Chapter 53 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

Dave woke. He woke slowly, coming out of a dream, finding himself unclear as to what had been the dream and what was reality. At first he didn't know where he was. The bed and the room were unfamiliar. Curled up next to him, he suddenly realized, was the Martian Princess. Then he remembered. He was sleeping at her apartment. He'd taken her to dinner and a movie, then they'd gone back to her place for tea, and they'd sat around talking, and it became late, and... they'd made love for the first time. It had been wonderful.

The room seemed very dark. Dave squinted at a digital clock on the dresser, and saw that it was 4:30 AM. He rolled away from the clock and shut his eyes.

Dave suddenly felt aware of something. He opened his eyes and held them open for several seconds, then clamped them shut again.

There was someone in the room.

Dave thought about this for a bit. Who could be in the room? Was he dreaming? Was his imagination having a bit of fun at his expense? Slowly he opened his eyes again, slowly and only enough to see into the corner.

A woman was standing in the corner, facing the window, looking out into the night. It was very dark in the corner, but Dave could see her nonetheless, very faintly, as if she were illuminated by glow-in-the-dark paint. She seemed to be wearing a long dress with a full skirt.

Dave shut his eyes again and tried to think. He couldn't believe what he was seeing-it was ridiculous. Yet he was certain he was awake. He opened his eyes again.

The woman was standing with her arms folded, gazing out of the window. As Dave watched, she shifted her stance, dropping her right arm to her side and putting her left hand onto the window frame to lean against. Dave noted that she was rather tall, but then realized that she was actually short and was floating in the air, about two feet off the floor. He clamped his eyes shut again, and shivered. He pulled the covers more tightly around him, and then ever so slowly, he opened his eyes once more.

The woman was gone. Faint moonlight shone in through the window, but the corner where he'd seen the woman was completely enshrouded in darkness.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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