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Lady of Silences

copyright 2001, by LIttle Starling

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, Jack Crawford, Ardelia Mapp, and Paul Krendler were created by Thomas Harris.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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"Above or below the wrist. Clarice."

The words themselves were not so much of a questions as the quirk of his left eyebrow as he glanced at her face. She made no motion that she heard him, not trusting herself to reply. As he spoke, he tested the cleaver against her skin as though weighing up his options - measuring - cut above her wrist? Or below it? Pinned painfully against the fridge by her thick auburn hair, Clarice could hardly see that it mattered. She strained against the frigidaire, feeling every nerve in her scalp screeching like speeding tires around a slick, sharp corner. It was no use. She couldn't get free. Starling trembled violently as she tried to prepare herself for what was coming. Teach us to care and not to care, she thought desperately, the lines coming to her as though from out of nowhere. "Teach us to be still. Sit still. Teach us...

The blade was sharp and cold, wet, against her wrist. Starling was hyperaware of its cold metal against her skin, feeling it shoot up her arm and explode warmly on her lips in a lingering, interrupted kiss. The "snick" of the handcuffs closing around his forearm rang in her ears, disproportionately loud, and her lips were throbbing. Her shoulder, like her scalp, was screaming with pain, her earlier exertion having torn loose a couple of stitches. She could feel the blood pooling in the wound, like a puddle of mortality, threatening to spill over. A quick glance behind her nemsis showed her former colleague slumped in the corner, his opened skull covered by a used dishrag. Blood had seeped through, staining the light material in crimson patches where it directly touched his skin.

Clarice looked back at the Doctor, searching his face as though it would read like a novel. If it did, it was in a language she could not decipher. The blade dripped against her fingers as Lecter raised it up. She watched a drop of water running down the blade and gathering on the bottom corner of the upright cleaver. It grew larger and larger, then began to fall. It fell faster than anything had ever fallen before, and for an insane split second thought it might have been not water from the knife but instead a tear... A tear for her, to match the one that had dried stiff against her cheek? A tear for the blood that was going to spill if she didn't tell him - but she couldn't tell him. She couldn't, not not. Not after he threw her up against the fridge like a rag doll, then closed it on her and... Not after he had the audacity to kiss her.

Clarice clung to a moment that might have lasted a lifetime. He wasn't going to do it, she told herself weakly. He wouldn't. He didn't bite her after all, and he had saved her life earlier that night. He had sewn up her wound and given her haven. If he had really wanted to hurt her, he would have done so by now. He was only teasing her, only testing. But, Clarice thought spitefully, if he *was* going to do it, then she was going to let him. She knew he didn't want to. His hesitation was ample proof of that.

Oh, but she deserved it. "...because I do not think..." She had brought it on herself. Maybe he *would* do it, Starling thought, seeing the glint in his eye as he gauged her expression. His lips were curled in a ghost of a smile. Maybe he would do "do her like he did everyone else." The words floated back to her as if from another lifetime. In a way, it was. Fiercely, Starling prayed that when the time came she would be stoic, she would not scream. She would not give him the satisfaction of hearing her scream for him.

"These wings are no longer wings to fly, but merely... but merely..." As though her life depended on it, Clarice tried desperately to remember the rest of the line. "But merely... no longer wings to fly..." The panic was rising up in her throat like vomit, as though the dry retches upon watching Lecter dissect Paul Krendler were finally bringing forth their contents in the form of thick, acidic fear. "Pray for us sinners... now and at the hour... of our death..."

With perfect nonchalance, he informed her, "This is *really* going to hurt."

In that pellucid moment, Starling saw with terrifying clarity what he was planning to do. She was right. He would never hurt her. More than himself.

Her blood ran cold.

Dr. Lecter raised the cleaver above his head, and like a hand-operated guillotine

the blade...




Clarice screamed the magic word and as the key fell out of her mouth, the cleaver crashed down harmlessly beside their frightened hands, entwined on the chopping board.


"Because I do not hope to turn again Let these words answer For what is done, not to be done again May the judgement not be too heavy upon us."

copyright 2001, by Little Starling

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