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Her mouth’s not dry, somehow. The drought in her body is creeping up her throat and out; it’s as if her brainstem’s saying “well, we’re fucked, might as well enjoy it, have some spit.”

Or maybe it’s just the thirst toying with her, a cat with its food. Mariel pictures it as a giant black mouser, herself under one paw: it’d be labeled THIRST on one side, like some ancient political woodcut. “Oh my,” says the caption, “what a fine mefs we’re in.”

Why’d we ever do that, she wonders, make first Ss look like Fs? And why did we stop?