Theres nothing you can do right now, the doctor claimed. But that couldnt be; not in the world she came from.
She promised to go rest if they let her see Mark, just for a moment. They did. His eyes were still closed, and he responded to nothing.
Then she saw the note. It lay on the bed stand, waiting. No one could tell her when it had appeared. Some messenger had slipped into the room unseen, even while Karin was shut out. The writing was spidery, ethereal: immigrant scrawl from a century ago.
I am No One
but Tonight on North Line Road
GOD led me to you
so You could Live
and bring back someone else.
A flock of birds, each one burning. Stars swoop down to bullets. Hot red specks take flesh, nest there, a body part, part body.
Lasts forever: no change to measure.
Flock of fiery cinders. When gray pain of them thins, then always water. Flattest width so slow it fails as liquid. Nothing in the end but flow. Nextless stream, lowest thing above knowing. A thing itself the cold and so cant feel it.
Body flat water, falling an inch a mile. Torso long as the world. Frozen run all the way from open to close. Great oxbows, age bends, lazy delayed S, switch current to still as long as possible the one long drop it already finishes.
Not even river, not even wet brown slow west, no now or then except in now and then rising. Face forcing up into soundless scream. White column, lit in a river of light. Then pure terror, pealing into air, flipping and falling, anything but hit target.
One sound gets not a word but still says: come. Come with. Try death.
At last only water. Flat water spreading to its level. Water that is nothing but into nothing falls.
Excerpted from The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. Copyright © 2006 by Richard Powers. Published in October 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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