It was their third week outside the city, and from their watchtower on the wall they looked out upon the Great Grey Waste and waited for the first of the day’s migrants to arrive. A pale feather of dust rose from the far edge of the plain. Benef lifted the binoculars to her eyes. “An hour, I reckon,” she said.
It is not long dawn when the man comes. You see him before he sees you, but the light is dirty and weak and when you spot him he has already come too close for you to prepare. The boy is around on the other side of the refinery, so you call him to you.… Continue reading Still
The man who was a hero stood before the corpses, his once-golden hair matted black to his scalp in thick and bloody knots, his skin tattooed with grime and criss-crossed by the scarred mementos of his many victories.
Looking at the apartment block made me feel colder than the wind did. It was a grim cube of concrete and steel, designed by a communist architect during an age that knew no joy, and the low winter sky leached the life from it like a sponge.
Pestilence crossed his legs as the train rattled through Chancery Lane station. He'd been on the tube since South Ruislip and, apart from a 6-year-old girl who had wrinkled her nose and peered at him with saucer eyes, no-one had looked at him twice.
He’d always lived next to the wall. It dominated the landscape, an abrupt barrier to hold back the fields and trees that flowed down from the distant purple mountains, a line that ran as far as the eye could see in either direction. It loomed, yet offered the comfort of protection as much as any uneasy sensation of captivity.
They discovered the first one in 2091, during the seismic lunar surveys. It was communicated to the lab at Mare Anguis 4, in that self-consciously ambiguous way that scientists have, as an 'anomaly' - an unexpected spike on the graph, an unusually sinuous line within the oscilloscope, a decimal place lurking too far to the left - which meant that they had got their predictions wrong.
Once, when I was younger, on a day when the sun was fat and clouds were piled up on the horizon like ice cream, I caught a shark. He was half as long as I was tall, with skin as harsh as sandpaper, and although his eyes were black and sad, he smiled at me as I scooped him into my boat.
Madame Sable was almost 150 years old when she died, though she looked no older than sixteen.
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