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It was a sunny yet chilly October day in the small seaside town of Hogan's Gap, California, and Halloween was still three weeks away. Green, black, orange and purple autumn decor lined the windows and walls of the rows of old false-fronted stores and colorful Victorian houses.
In one large, old mansion near the summit of Main Street, Gwen Barry was feeling lazy and content. She had just finished her homework, and now waited for her parents to get back from a baby shower. To pass the time, she started reading one of her many favorite Gothic-horror mysteries written by John Bellairs. So absorbed was she in this literary masterpiece that she did not hear the patio
The Ghost Tower
The Ghost Tower
Imagine a towering luxury condominiuma soaring spiral structure with wide carpeted hallways and hundreds of luxurious suites. You have it all to yourself with state of the art technology so you do not even have to clean up any messes or even change the pool water or tend the lush topiary gardens. You do not even have to scavenge for food and fresh water when the automated system provides it for you.
A nice place for a vacation, you think. Living in the midst of Calpurniathe once great capital and cultural heart of the Simak Islands. It must have been a very remarkable place at the height of its time although you will find that hard to believe now; just one functional building out of hundreds of d
The Coffee GodThe Coffee God behind the counter shuffles foot to foot, a dance of steam and espresso. Black painted fingernails, inch gauged ears and a gray striped sweatshirt, hood crooked on his back. There's a cigarette tucked behind one ear; it bobs and twitches with each step.
“Non-fat caramel latte,” he calls, just as he always does, part of a spell, part of a mantra, toneless (just a tuck at the end). I reach. He looks up.
The espresso maker hisses.
There's something like a grin, something like a spark, something like a shared secret linked eye to eye. When he passes over the drink (rough cardboard sleeve hot to the touch), he lingers. Our fingers brush, a shiver, a jolt, a ten-watt shock.
The Coffee God tilts his chin, shouts, “Hey, mind if I take my break now?”
and ducks around the counter without waiting for a reply.
He slips his cigarette between his lips without taking his eyes from mine. I follow him out the door.
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