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“I’ll tell you more about that soon, I promise,” he said. “But right now we have to hurry, because the sun is about to wake. We need to head straight to the village of Still, and it’s going to be rather tricky.”

“Trickier than all this?” she asked.


“How much?”


She stared at him.

He stared at her.

They stared ahead.

The sky, you see, was ripping itself in half.

“Run!” Oliver shouted, and Alice knew better than to ask why.

The sky was actually ripping apart, right in front of them, and though she hadn’t the slightest idea why it was happening, she knew the answer couldn’t have been good. But strangest of all wasn’t why they were running in the face of danger—it was why they were running directly toward it. There were so many questions Alice wanted to ask, but she was doing her best to keep up with Oliver’s long legs, and she was already out of breath.

“Oliver,” she said, panting. “Why is the sky ripping apart? What’s happening?”

“What do you mean?” Oliver asked. “The day is over. Today is getting dressed for tomorrow.”

“That,” she said, breathing hard, “is one of the silliest things you’ve ever said to me.”

“Why is that so strange?” he asked. He was breathing hard, too. “Don’t you change your clothes every day?”

“Well, yes,” she said. “But I’m a person.”

“Oh?” Oliver shot her a look. “And people are the only ones allowed to care about their appearance?”

Oliver clenched his teeth as they ran the next hundred feet, breathing harder than before. He was almost entirely out of breath when he said, “Alice, if you plan on surviving in Furthermore, you really must change the way you think.” He was gasping now. “Narrow-mindedness will only get you as far as Nowhere, and once you’re there, you’re lost forever.”

“You think I’m narrow-minded?” she asked him, clasping a hand to her chest, her heart hammering with each running step. “Me?”

Oliver never answered her, though probably because he could no longer breathe. He was wheezing more and more every second, and so was Alice, but Oliver was carrying the pocketbook, which looked very heavy; she was sure his struggle was greater than hers. But even though they were running as fast as they could, it seemed impossible to reach the horizon. Alice wasn’t sure what Oliver was trying to do.

“When I tell you to jump,” he said, still gasping for air, “we must jump.” He glanced at her. “Okay?”

“Yes,” she said, trying to catch her breath. “Yes, okay.”

The sky was straight ahead, midnight curtains pulling apart as slivers of gold and silky blue peeked out from underneath. It was an infant sky, innocent as a day unknown.

“JUMP,” Oliver shouted. “JUMP, ALICE, JUMP!”

Jump, she did.

The wind caught them in an instant, wrapping around their limbs and hushing their gasping, rasping breaths, and when the moment was right—as it seldom was—they were tossed into the center of a changing sky.

Down they fell, from Slumber to Still.

Two thumps later, in Still they sat. Alice and Oliver were sitting on their bottoms, legs outstretched in front of them. The wind was gone from their lungs and aches stirred awake in their joints and Alice had so much to be concerned about, but no time to be concerned.

Still had stopped the clock.

Winter snow and autumn leaves and spring showers had frozen in place. Raindrops shimmered, suspended, like the air wore earrings, and thousands at a time. Snowflakes stuck to the sky like glitter to glue. Autumn leaves had fallen but never to the ground, and they fluttered in the gentle wind, ornaments hung on a holiday breeze, brown and orange and red and yellow, caught in a moment that could not be forgot.

Alice looked up and around in awe, parted lips and clear eyes, and leaned back on her hands to take it all in. It was quiet as a feather, and so calm it was tender. The sky was a smoky lavender and the sun was a yellow cloud puffing along in the distance, lending an eerie golden glow to everything it touched. Homes were made of colorful squares and triangle roofs; gray sidewalks curved down streets made of the blackest stone. Birds sat on stoops and did not sing, and it was all very sweet and all very small. Alice could see straight for miles from where she sat, and there wasn’t a person in sight until she stood up.

She gasped.

Stepped back.

The strangest scene was set before her.

Alice couldn’t understand why everything was so different so suddenly, but it had been her movements—however small—that disturbed the land of Still, and now she stood facing all of its occupants: A sea of citizens had appeared in silent protest.

There were ladies, ladies, everywhere.

They wore suits. An orange pantsuit here, green over there, purple in one corner, red in another. They were a rainbow of ladies sitting perfectly still on stools and tables and crates and benches, on sidewalks and steps and bicycle seats. Hundreds of them.

And they were all, every one of them, staring at her.

“Oliver?” Alice could feel him standing beside her, but she was afraid to break eye contact with the ladies. “Oliver,” she whispered. “What do we do?”

He said something so quietly she could hardly hear him.

“What?” She glanced in his direction.

The ladies gasped. Round eyes and round mouths gaped at her.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t—”

More gasps. Horrified faces. Stunned silence.