Just before dawn I heard something in the hall outside. I slipped out of bed and tiptoed across the room. In the hallway light that leaked under our door, I could see it: a folded piece of note paper. I knew immediately who it was from. I flicked on the light and read it quickly. Harriet stirred in bed, looked over at me.
“Vickie …? What’s …?”
“Oh, no!” I cried. The page fluttered to the floor. I hurried to my clothes, threw them on, pulled aside the window drape and looked outside.
I saw Gil, shuffling across the road. Heading for the Niagara River.
I ran out into the hall, found the elevator, then decided it would be quicker to take the stairs. I raced down them and hurried out into the dawn. I could see Gil, already across the parkway, moving steadily toward the river.
“Gil!” I cried.
He hesitated, just a step, but did not turn around. He knew who had called, I was sure of it.
When he reached the edge of the river, he turned to face me. I was running as fast as I could, crying his name aloud. As I got closer, I could see a small smile on his face. He slowly stretched out his arms, as if reaching for something on either side of him. And then he let himself fall backwards into the raging river. Which swept him away.
“No!” I screamed as I reached the spot. I could see Gil out in the river, heading rapidly for the Falls, on his back, his arms still stretched outward. And he was smiling … smiling.
I felt a palm in my back, a shove, and, suddenly, I was in the frigid waters, too, being swept swiftly along, like a bird in a high wind. I wrenched my head round to look back toward the shore, and I saw Blue Boyle laughing.
But he didn’t laugh for long. Running up behind him was a huge creature—he had to be seven or eight feet tall. Dressed in rags. It looked human … but not, too. Humanoid. With a flick of his wrist he sent Boyle soaring out into the river. I could hear his terrified cry just before he hit the water. And then that creature dived in and began swimming furiously toward me. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw another person dive in, too, a little closer to the Falls. Mr. Leon?
By then I was in almost a trance. The frigid water—I’d swallowed a lot of it—the certain death roaring ahead of me—I had surrendered. I was calm. No longer worried. Oddly, I wondered if I would drown first or be smashed on the rocks below the Falls. It didn’t seem to make a difference.
And then the creature reached me. I told you to watch! he said as he grabbed me by the waist with his two enormous hands, raised me out of the water, and, in an act of superhuman strength, hurled me to the shore only heartbeats before he and Blue Boyle hurtled over the edge of American Falls, where they would join Gil and Mr. Leon, certainly crushed now by the tons of water colliding with the mountainous rocks below.
I lay gasping on the shore, both from amount of river water I’d swallowed and from hitting the ground so hard. I felt familiar arms around me, heard the sweet voice of my dearest friend.
“Vickie! You’re safe.” And then I heard Harriet weeping.