He was leaning against the railing halfway across 3rd Bridge, smoking. When he was done he flicked the butt away and watched it disappear in the sluggish, icy water. Not far away, caught in a clump of trash floating downstream, was another dead bird. Its head had been removed at the neck, and one of its feet was missing. Seeing it, a sharp, metallic shiver passed through Hollister, and as the bird slipped beneath the bridge, he turned and darted across the road to the opposite railing. A second later the bird and the knot of garbage emerged, but Hollister stayed where he was, staring, until it was out of sight.

The next week, stumbling into an alley to piss, he saw his first ring; in his haste to relieve himself he hadn't noticed it, but now it held him, a perfect circle painted on the wall in blood. He stepped back, nearly stumbling as his heel caught something on the ground behind him. He bent down, blinking through a haze of cheap wine, and discovered the bird. Like the others, its head was torn off, and he realized then that the ring had been painted in its blood. The thought struck him as absurd, and he laughed once, thickly, before his stomach turned over and he had to repress an urge to vomit.

He thought he should bury the bird, but it didn't seem right without its head. He spent some time groping around on his hands and knees, and at last he across the head in a nearby trash can, as if the killer made a point to clean up after himself, but had forgotten the body, or didn't think it was worth throwing out. The bird's head was small and very soft, and nearly weightless in his hand. Hollister took it and the body with him when he left the alley and buried it in the park on Felt Street. From there he went to the shelter and found an open cot, where he lay awake for a long time, staring at the gray expanse of ceiling, and the faint, blue/white after-image of a ring that hovered in the air above him wherever he pointed his eyes.

He spent the following afternoon walking in the alleys behind the central station. The day after that he patrolled Nascent Street, and the tight confine of back entrances and parking garages in the banking district, but it wasn't until the third day that he saw another ring, scrawled on the side of a two storey home near 4th Bridge. He looked everywhere for the bird or birds that had been killed to paint it, but all he found was a single feather lying in the gutter half a block away that he wasn't even sure belonged to a pigeon.

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