"Hey you! wake up!" The voice was not immediately familiar.

Milo squinted open an eyelid just far enough to let a narrow beam of light caress his retina. Then both eyes shot wide open and he yelped. Carl Furlonger's pockmarked, slightly greenish nose almost touched his. But somehow the left half of Carl's head was missing, from the cheekbone up.

"Hello again, futze!" Carl cracked a broad, ravaged smile, with no sign of spittle. "Just checking for a pulse. You may not want to know this, but if our friends wasn't watching out for you... well, we'd be having this little cross-dimensional conversation across a whole different set of dimensions."

Furlonger straightened and sat cross-legged -- and steady -- on the futon next to Milo. Without turning his head, Milo could just make out Lenore, still sleeping. He slowly moved one hand to his chest, then to his crotch. Then he sighed with relief.

He sensed rustling nearby, and emboldened somewhat by the discovery that he was still intact, and still male, lifted and turned to see what it was. It appeared to be Armand leafing through a stack of books. Except he seemed bigger and older, maybe five or six years old.

The motion exhausted Milo. He lowered his head back to the jello-stained pillow, and studied what was left of Furlonger's face for awhile. Then he closed his eyes to take stock of himself. Curiously, he found that he felt remarkably fit. Considering.

He involuntarily drifted off into something like sleep. He dreamed he was flying high over the jungle. He dreamed of himself, through the roof of the laundry van, from two strange, simultaneous perspectives, his prone position and a bird's eye view. As far as he could see, the thick rainforest had dwindled to nothing but a few dozen trees clumped together here and there, like sprigs of wilted broccoli. Black smoke rose from what used to be the forest floor, hanging dark, sooty fingers of smog grasping at the Earth's curve in all directions.

Milo wafted back towards consciousness. When he opened his eyes again after a prolonged blink, Furlonger was -- thankfully -- gone again. When he rolled back up onto his elbow to check Armand again, the boy actually was sitting with his back against the van wall, apparently reading.

Armand lifted his gaze from the book and smiled a slightly-dense six-year-old's smile. Milo laid down again and spooned into Lenore's back. She stirred slightly, then rolled over to face him.

Milo yelped again, and recoiled from Furlonger's warty, grinning, ashy death mask.

"Com-pan-y!" sang Furlonger, nodding toward the van's windshield.

Milo yelped a third time and bolted straight up. Through the expanse of flat glass, swarthy men in jungle fatigues watched them intently, facial expressions ranging from puzzlement to awe. Barrels from a motley Jane's Directory of infantry weapons swayed like malign reeds near their faces, ready to bear. Lenore, her face her own again, was now fully awake. She obviously suppressed fear, and instinctively curled her body into a fetal position .

Milo considered his options. He decided that on the whole, dragging his pillow from under his head, very slowly, to cover his raw, come-crusted groin, made the most sense.

As he did this, a fatigue-clad militiaman, at a dark-eyed glance from the squad's capitán, moved around to the open door. He turned to the buck-naked pair and raised his eyebrows.

"Hola. ¿Habla español?"

Suddenly the meddlesome Turk, panting hard, popped his head into the doorway beside the confused guerilla's, slid an overly-friendly arm around his shoulders, and began pulling off his gloves and goggles. The leather flying helmet stayed on his head, cocked crazily to one side.

"Si, mando," he said.

He turned to Milo and Lenore. "It's okay! Everything's under control."

Milo thought about that. He decided that everything was most decidedly not.