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SS Whale Fall

The crew of the SS Whale Fall never joke about Jonah. Jonah was swallowed by a fish. Their ship, they know, is warm-blooded.

Hers is the only starwhale corpse ever to beach itself in the gravity well. The scientists stripped her down as best they could, and the Navy got the skeleton. Then they started building her back up.

She’s cobalt-clad now, big plates that flex visibly when she vents reactor steam from her blowhole. Micrometeors have accumulated to give her craters like sucker scars. Her fins shift: they’re diving out, through the heliospheric current, towards colder, darker space.

Jonah

JONAH
A year?

JASON
A week. You went into a coma last
Monday, woke up claiming it was
last September.

JONAH
Amnesia.

JASON
Amnesia’s accidental.

Beat.

JONAH
Who?

JASON (SIGN LANGUAGE)
<The rainbow, the shadow, the
holy ghost.>

JONAH
Is that Asshole for “no sé?”

JASON
I’ll help you find out.

JONAH
Help these.

JASON
You pulled a beautiful con
once. I was the mark.

JASON grabs JONAH’S ear and leans in.

JASON
I’ll help you, and watch you
thrash like a legless ant in a
puddle. Like I thrashed. And
you’ll let me help, because
Jonah–I’m all you’ve got.

Jonah

Jonah hears the rain start outside. His wrists burn. He’s holding the old fountain pen wrapped in two towels. He no longer cares for quality of letters, or the decrepitude of the house where he’s barricaded himself: he’s on the last page.

It’s not until the first drop lands, near the top of that page, that he finds out the roof leaks.

“So that’s it?” Jonah growls. He forces the window open and scrambles out onto the roof. “Come at me, then!” he shrieks to the sky. “COME AT ME!”

The rain musses his hair a bit, then leaves him alone.

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