Outside the window, there slides past that unimaginable and deserted vastness where night is coming on, the sun declining in ghastly blood-streaked splendour like a public execution across, it would seem, half a continent, where live only bears and shooting stars and the wolves who lap congealing ice from water that holds within it the entire sky. All white with snow as if under dustsheets, as if laid away eternally as soon as brought back from the shop, never to be used or touched. Horrors! And, as on a cyclorama, this unnatural spectacle rolls past at twenty-odd miles an hour in a tidy frame of lace curtains only a little the worse for soot and drapes of a heavy velvet of dark, dusty blue.
I steal one glance over my shoulder as soon as we are far from the foreboding luminance of the neon glow, and it is there that my stomach leaps into my throat. Squatting just shy of the light and partially concealed by the shade of an alley is a sinister silhouette beneath a crimson cowl, beaming a demonic smile which spans from cheek to swollen cheek.