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Stories are our businessTM

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Chief Inspector was right, he didn't stand a chance at the trial. Antia visited him in tears and lingerie to tell him the greenhouse had been confiscated as evidence.

Ven had left the city.

Even his Cohorts said he had gone too far this time.

There was a language of flowers, and Florentin knew pidgin flower—red roses were love, yellow ones were friendship, &c. The only thing that flowers talked to each other about was relationship, and the only thing that man understood was the looking glass. Himself.

So, alone with the unwavering gaze of the two-way mirror, Florentin took his last meal of lilies in his cell. The guard who deposited it told him, "Save room," because down the hall, his hemlock was being prepared. Every meal made him younger. Every day made him more dead. His appeals could go on for a million years, and he'd sit still in his cell, outwaiting and outlasting and outliving his condemners.

There was something that nobody understood—not Ven, not Cohorts, not the Chief Inspector—that after eighty-three years of staring at a mirror, Vanity saw the world. He ate a lily and looked at the mirror, saw the worry of the trials fade away like melting snow. The Earth lifted her hand to her mouth and in Florentin, her reflection did the same, biting another of the lilies. Everything reflected in Vanity, and he grew younger. The Earth grew younger as she ate an entire race of time travelers.

White-hatted watchers saw his last meal, saw not only the everyday unaging, but also the prisoner pull a stage-escape with mirrors, drifting out of sight like smoke. Butterflies felt the panicked quickening of hearts under the shirts and their proboscises unfurled, eager for that red nectar forever an inch away. The world turned backwards, looking over its shoulder, then continued on in its counter-clockwise path.

think
of me when
your
world
chang
es

Vanity had unaged past the point of his own birth, folding inside out like a wad of origami and coming out unfolded on the other side, running headlong into the past.

They chased him.

No, there was only one pursuer, vague and male. He chased him.

pocket
full of
posies

For a time, Vanity Florentin feasted on botanical gardens and public parks, unable to believe the new world he'd stepped into. The fountain of youth was giving off splashes of blue triodanis perfoliata everywhere he looked. The buildings were made of solidly opaque material! Peasants used internal combustion! Anyone who thought that the Scareman was some sort of Robin Hood, standing upright in a garden and protecting defenseless beings from The Man, was wrong. He just wanted out.

But he couldn't get it. Those shadows, those footsteps, those eyes were always behind him and he never knew which way to run. Florentin missed his wife.

He saw cotton swabs on rabbits' eyes and cried. He saw blubber being rendered. The simian inquisition. Worst, Vanity saw Age. Up the stairs to his hotel room at night, the Scareman's head in hand, he told himself it was just culture shock and homesickness. It would pass. His heart seized like an engine at the top of the stairs. There! The end of the dark hall was a shadow, vague and male. Was that a breeze of wings on the shadow's chest, or was it just the tick of his own heart restarting?

Florentin said, "Is that you, Inspector?"

"?"

"Yes, it's me, Florentin. So, you followed me. Congratulations."

"."

"You're welcome. How do you like this land of new opportunity? Everything's so novel! I've been at this one week for almost a year—I can't take everything in. But," he mused, "that's probably how you found me."

"."