A ragged carcass broke free. Pursuers trampling behind, it hurtled low along a line of knees, clawing its way toward C. At his foot, it paused on all fours. The head jerked. The
eyes turned up like puddles of whey.
The hand clapped his knee. A face like a pitted, rotten melon rose toward his. Ropes of spittle dangled. The maw opened, blowing rotten gas. A shriek steamed out bare gums, and crooked hands pawed C.’s chest. C. wrenched himself from his seat, pulling weight. He heard a thud like a tree striking earth, saw white, and tasted copper, salt. Over a dimming, melting crowd, his bookfloated from his hand, and he slid between legs and lifting heels.
He could hear the stamp of mechanized sledgehammers. Lines of lanterns curved in darkness, trailing like glowing lashes. Passing and winding, they arrived: heads with stretched skin and glowing eyes. High above, the crone chanted, listing names, places, dates. The sad, lit face of a boy soldier wobbled and nodded at C. The head of an old joiner turned in the line. A chuckle rasped
the oval mouth: watch your liver.