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.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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