“Papa, the children of the shells, they—“

Papa continued to walk, gifting Kyra space and silence.

“They seem lonely.”

Still Papa walked along the beach, a steady pace neither rushed nor purposeful, just walking to walk as he would say. He offered no opinion.

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“What do you think?”

“I think you think too much.”

Kyra kicked a shell into the surf. Papa bowed his head, placed his hands behind his back and continue to walk, his white tunic flapping in the ocean breeze. No footprints.

“I’m serious Papa.”

“I’m not.”

“What does that mean?”

“Listen to the ocean. Is it lonely? Is it serious?”

“Papa? Papa!”

Kyra gasped for breath. Her abs contracting, painfully, involuntarily as another volume of viscous blue liquid expelled itself from her bowels. Sucking for air, her throat burned. Her eyes watered such to make everything seem blurry, faded, out of focus. Pain, fear, the unknown, however, have there own way of rendering sight blind, of thought single minded. Grabbing the sides of her bed, her nails as claws, her chest heaved upward, her heart jumping as if it could escape. Her plaintive wail, both of child and adult, brought glass to tears of flickering shards as so much confetti.

“Papa!”

Papa was more distant now. His head still bowed and he walked without turning, without acknowledgment.

Kyra’s lithe body hardened, her muscles straining, against what she did not know. Her teeth ached with pains sharp and dull. Each joint, from elbow to ankle screamed as if on fire. Papa slipped from sight as if consumed by the shimmering waves of despair. Her hands slackened. The room fell quiet.

Rog looked at John, who looked at Von. “I can’t take this anymore. Back away from the door.” Before anyone could stop Rog, six rounds from his las pistol burned into the door and from six holes came light so brilliant, so blinding . . .

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