A great-horned owl flew overhead on soundless wings. And down below, Ambrose Smith walked home with equal silence.
There were still a couple of hours left before sunrise, but he wanted to be home. He wanted to think about a great many things.
But mostly he wanted to sleep. He had been running about most of the night, climbing rocks, jumping off cliffs. He wanted to be still.
He wanted to be safe.
So, Ambrose walked all the way home.
He crossed his drawbridge.
Went inside his house.
Up to his room.
Dropped into bed.
And it felt so good.
He sighed, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.
He held Elsie in his arms as they danced across his ballroom floor. She wore a dress of silver silk that shimmered and glowed like a moonlit lake. Her long black hair was tangled up into an elaborate hairstyle with a diamond tiara stuck in the front.
Her neck was bare and completely exposed, but he didn’t focus on that. He just focused on the feel of her in his arms. How perfectly in step they were.
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
And she was smiling at him. A genuine, light of joy smile.
“Is this a dream?” he asked.
“Does it matter? We’re together.”
He spun her in a pirouette. “It matters. I want you. I miss you.”
He smiled. “Say my name again..”
He kissed her. ‘Again.”
He closed his eyes and kissed her.
And she returned his kisses with fire and passion.
“Elsie…Elsie…Stay with me. Don’t leave me.” He opened his eyes.
And she was gone.
But her voice echoed inside his mind, Ambrose! Ambrose!
Her voice was distant.
“Elsie! Elsie! Where are you?”
Mark Caten appeared in the middle of the ballroom. He was dressed in a red suit with black tight-fitted gloves. “Elsie. Elsie. Elsie.” He laughed. “Elsie. Elsie.”
Ambrose ran towards him. “Where is she? What have you done to her?” He reached for Mark Caten’s lapels.
Mark Caten turned into a tombstone with Elsie’s name scratched into its black granite.