The dreams came with the persistence of flies.
The operator in charge of emergency services had been having the same dreams, night after night. These, he believed, had recurred too often to have been a fluke.
In this dream, the city was clean. The normal polluting buzz of the everyday had gone. The city had been cleansed of people and he found only himself walking along roads and streets that would have usually been plagued by a million lives. In this dream, there were no cars, no trains and no aircraft; noise too seemed to have been wiped away. The only sound that he did hear, and this was a distant, barely audible sound, was that of a flute.
The operator had walked towards this flute and each step that he took gave him reassurance and belief. The flute was a voice that was sweet and it knew his name. The voice, its tones hushed and caring, told him of the things that were now at hand. It told him of the cleansing and of those who would stand in its way. It showed him the Kingdom to come and his place in it. Then, and after a long pause, it told him what he must do to earn that place.
As the operator sat amid the growing confusion of emergency calls, he felt fulfilled. His colleagues had all reported sick or had just not turned up for duty. He was alone and he remembered his dream. He would talk to them, tell them that help was coming, lie to them. He would not act upon the calls. Someone else could do that. In what was left of his heart, he understood that nobody would. The only people monitoring the world, as it began its slide away from them, were those that were pledged to the Piper.
What the operator wanted to do more than anything else was sleep.
He wanted to dream.
The Piper had been busy.
The Leatherman, he that had formerly been James Harrison, woke and moved his creaking limbs.
No muscle powered its movements. That had long since gone.
Before this moment, the dried-out husk had moved only at the behest of the boy. His thoughts, his magic, had brought about the impossible. Now, everything was possible.
On this day, on this new dawn, the Leatherman moved with a volition that came from elsewhere. This tightly bound package of space and impossibility moved because time had foretold that it should do so. The times, they had a changed. And the only tune in town was that played by the Piper.
James Harrison, now the Leatherman, sat upright and surveyed his hands. He turned them over so that he could see his palms. On their ancient surfaces, he thought, and he had not been thinking for so very long a time, he could read his destiny.
In these new thoughts, he also heard the invitations of the flute. Its notes rose towards an urging and they spoke.
The purge had begun.