By John Saul
For 100 years, the folk of Prairie Bend have whispered Nathaniel's identify in ask yourself and fear. Some say he's a folktale, created to frighten little ones on chilly iciness nights. Some swear he's a terrifying spirit retumed to avenge the past. But quickly . . . very quickly . . . a few will examine that Nathaniel lives still--that he's darkly, horrifyingly real. Nathaniel--he is the voice that calls to younger Michael corridor around the prairie evening . . . the voice that attracts the boy into the shadowy depths of the outdated, crumbling, forbidden barn . . . that chanting, compelling voice he'll stick to faithfully past the sting of terror.
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She'll stay," Amos replied grimly. "She needs us right now, and we'll be here for her. She'll stay. " As Amos strode through the back door, Anna regarded her husband's erect spine with bitterness. It was true, she realized. If Amos wanted Janet and Michael to stay in Prairie Bend, they would. And she, who had never been able to defy her husband in all the years of their marriage, would not defy him now. Janet Hall awoke from a restless sleep. The nightmare had come back, the one she hadn't had since she'd married Mark.
But Michael frowned. "I guess so," he said at last. " "So do I," Amos Hall replied, but the gentleness had gone out of his voice. " Janet awoke to the setting sun, and for the first time since she had been married, did not reach out to touch her husband. The funeral, then, had accomplished that much. Never again, she was sure, would she awaken and reach out for Mark. He was truly gone, and she was truly on her own now. She sat up and began tentatively to get out of bed. The nausea was gone, and the flushed feeling with it, so she put her feet into a pair of slippers and went into the bathroom, where she splashed her face with cold water.
Each time, she rejected it, shifting what was left of her concentration to someone else. " Mark's Janet. Over and over again, the same two words. " At first it had upset her, the casual reference to herself as if she were nothing more than her husband's possession, but as the afternoon wore on she had grown used to it, discovering that the phrase wasn't truly offensive; indeed, there was a strangely comforting quality to it. It wasn't that she had been owned by Mark, it was simply that she was a part of him.