Ed Dukas was writing letters. Someone or something was also writing - unseen but at his elbow. It was perhaps fifteen minutes before he noticed. Conspicuous at the center of the next blank sheet of paper he reached for, part of a word was already inscribed: Nippe ... The writing was faint and wavering but in the same shade of blue ink as that in his own pen. Ed Dukas said "Hey?" to himself, mildly. The frown creases between his hazel eyes deepened. They were evidence of strain that was not new. The stubby forefinger and thumb of his right hand rubbed their calloused whorls together. Surprise on his square face gave way to a cool watchfulness that, in the last ten years of guarded living, had been grimed into his nature. Ed Dukas was now twenty-two. This era was hurtling and troubled. Since his childhood, Ed had become acquainted with wonder, beauty, hate, opportunity and disaster on a cosmic level, luxury, adventure, love. Sometimes he had even found peace of mind.