Someone shook Alice's shoulder gently and she peeled her eyes open, jerking one of the headphones out so she could hear. An older woman was smiling down at her, eyes wrinkles and face crinkled with smile lines. Immediately some of the overwhelming dread and tension left Alice's shoulders as part of her realized that this was a woman who held no vinegar in her, only honey.

"Sweety, the library is closing. I'm sorry but you have to head home now." she explained. Alice blinked, chasing the last of her nap away as she stared down at her watch in stunned amazement. It was already nine at night, she'd spent the entire day sleeping!

"I...I...I'm sorry." Alice finally stammered, head feeling stuffed full of cottonballs. The kind old woman kept smiling down at her.

"It's alright dear. You wouldn't be the first student to come here and catch up on some sleep. Nothing to be ashamed of, at your age you need all the sleep and food you can get." she waved it off and waited patiently for Alice to gather her things. Ace scrambled to her feet and followed along quietly, startled to find that everything had been turned off for the night. A library after hours is actually a little more creepy than Alice had expected. Very horror movie.

"Thank you. I'm Alice." she introduced herself to the kind old lady.

"Oh I seemed to have misplaced my manners, I'm Tabitha, you can call me Tabby." the elder lady smiled and shook Alice's hand. Tabby's skin was warm and soft, the suppleness of youth long ago replaced by the texture of experience. Tabitha's grip was surprisingly strong considering how docile her demeanour was.

"Tabitha, do you need a student to help out here? I'm supposed to complete some community service hours for school and haven't found a placement yet..." Alice trailed off, hoping it would be that easy.

"Well that's sweet of you, but I think we've already got a couple of students helping out around here." Tabitha shook her head. Of course it wouldn't be that easy. Alice shook her head ruefully, after today you think she would have learned that for her, nothing would be easy.

They stopped outside the library doors so Tabby could lock them up. "Thank you again. Have a safe drive home." Alice bid the friendly librarian and started to walk towards the Walter's house. It wasn't a far hike, closer from the library than it had been from school, and for once hte weather wasn't making her regret her lack of proper jacket. Even though it was edging towards late November, the winter had held off thus far and it was chill but not snowy. Even if it had been a tortuous blizzard, Alice would have taken her time returning. Better to freeze to death than return to them. But she made it back death free and used her key to slide inside. Maybe she could just escape to the basement without them noticing she was home....

A hand sunk into her hair, jerking her head back sharply. Another one wrapped around her neck, tightening so she couldn't scream. "Well look who finally came home." Stuart breathed against her neck. Terror flooded through her, making her stomach cramp and she swallowed down bile. "Hmmm... you're still in the school girl uniform too. I'm gonig to like this..." he purred, hand leaving her hair and squeezing one boob painfully. Alice shot her elbow back into his solar plexus and his breath wheezed out, grip around her neck loosening. She twisted in his grip and stomped down on his foot. He howled in pain, letting her go completely and grabbed at his foot.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she heard demanded of her from the kitchen doorway. Alice whirled and saw Mr. Walter glaring at her. Mrs. Walter was standing behind her husband, eyes wide and shiney looking, as if she were holding back tears. "Do you really think you can come into our home and attack our son like this? It is simply not acceptible you ungrateful little slut!" Mr. Walter roared at Alice.

"I'll handle this." Stuart growled and grabbed Alice by the hair agian. He was hauling her backwards towards the stairs to the basement.

"NO!" Alice screamed, dragging her nails across Stuart's hand to try and get him to let go. He released her hair and backhanded her, the sudden ringing in her ears drowing out the harsh slap sound that echoed in the stairway.

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