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There was a knife embedded in Alex Carlean's bedroom floor.

It was a particularly plain knife; six inches of exposed blade and another four of black plastic handle. Based on the taper of the blade, about half an inch had lodged itself in the thin wood of the apartment floor. It was protruding at a 72 degree angle from the ground and would, on inspection, prove to be shuddering slightly, although this probably had less to do with the knife than with what Alex's neighbors were perpetually doing downstairs.

Alex had tripped over it upon arising that morning to go to work, and it was still there at eleven o'clock at night. She was sorely tempted to ignore it, feeling very strongly that an object that demanded her attention so powerfully should be ignored. She had grudgingly allowed it to stay through breakfast, but now that dinner was well past, there was simply no excuse for its continued presence. If it was a prank, she could just throw it away. If it was a death threat, she should throw it away. If it was something she put there herself in some kind of trance or whatever, she should definitely throw it away. What use did she have for a knife in her floor? The knife was not making her any money. Nor was it chic or modern, except, perhaps, in an extremely dadaist sense. Alex Carlean had (she reminded herself) no use for dada.

Alex eased the knife from the floor with her fingertips and disposed of it in the kitchen, holding it at arm's length as if it were something revolting.

When the alarm went on at six-thirty the next morning, there was a new knife in the floor.

There's a trick with a knife I'm learning to do,
Involves cutting and slicing a thing or two,
I hold down one end with the fork in my left,
Put weight on the knife in my right with some heft,
Try not to slip out to one side or the other,
Throw food off the plate on t' t'table or brother,
Splash Mummy or Daddy with sauce or with beans,
Cause sis' in the highchair to break out in screams,
Laughing so hard she'll RUPTURE HER SPLEEN,
Food hitting the opposite wall with a splat...

There's a trick with a knife I'm learning to do,
Do it tidily? Well, I'm working on that,
Use a knife and fork good, like Mum and Dad do,
While not mistakenly feeding the cat.

I held the knife like a dart, unsure of what exactly I was doing. The cool breeze blew around my exposed legs, clad only in little green shorts. I was barefoot, standing on the concrete slabs in my front yard that the garage sat on, and facing a laburnam tree.

Thwackk

Years ago I had feared this tree. My mother had told me it was poisonous, but had failed to point out you had to actually eat part of it to become ill, so I would hold my breath when I passed it, terrified I'd inhale a deadly seed. What I was doing now was not in any sense out of revenge however, I was simply a bored child on a summers day, and like most my age, wanted to become a ninja.

Thwackk

I went to pluck the knife out from its position lodged in the solid tree trunk, held by only a few milimentres of blade, and retreated back to where I was standing.

Tuh

This throw, the knife hit the trunk backwards by its plastic handle and bounced off into the grass near my feet. Deciding the remedy for this was a faster throw that would cause it to rotate more times, I brought my hand up behind my head and threw with all my strength. Handle first the knife struck the trunk, bouncing back with more energy before, and embedding itself half an inch deep into my tanned calf.

Yeah, there's a trick with a knife I'm learning to do. I haven't quite mastered it.

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