She was beautiful. Her hair was like sand and looking into her eyes I could hear the rushing of the sea.

"His seacold eyes. That looked upon the empty bay."

She tilted her head to listen.

"Listen to this: Upon my Empire the sun never sets."

She took it from my hands. Held it open as a broken bird.

"They sat on their thrones. Alabaster thrones. The seas' rulers. They sat on their alabaster thrones, silent as deathless gods."

She stared unseeing at the page unreading. "Do you like it?"

"Just the thoughts. I think he captures thoughts quite well." I looked past her as we sat on the rocks. "How they sometimes go strange places."

"An example?"

I just laughed; as she threw it into the ocean.

"The weight of 200,000 words."

"Or more."

"I only have 60,000 words," I told her, "but I would like to have more someday."

"Then you will have to do something else." She smiled coquettishly, "other than talk."

In the distance the cyclops. Strobing us with its single light.

"It must be terrible." I mused, "being stuck on that damn rock all the damn time."

"Getting shipwrecked on your doorstep all the time."

"Someday we could row out to it."

"Maybe tomorrow."

"Maybe the day after."

"They must be all automated now."

She drew her legs under her. There was seaweed in her hair.

"When I was young," I began, "I was terribly afraid. Of dying."

"And now?"

"Not so much."

Silent, so tell me about it.

"I used to be afraid. Of getting sent somewhere to fight or something. I just couldn't understand I couldn't imagine what it must be like someone telling you someone ordering you to die and you would just have to go out and do it. I was so afraid of dying."

"Quite a dramatic prince, aren't you?"

"But now not so much."

"Why not?"

"I figure it must be because I'm still pretty young. So I'm not so worried about dying yet, I must be in denial about it."

"The real reason?"

"I figure it doesn't matter. Sure it'll suck while it's happening but when I'm dead I'll be dead. I won't care at all." Thoughtful. "I think I was scared because I was imagining being conscious while dead. Being able to think but not being able to do anything."

"Ghost trapped in the machine."

"Exactly so.

"But what else can we imagine? It can't be really like that can it. But we can't think about being dead, we can't comprehend it there's just no way. It can't be like that."

"And what about being tortured?" She teased.

"I figure it'll never happen."


"I used to imagine what it might be like. There's stories about that sort of thing you know. All those horror stories, the movies they have nowadays. It's almost like a joke. Whenever I hurt myself accidentally or was cold or anything I'd always imagine. Even now. And then I was discouraged because I didn't think I could bear it and if anyone hurts you enough you'll say anything. But I guess it really depends and you can never know unless you're actually – and of course I'd never want that. But still. Part of me is curious."

"Damn, you were a messed up kid."

"Don't I know it."

She lifted a short curl behind her ear.

"I used to think there was something. In dying gracefully. Them having you up against the wall, and saying 'I kneel for no man,' dying standing and all that. But now you know what, I realize it's just like my brother said. Fuck that. They ain't gonna make me die quietly. It's just this one article I read about executions and all that, they said firing squad's an honorable death because the victim's 'allowed to die standing'. And I mean fuck that. Like fuck you, you don't tell me how to die. Yeah I'll die standing. And taking down as many of you motherfuckers trying to kill me as I can.

"God. These things get me so worked up. Like you know too, my Dad got me this book. Said, 'oh this is an interesting book from a literary standpoint. Because of the author. He was part of the Resistance, and he was killed by Them as part of the retribution after the Assassination.' And you know, that kind of ruined it for me. I mean, not really, but I kept thinking about that the whole time I was reading the damn book. And I mean, it's a pretty light-hearted book so that was pretty screwed up. All the time I was reading I kept thinking, this guy was he thinking about what he wrote when they? And this one quote really stuck out to me: 'retribution comes one step behind the offense.' And of course, it's totally taken out of context and all that. But it's just creepy. But I don't know if it was just the translator doing something weird or what.

"That's why I'm not scared of these online stories anymore. I know the really scary things aren't the ghouls and monsters and things like that.

"As if I haven't lost enough sleep about this shit already. But you know, it's funny. When I was learning about It in school, I didn't feel this way at all. I just saw it as a historical event. It was only when I started reading by myself that I – I guess I'm a fucked up person. That I can only feel that way when it's a country I feel connected to. Even though what they did to those guys was – but fuck that. It's even more fucked up to compare things, to say who got it worse. I don't want to get into a pity war, because we're more than that, you know? More than getting fucked up by them (and those guys too).

"And I wonder too why my Dad never told us about this when we were little and learning it about school. I guess it's just one of those things you don't really want to talk about, if you want to think about it more and linger on it, it's fine but you shouldn't get stuck on it too much, and you shouldn't force people to. But who am I kidding. I'm not wise about this or anything. I still think we should've crucified those guys, the ones they got on trial (of course hanging has a similar role) and it's a shame that most of them committed suicide. Fuck I'm a fucked up person.

"Just this one sentence he said comes back to me. 'It wasn't just them. They wanted to kill all of us, all the people like us'. And I remember as a kid I just didn't get it. I was like, 'Dad, what are you talking about? _, he was just this crazy dude who really had something against those guys and it was really fucked up what he did and we read and we read and we read about it in school what he did and yeah it was really fucked up'. But 'all of us', no I didn't really understand what he meant.

"But yeah. I do now."

The sound of rolling waves, and she gave me a little smirk.

"I feel like I should applaud you or something."

"Shut up."

"Feeling better, Andrei?"

I didn't answer and the siren tossed her head. But as she slipped into the water I called after her:

"Just a bit."