The Spike or Victoria College Review 1936
Three figures remained in that silent darkness. The grey form was leaning towards his opponent but seemed more isolated than ever. The candle still burned but with a flickering feebleness. The whining of the wind had risen to the howl of a gale. Yet in the midst of that deserted, desolate darkness, there was a terrifying silence.
Once more the large figure spoke, rattling his dice impatiently.
"What have you to stake me?"
The reply was a confident challenge.
He laughed with a hollow, crackling sound, as though the game were already won.
The grey one threw carefully—two fives!
Carelessly the other shook his dice and threw. But ere they had come to rest, there was a roar from somewhere outside. The grey figure leapt up and snuffed out the little flame. Unseen forces seemed to take posession. There remained only impenetrable darkness.
Fate had cheated Death of his last victim.
In a narrow, poorly-furnished room, a young man sat writing. He was tall with a clean, youthful face and a well-shaped intellectual head. His clothes, though neatly cut, were very much the worse for wear.
He finished the few lines he had been writing and arranged the sheet amongst the books and papers that littered the table.
Slowly he walked towards the small dressing-table near the window, took up a glass of water that was standing there and carefully shook into it some powder from a small white package. As it dissolved slowly in the clear liquid he gazed out of the open window and listened to the sounds that drifted up—sounds of a restless city. In the sky a few stars shone palely through the yellow glow of artificial illumination that hung over closely packed buildings. The moon was hidden from sight behind a cloud.
For a few seconds only, he stood thus: then, he turned once more to the dressing-table. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and pushed back a dishevelled lock.
The powder had quite dissolved now. The young man took the glass firmly in his right hand and raised it, trembling very slightly, to his lips.
Just as he was about to sip the liquid, the curtains at the window flapped suddenly and—Bang!—a door somewhere slammed violently.
He started—the glass fell with a crash to the floor.
For a minute or more he stood perfectly still, staring before him; until a gentle tapping on the door broke his reverie and startled him into action. Hastily he kicked the fragments of glass under the dressing-table, moved across to the table and, taking up a book, called, "Come in!" in a dry voice.page 22
A girl about his own age, small and neat, entered. Immediately they were in each other's arms.
"Darling," she panted, "I didn't mean what I said this afternoon. I thought I was doing the best for both of us, but I can't see you lonely and unhappy. I don't care if you are poor. We can't go on apart. I love you, Carey!"
The young man smiled and kissed her passionately. There were tears in his eyes and words would not come. Slowly, from behind the cloud, came the moon.
But out of that impenetrable darkness, came a callous, cynical, mocking laugh.. . .