Amanda Bunting descended from her tenth-floor apartment in The Promethean on her way to a taping of The O’Reilly Factor, a show of political and social commentary that appeared weekday evenings on the Fox News Channel. Amanda enjoyed appearing on the show, where the presence of testosterone was almost palpable in the air. Bill O’Reilly, the star of the show, had made a name for himself with a swaggering and bullying personality that he would turn loose on his helpless straw-man guests. It was a drama similar to what happened everyday on the Serengeti Plain: the predator feeding on its prey for the edification of the tourists watching from the safety of their Land Rovers.

In the elevator, she took a moment to admire herself in the mirrored walls. Not bad for a forty-something dame. The ravages of time and gravity, she well knew, could not be held off forever even by top-shelf genes, and at some point she would have to consider the possibility of medical intervention. A nip here, a tuck there. Didn’t the poet say not to go gentle into that good night?

The doors of the elevator opened onto the lobby. Such a thrilling, soul-inspiring sight—this, one of the most splendid lobbies in all of New York—and it was hers. She headed for the front doors, the golden girl, smiling at the security man at his desk and tossing her golden hair.

Coming through the front doors from the outside was tomboy Tammy, the dog walker, with six of her dogs. The animals, panting, tongues lolling, tails wagging, were excited and tugging at their leashes. She knew these dogs and, given they were all pure breeds and belonged to her neighbors, had allowed them to lick her hand many times in the past, but now something wasn’t right. She sensed that the dogs had a different attitude toward her. There was something hard and frightening in their eyes, something knowing.

The dogs suddenly became very still, a deep growl boiling in their throats, heads bent low, their entire attention focused on Amanda, who took two steps backward and froze.

“No, no, no,” she said.

Then moving as one, the pack leapt forward, howling, teeth bared, yanking their leashes out of Tammy’s hand. In three short bounds they were on her, and Amanda went down, collapsing onto the large oriental carpet in the center of the lobby, the dogs lunging and tearing at her. Except for an occasional flailing hand or high-heel-shod foot, she was totally obscured, her screams barely audible above the canine roar and tumult, as each of the pedigreed pets fought to come away with a choice piece of Amanda Bunting.