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Marie held him tenderly, sweat dripping off her nose, shuddering, sharing his breath.
The French have a phrase, la petite mort. It means “the little death.” People use it to describe an orgasm.
He looked up at her, unfocused, shock written on his features. She was smiling beatifically, her eyes poring forth into his, glimmering his soul at the bottom of a pool, fading fast, deeper and deeper.
Mender Brighton pretended to examine the dying man on the bed — he had to make a show of it. The man’s breathing was a wet gurgle and his face was covered with sores. Stage 2 Plague. Brighton could save the man, but he would not. Could not. His datapad told him as much.
Binta couldn’t be sure when delirium ended and death began. Fevered and dehydrated, she’d been walking for days, carrying her son, trying to reach safety. She’d reserved all the water she carried for her son, even as her lips cracked, her eyes sunk, and her tears stopped flowing. She stumbled, she fell, but she kept getting back up.
Winding down the last days, he couldn’t even recognize where the world he knew had gone. He was just wasting time in the diner. It’s all he had these days: time.
He sat in a small booth, one along the windows. The sun shone in through the smudged glass, filtered by the blinds to create a pattern of shadow and light. Outside he could see lumpy dirt; it looked like the earth had been abused. The strumming carpets of tall grass were eaten up long past, just a memory. Now there was just concrete and loose dirt. Beyond the dirt was the highway. Beyond that, the sky. What was beyond that could only be imagined. Probably just more empty places, hollow and unused.