The police had hounded Alex from the shower along with the rest of the boarding house. There had been a murder done, so they said. Someone had stolen his doppkit while he wasn’t looking; thieves, the lot of them. He cursed and wailed, half-dressed, and they pursued him down the street, sirens howling like wolves.
He was waiting for a bus when Tanayle found him. “Quiet,” she warned. “Take these.” She pressed four thumbtacks into his palm.
“I don’t understand,” he whispered. “What at these for?”
“You’ll see,” she promised, and the dragnet descended again, sweeping them apart.
Alex was herded into an alley with the rest of the men. “What are they looking for?”
“There’s murder been done. A rare, red, bloody deed.”
He slipped out of the mouth of the alley and sprinted for his bus. They were hot on his heels, their fingers catching at his collar. He lost them in the docks and barricaded himself in a shipping container.
“Not a moment to think all day,” he complained. “Not a moment to myself.” He caught his breath, looked at himself for the first time. His hands were wrong, too many fingers, too few, palms too long and hairy.
Outside the police were waiting. He kicked open the door. “This is a dream,” he bellowed. “I’m dreaming!”
A mighty wind came and swirled them, guns and all, into the sky. Alex laughed until spots came into his eyes.