Step One

"What?" Her head jerked in my direction, again.

"Nothing. So," I said, maybe a little too hastily, "What happens, now?"

She shrugged.

"Okay." I glanced around, trying to appear nonchalant. I rocked a bit on my heels. "Okay," I repeated.

Something in her face changed, and it went oddly placid as her eyes watched something in the far distance. She stood.

"What are you doing?"

She lifted a knee, brought the foot down to several centimeters above the ground. A smile edged crookedly across her face as she levered her knee up and down again.

"Uhm. Hello?" I was afraid that she had forgotten about me - or, well, maybe not. "Something wrong?"

"Would I be smiling if something were wrong?"

Well, possibly, I thought.

She stepped up with the other foot, bounced a bit, and ran... up. Her feet bent over the edges of the stairs, the only indication they were there, and, several yards up, she turned back to me.

"You coming, then?"

I gaped. A grim-faced eel sidled up, paused, and swam around the invisible staircase. I nudged the bottom step with a foot. I stepped hesitantly up. It creaked.

She managed to read the horror on my face even from her height. "There's always a creaky step, you know."

The End

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