- logo
chính xáctác giả

Chapter 11~12


Schuyler was still thinking about what Jack had said after Aggie's funeral when she arrived at Dr. Pat's all-white office in a chrome-and-glass Fifth Avenue tower later that afternoon. He'd asked her why she had ignored his note, and she'd explained she had simply dismissed it as a prank. "You think Aggie's death is funny?" he'd asked, his face stricken. She had tried to protest - but her grandmother was calling her and she had to leave. She couldn't erase the look on his face. As if she had disappointed him deeply somehow. She blew out her bangs loudly. Why did he have such an effect on her? An emaciated woman in a fox-fur jacket across the room glared at her. Schuyler stared defiantly back.

Cordelia had made a big to-do about Schuyler seeing Dr. Pat. The doctor was some kind of dermatologist, a famous one. The office was more like the inside of a Miami hotel - the Shore Club or the Delano - than a normal waiting room. It was all white, white flokati rugs, white tile walls, white lacquer tables, white leather couches, white fiberglass Eames loungers. Apparently Dr. Pat was the Dr. Pat, the one who all the socialites and fashion designers and celebrities credited with their fabulous complexions. Several signed and framed photographs from models and actresses hung on the walls.

Schuyler pushed Jack out of her mind and began flipping through the glossy magazine articles extolling the doctor's virtues, when the door from the inner office opened and Mimi Force walked out.

"What are you doing here?" Mimi spat. She had changed out of her Dior suit and was wearing a more ?casual? outfit - a pair of tight four-thousand-dollar Apo jeans with the platinum rivets and a diamond button, a chunky Martine Sitbon sweater, and slim butter-colored Jimmy Choo stilettos.

"Sitting down?" Schuyler replied, even though it was obvious Mimi had asked a rhetorical question. "What happened to your face?"

Mimi glared. Her whole face was covered with little pinpoints of blood. She'd just received a laser dermabrasion peel, and it had left her skin a little raw. It helped mask the blue veins that were starting to fade around her eyes. "None of your business."

Schuyler shrugged.

Mimi left, slamming the door behind her.

A few minutes later, the nurse called Schuyler's name, and she was ushered into a treatment room. The nurse took her weight and blood pressure, then asked her to change into a backless hospital gown. Schuyler put on the gown and waited a few minutes before the doctor finally entered.

Dr. Pat was a stern, gray-haired woman, who looked at Schuyler and said, "You're very thin," as a greeting.

Schuyler nodded. It never mattered what she ate - she could live on chocolate cakes and French fries and she never seemed to gain an ounce. She'd been that way since she was a kid. Oliver always used to marvel at her capacity. "You should be as big as a house," he liked to say, "the way you eat."

Dr. Pat inspected the marks on her arms, silently tracing the patterns that had formed there. "Do you get dizzy?"

Schuyler nodded. "Sometimes."

"Like you can't remember where you are or where you've been?"


"Do you ever feel like you're dreaming but you're not?"

Schuyler frowned. "I'm not sure what you mean."

"How old are you?"


"Right on time then," Dr. Pat muttered. "But no flashback memories yet. Hmm."

"Excuse me?"

She suddenly remembered that night at The Bank.

Oliver had gone to get drinks, and she'd excused herself to go to the ladies' room. But when she'd turned the corner, she'd bumped into that strange man. She had only seen him for a moment - a tall man, with broad shoulders wearing a dark suit - his bright gray eyes had glared at her from the darkness. Then he had disappeared, although there was only a blank wall where he had been standing. There had been something ancient and remote about him, and she couldn't place it, but he seemed familiar. She didn't know if that was anything to tell Dr. Pat about, so she didn't mention it.

The doctor took out a prescription pad and began scribbling on it. "I'm going to give you some cream to cover your veins for now, but really, it's nothing to worry about. I'll see you in the spring."

"Why? Is something going to happen in the spring?" But the doctor wouldn't say.

Schuyler left the doctor's office with more questions than she had answers.

Whenever Mimi felt upset, she went shopping. It was her natural reaction to any intense emotional experience. Happy or sad, depressed or triumphant, she could only be found in one place. She stormed out of the doctor's office, took the carpeted elevator to the ground floor, and walked across Madison to the haven of Barneys. Mimi loved Barneys. Barneys was to Mimi as Tiffany's was to Holly Golightly, a place where nothing terrible could ever be allowed to happen. She loved the clean lines of the beauty counters, the pale wood fixtures, the glass cases displaying tiny, exquisite and exorbitantly priced jewelry, the small selection of Italian handbags, everything so clean and modern and perfect.

It was a great antidote to everything that had happened - because of course, Aggie was still dead. That's what scared her the most. Her death meant there was something The Committee was keeping from them. That there was something they didn't know, or something The Wardens weren't telling them. She didn't want to question them, but it was maddening when her father wasn't forthcoming with any answers.

And that Van Alen girl - the one with the spooky grandmother - showing up at Dr. Pat's office like that. There was something about that girl she didn't like, and not just because Jack seemed to be interested in her. A wave of revulsion had washed over her when she saw the two of them together, and she wanted to exorcise the remaining ill feeling that had made her feel like vomiting. She wished her brother would quit hanging around scraggly sophomores like Schuyler Van Alen. What was wrong with him?

A woman in a sleek pantsuit approached Mimi deferentially. "Would you like to see anything I've put aside for you, Miss Force?"

Mimi nodded. She followed her personal shopper to the private dressing room in the back that was reserved for VIPs and celebrities. It was a circular room, with suede couches, a small bar, and a hosted buffet table. In the middle of the room was a rack of clothes that her shopper had selected especially for her.

She took a chocolate-dipped strawberry from a silver tray and chewed on it slowly while she perused the racks. She'd already made her fall purchases that August, but it didn't hurt to see if she'd missed any trends. She caressed a gold Lanvin ball gown, a shorn Prada jacket, and a floral Derek Lam cocktail dress.

"I'll take these," Mimi said. "And what do we have here?" she cooed, finding a wisp of chiffon on a padded hanger.

She brought the dress into the dressing room and emerged a few minutes later in a devastating leopard print Roberto Cavalli silk gown. She looked at herself in the mirror. The dress was slashed down from neck to navel, revealing her pale, ivory skin, and ended in a haze of feathers that fluttered down her calves.


Mimi looked up. A handsome Italian man was staring at her, his eyes resting on her exposed cleavage.

She covered herself with her hands and displayed her curvy back to him. Her black thong peeked above the waist. "Zip me up?"

He walked over and put a finger underneath the strap of her thong, toying with the lacy fabric. Her skin tingled with goose bumps at his touch. He stroked the crescent underside of her back, stopping right above her lower hip. He smiled at her in the mirror and she returned his smolder. He looked to be in his early twenties, twenty-three tops. A gold Patek Philippe glinted on his wrist. She recognized him from the society pages. A famous Manhattan playboy, who was rumored to have sent half the society girls in the 10021 ZIP code into therapy.

"That dress is wasted on you here," he said, as he pulled the zipper up slowly.

Mimi took a step back, arching her neck and observing how the dress barely covered her nipples. Definite side cleavage.

"Then why don't we go somewhere else?" Mimi asked, her eyes sparkling dangerously. She could sense the blood beneath his skin, almost taste the rich, luscious, pulp in his veins. No wonder she'd been feeling irritable and weak - with all the distress from Aggie's funeral, she'd hardly had any time for a new boy.

Some people would probably advise a young girl not to step inside a stranger's Lamborghini. But as Mimi folded her legs inside the passenger seat, her black Barneys shopping bags safely stowed in the trunk, she could only smile to herself. She was still wearing the Roberto Cavalli dress.

He revved up the engine and powered the accelerator, quickly shifting gears so that the flat, yellow sports car screeched up Madison. He gazed at her with a predatory hunger, and when he placed his right arm over her backrest, he rested a heavy hand on her shoulder.

Instead of protesting, Mimi drew his hand farther down so that it rested on her cleavage, feeling exhilarated as he squeezed her breast through the thin fabric with the one hand, and with the other, maneuvered the car deftly down the avenue.

"Is good, yes?" he asked with a heavy Italian accent.

"Very good." She licked her lips slowly.

He had no idea what he was in for.


"Tell me again what happened."

Bliss sat on the white leather recliner in Dr. Pat's office. Her parents had made the appointment after she'd woken them up last night, screaming her lungs out.

"Yesterday, you were at the temple," Dr. Pat prodded.

"Right. The Egyptian wing at the Met," Bliss agreed. "He'd just taken his hands away from my eyes, and I saw the temple." She was sitting on a white Eames fiberglass lounge chair in a treatment room. She wasn't exactly sure what kind of doctor "Dr. Pat" was. It looked like a dermatologist's office, but she also saw several pregnant women getting ultrasounds in the other rooms.

"Yes, you said that."

"And then - " She blushed. "I think he was about to kiss me. I think he did kiss me, but then, I don't know - I blacked out. The next thing I knew, I was just walking around with him in the American wing looking at furniture."

"And that's all you remember?"

"I remember screaming."

"You were screaming?"

"No, someone was screaming. Far away." Bliss said. She looked around at Dr. Pat's office. It was the cleanest, whitest office she had ever been in. She noticed that even the medical instruments gleamed and were arranged artfully in Italian glass canisters.

"Tell me about it."

Bliss reddened. She hadn't decided to reveal what bothered her so much. Her parents already thought she was crazy - what if Dr. Pat did too?

"Well, it was really weird, but all of a sudden, I was standing outside the temple, when it was still whole. In Egypt, I mean. The sun was really bright, and the temple - it wasn't a ruin. It was complete. And I was there. It was like, being inside a movie."

Suddenly Dr. Pat smiled. It was so unexpected, Bliss found herself grinning back. "I know that sounds insane, but I felt like I was transported back in time."

Now Dr. Pat was definitely cheerful. She folded up her notebook and put it away. "What you're experiencing is perfectly normal."

"It is?" Bliss asked.

"Regenerative Memory Syndrome."

"What is that?"

Dr. Pat provided a long-winded explanation about the effects of "cell restructuring cognizance phenomenon," a cataclysmic event in the brain that produced the subsequent ?time-warp? effect. Her explanation went completely over Bliss's head. "It's like d��j�� vu. It happens to the best of us."

"I guess. So I'm not crazy? Other people have experienced this?"

"Well, not everybody," Dr. Pat replied doubtfully. "But some people. Special people. You should have told your parents about it sooner. You have a Committee meeting on Monday, yes?"

How did Dr. Pat know about The Committee?

She nodded.

"Everything will be explained in time. For now, don't give it another thought."

"So there's nothing wrong with me?"

"Absolutely nothing at all."

Later that night, Bliss woke up with a blistering headache. Where am I? she wondered. She felt as though she'd been hit by a truck. Her body felt waterlogged and heavy, and her head was groggy. She looked at the clock next to her bed.

It flashed 11:49 P.M.

With effort, she pulled herself up to a sitting position. She put a hand to her forehead. She was hot, burning. The pounding in her head was merciless. Her stomach growled. Hungry.

She swung her feet over her bed and heaved herself up to stand. Not a good idea. She was dizzy and sick. She grabbed on to one of the bedposts and staggered over to the light switch. When she reached over to turn on the light, her bedroom was suddenly illuminated.

Everything was just as she'd left it - the thick Committee letter and forms scattered on her desk, her German textbook open to the same page, her fountain pens arranged neatly in her pencil box, a funny Stetson magnet from her friends back home in Texas, a framed photograph of her family in front of the Capitol steps when her father was sworn in to the Senate.

She wiped her eyes and patted down her curls, which, from experience, she knew were sticking out frantically in all directions.


It was a dark, abiding ache. A physical pain. This was new. Dr. Pat didn't say anything about this. She clutched her stomach, feeling nauseous. She walked outside her bedroom to the darkened hallway, following the low lights to the kitchen.

Their stainless-steel kitchen looked severe in the midnight glow of the overhead lamps. Bliss saw her reflection on all the surfaces - a tall, gangly girl with scary hair and a bleak expression.

She opened the door to the Sub-Zero. Arranged neatly in rows were bottles of Vitamin Water, Pellegrino, and Veuve Clicquot. She tore open the drawers. Fresh fruit, cut and placed in Tupperware containers. Creamline Yogurt. A half-eaten grapefruit covered in cellophane. White cardboard containers of leftover Chinese food.

No good.


In the meat drawer, she found it. A pound of raw hamburger meat. She took it out and tore the brown paper wrapping. Meat. She stuffed her face with the bloody chunks of ground beef, devouring it voraciously, so that the blood dripped down her chin.

She practically swallowed it whole.

"What are you doing?"

Bliss froze.

Her sister, Jordan, in pink flannel pajamas, was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, watching her.

"It's all right, Jordan." BobiAnne suddenly appeared out of the shadows. She was smoking a cigarette in the corner. When she exhaled, the smoke curled up around the edges of her lips. "Go to bed."

Bliss put the packet of meat down on the counter. She wiped her lips with a napkin. "I don't know what got into me. I was just hungry."

"Of course you are, my dear," BobiAnne agreed, as if it were the most normal thing in the world to find your stepdaughter eating a hunk of raw hamburger meat straight from the fridge at three in the morning. "There are some filet mignons in the second drawer. In case you still have an appetite."

And with those words, BobiAnne bade her goodnight.

Bliss thought about it for a moment, wondering if the world had gone insane. Dr. Pat telling her her out-of-body, out-of-time experience was just "one of those things," her stepmother not blinking an eye at seeing her covered in blood in the kitchen. She contemplated for a moment. Then she found the packet of steaks and ate them, too.

Consumption. Symptoms include a high fever, fainting, dizziness, coughing up of blood, and the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. During the early years of the American colony at Plymouth, a high degree of consumption was the cause of many deaths. "Full consumption" was the term for a person who had died with all of his or her blood drained from the body. Theories suggest that a bacterial infection broke down the platelets, thinning out the blood and absorbing it into the body so that it only looked as though all the blood had disappeared.

- From Death and Life in the Plymouth Colonies, 1620�C1641 by Professor Lawrence Winslow Van Alen


@by txiuqw4

Liên hệ

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 099xxxx