By the third week the girl had stopped coming to school, and the boy who liked her started to get worried. The teachers cared, a little, but they had too many students to focus on one. The parents said she was sick, the boy discovered when he began to pry and he was given the information to make him stop being such a bother. They were friends, he lied with bright-eyed eagerness that made him later want to go sulk in dark places, and couldn’t he at least take her homework to her? …
Hello, he said,
as he restitched my spine.
I thought I’d be seeing you again,
so focused on your work.
Pain flared through my arms as he tested certain nerves.
You’d be a nice kid, he mused,
if only you could learn to relax sometime.
Your back is very tense.
(My back was very tense.)
He removed a punctured kidney,
brushed off a bit of dirt with his fingertips
and slotted in a shiny-new replacement
before sewing the hole shut.
Tsk tsk, he said, you really should watch out for those penetrating shells, as he picked fragments…
Maryann was contemplating the nature of death when she realized there was another person in the room.
There was her uncle, of course, festooned in all the machinery of life. Pumps whirred, and machinery hummed, and electronic things beeped, and her uncle’s chest rose and fell ever so slowly. He had been hearty once, and had wasted away in mockery of it, so that the broad lines of his face stood against the withered arms that protruded from his hospital gown.
Excluding him, though, there was a man sitting to the side, in one of the chairs she’d thought…
Back when I did the party circuit—I mean, when dinosaurs were walking the Earth, before you two were even around—the Caterwaul was always the big thing each year. Goddamn awful name it had. That was before they’d even put in any rules at all for the sensies, so there we’d go, all us party-parasites, all coked up on ten different things we’d done off-camera. Oh, I’ve done stuff that would turn you white. You didn’t think this was age, did you? —so, there I am, I’ve got these stupid lenses in to turn my eyes all rainbow and I’m…