“I ran out of time long ago, yes,” the woman said, accentuating the words with a nervous twitch of her head to the left. “So I…borrow it. From every clock or watch or other timepiece. A minute here, and hour there, whatever won’t be missed. Ah, for the occasional face no one reads, yes. I can take up to twelve hours from a good one.”

“That’s ridiculous,” the inspector said. “That’s not how time works.”

“The bigger the clock, of course, the more time I can take,” the woman continued. “A few ticks from a really big clock, yes, they could keep me going for a week. Once, yes, once I was able to set up inside the great market clocktower of Mindraj-Um. I took a minute a day from it for six weeks, yes, until someone noticed. I spent most of the time I…borrowed…in prison, yes, but a life in prison is still a life, no?”

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