One should never underestimate a housefly. They’re crafty and lack any concept of social etiquette. I glared at the bug frozen in mid-flight, before the winged bulimic regained movement and buzzed to the foot of my bed. Oh what’s that little fly? Unimpressed? Take this. The fly’s wings stopped. It hovered in air. One second, two seconds — buzz. Off it went to carry on with its business of being disgusting.
“You couldn’t have given me longer than two-point-five bloody seconds?” I turned to my dresser.
The shrivelled head atop it gaped back with his purple lipped mouth and two stitched up eyes. He was always doing that — gaping. Never spoke a bleeding word him. Aunty Rhoda’s token recited poetry and helped her with crosswords. Dad’s discussed international politics and over shared its strange perversion for cheese. Mine sat slack-jawed showing off his twisted yellow tooth. I could probably thank that tooth for my weak ability. Tokens granted power by biting their master. Mine had mostly gummed.
I stripped out of my jim-jams and pulled on a pair of trousers and semi-fresh shirt. Snaggle-tooth lacked eyes, so it wasn’t weird or anything — until he wolf-whistled. I turned, startled and somewhat disturbed.
“Hey,” said a gravelly voice.
“You’re speaking to me now?”
It glowered, a slight grumpier alteration from its usual gape. “Want more time?”
More time? Me? I’d only been complaining for months how I got cheated. I approached the token with extreme suspicion. “You know I do.”
“I can help.” The shrunken head’s mouth contorted into a hideous smile that made me miss the gape.
“You going to bite me again?” I rubbed my wrist.
“Yes. But first you do something for me.”
And there it was. He wanted something, naturally. Father had warned me about bargaining with tokens. It went along the lines of “Don’t do it, I bloody mean it Zain.” What he likely meant was a witch doctor should never let his zombies forget who’s in charge. Still…what could a wrinkled head want? A hat?
“I’m sorry, mate. If you’re after a face-lift it’s a bit out of my budget. Maybe if I had more time — ”
“I want a wife.” The head pushed its purple lips together. His nasty fang peeked out the top.
“I’m ready to settle down. I’m lonely.”
Ugh, imagine snogging that. I shuddered. He couldn’t be serious. “Lonely? When you have me?”
“You’re a sixteen year-old prat.” He squeezed his brow down on his stitches. “I’ll find better company when the fly you’ve been torturing lays maggots in my earholes.”
Brr, that was cold. I picked up my knapsack and slung it over my shoulder. It was great of my token to finally grace me with conversation — shame about him being a complete knob-end.
“Zain!” Mum called from down the hall. If I was late again I could forget about heading to Brighton with Benny this weekend.
“It’s been nice chatting with you.” I headed to the door. “But I’m going to be late.”
“Get me a wife, and I’ll grant you more time. Don’t you want to be more?”
My foot stopped mid-step. Dad lifted fifty times his own weight, Aunty Rhoda could levitate, and Benny was practically a video game character with his being able to shoot fire balls. Of our secret order’s thirteen active members, my two-point-five second time ability was by far the worst. Even Wester looked down on me and he pissed maple syrup that nobody wanted to eat.
I sighed. “How much time?”
“Depends on the wife.”
Mom knocked on the door. “Za — ”
I flicked my fingers.
“ — in.”
Worthless. One more minute, thirty seconds, any addition would be better than this. “Alright, Snaggle-tooth.” I snatched the shrunken head from the dresser by its grimy locks. “We’ll talk more about this later…and also a bath.”
I shoved the token into my bag just as the door opened.
“You’re going to miss the bus.”
“I’m on my way out now.”
Mum nodded and she looked me over. “Don’t forget you promised to pick Aunt Rhoda’s cat up from the vet tonight, and Dad and I have to work late, so you’ll need to fix yourself up tea. Are you going to have time for homework?”
Mum was always on me about school work. She wanted me to be a doctor one day, the real kind that ended in MD, instead of beginning with witch. I leaned over and kissed her cheek. “We’ll see.”
“This is boring. Maths is boring.” Snaggle grumbled from my opened knapsack. Blasted thing went from a vow of silence to sounding like Benny after a few ciders. I’ll never get that story about him and the plunger out of my head, and Snaggle was just as intrusive.
“You never take me anywhere nice.”
I rested my head on the desk and whispered into the bag in a stern way that showed I meant business, “Don’t make me zip you up.”
“Go ahead. I’ll just scream again.”
I closed my eyes. The little freak would too. Its yelling during English class got my phone confiscated — Mrs Hopkins had accused me of watching videos. If I’d told her it was actually my shrunken head, she’d have thought I was being rude and sent me to the office.
“I like her. She’s pretty,” Snaggle cooed.
“My teacher? You can’t even see.”
“She has a nice voice. Now go on.”
“Go on what?”
“Make her my wife.”
I nearly swallowed my tongue. “Make her your — you want me to kill my teacher?” I said a little too loudly. A few of the other students gawked. I stuck my head down into my knapsack’s opening. “No. Absolutely not.”
Snaggle sighed. “If I knew you were going to be so difficult, I’d not even have bothered.”
The bell rang. “Don’t forget to study for your test tomorrow,” called Miss Nel from the front of the class. “There are practice questions in the back of each chapter, I’ll send out an email with more tonight. Take your time with them, and you’ll all do fine. Dismissed.”
I stood and slung my bag back on my shoulder.
“Oomph. Careful. Where are we going next? Are you taking me to her? Do I look nice?” Snaggle chattered all the way down the aisle. His voice was faint through the fabric but just distinct enough to annoy me.
“Shut up.” I growled at my shoulder.
Miss Nel tilted her head. “Is everything alright, Zain?”
“Oh, just telling myself to man up, you know pep talk, getting revved for the test.”
“Right. I’ll be around after class if you need help.”
“Its fate,” said Snaggle.
“Excuse me?” Miss Nel raised her eyebrow.
“It’s a date, I mean, that’s great — cheers.” I stormed to the door mentally kicking myself in the head.
“Oh, it’s a date.” Snaggle snickered as we passed into the hall. “I like that.”
“You brought it here? Are you insane?” Benny paled as he peered into my book bag.
“Yo. Feed me.” Snaggle gnashed its gums together making a sickening slapping sound.
Benny tore off a piece of his sandwich and brought it to the opening.
“Don’t give him that.” I pushed Benny’s hand away. The thing didn’t even have a stomach. The aftermath of it trying to eat would destroy my knapsack and mum would ask a million questions before buying me a new one.
“You don’t feed your token?” Benny raised his brow. “No wonder it doesn’t like you.”
“It likes me.”
“No, I don’t.”
I frowned. Snaggle must have sensed my displeasure because he quickly added, “But I might, if you find me a missus.”
“It’s serious? What are you going to do?” Benny popped the piece of bread into his own mouth.
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“Giselle has some dolls she doesn’t play with anymore.”
I rubbed my chin. I’d not thought of that. What would a shrunken head do with a real wife anyway? If not a doll maybe a kitten would suffice. Cats were cool. I always wanted a cat. And that’d be much easier to explain to my mum.
“No dolls. Hot teacher.”
“Teacher?” Benny stared at me.
Not this again. I tapped my foot and struggled to keep the annoyance from my voice. “You don’t even like maths. You want to get stuck listening to maths all the time?”
“Wait — whoa, hold on.” Benny put up his hands. “It wants a real wife? Like a person?”
I nodded. Sure my cousin could conjure fire, but when it came down to it he wasn’t all that bright.
“Like — ” Benny darted his eyes around the cafeteria before leaning in closer. He ran his finger across his throat.
“You got it.”
“You — you can’t be considering this? Have you spoken to your dad? I think your head’s defective.”
“I can hear you, Mario.” Snaggle growled.
“Mario?” Benny’s forehead crinkled.
“Do do do dodo do, do.”
I rested my head in my palm and squeezed shut my eyes. If he wasn’t bad enough before, now he was singing the Super Mario Brothers theme — and off-key to boot.
“What does that even mean?” Benny shook his head. “Seriously, Zain. What is up with your token? Mine isn’t like that at all.”
“I dunno.” I spoke into my hand. I had to have done something wrong when I crafted it. Too much nutmeg, not enough lizard. Leave it to me to botch my own coming-of-age ritual.
Benny cleared his throat. “No, mate. A few more seconds aren’t worth killing over. Plus, I like Miss Nel.”
“Minutes,” said Snaggle from the bag, its voice distinct over the lunchroom chatter. “I’ll give you minutes.”
I placed my hands on the table and stared at my knapsack.
Benny snatched it up and shoved his face into the opening. “You could give him hours, and it still wouldn’t be worth murdering our maths teacher.”
I raised a brow. “Didn’t know you were so fond of calculus.”
Benny’s face reddened. He placed the bag back on the table. “It’s true though, isn’t it?”
Of course it was. But Benny didn’t understand. He had real power. He didn’t know the shame that pooled at the bottom of my chest whenever someone in our order discussed abilities. All Benny knew were squeaks of delight whenever he made fire appear from nothing.
Benny stared expectantly, but my attention was on the backpack. Snaggle had said minutes. I could do a lot in a few minutes. I’d be practically invincible. The look on everybody’s face when I straight up disappeared in front of them, would be life affirming. And I’d never have to study again. That settled it.
“I wouldn’t hurt Miss Nel.” I assured Benny. “But I will give Snaggle a wife. And I need your help. Can you get your hands on a bone saw? Preferably before last period?”
Jaz Sassani was lush. Soft full lips and mossy brown eyes — what do they call that, hazel? Whatever it was they were mesmerizing and fixed right on me.
“So, yeah, tonight…” She twisted her foot into the hall’s tile. “It’ll just be me and a few mates, it’s not a party party, but my parents won’t be back till tomorrow. They’re overnight for this bowls tournament thing in Swansea, they’re like really into it — so…what do you think?” She bit her lip.
I blinked a few times. “Uh brilliant. I love parties.”
“It’s not really a party.”
“I love those too.”
She smiled and so did I. “What time should I — ” A heavy object struck the back of my head and my chin kissed my collarbone.
Jaz’s beautiful eyes opened wide in alarm. “Are you okay?”
I rubbed the point of impact and glanced down at a religious studies textbook by my feet. Laughter erupted behind me.
“Time to hit the books, spazoid.” Griff Smith and his merry band of sociopaths back patted each other. Griff’s hated me since the first week of secondary school, likely jealousy over me having two naturally formed eyebrows.
“You know you’re supposed to open them to study. If this is how you’ve been going about it, Griff, it’s no wonder you failed half your GCSEs.”
Griff charged me. I dropped my bag before slamming into the wall. He raised his fist. Flick — time stop. I moved a few centimetres to the left. Crunch — Griff found tile. I smirked before ballooning with pain. Griff’s knee and my testicles. I slid down the wall coughing.
I opened my eyes in time to see Jaz running off to her group of friends. The tall giraffe looking one gave me the stink eye.
“What? You don’t got anything else to say?” Griff loomed over.
I sucked in air “You’re going to regret that. You’re mum’s going to be miffed when I tell her tonight.”
Griff lifted me by the collar. I took another deep breath.
“That’s enough Mister Smith.” Mrs. Franklin, the physics teachers, crossed her arms. “Detention. Both of you.”
Griff released me. “After school, we finish this.”
I flicked my fingers freezing the hall and gave Griff a quick jab to the nose. The corridor reanimated and I gulped for air. Abilities didn’t come free, each time I used mine it cost a full breath. It left me feeling winded, else I’d spam the hell out of it and give Griff the beating he deserved.
Griff swore and covered his nose before skulking away. I reclaimed my bag and wondered how I was going to pick up Aunt Rhoda’s cat, do detention, and make Jaz’s not-really-a-party thing. There was also the matter of retrieving my phone from Mrs Hopkins, making dinner, and school work.
“Imagine if you had more time?” Snaggle called from the bag. “Now imagine you had slightly less time than that. Don’t drop me again.”
“Sorry, better than being splattered against a wall don’t you think?” I headed to the exit for free-period. Why was I apologising? This must have been what Dad meant. Once one starts negotiating with tokens as though they’re equals it’s all over. Next thing I knew, I’d be making him his own shrunken head sized doll house and letting him choose what programmes we watch.
Out in the parking lot Miss Nel carried a heavy looking box to her car. I followed her — not for nefarious purposes, I was simply headed that way. But if the opportunity presented itself, would it really be all that terrible? If I had the ability to stop time longer it’d certainly help my grades, which needed significant improvement if I was going to make Mum proud and become a doctor one day. It’d be especially handy in surgery, if I went that route. I could save a lot of lives. The lives of many must come before the life of one — that’s just basic morality.
My foot felt hot. I looked down to find fire spreading up a loose lace. Alarm inspired a dance of panic as I tried stomping my right foot with my left. When I’d given up on my jig, I kicked off my trainer and beat it against the pavement.
“You bastard.” Benny hugged his hoodie closed. His ability sucked away his body heat, but the risk of hypothermia didn’t stop him from being an utter plonker.
I slipped my shoe back on. “You’re one to talk. What gives?”
“What are you stalking Miss Nel for?”
I looked back to where the maths teacher had been only to find I’d lost track of her. “I wasn’t. What are you talking about? I was headed to town for free period. Did you get the saw?”
Benny looked me over sceptically. “I’m heading home now.”
“Great.” I wiped ash from my shoe. “I’ll go with you. I think I know where we can find Snaggle’s wife.”
“For the record, this is a horrible plan.” Benny straightened his tie outside the brass-arched doors of Cranston Crematorium.
“Shows what you know, it’s a brilliant plan.” So brilliant, I hadn’t bothered to hash out all of the details yet. I adjusted my knapsack over my shoulder. If I got caught, there’d be some serious questions, never mind jail time. I dried my hands on my trousers. Taking a corpse’s head…would that be considered theft? Arguably it was more of an involuntary organ donation.
Muffled griping came from the bag. What’s that Snaggle? Being crushed by that maths book and bone saw? Good. I took a deep breath. “You ready?”
“No.” Benny glared.
Whatever. I entered through the doors into an expansive foyer with peach-coloured columns and baskets of flowers propped up on pedestals. It smelled like hay fever.
I unfastened my shirt’s top button and trudged to the room adjacent with Benny in tow. Outside its door, a blown up photo of an old woman sneered.
Now she’d make a nice wife for Snaggle. I almost smirked, but a fuller realisation of what I was planning to do smacked the look off my face.
With sweaty palms and sinister motives, we entered the service in process. Rows of wooden chairs lined both sides of the aisle, spotted with a mixture of sad and uncomfortable faces. I’d never been to a funeral or wake before. It was like a depressing wedding. Fitting.
At the front, pressed between wreaths of flowers, a preacher gave a sermon about eternal life. Before the altar leaned an even more contemptuous portrait of the departed. Her eyes followed me as I squeezed my way to a seat in the back row. Benny plopped down beside me.
“So what now?” he whispered.
I scanned the walls and spotted a pair of doors with peekaboo windows. Unless staff had a separate entrance, those doors led to the rest of the facility, and most importantly, the morgue.
I motioned to my discovery with a tilt of my head. Ideally, I could stop time and simply walk through, but two-point-five seconds would barely be enough time to get out of my seat never mind halfway across the room and through the door. Freezing back to back was also out, even if I could manage that long without air, the time lag between casts would make it seem like I was blinking — which would probably freak people out more than casually strolling past.
“Well?” Benny glanced back the way we came.
I flicked my fingers. My cousin froze with his eyes mid-blink like a bad photograph. I needed a few minutes to think it out. Unfortunately I only had seconds. Benny finished his blink. We had to do this quick before he chickened out.
I took in a deep breath. “Let’s go.”
Benny’s expression stretched wide. He mouthed the word, “now?”
I headed to the double doors. My accomplice shuffled up behind. A few mourners turned to look, and a curly-haired woman glared and coughed. I looked down at my feet and forced a crinkled sad expression onto my face. It wasn’t hard, these trainers had been new.
“Are you family of the deceased?” A thin man with slicked hair entered from the door. He looked me up and down.
“What are you doing?” Benny huffed in my ear. I elbowed him in response.
“I’m sorry for your loss. I’m the service director.” The man looked to others in attendance, and licked his lips. “We were under the impression that Ms. Dunsbury didn’t have any living family.
I scowled. Then why did he ask. Tosser. “You were misinformed.”
“Is there a problem, Frank?” The curly-haired woman with the cough had decided to leave her germy seat and join us — because it hadn’t been awkward enough. I looked down to see if my thudding heart was visible through my shirt. Didn’t seem to be.
“Not at all. I was just speaking to these two lads. Ms. Dunsbury’s family.”
“Family? She didn’t have any family.” Curly-Sue narrowed her eyes. “That I know of, I mean. How were you related?”
I wiped the heat from my brow and swallowed.
“What is this, an inquisition?” Snaggle shouted. “My beloved — ”
I whacked my bag and cleared my throat. “ — just died, it’s a bit overwhelming.”
The service director raised an eyebrow. “Your beloved?” His eyes travelled to the portrait by the preacher.
Stupid token. A May-December romance, why not? The woman looked fierce enough to be a cougar. I wiped away invisible tears with the back of my hand. “Now, if you don’t mind.”
Curly’s forehead contorted as if it were trying to chew a tough piece of steak. “You’re telling us, you were lovers?”
“She might not have looked like it, but she was saucy. I’ll always treasure the time we had together.”
Curly’s eyes flashed. “I don’t know what you boys think you’re doing, but this isn’t the place to be having a laugh. You should be ashamed.”
“It’s not a laugh, I loved Ms. Dunesbuggy.”
“Whatever. I loved her.” I adjusted my bag. She didn’t look convinced. The double doors beckoned. So close. If I stretched out an arm, I could touch them.
“I am terribly sorry.” The service director clutched his hands. “Please return to your seat. I’ll handle this.”
Curly didn’t budge. She stared, upper-lip curling.
“I think you lads should come with me.” The director extended his arm.
A muffled “Noooo — ,” came from my bag that stretched on for half a minute. The four of us took turns swapping stares, “ — ooo” until Snaggle finally silenced.
“What in the world — ” Curly gaped at my knapsack.
“Is — is that fire?” I elbowed Benny and pointed past the woman. She and the director turned to look.
“I don’t see anything,” said the director.
I delivered my cousin a second jab.
“I hate you,” hissed Benny, putting out his palm.
“You have got some nerve.” Curly whipped her head back toward us. Tendrils of smoke wafted from atop her curly mop.
“Oh — oh no!” The service director nearly leapt from his suit. Curly shrieked. The preacher ceased proselytising and startled gasps were followed by the knocking of wooden chairs.
“More,” I whispered.
Obediently, my cousin conjured another fire by the wreaths.
I patted him on his icy back for a job well done and flicked my fingers. Silence as I darted through the doors.
Male. Male. This place needed a better cataloguing system. I opened and shut several sliding drawers until I finally found a corpse of the female persuasion. I dropped my backpack and unzipped it.
“Oomph. Careful. What’d I tell you? I’m delicate.”
“Yeah, alright.” I pulled out my aunt’s bone saw.
“No, nope, stop right there.”
I peered into the bag’s opening. The shrivelled monstrosity stared up with his cross-stitched eyes, lips pursed. Had he changed his mind about wanting a wife? Perhaps it was all some sort of a test, or a really messed up joke. Either would be fine, as long as the enhancement of my ability was sincere.
“What is it?”
“The woman you picked.”
“What about it?”
“You have bad taste.”
My brow pinched. “How could you possibly know that?
“You have got to be — we don’t have much time.”
I huffed and slammed the drawer closed, then felt a twinge of guilt because it wasn’t her fault my token was an arsehole.
After speeding through the rest of the drawers, Snaggle arbitrarily decided he fancied the second to last. It was time to cut. I looked down at the forty-something woman, pale against the slab of metal and swallowed. She was much too young to be in a place like this. Well not young, Mum’s age. I gripped her hair with one hand and brought the saw to her neck with the other. But the thinking of my mum really put me off. This could be someone’s mum. I’d be livid if someone sawed off my mother’s head. My hand trembled.
“I can’t do this.”
“What?” Snaggle barked from the floor. “What kind of witch doctor gets squeamish over a tiny bit of decapitation?”
“A tiny bit?”
“You didn’t have any trouble with me.”
“You came — you came pre-cut.” The order had a supplier, some don’t ask, don’t tell shady bloke from that London. We rarely disassembled bodies ourselves, that’s barbaric — Benny was right for once, this was a horrible idea.
“Okay, I get it…less talky, more cutty.”
“No.” I released the woman’s unsettlingly soft hair.
Snaggle growled. “Do you want to be a loser forever? Your father is ashamed of you. Mario pities you.”
“His name’s Benny.”
“Who cares, I’m offering you great power. Don’t half-arse this. I won’t give you a second chance.”
I stared down at the evil little thing. The saw hung heavy in my hand. I’d come this far. And it wasn’t as though I was hurting her — she was already dead. The body was awaiting cremation. It’d soon be ash. It didn’t need a head at all. But I did.
I reached back for her hair and began to saw.
The head landed on the linoleum with a heavy thud. I swallowed down a roll of vomit and leant over to pick it up. This had to be the worst thing I’d ever done. It was definitely the most disgusting.
Unshrunken heads were surprisingly hefty. I rested the saw on the cadaver and worked on getting Snaggle’s fiancée into the bag.
“Oy! So forward.”
“Shut up.” I grabbed Aunty’s saw and slammed the drawer shut. Sweat pricked my brow when the realisation hit, there wasn’t room to fit the tool back in the bag.
I swore under my breath. Walking out of here with two heads in my bag wasn’t bad enough but carrying a saw too? Across the room the door handle clicked and turned. I swore again.
Filling my lungs I used my pathetic ability. “Quick! I got you a wife, give me more time.” My heart thudded in my ears. If I got caught, it’d be all over. No improved powers, no medical school, just prison food and buggery.
“Oh? Honey? Are you there? Answer me, honey.”
The door pushed open. I ducked down behind an examination table, sucked in another breath and froze again.
“Cut it out, and deliver.”
“Ritual first, then time.”
“Is anybody here?” A man called out.
I stopped him mid-step. My chest burned as I gasped for air. “If I make it out of here, and you go back on our deal, your wife is going in the wood chipper.”
Snaggle gasped. “No hurt honey!”
“Shh!” I glared at the bag.
“Somebody is definitely in here.”
I peeked around the table to see not one, but two firefighters blocking the only means of escape. My breathing was noisy and fast. If I didn’t slow it down it, I was going to hyperventilate and that was no fun — numb limbs tunnel vision, just what I’d need if I wanted to make everything worse. I closed my eyes and inhaled slowly. Held it for four seconds then exhaled through slightly puckered lips for seven, as if preparing to kiss my future goodbye.
Only the sound of my steady breathing made it to my ears. What were they waiting for? It could be they’re thinking the noise had come from where where else. They might be readying to leave.
Inhale. One, two, three, four. Exhale. One, two — a loud buzzing zipped past my ears. I opened an eye only to spot a fat hairy fly figure-eighting by my face. I shook my head at it, willing it to buzz off. Flies in a morgue, how unhygienic.My uncle once told me that when flies land on something they vomit and then suck it back up. I wasn’t sure how true that was but I wouldn’t put it past the little shit-eaters.
One of the firemen muttered something.
Yeah, that’s right, nobody’s here, move along. The fly landed on my cheek.. I swatted it back into flight only for it to head toward my eye. Startled, I scooted backwards pushing the metal table with me. Bugger.
“What was that?” Heavy steps.
I was going to have to buy my aunt a new saw. Flicking time to a halt, I hurled the tool across the room and huffed for air. I cast again to ensure they don’t see a handsaw soaring past them. My vision darkened along the edges whilst I grasped my throat panting.
It landed with a clang. The men looked to locate the noise, while my heart rammed against my ribs like a desperate prisoner, just like I’d be with my face splattered all over the news — “Psycho Head Thief, safely behind bars”. I couldn’t allow that to happen. I slammed my foot against the table sending it skidding toward the firemen.
“What the — ”
I silenced the room. Pulled my bulky cargo onto my numb shoulder, and charged toward the door just as the table clattered into the men.
“ — hell? Where did — ”
My limbs tingled as my body conserved oxygen to vital organs. I hurtled toward the stop-motion men whilst gasping. Collapsing from respiratory failure would be preferable to explaining all this to my mum.
They stood frozen as I pushed past.
“Is there a strobe light in here?” said one to the other as I fell through the parlour doors.
I finished packing my bags for Brighton and tapped back a reply to Benny’s seven text messages. He wanted tips on how to get his token interested in bartering for a wife. He thinks I’m holding out on him.
A motionless housefly stained the air. I slipped my phone back in my pocket and sighed with contentment.
“You two love-birds behave while I’m gone.” I saluted my dresser where two shrivelled head gaped at each other with stitched X’s for eyes.
Snaggle and Wobbs, short for Wobbles, an unfortunate side-effect of being cut by a novice, had been getting along well, and were now discussing starting a family. Wobbs wanted two kids, but Snaggle insisted on at least three.
I smirked as the fly buzzed off. Two-point-four minutes was great and all — but I could always use more time.