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datatime: 2022-09-26 04:55:37 Author:GGpIGpQL

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

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 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.

Wolf struggled up again, his hair plastered against his face, his dazed eyes peering through a curtain of it like the eyes of an English sheepdog. He was coughing and staggering, seemingly no longer aware of where he was.

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.

Panting, his soaked hair hanging in his eyes, Jack looked over his shoulder . . . and directly into the rest area on I-70 near Lewisburg, Ohio. He was seeing it as if through ripply, badly made glass . . . but he was seeing it. The edge of the brick toilet was on the left side of that blistered, tortured patch of air. The snout of what looked like a Chevrolet pick-up truck was on the right, floating three feet above the field where he and Wolf had been sitting peacefully and talking not five minutes ago. And in the center, looking like an extra in a film about Admiral Byrd's assault on the South Pole, was Morgan Sloat, his thick red face twisted with murderous rage. Rage, and something else. Triumph? Yes. Jack thought that was what it was.

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 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.

It's a lightning-rod. Oh Jesus, it's a-

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.

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.

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-

And the small silver thing in his hand had turned to a small rod tipped with crawling blue fire.

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

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.

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

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

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

But the Queen's son died an infant, died, he-

There was another clap of thunder, this one a huge oaken thud that rolled through the sky like an artillery shell.

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

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.

There was another clap of thunder, this one a huge oaken thud that rolled through the sky like an artillery shell.

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

But the Queen's son died an infant, died, he-

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