2 - The line between Love and Insanity

“Stay Back!” a fretful woman shouted holding a can of mace up in the air. “Get away from me you fuck,” she kept shouting in panic at the man before her in her own home.
“I just….I just wanna hold you, pet you, c’mon just one tou…” A man said reaching out with his pudgy fingers nails obviously chewed out, though he was stopped by the spray of the can being held to his face.
“Get OUT! I’m calling the police!” She shouted, and reached for her purse to dial the emergency number.

Several moments later after the spray of mace and a few punches thrown around, the familiar wailing sirens and the woman shouting for help outside, the man found himself over the hood of a car, in handcuffs finally regaining his eyesight. He saw the woman he was pursuing, still naked being coated with a blanket from a caring neighbor. She was on her knee’s, crying her eyes out at the horrific event that just ensued.

An ambulance arrived a few minutes later, after being called in by the police from the obvious bruises and scratches on the poor woman’s body. The paramedics gave her a thorough examination in the privacy of the back of the vehicle. After a few moments, the woman came back out with a few small bandages around her. The man on the hood of the police car heard the paramedic talking to the woman saying the injuries aren’t severe, even the biggest scratches don’t even need stitches. He didn’t hear much more other than the paramedic asking if she was sure she was going to be alright.

A few moments later, the neighbor started walking the woman still in tears back to her own house. The man tried to resist even with handcuffs on, making a dash for the woman like a bloodthirsty hound refusing to lose it’s prey. He shouted “No! She’s mine, she and I were meant to be together!” After that though, a few hits from a nightstick rendered him unconscious.

After a few bits of questioning by the officers, the neighbor opted to keep the woman company for the time being. She and the woman were long time friends considering they work together at the same office. After the questioning, they walked up the stairs of the porch to the woman’s house. Janet, the neighbor opened the door and saw just exactly why the woman was in tears as much as she was.

There were used adult diapers overflowing in the trash, one had even fallen onto the floor. There were a few babyish items strewn about as well, such as a couple different colored adult sized pacifiers, an adult sized bottle, but possibly the oddest and most shocking item out of the bunch was the item that didn’t have anything in common with the babyish ones. It was an extremely thick white colored bondage whip with a few red stains on it.

“Dahlia, dear god what did that man do to you? What the hell is all this?!” Janet cracked her voice gazing wide-eyed at the items. Though, taking a half-deep breath, she stated in a much calmer tone “Well, come on. I’ll make you some hot cocoa.”

“Okay….sniff….Jan,” Dahlia said still shaken at the events. “I’m….I’m sorry you had to see me like th…” She nearly finished.

“Don’t even think of finishing that sentence. You’re my best friend, did you think I was just gonna stand there and gawk when the police arrived and a strange man was trying to grab your ankle through your doorway? Now come on, sit down. Take a few moments to relax, it’s overwith.”

“I’d….I’d rather stand…for now at least.”

Pouring the cocoa into the pan with some milk and a splash of buttermilk, Janet looked upon Dahlia, down at her waist, “so that’s where he hit you I take it?”

“…Y…Yes.”

“So who was that?” Janet asked rather blatantly, but quickly retracted seeing Dahlia’s expression, “I…I mean if you don’t want to talk about it that’s fine…”

“No, it’s okay,” and after a deep breath, Dahlia continued “It’s better to get through this with a friend.”

“Well, alrighty, but no pressure. We can talk about something else or not even talk at all if you want.”

Dahlia looked up, “You remember Melvin? The weird guy from high school?”

“Get the hell out! That was Melvin?!” Janet said, looking even more shocked than before. “Wasn’t he like salutatorian when he graduated? He was the guy everybody expected to make something of himself despite being the biggest nerd.”

“Heh…well they couldn’t have been more wrong. Turns out that he really was just a freak.”

Janet handed Dahlia a cup, “Here, take a sip, see if it’s alright.”

Dahlia took a quick couple of sips, “Oh my god…” Janet looked up in a bit of surprise, wondering if the cocoa was that awful. “This is like the best cocoa I’ve ever had.” Almost a relief to Janet, she sighed and thanked her. “But yeah, a few days ago I had gotten back in touch with him again. We just stumbled across each other in the hobby shop downtown…”

…………………………….

In a cramped and populated hobby shop of downtown Bloomington, two old high school friends meet up with each other for the first time in half a decade. Dahlia was admiring various Chinese kites hanging on display for sale, while Melvin was perusing the model train area, looking for specific parts to add to his collection. Walking down one aisle to switch to another, Melvin noticed Dahlia standing about looking at the kites commonly used as ornaments.

“Dahlia? Dahlia Prescott?”

Dahlia looked over, “Oh wow…Melvin! It’s been so long.”

“I know. Man the last time I saw you was right before graduation. We were having that senior party or whatever.” Melvin casually stated.

“Yeah, yeah, you were getting tipsy over what, half a glass of Guinness?”

“Heh, yeah. First time for anything I guess,” he said a little embarrassed. “So what’ve you been up to?”

“Oh, I’m a secretary. Getting through college right now is taking a bit longer than I thought,” Dahlia explained. “What about you? You must have gotten past college already considering all the scholarships they gave you.”

“Nah, unfortunately I’ve had to stay in college considering you need a Bachelors to get any kind of respectable job as a Psychologist. Though, I’m close, just a few months away,” Melvin reached for something in his pocket. He pulled out a small card, “Here, you and I should stay in touch; maybe get some coffee sometime or something. I gotta run for now, but gimme a call sometime okay?”

“No problem, it sounds nice.”

…………………………….

Dahlia nearly finished her cocoa, and was almost reduced to tears again, “God I should have never called him. He…he seemed like such a sweet guy though,” she said with a few sobs of tears leaking out.

“Hey…hey, you couldn’t have known what would have happened,” Janet stated.

Dahlia took a tissue and wiped her eyes, “Yeah. I guess. But if I hadn’t called him, we’d still be just high school friends.”

“I doubt it would have changed much. He seemed pretty obsessive. If it didn’t happen to you, it might have happened to someone else.” Janet tried to comfort her. “So what happened when you gave him a call though?”

“I dunno. It just seemed like a normal conversation, he asked me out and even picked me up. We stopped off at a local pizzeria and just talked about high school memories and stuff. A few good laughs here and there, but….but then the conversation just turned. It was like he was a different person….”

…………………………….

Dahlia took a bite out of the pizza, but quickly backed off as it was still rather hot. She started to wave over her mouth and take a couple gulps of water. Melvin chuckled, “Heh, hot enough for ya?”

“Well, I shoulda seen it comin’. I mean, it felt hot in my hands as it was, but crap happens.” Dahlia giggled as she continued to try and cool her mouth off. After a few moments, she settled down. “Now, what were we talking about?”

Melvin seemed rather somber at that moment. The conversation wasn’t particularly sad, but something was different about him. “Ya know, I had a dream about you last night.” Dahlia stared up, not knowing really what to say other than “umm.” “You were very pretty.” After an awkward silence, Melvin just seemed to switch back to his old self, “Umm…I…uhh, I’m sorry. God this is embarrassing, way to go Melvin, on the first date too.”

Dahlia started laughing, and not just a chuckle here and there, but full blown laughter. She calmed down a bit, enough to say “It’s alright. I’m flattered, really.”

…………………………….

“You were flattered?! A minute ago you said there was a silence between you two?” Janet asked.

“Yeah, but this is Melvin. You know he wasn’t always the best speaker. I just gave him the benefit of the doubt, I thought he was just trying to complement me and didn’t know that it came off a little creepy…until it was too late and he’d already said it of course.”

“So…what was the dream about? Did….it have anything to do with what’s in your living room?”

“Unfortunately yes,” Dahlia stated. “When we started walking downtown, I asked him about it. He described it to me, slowly at first as he was a little shy about it. But then he kept getting more vivid with his details, as if this were a full blown sex dream or something.”

“Ugh…sick,” Janet wretched her face. “Who in the world would actually want that?”

“Apparently Melvin, and quite a few other people. I…I just can’t believe he’d go so far just to get me to ‘participate’,” Dahlia stated, a bit more in a somber and sad tone again. “The things….the nasty stuff he made me do…” Dahlia started to get a bit nauseous. She ran over to the sink and hung over it spitting up a bit.

“Dahlia! You alright?!” Janet rushed over to help in any way if she could. She started to rub Dahlia’s back for a moment. “Look, you’ve been through a rough time. Why don’t you go lay down for a while, I’ll get rid of the…‘materials’ in the living room. You’ve still got that bonfire outside right?”

“Yeah. Thank you Jan, god thank you so much,” Dahlia cried half falling over half jumping into Janet’s arms, crying a little more.

A few moments later, Janet was rinsing a few dishes while the door to Dahlia’s bedroom closed. As Janet placed the last dish on the rack, she noticed a car pull up to the side of Dahlia’s house. It was a sheriff’s car. Janet went outside to see what the problem was, and a few moments later, both were inside the house.

“I’m not sure what you’ll need but I haven’t touched anything yet,” Janet says walking inside. The sheriff looked a little disgusted at what he saw, and Janet responded “I know. I couldn’t believe it either.”

Slapping on a latex glove, the sheriff asked, “I’m assuming this…whip thing…has her blood and most likely his hand prints on it?”

“Yes sir.”

“If that comes back positive, hell it may be all the evidence I need considering the two paramedics and at least three other officers witnessed blood dripping down her leg outside. If you don’t mind, I’ll be taking this with me,” the sheriff said as he whipped open a large plastic zip-bag.

“No, no, go ahead. But if there’s anything else you need, lemme know. She asked me to burn everything here, so…” Janet stated.

“This is the only thing we could really use anyways. Do whatever you want with the rest.” The sheriff grunted as he stood up.

A few more minutes of formalities and the sheriff was back on the road. Janet went back to the kitchen and noticed the small billboard hanging next to the phone. She saw a small, rather old and wrinkled posted-note detailing a few speed dial numbers. The first one was Dahlia’s mother. She grabbed the phone, and dialed, hoping for a ring and an answer. Unfortunately, she received a message machine instead.

“Ms. Prescott? Hi, it’s Janet. Dahlia’s neighbor. Listen, whenever you get this, Dahlia really needs you. Something bad happened, but I’m taking care of it for now. We’re at her house, so please come on over when you can, alright? Bye.” It was kind of insincere, and light on details, but she knew the cell phone she was leaving a message on wouldn’t have allowed much more anyways.

Janet put on the rubber gloves next to the sink, and began cleaning up the various items around the living room. The first item in the paper sack was a teddy bear, saying “won’t you be mine this valentine’s day, love Mel.” After a couple of paper sack fulls, Janet carried everything out to the back yard, and dumped it into the fire pit. Aside from making sure it was all in the center and a few logs were holding it all in place, she didn’t pay much attention to it after she lit the fire.

“Well that’s that, no more of this stuff laying around. God I really hope Ms. Prescott gets that message soon.”

Janet went back inside, did a little scrubbing and then sat down for a moment. Dahlia came out about ten minutes later, wearing some black sweatpants. This isn’t what she normally would wear in the house but considering her wounds, it was the most comfortable. “Feeling any better?” Janet asked.

“Not really, but I don’t feel like throwing up for now, at least. Who was here earlier?”

“The sheriff. He took that whip as evidence, said it was all he needed. Everything else is cinder outside,” Janet explained.

“I see. Will I be going to court or anything?” Dahlia asked, kind of worried that she’d have to see Melvin once more.

“I’m not sure, but I doubt it. He said that considering the amount of witnesses and what the paramedics saw in private, if the whip comes back with a DNA match of his hand prints and your blood, it’s all the evidence he’d need. Well, that’s what he said anyways.”

“Listen, thank you again for taking care of everything. I know you were probably busy with your own stuff.”

“Hey, hey, don’t worry about it. I wouldn’t leave you hangin’ like that, hell no.” Janet said. “Called your mother too, left her a message. Hopefully she’ll be here soo….”

Interrupted from her thoughts, Janet and Dahlia heard the door to the house slam open. A portly old woman probably in her late forties came through, “Dahlia, are you alright?! What happened?!” she half-shouted as she came through. “Oh my god, where’d all those bandages come from?” She said, dashing to Dahlia to make sure she was all right.

"It’s alright mom, you can relax now. He’s in jail and I’m fine. Janet’s been here with me since the incident.

Ms. Prescott turned to Janet, “You’ve been with her the whole time?” Sighing, she eased up a bit, “Thank you so much. But what happened to my Dali that you had to call me for an emergency? Who’s ‘he’?” Ms. Prescott continued to run off a bunch of other questions. Dahlia and Janet started up the story all over again, and about fifteen, twenty minutes later, it was Janet and Ms. Prescott listening.

“By the time we were on our first date, he had my phone number. And after that rather strange day, he kept calling me. I mean repeatedly calling me at least four or five times a day.” Dahlia continued. “I finally told him to back off, and that I was busy with work and college. I told him that I liked hanging out with him, but I don’t have that much free time to just drop everything and go out with him.”

…………………………….

“Come on, can’t you just call in sick once? It’s been forever since we’ve hung out like this. You can afford to skip one day can’t ya?” Melvin kept pressuring Dahlia.

“No. I can’t afford to skip classes. Especially these two today, I’ve currently got a C in both of them. I wanna get it up to a B before the end of the semester.”

Melvin didn’t stop there. “Then how 'bout I come over and hang out there until you finish, then we could watch a movie or something.”

“No! I’m sorry, but stop asking. I’ll give you a call during the weekend, but you need to leave me alone right now.”

“But…” Melvin tried saying.

“But nothing, stop calling me!” Dahlia slammed the phone after that. “Jeez, I thought he was better than this. Next weekend I’m breaking up with him. No way I’m dealing with this over and over.”

Dahlia went back to her studies before class, with a hot pocket in one hand and a pencil in the other. She found it rather hard to concentrate considering Melvin was on her mind a lot. Though, she managed to blank him out of her mind long enough to finish her homework before heading out.

Melvin was actually outside waiting for her as it was. But he wasn’t going to come out of the bushes right then. Dahlia left, completely ignorant that Melvin was hiding in the bushes. He went up and took the key from Dahlia’s hiding spot and went inside.

“So this is her house, it’s so nice. Gotta lot of room.”

A few moments later, after wandering around, he latched the door open and carried in a few boxes from his car parked behind the house. He moved his car to the front area almost as if he were living in the house. Inside after he carried the last box in and shut the door, he started prying open everything. A few stacks of diapers here and there, and a few other babyish items. He also pulled out a roll of duct tape.

Something was going on in his mind, and he probably didn’t even know what it was. He had never gone to such an extreme before, never even thought of anything like this. But he knew that for some reason, he was compelled to do this. He wanted this, and something inside him gave him the nerve to actually go through with this.

He had set up a few things, though there wasn’t much to set up. There were long strips of tape set out to ensnare Dahlia, a diaper had been set out, waiting for someone to sit on it. He even heated up some milk to put in a bottle. This had taken an hour or so, but Dahlia wouldn’t be back for some time. Melvin took his car and moved it out of the way, far out of site in the backyard.

After that, he had gone back inside, sat down, and become a little bored. After a few minutes of just gazing at the ceiling, he did what a lot of psychopaths in love would do, he went to her bedroom and started sniffing around her clothing.

He was no longer right in the head, and he was so far beyond reach that he didn’t even realize he was doing something so extremely illegal. He just wanted to be with Dahlia, make her his little girl. He didn’t even know why he liked this sort of fetish, but just knew that he wanted it and wanted dahlia to be apart of it whatever the cost.

It became that fateful time of the evening, Dahlia arrived back. The door was locked, the key was in it’s original spot, the lights were off, and Melvin’s car was far beyond sight. She couldn’t be suspicious at all. And she wasn’t.

…………………………….

“…I had no idea he was there.” Dahlia finished.

“Dear god that guy is sick. So he just waited in your house until you came home? Have you ever even invited him over to your house in the first place?” Janet asked.

“That’s what’s messed up. I don’t even remember telling him where I lived. He must have found an Internet address or something, and then started stalking me.”

“Back in high school, did you two girls notice any unusual problems with him? Like he might have a disorder or something?” Ms. Prescott asked.

“No, when we talked to him, he was fairly normal. He kept to himself a bit, but a lot of kids do that. And he was a bit of a geek but that’s not a disorder. I dunno what could have possessed him to act that way,” Dahlia said.

“Maybe a bad breakup or something? I mean, you hadn’t seen him in half a decade, maybe he fell in love with someone but she crushed him?” Janet inquired.

“Maybe…I…I dunno. Something bad must have happened back then,” Dahlia responded. “When I got home, I turned on the lights and saw a few odd items around. This was the entrance light so it was still a little dark, I didn’t know what it was. But by then I knew someone had been inside, I tried to reach for the phone…and he just popped up outta nowhere.”

…………………………….

As Dahlia entered her home, Melvin popped out with a small rag with a bit of liquid doused on it, pushing it over her face, and squeezing it there until she started to pass out. “Shh, shh, it’s alright, daddy will take care of you from now on.”

Melvin quickly began to work, undressing her and taping up her arms in case she woke up. All the time he was diapering her, he kept grinning, like he had won a game or something. He started to dress her in more babyish items, including a onesie and a bonnet.

After dressing her, he taped her arms back up again, much more thorough this time. He even taped her legs shut and put tape over the pacifier in her mouth. He walked into the kitchen, grabbed the bottle and a small box with a few dissolving pills. He took two out and crushed them up and shook them in the bottle. As he did this, he started to hear grunting noises from the living room, and an even bigger grin swept over his face.

“Is baby up, is my little girl hungry for some milky?” He said in a condescending manner. She looked up, horrified at who it was and what he was doing, and in that moment she realized what she was wearing. She grunted even louder, but found it hard with the pacifier and tape over her mouth.

He proceeded to remove the tape from her mouth, but she started squirming and struggling. He managed to get the tape off but she spit the pacifier out and bit him as he was dealing with her. Writhing in pain, he went over to a box and pulled out a whip, colored white with several thick leather strips on it. He lifted her arms out of the way and swung down hard enough at her legs as if he were chopping wood with an ax.

She began to cry, but he didn’t stop until there were welts. “Maybe now you’ll think about disobeying me, my little baby!” He half chuckled as he said that. “Now are you gonna behave and drink this or do I have to smack you around some more?”

“No no! Don’t!” Was all Dahlia could get out. Melvin picked her up and set her on his lap on the couch. Knowing full well she wasn’t going to escape, and if she tried she’d get that whip again, she didn’t hesitate to concede. He placed the nipple in, she sucked, but she was still crying. She cried not just from the pain, but from the event as well, but she sucked until the milk was gone.

“Good girl, you’ll be feeling the effects here soon enough. Don’t try to hold it in, just let it out,” he said. She wasn’t sure what that meant, but considering what she was wearing, she could only imagine. “You and I are gonna do this for a long time. I want it and you know you want it, and you -will- like it,” he said in a sort of threatening manner. She only continued to sob and whimper, but he eventually smacked her and yelled at her to stop. Tears were still flowing but she managed to control her whimpering.

It was about an hour later that she felt the cramping in her stomach, and she couldn’t do anything about it. To make matters worse, when he figured out that there was cramping, he actually pushed down on her stomach.

…………………………….

“…Wow……just frickin dear god,” Janet said. “I…I honestly don’t know what to sa…what I could say. I mean, that’s just….I mean damn!” She continued, putting her hand over her dropped jaw after.

“I didn’t have many words for it either. I found out he put extreme strength laxatives in the milk, I don’t even know if they were over-the-counter drugs. But he made me use those…things.”

“God I want to shoot that man so bad right now. I don’t care if I’m arrested…he deserves a bullet in his head,” Ms. Prescott exclaimed.

“Take it easy mom. He’s in Jail right now, and he’ll probably be their for a really long time.”

Ms. Prescott sighed, “I guess. But he should still pay dearly, more than what they’re gonna do to him. You said your arms were pretty well taped up, how’d you manage to get out of that situation?”

“Actually, I didn’t get out of it until the next day. I ran out of milk for him to use so he went to go pick some up…”

…………………………….

“Now you be a good little girl and stay put alright? Daddy’s gonna get some more milk for you, but just to be sure I’m locking you in your bedroom for now.” Dahlia could only grunt as there was tape still over her mouth, and her hands were taped up very tightly behind her back. Melvin left dahlia there in nothing but a diaper, and he told her it was because it was hot in this room and wanted her to be comfortable. This didn’t give her much solace, considering she was in bondage wearing a diaper put on her by a psychopath who was in love with her.

Melvin took a bunch of the remaining duct tape to latch the door shut so she couldn’t use her body to get it open. The other side of the door was taped shut well enough that the only way to get back in was to remove the tape.

Melvin took off, and after Dahlia was absolutely sure he was gone, she tried her best to wiggle around into an upright position. Her legs were bound, so once she was able to stand up from her bed, she had to hop around. She looked around, for anything sharp enough to get away. The bed posts were good enough she thought, so she used it to pry off the tape from her mouth.

What Melvin didn’t know was that the closet in the bedroom was linked to the closet in the kitchen. Dahlia was able to use her teeth to open the closet. She used her teeth to get a hold on a metal part of the inside wall, opening it just enough that she could start using her fingers, and then her head to pry the rest of it open.

A couple spray bottles were knocked on the ground, but nothing permanently damaged thankfully. She hopped into the kitchen and grabbed one of the cutlery knives with her teeth. Though, she dropped it near her arms, which made a few deep scratches. She screamed, and cringed her teeth at the pain. But she got a hold of herself, grabbed the knife and started cutting open the duct tape wrapped around her arms.

There was a problem though. She got the lower half of her arms free, but the upper halves were still firmly taped, and she heard a car door slam, with inevitable approaching footsteps. She quickly grabbed the knife, and twisted her arms around to try and reach the tape. She managed to get it but with more knife cuts on her.

With only a few seconds left, she cut open the tape around her legs, dashed for her purse, and pulled out a can of pepper spray.

…………………………….

“Wow….so that’s what happened huh? I guess you were lucky to have that removable closet wall.” Janet remarked.

“Yeah, I guess the people who lived here before me put it in there to make moving a bed or dresser into the room easier considering the twists and turns it takes to get to the bedroom.” Dahlia realized.

“So what now? Do we just forget this ever happened or what?” Janet asked.

“I guess so, I dunno. I’d like to forget this happened but I doubt I will. For now though, I think I’m gonna get some sleep. Thank you both for being here for me. I’m sorry you had to deal with that again, I really am.”

Ms Prescott chimed in, “Nonsense. You would do the same if it was any of your friends or relatives, and you have in the past. And you’re my daughter, I’m not leaving something this horrific alone.”

“Well, Ms. Prescott, since your here I think I should get home. Will you be alright with her for now?” Janet asked.

“Oh honey, I’ll be fine. I spent eighteen years raising her, I can handle things from here on. You go home, I’m sure you’ve got a busy day tomorrow with your kind of job.” Ms. Prescott replied.

“Alrighty, Dahlia, try not to think about it so much. He’s in jail and you’re safe now, you can relax.”

“Thanks….Janet. I…I’m just glad it’s over with,” she said, still with the occasional sob and whimper.

Janet grabbed her blanket from the floor and headed out, back to her house. Ms. Prescott stayed their, hugging Dahlia and consoling her as best she could for the next few minutes. Dahlia had fallen asleep in her arms, but she was light enough that Ms. Prescott could carry her to her room. She opened the door, laid her down, and tucked her in. “You can relax now, he’s not gonna hurt you anymore,” she whispered.

She noticed a single pacifier on the end of the bed, and she doesn’t know why, but it was tempting. Tempting enough that she actually did it. She grabbed it, and placed it in her daughters mouth, “he’s not gonna hurt you anymore my little baby girl.”

2 - The line between Love and Insanity

The fractured storytelling is a good idea, as with the ending, showing that it isn’t over, even if that particular development didn’t seem motivated enough. The “present day” sections, however, especially towards the end when they became mostly just dialogue, could have used some more work. Other than to remind us that the other sections were a story being told, they didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose.

2 - The line between Love and Insanity

Wow… thanks for the critique. Thought I wasn’t gonna get any.

The ending, definitely agree could have had a better cliffhanger but honestly I was rather stumped at what to add. Maybe the same ending just better written with the inclusion of motivation rather than “She doesn’t know why.”

Could you give any suggestions on what you mean by “the dialog sections could have used some work.” Honestly, I meant for it to be that way, the present day being most if not all dialog, and the past being most if not all storytelling. There are a few sections in each where the writing style I didn’t want was a bit dominant (lots of dialog in the storytelling, lots of storytelling in the dialog, etc), but some of that I thought was necessary, but would be glad to take a few suggestions for when I write again.

2 - The line between Love and Insanity

Well, I think for the most part, people weren’t replying to these stories as much because doing so would probably give away that they hadn’t written that story.

As for the dialogue, it just seemed redundant, at least towards the end… I’m thinking specifically of them saying how sick he was in two consecutive sections. The discussion of his possible “origin story” also felt rather out of place. That would have been one area where, as a short story, it might have been better to leave things a little vague.