I walk through swamps now. I was following you; you’re so far up ahead. You were almost running. The sun was setting and you didn’t realize I was there, a few rows behind. I could smell your sweat, hear your pulse. I could see the gold in your eyes even in the dark as you …

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12:01

The worst part was always the waiting. After a time, it culminated into an almost painful experience, that feeling of waiting and worrying, wondering if this would be the time everything would fall apart. We stared at the clock, counting the moments, always and forever waiting. Sometimes it would only be five seconds, sometimes fifty-five, …

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His grandfather gave him two gold swords to bury under the oak tree during a full moon, and he would never die. In the moonlight, he felt himself gently lifted up. And then he felt a freeing movement—much like wings—moving him past the stars and into the darkness of the universe. Return! Return! his mind screamed …

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Room 489

Whenever possible, I passed Room 489, the office with the windowed door. It was on the same floor as the office where I worked, but might as well have been in China. My grandmother, who lived when the world was different, had a musty-smelling picture book about China. It showed men with little beards and …

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“France wouldn’t have ice cream if it wasn’t for the Italians,” Emilio teases Blanche as he places generous helpings of gelato in front of her seven elderly clients. “Catherine de Medici of Florence took ice cream to the Parisian court when she married Henry II in 1533.” Still oblivious to their real names, Emilio gives …

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I’m so fucking tired of fire. What a suffocating, depressing place, Io. Heaven for a geologist, maybe, but a real hell hole. When I got the news that I was being transferred to the Sub-Europan colony, it was hard to keep a straight face. I’ll be long gone before they figure out that I convinced the machine …

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“Our mattress is still good.” Pinch-faced Nan hurried after her heavy husband. “It’s lumpy and it smells.” Balding Herbert scanned the storefronts along 8th Street. Early Sunday in Greenwich Village, most hadn’t opened their doors. He’d forgotten his umbrella, but Nan held hers up against the sooty rain. “That mattress is only nine years old. …

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Frank stumbled into the deserted park and sat down on the weathered bench beneath the one streetlight in the area that worked; he leaned forward and covered his face with his trembling hands. He sighed deeply, and his slender body sagged with despair. He was tapped out, done. His fuel tank was empty, and the …

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I kicked up little puffs of dust on the avenue as I ran in a medium trot. The insignia of the Guild of Runners was set on my shoulder, brown to indicate that I was an expert at my craft. I was glad that my old master was not there to see how uneven my …

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