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Barlowe has, of course, been dead before: born blue and tiny, he took his first breath thirty seconds late, and it stuck. Apnea. Life is a cat, he learned, ready to sneak away on any given night. He learned to be ready, to snatch it back.

He’s got the cat’s tail now, but the cat’s left it behind and taken his tongue. Barlowe breathes deep and gets no oxygen: instead he gets rich, deep smells, more information than he ever had from color vision. One of the smells is bright with fear. He starts to follow it, and he’s not alone.