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Cat was a small dark man of spare flesh; his long black hair fell to his waist.

“Keys Made Here,” said the sign on the door. Cat could beat a lock or a safe in a trice; rust and age meant not a bit. But those who knew Cat best knew the keys were the thing. For the odd man off the street, the small brass toys would be clean and smooth, from the first time to the last. But for those with the right word and right wink, Cat’s keys could fit in the lock of Time.

It took more than just the key, of course. A square in chalk, a stalk of grass, a stuffed mouse made from felt–and the Eight Great Words. Cat would stand back in the dark, a grim smile on his face, as the poor fools took their first steps into a When that was not Now.

“Y’all come back now, hear?” Cat would drawl. But he knew that they would not, for his keys were one-way, just that.

He kept the mice for his cat (who was named Man), and rubbed out the chalk. He left the grass for the wind, and went on his way home to Man and his wife.

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