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  from The Same Vein by Tara L. Herweg


“Wake up.”

The sound reached down to where she lay, eyes closed but aware. 

“Come on, wake up.”

The sound pitched slightly higher, the throat tighter.

“Selene--please. Please.”

Her left eye opened before her right--the right lid seemed to be stuck. She made to wipe away whatever had gotten into her eye, but found her arms too heavy. Her vision was slow to focus.

Rick? Her throat was dry, burning. She took a deeper breath, then felt her lungs spasm. Her coughing brought up a thick, grayish-green mucus. She turned her head and spat. It caught on her hair and stayed there.


“Oh, Jesus. Thank God.” Rick was there, his hand on her face, his eyes wet. “I’m here. The cops are here.”

“Nancy? Where’s…?” She remembered where Nancy was in a bolt of lightning through her heart. More coughing, more mucus, more spitting.

“Hey--just relax. I’m here. You’re not alone. The paramedics--Joe! Get the goddamn medics!--they’ll be here in just a sec.”

Rick didn’t lie. Strange faces surrounded her, blocking Rick from view. They wrapped her tight in blankets, stabilized her neck in a brace, lifted her onto a gurney. She floated away from the house.

What was left of the house.

The fire was still smoldering, smoke hanging heavy in the air, taking up precious space in her lungs. 

“Nancy?” She wasn’t sure if she said the name, or just thought it.

Again, the lightning bolt. 

“I got the bodies over here!”

She wasn’t meant to hear that. So c...

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