Chapter 1: Empty Eyes

Montag arrived in the other town, overcome with fatigue. He needed a drink, fast. He was so famished. He found a nearby diner and stumbled in. As he had seen in every other diner, there was a big wall TV with the 'family' blaring nonsense. Arguing about nothing. He sat down in the booth directly beside the door as the waiter came by.

"Hello, sir," she said. "How can I help you today?"

"I'm thirsty," Montag said, "And hungry. Bring me some—" Montag stopped talking midsentence. He knew that voice. He knew it. He just couldn't place it. He slowly, carefully, turned his head toward the waiter and his breath stopped. She was still beautiful, as always, but the happiness, the innocence, the curiosity, had all left her eyes. They were now blank. Blank. How blank Millie's eyes had been too. She was no longer the young girl Montag had come to call a friend.

"Clarisse," he breathed. He thought he saw a flash of recognition cross her eyes. His heart ached as he remembered the smiling, innocent girl, rubbing a dandelion on her chin. He remembered Mildred's voice, "Whole family moved out somewhere. But she's gone for good. I think she's dead." Millie. Millie, how strange her eyes had been. How strange Clarisse's eyes are now.

"Can I help you?" Clarisse asked again. Montag looked up at her with sad, sad eyes. "Clarisse, can you see me with those empty eyes? Can you see me? You remember me, don't you?" he whispered. Montag had totally forgotten about his aching hunger that had been bothering him for the past week on his walk here. Where was Faber? Was he like this too? Clarisse said, "I'm sorry. I don't understand what you're saying" and she walked away, just as Montag had walked away from her the last time he saw her. "Clarisse!" he called to her. Clarisse stopped in her tracks. His head pounded as the 'uncle' yelled something. "Damn, I have a headache," he growled.

"Headache?" Clarisse whispered. She fell to her knees, whining in agony, her hands bracing her head. "Clarisse!" Montag shouted, coming to her side. The other customers watched him blankly. Montag looked around at all of them. The same eyes. They all had the same eyes. Eyes empty, drained of emotion. Another waiter came out of the kitchen. "Hey!" Montag said. She walked past him and Clarisse as if no one was there. Suddenly, the wall TV rang loudly, making Montag shiver, and Clarisse's eyes fluttered open. She stood up and looked at Montag.

"Hello sir," she said, "How can I help you today?"