Chapter One:

The fire crackled merrily, bright tongues ofred-orange flamed licking the empty air. An elderly woman sat next to the fireplace, a fireplace with no grate asthe sparks flew dangerously close to the burgundy carpet. The only sounds in the room were the harshbreathing of the old woman, the fire and the occasional snipe of scissors onfolded paper. These noises blendedtogether, a cracklesnipbreath, cracklesnipbreath over and over. A cry like a raven's harsh and ungainly inthe air broke the silence. The womanstood, quite fast for a person of her age, from her fingertips dangled a stringof paper dolls. Each one was slightlydifferent; most of them were girls, a couple boys. The firelight reflected madness in the woman's eyes, a fleetinginstant of fear, and hatred. The longstring of paper dolls were held into the fire, the flames racing up the paper,consuming it, devouring it. Imaginary,or were they real, screams of children agonized the air. Screams for help, the fire was too hot. Higher and higher the flames climbed, up thechain of paper dolls and onto the old woman's hands. Over her body, and the screams grew louder, because now the oldwoman was screaming too. All the while,the pale blue moon shimmered in the window, and the paper dolls screamed.

The clockstruck twelve, and the pale moon had only risen part way into the black velvetthat carpeted the paler blue of day. People moved, mindless movements that carried them home from work, towork, or to dinner. Their feet tracedpatterns that had long ago been burned into their brains, imprinted in the formof habit. Twin orbs of green opened tothe white pocked ceiling. The sound ofheavy breathing filled the room, and elegant artist's hands with taperedfingers brushed sweat-soaked bangs away. It was a normal night for Marcella Dunbar, ever since she had moved inwith her grandmother a couple weeks ago these dreams had visited her.
She inhaled the deep piney scent that the old house always seemed to carry, it seemed oddthough, because there no pines in sight. Perhaps the wood itself was made out of pine. Her bare feet padded across the burgundy carpet of the floor,Grandmother Dunbar (whom everybody called Danny) had a mania for this color,Marcella (whom everybody called Marcy or Marc) decided. Every room in the whole house had burgundycarpet.
She passedthe worn fireplace, a well-kept fireplace; Marcy could never figure that oneout. Danny was over sixty, thus the agein which one enlisted the help of a housekeeper. There were over thirty rooms in this place, each one had afireplace, excluding the bathrooms, and as far as Marcy could tell, they wereall well kept. Not trace of soot or anyother material that hinted of a fire. Aset of pokers and a box of matches were always present as well.
Marcy tookher mind away from the fireplaces, and Danny's quirks of color, reaching theold window. It was old, more then old,it was ancient. The fake wood paint-onwas starting to crack, and the hinge always stuck when she tried to openit. With effort she propped the windowopen, taking a breath of night air. Theoutside world was quiet, dark and quiet with no normal sounds of animals. This was unsettling to Marcy, who had beforelived with her brother, mother, father, two dogs and the animals outside hadalways been rather loud.
Her bedroomwas on the third floor, overlooking the barren depressed landscape where a fewtrees tried to grow. They were birch,and one oak. Now that she came to thinkof it, the smell in the house wasn't just pine, it was pine, ash and smoke. A pale blue moon hung in the sky, an oddcolor for a moon. Marcy gazed down theside of the house, which was made of brick and wood, Danny's room was rightbelow hers. No light was on. She forced a laugh, at her uneasiness, until she saw the farthest away window had a flickering glow to it; like that of afire.