For my dad, Stephen Morgan —
No one has ever been given more loving and unconditional
support than I have been given by you.
I love you, too.
These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which, as they kiss, consume.
Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI
I FELT LIKE I WAS TRAPPED IN ONE OF THOSE TERRIFYING nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough. My legs seemed to move slower and slower as I fought my way through the callous crowd, but the hands on the huge clock tower didn’t slow. With relentless, uncaring force, they turned inexorably toward the end—the end of everything.
But this was no dream, and, unlike the nightmare, I wasn’t running for my life; I was racing to save something infinitely more precious. My own life meant little to me today.
Alice had said there was a good chance we would both die here. Perhaps the outcome would be different if she weren’t trapped by the brilliant sunlight; only I was free to run across this bright, crowded square.
And I couldn’t run fast enough.
So it didn’t matter to me that we were surrounded by our extraordinarily dangerous enemies. As the clock began to toll out the hour, vibrating under the soles of my sluggish feet, I knew I was too late—and I was glad something bloodthirsty waited in the wings. For in failing at this, I forfeited any desire to live.
The clock tolled again, and the sun beat down from the exact center point of the sky.