We had to move quick. Aside from the smell of decay, and the swarms of flesh-eating bugs that harangued us at every turn, the swamp was cold, and Dr. Fjord's injury was not getting any better. I didn't like dragging her through the murky waters like this, but I didn't have a choice. I held her as far from the water's surface as possible, but I couldn't keep her out entirely. She wasn't doing much to help, though I could tell it wasn't by choice. She was barely conscious.

"How far?" I asked, my voice no more than a rasp....

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She was a regular victim, the kind of person who flinched when she heard a loud noise, ducked when she passed beneath an airborne bird, stepped sideways in order to avoid each time she happened to pass by a pedestrian, puddle or crack. She looked for and expected (and here I'm talking about the worst) in everything. Forget good and better, forget fortuitous, forget fate being in your favour and good fortune... As far as she was concerned, it was always cloudy outside and it rained constantly. In her model of the world life was hard, living was tough, and...

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There was a man who rode on a white horse. He wore a golden cloak. He was handsome and upright in posture. When he passed by, people stopped to stare and to whisper among themselves.
"Who is he?"
"Where does he come from?"
And, although they did not know the answer to these questions, they knew he was good and bold and wonderful. A hero.

There was a man who rode a black stallion. He had a large hat, flopping over his brow. Below the brim, a bright red scar was visible - a slash across his cheek. He slumped...

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Bobby had lived in his imagination as a child. Within the universe of his mind, he was an action hero, an iron-willed daredevil. He could meet any challenge, snatch victory from the jaws of any defeat, bravely pull off any stunt.

Now that he was older, he was learning more and more that he would probably never trade tracer bullets with South American guerillas, or infiltrate the secret Appalachian hideout of a band of communist child kidnappers, or balance on the hood of a car, guns blazing, while pursuing Somalian bank thief pirates across a perilous frozen lake.

But maybe,...

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In 1921, he flew from the Great Rift Valley. Ever since then, Luke had been a hero, from New York to San Francisco to everywhere in between, he was known for conquering the seemingly impossible laws of physics and flying from the valley. But he didn't reverie in his fame. Instead, he settled down in Castor, Arizona, keeping a simple life tending to sheep and cattle for the local farmers. Ince in a while, a television crew would show up and he would dissapear for a while; no one knew where he went. Except for me. I knew exactly where...

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The sword hilt slipped from his hand as he staggered back. Leather-palmed gauntlets slick with blood, his own and that of dozens of men, could yet have gripped, had his hands the strength for it.

In the steaming corpse at his feet, the blade angled outward, once shining and ceremonial, now chipped and ruined by the armor and bone it had overcome. It had belonged to his father, to his grandfather, and to a king before that; when this was over, he thought, it would hang on his wall and never again leave his sight.

This was the last of...

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