Alexander Hammil

“Alex!” barked the coach, and tossed him the basketball. “You’re in!”

“What?” said Alex, panicked. He didn’t know how to play basketball, and the gym was filled with yelling, cheering fans.

“Get in there,” bawled the coach. Alex stood up from where he sat on the sidelines with the other second-stringers. He was, he noted, wearing a basketball jersey. Did he know how to play basketball? “Take off those pyjama pants,” yelled the coach.

Alex looked down; sure enough, he was wearing a pair of plaid pyjama pants. He pulled the waistband out from his body. Underneath he was wearing sober brown slacks. Would those be more acceptable? He pulled off the pyjamas and tossed them to his friend Harmon sitting on the bench. “Good luck,” said Harmon, her face split in half.

Alex walked over to where the team waited. The four girls watched him silently, without blinking. “What position do you want to play?” asked the tallest.

“Uh,” said Alex.

“I’m still center, I guess,” said the tallest girl. “Just pass me the ball whenever you get it.”

“Got it,” said Alex.

“Good,” said the tallest girl.

A short boy with freckles was running down the side of the court as Alex trotted after the basketball. “Watch out for the security guards,” said the boy. “I’m the devil.”

“What?” said Alex, and jerked his head over. There was the short boy, or rather just his head, thirty feet tall and grinning demoniacally, with tiny arms and legs reaching for him. He grappled with the megacephalic boy as the ground dropped away beneath them. They were fighting over a swelling gulf. Behind him stretched a white desert. There was a dead horse lying to his right. Beyond the short boy, he could see a window, and, through the window, the stars. He threw the boy into the crevasse — “America!” and “The security guards!” dwindled the boy — and sat on the edge of the window. The sky was growing greener on the other side, and the window was approaching a square, flat planet floating in space. Clouds whipped past the window, so Alex wrapped his arms around the support.

With a bump the window landed in the middle of a forest.