The Empire Strikes Back

Nine-year-olds are playing in Administration Building's long halls where it's cool in the summer slow-down. On the top, third floor it's dark except for exit lights and what pirates smuggle in through cracks. Joel lingers by the stairwell, hunkers. From the floor he picks up a shard of light thrown from a high, forgotten fanlight and lets it play like colored glass. To sabers and wolves' heads and swans he shapes it in his yellow hand. In this old building with its bald head the only sun slides in under the patch over its dim eye or where a tooth is out. Sounds below! The enemy is coming! They are moving up the elevators and up the stairs. They seek your gang!m The boy sets down the shard and (jump!m ) dodges. The corridor is a clean sweep shadows. The whispers hide like pirates' dingoes beyond the fire. Joel and comrades (at north and south of the Ad Building the legions of the Empire have debouched and advance deadly) are cut loose in their dark, safe vessel. On the floors glows the low dish of light Joel's filled and set back where the boots come marching.

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