"We buried her as best we could on the side of the interstate. Covered her in nylon sacking, held down with metal debris from the shelter and laid her in a deep dry ditch. She had a half-life of only fourteen thousand years the lowest I'd ever seen. Deciding there was now no reason to stay we headed South in Tom's bio-hybrid, a blur of red carbon fibre and dull chrome burning down the miles to nowhere.

In the daylight Marlene suddenly looked so very tired. Far more than normal and though I tried to think of other things I wondered if she would soon start to succumb. I had seen it so many times before. First the tiredness, then the sharp muscle pains, then the grey sickness, then the... Eventually, perhaps. But then I rationalised it was the memory of Helen weighing heavily on her. We should all have learned the hard way not to make close personal bonds. She sat in the front with the side panel open; the breeze blowing her long strands of golden hair in the slipstream like a vision of an angel with a victim's face.

The next evening we stopped before dark at the remains of an old algae breeding station from back in the fifties. Giant silver silos grasped like metal fingers into the sky though all were half eaten away by the coarse sea air."

Excerpt from "A Grain Of Sand"


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