yra rubbed her burning eyes with the back of her hand as cesious smoke hung silently in the cold bay, the vestige of violence paid. What once was threat was done. What once was three more days was rendered down to one.

“Von, I’d ask you what this was, but I know you don’t know anymore than I do and I suspect you care even less.”

Von just stared. Kyra wondered for a second why he didn’t answer her. Then she realized he wasn’t looking at her, probably wasn’t even listening to her. Turning to the left, she caught sight of Em, las canon in her arms, the full weigh pulling her shoulders down as a small trickle of blood ran from her nose and over her lip. She just stood there as if her legs were pinned to the floor with no expression on her face as first one drop and then another escaped to the floor.

The thud, when she fell forward, was as cow struck by carnifax. The weight just fell, hard. The sound was not a sound as much as it was an indelible memory, a moment forever linked not to what was seen without but what was felt, or as in this case, not felt within.

Neither Kyra nor Von moved and Kyra mulled the inaction. Why did she not immediately run to Em’s aid? Why was she just standing there, watching Em’s limp body, crumbled by Janus only knows what? Yet, she debated, what was the point? What was there to save? She looked so peaceful, so at rest.

Von walked past Kyra; neither fast nor quick. Kneeling at Em’s side, he powered the canon down, fully conscious that his first concern was the weapon, not Em. Placing his hand on the back of her head, he closed his eyes and mumbled something Kyra could not hear. Slowly, he let the back of his hand slide down the side of her face and then cupping her chin, turned her still face toward his. Her eyes were open a little wider than normal and they glistened without blinking. Her upper lip was covered in blood and her lower lip hung open as if it didn’t have the strength to close. Von let his fingers touch her scarlet lip. The blood felt warm and he rubbed it, her life, between his dirty fingers. Her eyes just stared, not directly at him, but off to some imaginary point over his left shoulder, perhaps, he thought, to a better place.

Von gently rotated his fingers over her round cheek as father to daughter saying good night, his eyes tracing each contour of her face as one does in disbelief. Moving to her brow, he hesitated before pulling his hand over her eyes to close them.

“What are you doing?” whispered Em. “I’m not dead yet.”

Von jumped. “My Janus girl, are you still alive?”

“No pampusweed, it’s my ghost talking. What the frail do you think?”

Von laughed. “I thought you were dead.”

“I know.”

“And you—“


“Why you little—“

“Hey, what’s going on over there?”

“She’s alive.”

“Psssst. Von.”


“She already knows.”


“That I’m not dead yet. Why do you think my nose is bleeding?”

Categories: Story, Kyra, Von, Emy