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Dogcatcher

The crank key looks like the ones on old tin windup toys, except this one detaches when you’re done. Crane pops it out, and sets the ambulance chaser next to the dark red puddle (not on top; don’t want to gum up the jonnenry). It peels out with a whine, leaving a hot magnet stripe.

“You’re sure it’ll find him?” asks Dogcatcher. Crane’s silent. She tests a spearpoint. “I don’t like these gadgets. Still weather and an arm to twist… I mean, what are you charging for, if it does all the work?”

“We don’t win,” grunts Crane, “you don’t pay.”

Dogcatcher

Rob’s already there when Dogcatcher arrives, looking crowded on a square acre of empty roof. She slips up behind him and runs one finger down his neck; he doesn’t even jump. She’s impressed.

“You’ve got it?” he asks. She saunters in front of him, pulling the locket out of her top. It glints even in starlight.

“And you’ve got my stray,” she says.

He nods down the street. “There. The blue row house. I’ve been… watching the place.”

“You’re sure?”

“Tomorrow or the day after,” says Rob. “They all end up there eventually.”

Inside the blue row house, Maya sleeps, unaware.

Rob

Dead alley–Rob leaps to grasp at a fire escape and scrambles up. They’re snarling at his heels, and he has no idea what to do when he gets to the roof.

There’s someone up there, wearing a coverall with the sleeves ripped out and holding three thick coils of test line. Each is tied to a huge, cruel hook. Her hair is ragged and pink.

“I’m Dogcatcher,” she says, grinning. “Thanks for playing bait, Prentice. I owe you one.”

They top the roof behind him, and see her too. Their faces aren’t human, but they can show fear well enough.

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