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Dr. Thorn

I can't write much anymore. I just don't have the presence of mind for it. But when they come, if I turn them away, they won't come back so much. That's the way it works.

So even though I can't write a story, I can at least tell you what Dr. Thorn is doing, so that you know The Empty City is still around.

Dr. Thorn is sitting at her desk in a bare office. She is a picture of elegant tragedy. Her long, white fingers are entwined around a telephone receiver, not a cordless kind -- the cord is dangling down impossibly long and hopeless like the seventy-foot-long cords you would see at granny's house that have to reach all the way across the kitchen and dining room. It's an old telephone, but it's not as old as the fingers holding it: they look like carved ivory that might yellow a bit over a few hundred years, but nothing more. As a vampire, she is exempt from signs of aging, yet the price she pays is an indeterminate look about her eyes and face: nothing can bloom just as nothing can fade. Her cheek stays alabaster white day in and day out.

Her hair is raven black and falling across shoulders impossibly slender and straight. Even as she sits pained in her chair, her posture is impeccable. She wears an ivory silk blazer and skirt, and Italian leather heels square across the toe, only slightly taller heels than is perfectly professional.

Her fingers are twisted in the cable fitfully. She stares at it, trying to make sense of it. Her eyes, red and bloodshot, suggest that she hasn't slept well lately. How can someone so beautiful be so unhappy?

Just as she tosses the phone aside, her fingers twitching from the rotary dial, the door slams open and someone falls face-down on the antiquated carpet. Glass shatters.

Scarlet sits back in her chair for a moment and takes a breath, more amused than annoyed. She likes the disturbance of her peace by this young beast.

"Excuse me, Dr. Thorn," Cassandra lisps. "I had a question about ... "

"Something that's all over my carpet." Scarlet peers down at her curiously. "Cassandra, what's happened to your hair?"

Cassandra bowed her head. "I ... uh ... I thought I might be less likely to have an accident with my hair if it were short."

Previously Cassandra's spirally chestnut locks had reached her waist. Scarlet glared at her in consternation and pity. "Well, then."

Scarlet looked back at the phone, only mildly prodded from the confusion thick in her brain by the acid eating a hole in her antique carpet and a bedraggled, tearful girl unqualified for her position.

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