January 28th, 2005


Fast Fiction 01.28.05

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224 words by Stanley Lieber

There are folded bits of me coming off. The heated stress in the room has peeled back the edges of my face, and I think the human glue underneath is melting away... In four minutes I will leave for the day, and cut through the steam to the outer door of the office. In minutes, I will sleep.

The stacks of leaves are cleaned; I've fought off the last bit of synthetic sick from the foodstuffs in the office pantry. The vending machines haven't been refilled for almost a month, and the food ports stop when there isn't anyone around to make orders. But I'm in the same boat in my quarters, this month -- I try to stay on the button and make due with what I can coax from the machines here, since I'm always working. The last of the leaves put away, I can turn down my screens and cover my seat for the morning decontamination cycle.

I missed one. A leaf confronts me on the way out. I find it broken down, collapsed into a pile of itself, casting a five o'clock shadow onto the carpet. Its facing edge wavers in the reduced lighting.

I crush it with my heel, and it yelps. I stamp on it, and it stops.

It is Ramadan, and everyone is gone. The station turns.


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