Dear Sara: The official verdict that I am no longer classified as human arrived in a windowed envelope bearing the return address of the Bureau of Lineage Affairs. There is one envelope for me and one for you, although I haven’t opened yours. Except for the return address, these envelopes look like something from the bank, or perhaps an offer for home insurance, the kind we throw away.
In a dusty, antique-littered back room of the loft on St. Mark’s Place, a room with walls the color of ripe cranberries, Hannah stands naked in front of the towering mahogany-framed mirror and stares at herself. No—not her self any longer, but the new thing that the man and woman have made of her. Three long hours busy with their airbrushes and latex prosthetics.
When word came that the king had died, Kyros began packing his tools. Agathon had been a fine patron, commissioning statues and friezes for his capital’s many temples and his own palace, but his wife had no reputation for piety or art. He was surprised, then, when one of her pages delivered a scroll requesting his services.
On October 11, 2035, Jamie Wrede, R.N., was the sole employee staffing the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Temperance United in Martinsville’s Pine Ridge district. In the course of her career, she’d been asked to kill nine newborns. That morning, she planned to kill four more. Jamie woke at 6:45 and began preparing breakfast for her eighteen-month-old daughter, Claire. At 7:34, she picked up a “crank call” and listened for three minutes.
He was in the library. It was quiet. No guns. No mud. He could crawl in peace, as long as he didn’t make any noise. Mrs. Dientz, the librarian, wouldn’t allow noise. Ed was worried that he would get dirt in his wound, and it would get infected. The library is full of fungus, like a locker room: You can get athlete’s foot in places you would never put your feet.
Frederic Paschel, a wine merchant who lived in the town of Sylah in the valley of the river Dordogne, was left a widower when his two sons, Gilbert and Benedict, were in their infancy. The younger son, Benedict, was as dutiful as any father could ever have desired; he was amiable and pliable, ready and willing to be molded in the image of his sire as a respectable tradesman. Gilbert, on the other hand, was surly and rebellious.
Dead Gulch lived up to its name. A two-bit hick town that was little more than a dirt track flanked by a couple dozen wood shacks. My beast growled low and mean as I started through and then reared up in yet another fool attempt to unseat me. I had to dig those rusty spurs in long and hard, twisting the boot heel like I was squishing a scorpion. My Halfie let out that familiar nerve-gnashing howl and settled down real quick.
It’s my habit, of an evening, to walk along the canal, a grey and sleepy little waterway that runs through our village in the low-lying Eastmarch. I follow the canal into the countryside for two miles, to the door of the Fighting Temeraire. This old stone inn by the water is a place where one can drink an excellent rum punch, and share the evening with country people.
“You must wait here,” the Highest of the High Priests told her. “We will return and bring you back to the Land of Nibiru once we have found the circlet to place upon your head.” The very mention of the circlet made the High Priest tremble with joy. Though the journey through the portal had been brief, the Land of Nibiru was many universes away from where Corrina now stood—in her own small kitchen, in her own small house.
Tanner named the motel Star Motel because calling the place North Star Motel would’ve been asking for it. Colored folks recognized that “star” and the little lights Jessie insisted they burn in the windows. Most of their customers were hungry, travel-weary young men who did not believe the VACANCY sign as they approached the motel and did not believe that Tanner, round as a dishpan, wide as the door, was its owner.