thrice great hermes
by stanley lieber
"does any part of you want to do this?" sl asked.
étienne peered over the edge of the water tower, looking down.
"no," he said, and backed away from the edge. sl nodded, as if everything was taking place exactly as he had foreseen. "you’re okay," he said.
"waiting for this conversation to finish," étienne said, fumbling with his phone. "it always takes a long time when you feed it a lot of text."
"just wait it out," sl urged him.
étienne’s process finally returned control to the shell. he manipulated the output before sending it back into a new file, which he promptly mailed as an attachment to his friend, james.
"intuitive," sl remarked.
it was time to go home. étienne climbed down and walked to his truck. he would need to stop and get gas on his way back to the office, which he didn’t like to do at night. served him right for staying up there so long.
sis called and said that dad was dead. which was strange, in étienne’s opinion, because he hadn’t noticed anything unusual happening, during his shift. he hung his phone and completed the drive home, wondering how any of this could be real.
"not yet," violet said. not his violet, but the violet he’d noticed, standing behind the partition between himself and the other places that were not himself. "not yet," she repeated, several times, and he got the distinct impression she was receding from view. he was losing access. "not yet," she said again, and she was gone.
étienne didn’t know what to say.