Cedar’s never been much for the dignity of work. Get in, get enough to live on for a few weeks, get out. Life is a collection of incidents, beads on a rosary. It’s been harder, lately — usetawas, she’d slip in and out of town before the landlords even knew she was there, but she’s been molassesed in Tripton for… six months now? Christ, six months? She’s become a regular places, and still she doesn’t have more than enough to scrape by right where she is. She can feel her ragged edges knitting over, her skin growing blind and rooted; cauled in a greasy, desperate claustrophobia.

She drinks, but the beauty’s gone out of it. Stumbling home she sees fewer angels, fewer wolves. She’s a tightfisted, surly drunk, and a stranger to herself waking and sleeping. She’s counting things — days, money, miles — and it’s made her mean.

She haunts the docks and the trainyards, lingers by highway onramps, wears her shoes to soles pacing the trails, but no dice. The ships and the cars are all crewed by robots, the trains all sleek fast commuters, the trails safely doubled back on themselves. She’s pinned to the corkboard at last, and the gleeful face of the market leans in close to watch her twitch.