The earth moved.
That’s how it felt, anyway—like the patch of sidewalk I was standing on took me on a slow glissade left. The smooth, swift sense of displacement made me dizzy. I blinked and shook my head as my vision blurred, shapes and colors blending into an indistinct smear.
I’m having a stroke. That was my first thought. Followed closely by, Call 911.
I opened my mouth to say it, but closed it with a toothy click when Benjamin Palmer snapped back into focus. The rest of the world remained a blur—like when you shoot a photo with the lens wide open so everything but the subject is in soft focus? Palmer alone stood in vivid relief; I could see him with hyper-clarity. The spot he had missed shaving that morning, his ragged cuticles, the pearly button hanging by a thread in the middle of the chocolate stain on his shirt. His red bowtie, brown sweater, and green eyes sizzled with color.
I almost swallowed my tongue when Palmer erupted, morphing from five-foot-six-inch mouse to ten-foot-six-inch monster faster than you can say growth spurt. Bug-eyed and slack-jawed, I watched his muscles bulk and swell until he had biceps like bowling balls and legs like tree trunks. His massive head swung between his antagonist and the onlookers as broad, powerful hands with thick fingers balled into pile-driver fists. His lips drew back, barring oversized teeth in a savage snarl. His eyes broadcast a murderous rage.
I felt my hair stand on end. Managed a strangled, "OhmyGod!"
"I know. Poor schmuck probably wishes the earth would open up and swallow him. Think I should go over there?"
I dragged my goggle eyes away from Palmer to stare at Ellison, whose face reflected only pity. My gaze flew back to the Herald’s archivist. I blinked, hard. Blinked again. But the hallucination hung on.
This is not happening!
"—wrong?" Hank’s fingers wrapped around my upper arm. He gave it a gentle shake. "Hey, are you okay?"
The second Ellison touched me, Palmer downsized to Bumbling Benjie, and the world eased back into focus.
"Good question," I rasped.
"For a minute there, you looked like you saw a ghost."
"Or something," was my dazed reply.
"Maybe you should sit down for a while," he said, towing me toward the building’s entrance. "Put your head between your knees."
Houston, we have a problem. And whatever it was, I doubted putting my head between my knees would make it go away.
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