The room was filled with shadows thanks to the curtains of gaudy orange fabric being drawn and the breakers having been turned off the better part of an hour ago. Every bit of furniture had been shoved to the walls, their places taken by a broad circle of salt. Within its perimeter sat a simple wire cage, the hummingbird inside sipping contently on its complimentary nectar, a glass with some unidentifiable green beverage lurking inside, a parti-colored handkerchief, and a pair of cheap new sneakers. A timer beeped innocently in the kitchen and soon the final element was ready: cookies that had somehow come out smelling like a woman’s perfume.
Ann hesitated before crossing the threshold into Mrs. Thompson’s darkened living room. Breathing slowly to keep her nerves in check, she took a final pass around the perimeter. She made sure each piece of relocated furniture along the walls was back far enough and that the gaudy oran