Chapter 32


    Lucy found herself standing in front of the door, the small red door with the tarnished golden key on it. She didn't even remember walking to Cherry Street. All she remembered was clocking out for lunch and then, magically, there she was.


    Lucy walked down the hallway. It was a lot quieter than it had been the day before, or maybe that was because it was so noisy inside her head.

    In a few moments she was in front of the Dreamweaver's door. This time it was closed. She knocked, waited. She heard music coming from inside, some kind of classical music. She didn't know anything about classical music. She knocked again. The music stopped. Then she heard some light footsteps. The door opened.


    She was instantly taken aback by his appearance. She might have even made some kind of involuntary noise. Mr. Costa seemed younger. Not younger as in he looked like a younger man, but more animated, quicker in his movements. His hair was combed, parted in a perfectly straight line on the right side. He wore what looked like a fresh white shirt. His shoes were newly polished. He smelled of good soap.

    Lucy found herself trembling as she walked into his room. She turned slightly as she passed through the doorway, but found that the photograph - the one she was certain was the one of her house when she'd been growing up, the picture that was hanging just above the light switch - had been replaced with a different photograph, this one of a valley full of flowers and a small cabin with smoke curling out of the chimney.

    Had she imagined it?

    Mr. Costa closed the door behind her. They walked together into the front room.

    If the man looked more youthful, his place also looked improved. He had straightened it up a little. He had even dusted.

    Mr. Costa gestured to the green chair. Lucy took off her coat, sat down.

    'I trust you slept well?' he asked.

    'Not really,' Lucy said. 'I'm not sure I slept at all.'


    'I think maybe you were right.'

    'In what way?'

    Lucy put down her purse, arranged herself in the chair. It too seemed different. Larger, somehow. She felt like a little kid sitting in it, or maybe Alice through the looking glass. 'When you said I may have opened a door yesterday. I think maybe I did.'

    Mr. Costa smiled. 'This is wonderful news. What leads you to think this?'

    On the way over, Lucy had debated whether or not to tell Mr. Costa about the man in the hotel. She decided to wait until after this session, to wait and see what, if anything, she got out of it. 'I'm not sure,' she said. 'It's just a feeling.'

    The look on Mr. Costa's face indicated that he might not have believed her completely, but that it was okay. Lucy had the feeling that a lot of people said things like this to him - half-truths about their lives, their feelings.

    'Are you comfortable?' he asked.

    As comfortable as I have ever been, Lucy thought. For some reason.

    'Yes,' she said. 'I'm fine.'

    'Did you bring the notepad with you? The hotel notepad?'

    Lucy reached into her bag, took out the notepad. She handed it to Mr. Costa but he put out his hands, palms toward her. 'No, this is for you to write on. Do you have a pen?'

    'No,' Lucy said. 'Sorry.'

    Mr. Costa reached into his coat pocket, took out a beautiful old fountain pen, uncapped it, handed it to Lucy. 'You will write something on the pad a little later.'


    'Are you ready to begin our session?'

    'I am.'

    'Now, I want you to close your eyes, and listen to the sound of my voice.'


    Lucy was not floating above the town this time. This time she was sitting. No, she was kneeling, sort of. She was on her knees but leaning back on her heels. And she was afraid.

    Where are you?

    I'm in the dark. I have a blindfold on.

    Do you know where you are?


    Are you inside or outside?

    I'm inside. Inside a building.

    Is the room large or small?

    Small. It feels like a closet or something.

    Where is the man?

    I don't know.

    Has he hurt you in any way?

    I don't think so.

    Are you alone?

    Yes. But I met someone else. A girl.

    How old is she?

    She's my age.

    What can you see?

    When I take off the blindfold I see a keyhole in the door. I can see out of the keyhole. There's a table next to the sofa. There's something on it.

    What is on the table?

    It's shiny. It's kind of oval-shaped.

    What is it? What is the shiny object?

    It's a badge. A policeman's badge.

    What are you wearing?

    A dress. He put a dress on me.

    What kind of dress?

    A spangly dress. A grown-up dress. And he calls me Eve.

    Eve? Who is Eve? Someone you know?

    No. He means Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve who was tempted by the apple.

    Can you see his face?

    No. Not yet. But I can see his hand. He wears a big ring.

    What kind of ring?

    It looks like a snake. It looks like a ring in the shape of a snake.

    Suddenly, in her dream world, Lucy Doucette felt herself falling. She sensed that someone was trying to save her. Someone or something.

    No. It was the darkness itself. She reached out—

    - a ring in the shape of a snake . . . the snake in the Garden of Eden -

    —and let the darkness take her.

The Echo Man
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