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.Skew.




“We don’t belong together,” said Ray to Linea, “and I don’t think we’re supposed to be here.”

The sunset was orange above them, dripping down the hills like a giant fruit squeezed to pulp by huge hands, then pressed against the watery outline of the mountains to where it gushed in great waterfalls down to the river, which in turn became the same color of violent, viscous orange.

Linea pursed her lips, twirling a finger through a mound of her endless, pin-straight ebony hair.

“This is wrong,” she said suddenly, casting a glance towards the creeping stars. “This bridge shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be able to look into your eyes.”

Ray’s eyes, she thought, were a particularly lovely shade of cerulean. They were deep and three-dimensional, the retina curling far beyond the bone of his skull - far, she thought, into distant and beautiful lands.

“But you can,” insisted Ray. “You can look and you can see and that must show that something is different about us. About this world that we live in.”

“Earthquakes,” replied Linea, gripping the side of the bridge, although for now the ground was free of tremor. “And when have you ever seen a sunset this orange? It must somehow be the end of the world, today.”

“We’re only made of the same stuff as the earth,” Ray said, voice as cool as the flat, quickly melting sheets of ice that lay scattered throughout the lakes around them. “We all fade eventually. Why don’t we just take this moment and run with it?”

“How are we possible?” said Linea. “My father... do you know what he did when he discovered you?” She shuddered, as if wind chimes had just faintly tickled her memory. “He told me he wished I had never reached the origin. You know how my father is, with his evolution philosophy... He’s terribly negative, so terribly negative to me.”

“Tell me about it,” said Ray. “Everything about this, here, is incorrect... But with these wind storms, these tornadoes... who cares? We may not even make it out of here alive.”

Just then, the bridge shook terribly, scattering little sparks of dust, palely phosphorescent, every which way. A small crack, misted with smoke, appeared in the mountains beyond.

“So this is the apocalypse,” Linea wailed. Tiny, silvery tears dripped down her cheek. Cautiously, Ray reached a hand towards her, and scarlet dust whirled around them. The world was crumbling at its seams. “The scientists, the mystics... they were all right.”

Her voice trailed away when she saw what Ray was doing. He reached a slender arm, riddled with veins of tension, towards her, and she saw that his hands were strong and clean. The waters began to rage about them, hinged with angry white crests, glittering beneath the moon and the sun, both of which spiraled above them, castaways in the sky.

“What will happen?” she said breathlessly, but her fingers moved towards his.

The grasses swayed and catapulted. The moon was ripping across the sky like a balloon rapidly losing air.

He touched her hand, lightly, a whisper of contact. The moon was plummeting towards them, growing larger and larger, a massive pink point glistening with remnants of chipped sawdust and terror, bursting with light.

The world shattered as the moon crashed onto the planet, sending iridescent chips of land and sea swirling into the stratosphere. Hot magma roiled from beneath the continents. The two, on a broken, crushed bridge, felt a glimmer of consciousness between them - a confirmation of touch - and then, fading, screaming, an explosion of high, piercing, unbelievably loud noise, and finally, nothing.



In a mathematics classroom ten billion light years away, a student whispered to her friend as they scurried out the door, into the hallways vibrating with sound and conversation. “I’m glad I checked the work over,” said the girl, licking at the chapped bits of lip gloss still clinging to her lip, hastily applied just after lunch. “I almost totally screwed up that problem with the skewed lines. I put them on the same plane.”

“Are you an idiot?” the other one said, a boy with green eyes and a sweatshirt that swamped all intelligible shape of his body. “That’s, like, the easiest part. Obviously they’re on different planes.That parallel line proof with, like, the square roots, like, killed me, though. I definitely, like, failed that test.”

“Yeah, lucky I erased it just before the bell rang,” said the girl, looking behind her, with a faint air of baffled wonderment, brushing a fleck of eraser off of her pinky nail, painted a chipped and vibrant orange.




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