Leaving the Adell estate, I was torn between wanting to be as far away from the house as possible and not wanting to leave until I knew that Miss Mary was indeed okay. I knew that word of her second fiancé’s death would be a shock, but I somehow didn’t expect it to have so drastic an effect.
I understood her reaction to Corbet Adams’s death, they had grown up together, but this new suitor seemed so out of place with her character that I had a hard time understanding the level of her reaction. But, as I had never been engaged once, let alone twice, and certainly never lost someone as close as a fiancée, I really had no way of knowing exactly how I would react.
Though, as her father had made it very clear that my presence was no longer welcome. The only thing I could do was leave. As I passed through the gates of the Adell estate and out onto the main road once more, I was overwhelmed by the brightness of the sun. Had there really been so much shade in the garden area of the Adell’s front lawn, that I was now having to adjust to normal sunlight?
Perhaps it was my imagination, but the farther I walked and the longer I was in direct sunlight, the harder it was for me to see without squinting my eyes shut. The brightness of the afternoon was blinding.
I crossed several streets, having to double and triple check that the passage across was clear as more than once the sun had blinded me from other objects in my direct path. I took to shading my face with my hands while I walked, just for some margin of relief. And, then I noticed, once I took the shortcut through campus to reach my rooms, that no one else seemed to be having the same difficulty in the bright light. None of the students that I passed strained and squinted against the horrifically bright sun. None of the students had their hands wrapped around their faces to block the light.
Confusion started to prick the edge of my mind. The corners of my consciousness began to blur and become less sharp and the effect of the sunlight on my eyes prevented me from being fully focused on other symptoms that were slowly starting to take hold.
I couldn’t see without great effort, my mind was losing the sharpness of focus and then, finally, my heart began racing in my chest with such ferocity that I had to slow my pace in order to catch my breath. I knew my pulse had nothing to do with fear or the speed I was traveling, but just like the difficulty in focusing my eyes and my mind, my heart was throbbing without control.
All I tried to focus on was getting back to my rooms. If I could get inside, away from the sunlight and sit down, everything had to return to normal. I just kept thinking about my rooms. But, the more I visualized them, the less they looked like my rooms. The sitting room twisted in front of me. It pulled itself away from me, diminishing to almost a pinprick.
I could hear Cross’s voice somewhere in the distance. He called my name. But, he was so far away that I couldn’t answer him. I tried to follow the sound of his voice. But, I became entangled in a thick mesh of cobwebs. They grabbed at me and held my arms down. I couldn’t pull myself free. Panic swallowed the last of my breath. And, just as I felt the cobwebs suddenly lift me, I was met with complete darkness.