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Collapse (standard:fantasy, 6807 words)
Author: mctokeAdded: Apr 11 2001Views/Reads: 2520/1344Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Jillian Kelly is a normal with normal friends - until one of them is killed. There are strong elements of horror and weirdness in this tale of love and hate.

He never knew the world was lying – not until he was twenty, a year past
when he considered himself a man. He never knew the world was cruel and 
harsh – never knew the depths to which he would go to survive. Twenty 
had been a long time ago, and so far away he could not remember that 
life anymore. 

The Hand was living another life now. A life made up of shadows and
hatred. The Hand knew the shadows well. He had been taught them by the 
tender mercies of the Emperor. Yes, the Hand knew the shadows, and he 
knew the Shadowland. He could open a Curtain when he desired, and step 
from world to world. It was a trick the Emperor had taught him, 
sometime after he became a trusted servant. A way of folding space, so 
that it intersected with itself in two different places. The non-space 
in between those two spaces was the Shadowland. 

The Hand knew no other name. He had been serving the emperor for more
years than he could remember, for millennia. Hand was the only name he 
could remember, but sometimes he was certain there had been one before 
that; that brief glimpse of childhood memories that stirred in his 
dreams, perhaps; memories that were etched in the silvery frame of his 
mind's eye, two dimensional things that caused him to wake with cold 
sweat pouring down his slim, pale body. 

He opened a curtain and strode into the new world, his fate before him
in silver steps. He stepped into a new world to do as he always did. 

He was the Hand of the Emperor. 

Jillian Kelly said, “Have a good day,” for the 643rd time at just three
minutes after five. She took power payments at a hardware store. The 
first Friday of the month was almost always heavy traffic. 

‘My life is great,’ Jillian thought to herself as she waved goodbye to
Stan. All the guys that worked there had flirted with her, but none had 
taken it to the next level. They were all nice guys. 

‘My life is great,’ Jillian thought as she started her car. ‘But my car
and my job and my love life sucks.’ 

“It sounds worse than it is,” she said, actually speaking the words this
time. The sound of her voice startled her. The heavy North Carolina 
heat pounded at her temples. The windows came down – at least they 
still worked – and she felt the air coming from the vents as she pulled 
onto the road. 

The AC, of course, was now not working at all. 

She turned up the radio, and began singing along with John Mellencamp's
'little pink houses'. 

When she pulled up to Jonathon's house there was a jaguar, much larger
than the car Jonathon drove, and probably more expensive than the 
little house Jillian was renting. She sat staring at the car for a 
moment, wondering whether to go in the house. Her friend was expecting 
her, but she had a feeling she knew who the car belonged to. 

Sure enough, the rotund figure of Jonathon's stepfather appeared at the
front door. He was a nice man – she had met him several times. He had 
been Jonathon's stepfather for so long that distinction did not seem to 
matter to either of them. 

As nice as he was, he exuded a sense of privacy that made people not
want to barge in on a conversation with him, but he always had a joke, 
and a smile, and he waved and approached her car, shaking his head 

"Sooner or later, young lady," he said, "You're going to have to start
driving a car from this century." 

Jillian grinned widely at the pudgy man standing next to her window.
"Hi, Mr. Donovan," she said through her smile. "How are you today?" 

"I am wonderful!" Donovan smiled widely and chuckled, seemingly at the
heat and the sunset. "It's just one of those nice days," he said as he 
opened the door for her, giving her a wink. "One where you know 

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