Chapter Two

Shaky enough to give coffee the jitters, Dolly arrived at Raven Tower. DSCN2477A shiver crept up her spine when she read the address. 666. Should she turn around and go home?

“No,” she uttered aloud, exhaling sharply, then biting her lip. She straightened her spine and went inside, instantly greeted by the impeccably groomed receptionist with a flawless updo.DSCN2450

“I’m here to see The Raven,” Dolly said. “I’m Dolly GoDarkly for Dolores Dreadful-Day.”

“One moment, Miss GoDarkly. Yes, Miss Dreadful-Day was expected. Please take the elevator to the 13th floor.”

In a contrived, confident voice, Dolly replied, “Thank you.”  She steadied herself and turned around. Oh. My. God. DSCN2456The elevator was shaped like a coffin. For crying out loud, it was a coffin. What kind of nightmare was this day turning into? Then, as if pulled by some omnipotent force, Dolly’s big boots walked into the elevator of their own accord. Whoosh. She was transported to the 13th floor.

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Chapter One

Dolly gasped at herself in the mirror.

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Darn her hair.  And darn Dolores Dreadful-Day for getting the most dreadful case of green ear and subjecting her to this ordeal.  Dolly should be studying for final exams, which were next week, but here she was, trying to tame the savage remains of her bangs.

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I must stop cutting.  I must stop cutting.  She rolled her eyes in exasperation at the ghostly pale, raven-maned girl with glasses too big for her face staring back at her, and gave up.  Her only option, a hat.

Dolores was her roommate, and she had chosen last night of all nights to sleep in her earrings, awakening with that ghastly green rash.  She simply could not attend the interview she’d arranged to do, with some mega-retail vulture capitalist Dolly had never heard of, for the student newspaper.  So Dolly had been volunteered.  She had exams to cram for and one essay to finish, and she was supposed to be working that afternoon, but no – today she had to walk thirteen blocks to downtown Gotham City in order to meet the enigmatic CEO of Raven Retail Empire, Inc.

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Dolly found Dolores huddled on the love seat, wearing her atrocious pirate pajamas and her giant Ugg booties, which quite frankly, made her tiny feet smell like pony ass.  Dolly wrinkled her nose at the thought.  This special ensemble was reserved for break-ups and other major disappointments – the occasional A-, a hangnail, a bad hair day.  And the list goes on.  Dolly noticed the open box of chocolates at her side.  She felt a tug at her lips.  Even despondent and green-eared, Dolores was beautiful, a few blonde curls pinned back, her red-rimmed eyes still bright.  Dolores wept a tiny tear.  Dolly tried to ignore a pang of sympathy for her perfect friend.

“You should get back to bed,” Dolly said.

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Dolores looked her up and down. “Oh, for crying out loud, you’re not wearing that, are you?”

“Hey, a little less talking, a little more eating.  I’ll be more than happy to stuff those chocolates in your smart mouth,” Dolly said, smirking.

Dolores rolled her eyes. “You have the questions and don’t forget to take notes – and don’t forget the recorder.”

Dolly murmured, “I know nothing about him,” and tried to suppress her rising panic.

“The questions will see you through.  Go.  It’s a long walk.  I don’t want you to be late.”

“Okay, I’m going.  I’ll make you something substantial to eat when I get back,” Dolly said, staring fondly at her friend.  Only for you, Dolores, would I do this.

Dolores softened.  “Good luck, Dolly.  And thanks.  As usual, you’re my lifesaver.”

Dolly gathered her backpack and the recorder, waved goodbye to her friend, then headed out.