His alarm failed to go off one morning; or, he’d woken up just enough to flick the switch off and back on again, even though the clock was across the room, even though he’d taken to covering it with a wastepaper basket with two or three books on top of it, even through the hair he’d stuck to the dresser and the basket with spit was still there. It was possible. He was a canny sleeper.

It was almost noon when he woke up, the sun full in his face and the corners of his eyes sticky, to find a pale face, dead pale, staring in at him through the window, even though he lived on the tenth floor, even though he didn’t have a balcony, even so. He recognized the face, of course, he saw it every morning and every evening wrapped around the foam of a toothbrush, bleeding against a firm line of dental floss. “Hi,” he said, to be polite.

“Hssssss,” it went at him, and tried to bite the window. He didn’t have time for it, not if he was going to make it to work on time, so he flicked the shades closed and threw himself through a shower. It was leering at him while he shaved, twitching to make the razor jump, blood welling slowly and too dark in the mirror.

On the subway it kept its face turned to his as the train flicked past the lights. He told it stories, to be polite.

“Hssssss,” it went at him.