As of this second there are 3,236,728,909 people over the age of four living in the world, all of whom I am intimately familiar with. Of these, there are 876,852,003 that I love, and one that I am currently in love with.
The silence of the Asonu is proverbial. We know now that the Asonu are not dumb, but that once past early childhood they speak only very rarely, to anyone, under any circumstances.
She’s sitting bolt upright, propped by pillows, and there’s so much sweat everywhere that it’s like condensation in a steam room. I’ve seen her look bad before but never quite this bad.
I kept ripping and gouging and pulling and yanking until my fingertips were bone. By then, I hit the circuits inside the door and fried myself. And woke up here, strapped down against a cold metal bed with no bedclothes.
The stars seemed to flow around an enormous, circular gap in the star field. It had many different names, this region of space. The astronomers who discovered it centuries earlier had called it Bhat 16. Later physicists would call it “the sink.”
“There are skeletons throughout the city, some in homes and some collapsed in what seem to be public spaces. Whatever the disease was, it struck fast.”
He wishes he could find Grishkov and scream at him, but Grishkov is dead, of course. He died sometime that night, the first night Hwang slept and jumped through days, years, decades.
Sylvia steps quickly into the empty elevator, and the others follow her—the woman who is mostly a leopard, the fat man with thick brown fur and eyes like a raven, the pretty teenage girl with stubby antlers and skin the color of ripe cranberries—all of them filing in, one by one, like the passengers of some lunatic Noah’s ark.
Root canal is one fifty, give or take, depending on who’s doing it to you. A migraine is two hundred. Not that I get the money. The company gets it. What I get is twelve dollars an hour, plus reimbursement for painkillers. Not that they work. I feel pain for money. Other people’s pain. Physical, emotional, you name it.
FedShip ASN/29 fell out of the sky and crashed. After a while two men slipped from its cloven skull like brains. They walked a little way and then stood, helmets beneath their arms, and looked at where they had finished up. It was a beach in no need of an ocean—it was its own ocean, a sculpted sea of sand, a black-and-white-snapshot sea frozen forever in troughs and crests and more troughs and crests. Dunes.