The clock at Barnes and Noble struck eleven thirty. The air fizzed, and the fluorescent lights crackled. People talked in low hums while hunched over five empty cups of coffee and three or four dishes of unwrapped candy. Black witches hats, black cloaks, and violently red scarves enveloped every human figure. The crinkled pages of books rustled in the far back corners where a few square feet of sitting space still remained. Four lines, neatly created an hour earlier, had slowly converged into a large, conglomerate mass. The number seven covered every window and table like fashionable wallpaper.
The clock struck eleven forty-five. The apprehension was almost palpable. A man wearing large boots and a woolly beard guffawed from the CD section. No one found his unruly, brutish appearance strange. Little girls wearing green and silver robes twirled their home-made wands and watched the glitter sprinkle on the ground like magic powder. Several yawning mothers were jolted awake by the loud screech of a cranky barn owl. One Barnes and Noble employee, with a lightning-bolt-shaped scar drawn on his forehead, attempted to reorder the jumbled lines. Every person in the store looked at his or her watch: "Five, four, three, two, one…"
The clock struck midnight.