Chapter Twelve, Part Two: Hell is for HandbasketsMature

If the Hand had been that chair instead of the Hand, Other master might not be sleeping in the Infirmary now. He would still be sitting in the Hand, using the thing called a tongue between the things called teeth. 

It shrinks slightly in size at the thought of not having been the chair. It would have liked to have been…

 What it doesn’t like is the Other-master being so vulnerable. That scares the Hand, and makes it remember the Old Days when Omega the One who had made it and its lost sibling had died, at the heart of the star called Qqaba. 

But such notions, such dwellings on things out of the Hand’s control are not for the Hand. The Hand has a job to do. Before Other master had fallen asleep, he ‘d said the Hand should go to the Cardinal’s chambers and poke about for anything that did not smell of the Cardinal. The Hand knew easily what Other master meant, but it needed a nose, in the first place.

  So it changes, growing from the floor, up and up, and up, beginning the Bird again. It likes becoming the Bird. It has wings, and talons. A sharp mouth-beak for carrots. 

Like a spider it scurries over and under and into itself; it crawls into its shape, growing the feathers and the cartilage and the sharp poke-y claws. The beady milk-bubble eyes that can see. The olfactory nares that can smell things, set into the outskirts of hard beak. 

It hops and flops into the air, making the leap to the window. Then the Bird who was the Hand begins to lift.

The End

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