the shifts, for alicia.


"You met who?"

Patrick chopped another piece of wood. "A girl who called herself Tempo."

Domino handed him another log. "Did you have to kill her?"

Patrick swung the axe. "No." Two perfectly split pieces fell off his chopping block. "The poor girl was a little incoherent."

Domino was instantly suspicious. "How?"

"Well" -- swing, and Domino put more wood on the block -- "She was talking about losing powers she never had because chaos was ringing in her ears. Said it very coherently, and kept" -- thwack, and two more pieces of wood fell to the ground -- "sticking her finger in her ear, actually trying to reach an itch."

They were in the courtyard, taking the big pile of dead trees that Nate had telekinetically dragged here yesterday, and turning them into a larger pile of burnable logs. "That doesn't sound like a good sign."

Patrick wiped his forehead. "Well, before I had a chance to investigate, a shift line ripped open right in front of me. Barely jumped out of the way."

"She wasn't so lucky?"

Patrick shrugged. "Didn't ever find out."

"Huh." Domino waved at him, and they sat down for a bit of a breather. "Did you hear that Rich and Nate brought in forty pounds of cheese with these logs?"

"Oh, god, yeah." Patrick's face wrinkled up in distaste. "And Franklin was going to make cheese soup."

"I'm sure I'll be thrilled when I can't taste it anymore." Domino wiped her hands on her pants. "Did you hear that they finally sorted out the problem with the silkworms?"

"No, I hadn't." Patrick looked thoughtful. "Not gonna be the best material for hard wear, though."

"Franklin was thinking liner. Wool and leather's still the best we have for traveling outside the Oasis."

Patrick was gazing off in the distance. Domino waved a hand in front of his face. He glanced at her, face wry. "Sorry. Was just thinking about that girl again."

"You want to go and find her?"

He shook his head. "No, it's not that. She's long gone by now." They let the unspoken 'if she survived' pass. "Just, it was so odd."

"What was?"

"She." He shook his head, standing up to start chopping wood again. "She was just going on and on and on about wanting a clock. It seemed so important at the time."

Domino snorted. "Most things do."