Her softly rooting fingers cling to every inhabitant of the long two-by-four piece of carved and polished wood skewered with hooks. And as she gentles each guest with fingertips, nails and nose, she continues the count.
Fifth hook... it holds a stylized Victorian cricketer’s kit, all buttercream and lines of 70’s orange. And those horrendous striped trousers... ah.
Six holds a rainbow-patch coat that seems high on some kind of illegal substance.
The seventh hook sports a sweater with question marks, an umbrella. A panama.
The eighth bears a velvet waistcoat; there is a pocket watch hanging over top of it, tarnished and broken. The lovely face, it seemed, suffered a peculiar crack and stopped ticking a long time ago, at three o’clock.
There is a black leather jacket partially dangling off the ninth hook. It’s slightly burnt.
River reaches for the tenth, locked into the pattern now as she digs in her pocket for the capsule.
Once it’s in her hand again, she clicks it open. The hollow little silvery pill pops like a gelatin tablet, revealing two halves and a tiny violin.
The violin grows in her hands, sliding up and out and in and through in effigy, the love child of a wooden kinoko puzzle and a kinetic sculptor.
The ancient, smooth wood cracks and pulls, diving out of itself to re-carve its bridge.
Strings twang in exhausting cacophony, screeching like monstrous angels the size of small pin heads.
The Unicorn seems to shiver under the call of the untwisting fiddle, shaking nearer. Crawling away.
Hovering in limbo.