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Consciousness begins to flicker through his mind, a stop-start reel of random images: his childhood orphanage, a windy Virginia dock, a dusky roomful of men deliberating. There's the rouged cheek of a woman, a hasty exit from the back door of a house not his own, a photograph grown dog-eared in his wallet: high hopes for a boy, crushed finally by the man the boy has become.
They've had him shot: the realization grows like the sticky pool around his chin. He wets his tongue against the copper taste inside his mouth.
All he's done, and it's come down to this: no salvation, the grand plan incomplete; no children to mourn or honor him; no recognition for his sheltering of the research all these many years.
And now a new frontier, a gate before him, open: no map, no guidebook, no inside track.
No alien beings.
He smiles. Perhaps this is the prize he's sought.
© bardsmaid 2005 |