DRY LAND! SHE WANTED to kiss it.
Leeza leaned over to look at the flyspecked garbage baking in the alley, and changed her mind. She gripped the flaking grillwork rail of the rickety balcony, studying the two dusty objects on it—the handle of the broken door-latch, and a thick bleached bone. Found art.
She should break out her gear for a shot of it. And that alley the balcony was ready to fall into. Maybe later. She looked across at slumping, soot-stained walls leaning against each other, along the narrow lane past more unpainted doorways, a rusted-out car minus wheels, and piles of trash to a glimpse of freighters and masts jammed in Athens’s Piraeus harbor. She made a mistake and took a deep breath, stomach roiling at the stink.
“Caramba. . . .” She turned and shuffled back into the stuffy little room, hands pressed over her belly. She’d thought it was finally settled down after that last jolting hydrofoil ride to the mainland, but she still felt like hell warmed over. Just let them try to get her on another boat.
Flopping down into the sag of shrieking bedsprings, she stared at cracked plaster and the garish saint on last year’s calendar.
The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is utterly moved, the earth is staggering exceedingly.
Lines from a newsstim on one of the Doomsday cults kept jingling through her mind to a headachey beat. And there will be signs in the sun, and moon, and stars; and on earth distress. . . .
She supposed she should unpack her stuff, make some effort to get cleaned up. Too much trouble. She pulled the little hash-oil pipe out of her pocket and took another drag to soothe her stomach, and then she didn’t care.
Somewhere circling in the fog she vaguely realized she had to get her act together, the ol’ bod completely flaking out on her—Leeza is staggering exceedingly. What with the uppers and zingers and downers, she’d lost track of when she’d had her period last, and she really needed to start eating right. To top it all off, she had this itchy ugly rash on her feet and lower back.
Think about it later. Stay on the surface. Images. . . .
She was settling into the cool coils of the smoke, easing back, fingers slow-mo putting the pipe away, pulling out the blue crystal she’d stolen from that funky shrine on Ariadne’s island.
Facets gleamed in the dimness. Sometimes it seemed like the stone had a light of its own, burning cool blue deep inside. She refused to see Ariadne’s sapphire eyes gazing reproach. The more she looked at the crystal the more fascinated she got with the way the lights broke around a thousand little mazelike corners inside, and the carved crescent moon design flared into detail, winged serpents and the horned bull leaping into life. In a way it was like the Link, amplifying and shooting the images straight through her neural pathways. She stared, eyes glazing as everything came to a humming tight focus inside it.
Incandescent blue, riding her pathways. Leeza is the light, electric.
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