The doctor slides banks of sensors
over her bare, slicked tummy. The whole room click and hums. We’re packed into a room, a bright cube. I bend around banks of green
machines aimed at Cathy. Surely you don't need all this stuff
for a routine check-up…what on Mars do they all do? The doctor says, “Nothing can grow here.” “Except new life,” I mumble. Cathy glares at me. She likes this doctor; a sweet and wrinkly octogenarian. “What’s that?” the sweet doctor cranes his head
around some contraption. I look at him. He is indeed very old. And wrinkled. What I see is a stick in a
grey robe gripping a blinking green device. But also very wrinkly. A wrinkled
stick. On this point, at least, we
fully agree. To be fair, though, he is almost
exactly how Cathy described him. The kind of man who takes the Book of Standard
Practices as gospel, who can recite it word by word even after shooting an
entire syringe of Red Dust. Except that he’d never touch the stuff because that
would be a deviation from t…
I'm standing with Anne in the kitchen. The windows are flung wide open. It's a beautiful evening. We're sipping wine and we're staring at the gate buzzer.
Right on cue, the little white speaker crackles.
Anne presses the reply button and returns a tinny “Coolbeans.” She looks at me and says, “It's going to be so classy” and I grin at her. Tongue sticks out the corner of her mouth, she’s digging in her pockets for her gate remote. I beat her to it. A gaggle of students duck under the gate as it’s rolling upwards. One of them turns back and waves. A mom in a white Toyota says Be Good and pulls out of the driveway.
Smell of warm cheese. In the lounge it's me and Carry and her guy friends of friends from Durban and Jill Rhodes and Anne and Darren Waters the housemate and also copious amounts of bubbling cheddar.
I feel like an adult. Usually when we host a gathering it involves beer spills, broken glass, and at least one chunder in the garden. But not…
The heavy steel shaft stuck clean through the assassin’s shoulder, stapling him to a crack in the rock wall. Before pain or shock could paralyze him he yanked at the bolt. It barely budged. The wounded swordsman advanced on him, and the bowman winched another bolt into place. The assassin moaned as his body registered the tunnel of ragged flesh bored through his shoulder.
The waves of agony crashing against his consciousness all but dragged him into oblivion. He’d have to act fast – the bowman was already sighting down his weapon. And this time he was aiming for the head. The circling swordsman lingered just out of reach, awaiting the shot. His blade would ensure there was no doubt about the fate of their quarry.
The assassin closed his eyes and slipped once more into Samatha.
Time became fluid. To the assassin it seemed like the flow of its passage seized up, allowing a mere trickle to slip through, but to the hunters the world move on unaffected – except for the instant in which t…