"Hey! You! Jackass!"

Geoff was trying to make eye contact -- or, failing that, ear contact -- with the ferris wheel operator below. Geoff and Jo had been stuck at the top of the ride for more than five minutes now. And the effort might not have been so much in vain were they not surrounded by a cage.

No response. Of course.

"Will you knock it off?" asked Jo. "He'll get to it when he gets to it."

"It's just. Gah!" Geoff started rocking the ride. Back and forth, back and forth, the range of motion increasing each time....

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The sky was blue, the grass was green and the little clouds were as fluffy as the picture in a child's reading book. All was well with the world. And on her swing, she could see above the park, above the neat hedges and the flowering bushes. She could, as she swung higher still, see over the row of terraced houses and into the street beyond. Over the flowering cherry trees and the neat gardens with their blossoming plants, over the heads of the middle class and middle aged gardeners and housewives and shoppers and busy bodies of the suburban...

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It comes from fearing science.

In America of 2025, the faithful had won. No one believed in evolution. No one believed in vaccination. No one believed in soap.

The foreign countries had taken to calling them "Potatoes" because they were white under the thick film of dirt that comes from refusing to wash.

The potatoes were in a panic. Some potato, venturing beyond his or her front door, with a long lost telescope discovered in a storage room, had pointed it at the sky and seen something move. Watching further, the potato did a bit of empirical deduction and derived...

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Chaz and Elinor tear-ass through the forest, hands raised ineffectually above heads, sodden shoes slapping on undergrowth, alternately laughing and yelling "Ow. Ow. Ow!"

The hailstorm pelts them from above, chunks of ice the size of large coins, not nickle-and-dimeing today but quartering and Susan B. Anthonying. Chaz gets a Kennedy fiftycent piece to the top of the skull and takes a header, facefirst into the soggy pine needles below.

"I think that one actually trepanned me," he shouts.

"What? Get up!" Elinor hauls him to his feet and they keep running.

The tent, they're sure, is just over this...

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The children were not at school. Not today with a masked gunman roaming the streets. Everyone was indoors with the doors bolted, probably hiding in closets, attics or basements.

Jess was outside in the sunshine, on the swing. Whooshing high in the air and back down, laughing aloud, breaking the silence, wondering where the helicopters were, the swat cars, armed police.

She felt as though she was the only person left on earth.

Perhaps she was.

That's what the gunman thought when he spotted her long dark hair through the gap in the fence.

He was tired by now, wanted...

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Milkshakes from the cosmos! Or something like that. That's what I wanted my small business to be like. But this putrid fucking recession! Quit smoking. 43 days. You're goddam right I'm proud--not just anyone, that's for sure! Yeah my kid's joining the army. Can't stop him. I bought him season's tickets to the Donut Holes his whole damn life. Sure they ain't no Kan-zass Cit-tee Roy-als, but they play some sure as shit baseball, that's all I know. He hit that girl last summer, and things ain't been working out for him ever since. Yeah, sure I told him to...

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The bird landed. A thunder clapped. A dog barked and the bird opened a pocket on its vest.

Peering through a telescope, the yellow bird surveyed 360 degrees of the town square.

All along the square doors slammed and windows shuttered.

All but the doors of the saloon, which are more like shutters, really. Do saloons even have doors?

The bird shook its feathers. Focus.

From beneath the saloon shutters rolled a woman in pantaloons and suspenders and a blousy black turtleneck. She held in her hands two baskets, their covers carefully latched.

Kneeling in the street Liza double and...

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Her eyes were green.
No, not just green.
Emeralds, yet infinitely more precious.
Like the sea, though far more deep and turbulent.
Greener than freshly blossoming thyme or the scent of mown lawns in summer.
More intoxicating than the green of absynthe.
Greener than jealousy.
Greener than the grass on the other side.

They stared into the grey of me.

And I knew those eyes would never be mine.

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It felt like I was just waking up. I shook my head. I looked at my surroundings. A boxing ring. People cheering. Is there an ape in the crowd?
Who am I?
I'm German. I'm a boxer. People are expecting something from me. Act German.
I did a militaristic dance, taking no joy in it like I might once have. I knew my opponent. We had been in the ring before.
He beat me then, I knew he'd beat me now.
I shouted something in German. I knew no one would understand me. It didn't matter. I went into the...

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The gate closed behind them. It was too late, she knew it. How did they get here? Why did it have to end this way?
"Jamie, it's okay. They won't find us here."
She wanted to believe him. She tried to believe him. She couldn't. They corner they hid in was dark, damp, dirty. She didn't have to wait long.
As the latch opened on the outside gate, Sean starting shaking. He can't handle this, Jamie thought.
"We're going to die, aren't we?" he asked.
Jamie considered lying, but what would be the point? She put her arms around him...

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