He went first to her end of the table and lifted the lid on a bowl and ladled steaming hot soup into Clarice's bowl, put a dish with rolls beside the bowl, and then went to the other end of the table and did the same for Thomas.

After he left the room, Clarice said, "What happened to him?"

"It is a shame, isn't it?" he said. "Robert was such a pretty youth. He stole from the wine cellar once too often and had to be taught a lesson."

Clarice pushed her chair back from the table and stood up. "What kind of monster are you?"

"The very best kind," he said with a malevolent grin. He waved his hand. "Now sit down and eat your soup."

Clarice was hurled back into the chair as it slid back to the table. She picked up a butter knife and prepared to throw it at him when Tribell suddenly appeared and grabbed her wrist.

"Mind your manners," Tribell said, twisting Clarice's wrist until she dropped the knife.

"I like your pluck," Thomas said as he picked up a roll and broke it in two, "but if you try anything like that again I'll have to alter your lovely features."

*     *     *

Clarice awoke in the middle of the night. The room was cold. Light from a crescent moon shone in through the closed window. The candles had melted down to stubs and their wicks had no flame. She looked around the room, and then said, "Tribell?"

When the old woman didn't respond, Clarice threw back the covers and got out of bed. Although the stone floor was cold, she left the slippers that had been placed at the bedside, and tip-toed to the door. It creaked slightly as she opened it. She walked into the hallway hugging her nightgown close to her body. Two candles were burning, their flickering flames casting dancing shadows on the walls. At the first door she stopped and tapped on it. Almost immediately, frenzied knocking came from the other side.  

"Who are you?" Clarice said in a hushed tone with her mouth to the door.

"Help me," a female's voice said.

Clarice took the chain in her hands and examined how it had been looped and knotted around the door's handle. It took several minutes but after figuring it out, she removed the chain from the door and laid it on the floor. Then she opened the door.

The mixed smells of decaying flesh and rancid meat flooded her senses. She put her hand over her nose and stared into the complete darkness.

"I'm here to help you," she said.

A female in a tattered wedding dress rushed out of the darkness knocking Clarice backwards and against the opposite wall. The female stepped into the hallway, and like a wild animal sniffed the air and growled. Her hair was white and hung tangled to her waist. Her pale blue skin hung from her face in jagged strips displaying gray muscles and bones underneath. She stared at Clarice, her eyes filled with madness.  

"Send me to hell," she screeched.

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