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…Tick-Tock…

“Hurry! Hurry!” Hyde heard the doctor think, “Or else we will never find that beggar again!”

Edward Hyde bolted out the back door as soon as he possibly could. He had already wasted enough time with that awful transformation and changing into clothing that fit his smaller form. He could practically feel the trail of that ticking bum grow colder with every second as he raced down Abney Parkway.

“Pub’s that way,” Hyde muttered to himself, glancing over to his left, “You remember which way the bum went?”

Jekyll’s voice hummed in Hyde’s head, “Hm… I recall hearing the noise fade away… I believe it was headed around this area, but he must have continued on…”

“Right, then.” Hyde ran up the stairs and past the building that was supposed to be city hall, rounding the corner and taking the ramp back down to the streets to pause in front of the publishing house next to Loki’s. (He would have simply jumped the wall behind City Hall if a canal hadn’t been there.)

Darting his eyes around the immediate area, he noticed a figure who had paused near one of the bridges up ahead. A figure dressed in some sort of long black coat with messed up hair, who paused only a moment before ducking into an alleyway.

That must be the target. Hyde dashed to the building he saw the figure turn at and quickly scrambled up to the roof, nearly slipping on the pipework and dislodging the roof shingles in the process.

“Be careful, would you?!”

Hyde growled at his own ‘conscience’ for nearly throwing him off track as he ran across the rooftops, taking advantage of any conveniently placed lumber when it was present and jumping to the nearest surface when it was not. The man he was following from above was suspiciously quick, and always seemed to try and wedge himself into the noisiest sections of the alley. He kept stopping at random windows and bridges, and eventually it became increasingly apparent this man was following someone himself. The identity of this third party was not important to Hyde, he was so focused on the strange man in the coat.

Soon enough, he was closing in on the man from the rooftops, and he started to hear a familiar sound quietly echo above all the noise below.

…tick-tock…

…tick-tock…

…tick-tock…

“Yes…” Hyde whispered to himself, for he knew this was the beggar he was looking for. Unfortunately, that beggar was heading for a crowd of merchants and dockworkers in an area woefully underpopulated by buildings. Hyde would have to continue his pursuit on the ground.

Getting down from the roof was easy, especially with this particular building having iron balconies and ladders. Trying to find a particular face in a busy crowd, that was hard. Even more so since Hyde happened to be lacking in height. Yet the taunting ticking seemed to lead him further into the busy street.

…tick-tock…

…tick-tock…

…Tick-Tock…

…Tick-Tock…

…Tick-Tock…

The beggar had abruptly turned around and rushed right past Hyde, his left arm brushing against Hyde’s sleeve for a split second.

…Tick-Tock…

Before Hyde had realized what just happened, the beggar escaped back into the crowd.

…Tick-Tock…

…Tick-Tock…

…tick-tock…

He was gone. Slipped away into the mass of pedestrians. Hyde stood in the middle of the sidewalk, both confused and frustrated. How could that beggar have gotten away? He was so close!

He figured Jekyll might be disappointed, at the very least, seeing as that part of the whole was the one who came up with the brilliant idea. However, the first thought that came to mind was a bit different. “That arm… Something about that arm wasn’t quite right…”

That’s what you’re concerned about?!” Hyde blurted out, not really caring that he’s in the middle of a crowd. Where a dockworker could hear him.

A dockworker did hear him, actually. “Concerned abaaaht what?” he asked as if Hyde was speaking to him.

Gah-” Hyde scrambled around for a reply that didn’t make him sound like a raving lunatic. “Eh… Nothing. Not much… Kind of lost actually. Know if there’s a pub around here?”

The dockworker seemed a bit bemused, but the mention of a pub seemed to put a smile on his lips. “Caaahrse there’s a pub around ‘ere! Ye can ‘ardly take a step in New Babbage wivaaaht findin’ a pub. Like what one up ahead.” The man pointed to a nearby tavern with a sign that read The Forlorn Hope. “I’ll ‘ave ter warn ye, though, crowd over there’s a bi’ rowdy.”

Hyde glanced up at the building. “Good, I happen to like rowdy.” A sarcastic grin was on his face as he thanked the random dockworker. Looks like he’ll be frequenting this joint for a while…

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