90.

Could one more monument have saved him? Would one more golden statue in his likeness have made him complete? Perhaps one more sonnet dedicated to his name? Or one more piece of art in his gallery?

The King drew his last breath, despairing that he would never know.

89.

With one last bellow of frustration, Abigail fell to the blood soaked ground, overwhelmed at last, the great gleaming green jewel forever out of her reach.

88.

This wasn’t so bad. Soft bed. Bright blue sky out of a window scrubbed so clean as to be invisible. As much morphine as you wanted. No responsibilities.

If only there were more time to enjoy it properly.

87.

There is a height which is high enough to kill a falling cat, but not high enough to give the cat a chance to prepare for the fall and land in a non-lethal (to the cat) manner.

The bird, on the other hand, got away.

86.

The bright sparkled upon the sand; the wet hummed peacefully as it washed over it and retreated, washed and retreated.

Himself waddled under the shade of the leaves. There were tasty seeds here. So many tasty seeds. Dig, dig, gulp.

Something big, there. Himself gave it a passing glance. What a big bird!

What a loud sound! Ouch! Himself’s legs weren’t working. Himself collapsed, squawking weakly. So much ouch!

85.

Witches are made primarily of piss and vinegar, so you should know it wasn’t the water that did it, but the soda wash Dorothy was using to clean the floor.

83.

The First One did not know how to die.

Seeking answers, she made children. To them she gave the gift of death, so that they could teach her the trick of it.

But they loved her so, and they would not teach her.

That was long ago. The First One’s children have died. And their children. And their children’s children.

They have forgotten the First One. She has not yet learned the secret of death, first because of love, now because the children do not remember.

But the First One feels the world grow old around her. It will be a very, very long time still, but she begins to feel, in her bones, that the world itself will die. And then perhaps it will share its secret, and she can sleep, and be finished.

82.

With a roar, the captain leaps upon the mast, her pistol belching smoke and fire. One of the kraken’s eyes explodes in a gush of thick white fluid and gobs of gelatinous flesh.

The sea itself seems to roar in pain. A great green wave swirls over the deck. One massive, suckered arm wraps around the mast, wrenching it off, sending nails and splintered wood raining down on the deck, and flying off into the storm.

The captain, her laugh rising above the storm, discharges her second pistol.

“To hell with ya beast!” she cries, “I’ll follow!”

Mast, captain, monster, storm — all disappear beneath the waves. Now, the sea is flat and calm as glass. Somewhere in the deep black blood and red blood mix, then slowly disperse.

81.

She is orating. This fact is subtle: her hands twitch, rather than gesture. She mumbles rather than thunders. But her eyes are bright.

Her audience is an old dusty television: switched off. And a bony cat, stretched out in a sunbeam.

She finishes her speech, and closes her eyes, and all is still.