Sandy slept badly that night, and the next. Sunday passed quietly without a chance to make use of her new bag, and Monday morning came far too quickly. She woke sweatily half an hour later later than usual, and noticed with early-morning rage that she must have accidentally swiped her alarm clock off the bedside table the previous night. It was lying open with its cogs exposed on the floor, a neat flap of its casing torn off as though dissected.
Late as she was, Sandy had no time to analyse the accident. Instead she dressed, stuffed all her schoolbooks into her bag and ran out of the house with the speed of the pursued, the demon of a detention following her all the way to school. She couldn't even pause to wonder about the origins of the fetid, meaty smell which seemed to cling to her belongings as she left the house.
Arriving only a miraculous five minutes late, Sandy sat panting at the back of the classroom, too flustered to take notes. After establishing that her delayed arrival was not going to get her into trouble, Sandy put up her hand and asked to be excused. She deceived the exasperated teacher into letting her leave the classroom, then strolled to the toilets to apply the makeup she hadn't had time for that morning.
Her new bag was stuffed to bursting, and she had to rootle in it with both hands to find her mascara. But instead of the tube she was expecting, Sandy felt something strangely fluffy. Withdrawing her hand, she was baffled to find that the detachable shoulder strap (which had been one of the most exciting features of the bag) had somehow disappeared. Even more puzzling was the materialisation of a piece of Winston-coloured furred tinsel. It felt almost like his -
Suddenly grasping what it was that she was grasping, Sandy dropped the tail back into the bag and wrenched her other hand out of it. But she wasn't quite fast enough, and the bag - as though conscious of its discovery - clasped itself around her wrist. As its opening puckered around her hand, Sandy found that it was deadlocked to her skin. Her frantic attempts to shake off the bag were useless, and Sandy collapsed, sobbing, into a cubicle.
Then the pain began. It felt as though hundreds of tweed teeth were gnawing at her flesh, plaid piranhas nibbling the meat from her bones. Sandy screamed louder than she knew she could, keening and sobbing as the pain intensified. And then, as soon as it began, the pain was over and the bag was loosened.
Flinging the bag from her arm, Sandy closed her eyes and hugged her hand to her chest. But only seconds had passed when she realised something wasn't quite right. She looked down at her injured arm and found that no scream would come. Instead she whimpered and hyperventilated by turns as she contemplated the change that had come about. For instead of a hand protruding from Sandy's wrist, all she could see was a long loop of leather. Sandy no longer had a hand. She had a handle.
When she could finally look away, Sandy saw something which filled her with horror. The bag was moving, scraping and scrabbling its way towards her over the linoleum tiles. And dragging the bag, sprouting from it and propelling it ever closer to Sandy, was her own hand. Strangely, given the horror she had withstood in the last ten minutes, it was the fact that the hand still wore her pinky ring which caused Sandy to faint.