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datatime: 2022-12-04 12:31:09 Author:NOGFKUdM

Morgan started forward, his face swimming and rippling as if made of limp plastic, and Jack had time to see there was something clutched in his hand, something hung around his neck, something small and silvery.

'Boy'

Jack whirled clumsily around in the stream, barely avoiding another cow-sheep, this one floating on its side, dead in the water. He saw Wolf's head going down again, both hands waving. Jack fought his way toward those hands, still dodging the cattle as best he could. One of them bunted his hip hard and Jack went over, inhaling water. He got up again quick, coughing and choking, one hand feeling inside his jerkin for the bottle, afraid it might have washed away. It was still there.

He stood at midstream in water that was crotch-deep, cattle passing on either side of him, baa-ing and bleating, staring at that window which had been torn in the very fabric of reality, his eyes wide, his mouth wider.

'Boy'

'Wolf' Jack screamed, but thunder exploded across the blue sky again, drowning him out.

'Jason' Morgan of Orris screamed, and Jack realized that Morgan was not cursing in the Territories argot; he was calling his, Jack's, name. Only here he was not Jack. Here he was Jason.

He's found me, oh dear God, he's found me.

The parka wavered, disappeared for a moment, then came back as a cloak and hood.

He could feel the force of that command, gripping his face with invisible hands, trying to turn it.

Jack whirled clumsily around in the stream, barely avoiding another cow-sheep, this one floating on its side, dead in the water. He saw Wolf's head going down again, both hands waving. Jack fought his way toward those hands, still dodging the cattle as best he could. One of them bunted his hip hard and Jack went over, inhaling water. He got up again quick, coughing and choking, one hand feeling inside his jerkin for the bottle, afraid it might have washed away. It was still there.

Morgan Sloat's suede boots became dark leather knee-boots, their tops turned down, what might have been the hilt of a knife poking out of one.

But he struggled on toward Wolf, pushing a dying, weakly convulsing cow-sheep out of his way to get there.

Morgan started forward, his face swimming and rippling as if made of limp plastic, and Jack had time to see there was something clutched in his hand, something hung around his neck, something small and silvery.

Jack whirled clumsily around in the stream, barely avoiding another cow-sheep, this one floating on its side, dead in the water. He saw Wolf's head going down again, both hands waving. Jack fought his way toward those hands, still dodging the cattle as best he could. One of them bunted his hip hard and Jack went over, inhaling water. He got up again quick, coughing and choking, one hand feeling inside his jerkin for the bottle, afraid it might have washed away. It was still there.

'Boy'

Jack stood, paralyzed, as Sloat bulled his way through the hole between the two universes. As he came he did his own werewolf number, changing from Morgan Sloat, investor, land speculator, and sometime Hollywood agent, into Morgan of Orris, pretender to the throne of a dying Queen. His flushed, hanging jowls thinned. The color faded out of them. His hair renewed itself, growing forward, first tinting the rondure of his skull, as if some invisible being were coloring Uncle Morgan's head, then covering it. The hair of Sloat's Twinner was long, black, flapping, somehow dead-looking. It had been tied at the nape of his neck, Jack saw, but most of it had come loose.

Blue fire arched over Jack's shoulder, sizzling-it was like a deadly electric rainbow. It struck one of the cow-sheep caught in the reedy muck on the other side of the stream and the unfortunate beast simply exploded, as if it had swallowed dynamite. Blood flew in a needle-spray of droplets. Gobbets of flesh began to rain down around Jack.

The cry was low, gargling, full of water.

'Jason' Morgan of Orris screamed, and Jack realized that Morgan was not cursing in the Territories argot; he was calling his, Jack's, name. Only here he was not Jack. Here he was Jason.

That's it, Jack thought despairingly. That's it, he's gone, must be, let him go, get out of here-

'There you are, you little shithead' Morgan bellowed at him. His voice carried, but it had a muffled, dead quality as it came from the reality of that world into the reality of this one. It was like listening to a man shout inside a telephone booth. 'Now we'll see, won't we? Won't we?'

The parka wavered, disappeared for a moment, then came back as a cloak and hood.

No time just now, Morgan. Sorry, but I've got to see if I can avoid getting drowned by Wolf's herd before I see if I can avoid getting fried by your doomstick there. I-

The wet, sizzling zap of electricity again, seeming almost to part his hair. Again it struck the other bank, this time vaporizing one of Wolf's cattle. No, Jack saw, at least not utterly. The animal's legs were still there, mired in the mud like shake-poles. As he watched, they began to sag tiredly outward in four different directions.

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