The man holding the clock was wearing a mask shaped like a bean and painted disconcertingly unlike a face in black and white. The tattered remains of what had been long, silky ears fluttered out of the top. “Seven oh clock,” he said.

Alex wasn’t the last in line by a long shot, but he was a long way from the front, too. Every few seconds the line would sway forward but he never seemed to move anywhere.

“Seven oh nine,” said the man with the clock.

Alex toyed with the thing in his pocket and thought of Leon Czolgosz. He swayed forward with everyone else.

“Seven eighteen.”

He studied the bean-mask surreptitiously. It was too perfectly alien, too authentically abstract. Two thin black ribbons held it to the back of the man’s head.

“Seven twenty-seven.”

Alex pulled the thing out of his pocket and waved it at the man with the clock. It made a noise like neeow and flashed brightly. For an instant he was blind.

“Seven thirty-six,” said the man with the clock, and everyone swayed forward.