The closing of ranks and the declaration of WAR.


Amazon House was living up to its name for a change. Women were arriving in droves, singly and in groups of twos and threes with hardly an interruption. The word had gotten out and around, a lot of friends were bringing their friends, and they were bringing their friends. The news of some kind of action to be organized as a result of Rachel Vincent's rape and murder had been spread rather haphazardly, going by word of mouth through Lily's high school, Mercy's university, Myrine's community center and Lyssa's connections, including Carrie at the rape crisis center, but the personal, grass-roots network had managed to reach a surprising number of people in a minimum amount of time. The resulting collection of women was diverse, and not all of them were equally well-informed.

One of the less well-informed confronted Diana as an obvious figure of authority. "Hey, what's up exactly?" the small broad- faced blond asked, looking up at Diana. To judge by her age, she was probably from Lily's high school. "Something big?"

"Very big," Diana said. "You do know what it's about, don't you?"

"Sure," the blond said. "That's why I'm here. But I don't get it. What can we do about it?"

"Well, are we supposed to accept the threat of sexual violence forever?" Diana asked.

"We don't have much choice now, do we?" the girl said with surprising sarcasm.

"Why not? Do you think it's just an individual problem?" Diana didn't give the blond a chance to answer. "Isn't it a problem of society?"

"I don't know. Maybe it's human nature."

"Male nature," Diana corrected.

"Okay, male nature. But only of a small minority of males."

"If one out of every ten women in this house will experience rape during her lifetime, the minority can't exactly be confined to the lunatic fringe."

"But where's the bad guy? What laws are you going to change? What good will it do?"

"Well, if that's your attitude, why are you here?" Diana asked impatiently.

"Because Rachel was a friend of mine. And because I can't go out at night."