Radiation, the last breath of unstable atoms, spilled no blood as it passed through flesh and bone, but it was murder on DNA. For humans, DNA damage spelled nausea, headache, cancer, death. Lynn’s genetically engineered diatoms, too small to have organs that would fail, simply died. They fell to the bottoms of their flasks in browning drifts, too toxic to decompose.
If there is already a layer of artifice to you, if already you are pretending, but failing at pretending, why would it matter if someone, or something—I am talking about a BetterYou—pretends to be you, but does a better job at it? Why does that need to be seen as this bad thing or this frightening thing?
“It's a long way to Thrace,” Tereus says, as if he can read my mind, as if he knows what this is like: to be away from home for the first time, to see again my sister, his wife, after all this time, to meet their child. And then he smiles, because, for him, this is a victory trip.
A smile spread on she beautiful brown face, like when you draw your finger through molasses on a plate. “Sit down nuh, doux-doux, you in your nice clean pressed white shirt? I glad you dress up to come and see me.”
I was just trying to boxtroll that asshole into quitting, like I’d gotten the two guys before him to do. I swear I wasn’t trying to get him all dead and shit. It wasn’t my box that did it. But I guess all drone-related crimes fall under federal jurisdiction, and when a civvie octocopter box put a bullet in Jonathan Sandelson’s front left tire and sent him careening into the ocean and the afterlife, the feds assumed it was me.
She is standing ankle-deep in the river, looking down, her mouth open. Mebuyen notices, as she draws closer, that the child’s calves are skinny, her cheeks chubby, and her SpongeBob Squarepants sando has a bullet-sized hole above her ribs.
The lenguas don’t go into her shop unless they have to; it’s too loud there. A riot of cinnamon, splashed with lavender, bursts of olive oil and bacon fat, lemon cutting across almond and chiles anchos and dates stewed with ginger—and all of it against the background of burning sugar. Imagine walking through a word salad, disembodied voices screeching stray tense markers while others whisper gerunds and datives, and occasionally croon an eerie accidental sentence.
You studied Franklin, and you studied Greely, and came to the same consensus: Expeditions that disunite die in the snow. You and Jamey, you decided, would always aim together. You would not, could not, fail.
Things had been different since Pamela swallowed the cactus. The sex was certainly more creative. Lydia would crack her open now, stroke the moist, water-bearing seams that made up her insides, moving with exquisite care. Pamela would wear gloves.
As she kicked her way towards the surface, her fingers and toes lengthened, a thin membrane webbing together in between them, and thin slits opened up into gills on either side of her torso. Her ribs ached, body working overtime to suck in water through her shirt.
He thought a jumbie would look hunched and desiccated, like the twisted body of a man blackened by fire, something living that should be dead. But as the jumbie emerges from the club, it looks like it could be another queer man in the Village, another of the boys inside on the dance floor; it wears a tailored peacoat and Converse and has a face that would be beautiful if it wasn’t so long, if only its thin-lipped mouth wasn’t quite so wide.
They were not the kind of dreams that you’d expect a dog to have. The dreams he’d had before the men came had been doggy dreams. The dreams he had after they grabbed him, though, these dreams were entirely new.
When we were young, we would always get lost in the house. Quietly but suddenly, we would find ourselves in rooms or corridors that had not been there before. Unfamiliar clothing hung on chairs or lay neatly folded on beds that we did not recognize. Sometimes there would be a half-empty tumbler of water on a desk, a book or a pile of loose change. Windows looked out on places we did not know. Even the sun and the trees looked strange. When this happened, there was nothing to do but wait until the house shook itself out and we were put back, a few hours later, with no one noticing we were gone.
Alexis carries the laundry through the kitchen. The tile beneath her feet was once a strip of sand beach. She walks through clusters of plover nests, which were perfect circles. The yellow cream clings to the tread of her tennis shoes. The alarmed mothers, suddenly orphaned.
Fisherwoman Mika Sandrigal was lost at sea. She knew where she was in relation to the Candorrean coastline and how to navigate back to her home city, Maelstrom. She knew the time of day. She knew the season. She knew the phase of the moon and the pattern of the tide.
She did not know the year.
The camera high up in the opposite corner of the room was watching, I knew, its clever algorithms ready to alert my supervisor the second its analysis of my bearing caught me going “inattentive, distracted, unpleasant, inactive” or anything else the company handbook warned against.
The sticky horror in our throats is not just for what we see, but for ourselves. We long to be there, in the heat of it. It is spiteful to leave us here, wasting away. We feel in ourselves a nuclear fire, always on the verge of explosion.
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