by Stanley Lieber


tags: 1966, lorraine_ipsum, mars2, tab2

3 December.

Was it taking a long time to walk up this hill, or what?

"You can’t wear that thing up here."

Lorraine Ipsum. Miko.

"What, this? Consider it gone." TAB2 stripped off his visor and tossed it over his shoulder, wondering at the proliferating echoes as it clattered down the trail behind him. Somehow this all seemed familiar. It must have penetrated his prior awareness, however briefly, some number of years ago. But it couldn’t possibly have been that loud.

"No, the respirator," she said, motioning to his apparatus.

"But, I’ll die."

"We’re all dying," she said. He realized she meant presently.

"Yeah, but I need a few extra decades to read all these comic books." He mimed a command sequence purely from memory, suspiciously expert with the possibly-still-classified device. Suddenly, her near vision was filled with a crude, three-dimensional representation of his back issue collection. Like long boxes, receding. He guessed. His visor was gone.

Anyway, what was she doing up here?

"Seriously. You have to take that thing off. I can’t understand a word you’re saying."

TAB2 shook his head.

"Nope," he said again, settling his stance and crossing his arms. When this had no visible effect he simply pushed his way through the torii gate and continued on his way. Easy enough.

"Black mold," he added, over his shoulder.

Lorraine covered her mouth with her hands. Colloquially. Out of habit, that is, rather than any sense of capitulation to TAB2’s overabundance of caution. Belatedly aware of the optics, she pulled them away again and scrambled up the trail after him, her face flush with the effort, her robes flapping in the darkening, dusty wind.

It had been a while since they’d had a visitor.