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datatime: 2022-12-08 14:13:36 Author:atzfEmaU

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Wolf bent over and retched up a great muddy sheet of water. A moment later another of the terrified cow-sheep struck him and bore him under again.

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

'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.

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

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-

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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-

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.

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.

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.

'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?'

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

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

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

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