Page 13

   The day is the darker for all the walking I’ve done. I’ve had it. Granted, a landscape populated only by the plus-size structures the people left behind has an element of the spiritual to it, but that’s just awe. I should be looking for food, not rolling my hands around a ball of nothing attempting to invoke—whatever bullshit she’d sold me as her prize for—
   You know, I didn’t even do anything for her, not really. This has been some fool’s errand. And it takes standing atop a dusty flyover to see that?
   I start the trudge down, kicking my toes against the roadway to shift my feet further forward inside my shoes. I’m going to have blisters tomorrow.
   Meanwhile, I am damn thirsty, and if that was an open doorway I spied up ahead, it better not have been open like that when I came past the first time.
   Wait a minute.

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Page 9

   The road itself is beautiful – flat, broad, and black. New. Bordered by muddy ditches. Patches of fluffy snow pile up like white mould. Beyond the ditches lie half-houses, chewed up halfway by construction equipment that cut their swathe through the area leaving grime and broken walls, and curious pieces of furniture hanging off edges. I guess if the road project had been completed, those half-houses and the muddy earth would have been paved over, replaced by more dun chocolate and candy-coloured apartment buildings. Eight stories tall, endless pairs of apartments long. Fussy places with tiny wrought iron balconies. As empty as I think all the buildings I’ve passed have been.
   I’ve come too far.
   The man had spat when I left him behind. Funny in its own way because he truly did shout some word to get all that phlegm out, some heavily aspirated choking vocalisation high in his throat. I’d grinned. If nothing else, it had placed the guy pretty much exactly where I’d left him. Not following.
   Only now, I have to turn around and go back there because there’s been nothing here either.
   Fuck.
   I grow colder standing there considering just what to do right now because I am standing right in the middle of the middle lane. Ahead is a flat and half-finished landscape of abandoned construction, the blacktop dipping down with the land before rising again through a line of older apartment buildings. Behind is the top of the rise I came up over and isn’t it interesting how exposed I feel. There’s no one I know of to come tearing up and over that hill. I’d hear a car, anyway, right? Why can’t I stand out here?
   Because rules, man.
   Conventions.
   How the society used to work. You followed the conventions and had your way smoothed. And conventionally, big metal death machines – lounge chairs in air conditioned shells – cars – would use a road.
   And possibility being what it is, maybe you don’t mess with that kind of option just to make a point.
   Or you do, if somehow it’ll tell you what you’re missing, that key to what no one had before…. all the powers in the world.
   Wait, no one had this before? I could ask her, I guess. But I don’t think she’s going to answer questions like that.

   I can hear my stomach. I blow out a puff of the little heat I have left and turn around. Time to go….
   Home.

Page 4

   Because look, I don’t want you to think I’m alone out here, because I’m not. There’s a god. She comes and goes. I saved her. No, I know, right? Up until recently I didn’t know there were gods either. There was the one god, worshipped in the Imperium, religions about him shaped out culture and blah blah, but like I say, up until recently I, oh god damn it. I hadn’t known. I hadn’t—known. Oh you crafty conniving—
   Nice lady. Crafty conniving very nice lady.
   I saved you. You granted me a wish. There I said it. A wish. I wished for all the powers in the world. Because really, is there something else to wish for? There might be. And that’s the kicker: I don’t know.
   She said sure, you see. She said righto lad, here’s all the powers of the world. There wasn’t even a ding or a wand waved. She just said it.
   And we hadn’t really been getting along up until then. She kept making me not breathe. So I was dubious.
   The more you know, she said. And freaking vanished. That—that!—made a pop. She was there, knee deep in freezing water and crackling wet (the water on her was beginning to freeze in the wind – she crackled when she moved), and then—pop!—not there, which I guess left a sudden space in the world, a vacuum where there shouldn’t be open, and it either collapsed or the air around it rushed in—I don’t fucking know! It popped. But she’s been back and, I’ll say she’s been very grudging about this, but she said there was no god. No one real only god. And therefore…. the more you know.
   What the crafty conniving nice lady means is, oh and you had better sit down for this…. knowledge is power.
   It means, if I know how something works, I can make it work.
   And up until recently I hadn’t known there were gods.
   Do you see now? She’s a wicked one for sure.