprinted down the next flight, swiping my MetroCard through the turnstiles. A few people were waiting on the platforma couple of teenagers, an elderly woman with a Bloomingdale's bag.
The train careened into the station, screeching to a halt, and I stepped into an empty car.
"This is a Brooklyn-bound four express train. The next stop is Fifty-ninth Street."
Shaking off the rain, I stared out at the deserted benches, an ad for a sci-fi action movie covered in graffiti. Someone had blinded the sprinting man on the poster, scribbling out his eyes with black marker. The doors pounded closed. With a moan of brakes, the train began to pull away. And then, suddenly, I was aware, coming slowly down the steps in the far cornershiny black boots and red, a red coat. I realized, as she stepped lower and lower, soaked black hair like ink seeping over her shoulders, that it was she, the girl from the Reservoir, the ghostwhat- ever the hell she was. But before I could comprehend this impossibility, before my mind could shout, She was coming for me, the train whipped into the tunnel, the windows went black, and I was left staring only at myself.
Excerpted from Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Copyright © 2013 by Marisha Pessl. Excerpted by permission of Random House. 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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