Excerpt from “Dry Land”

I passed by Codie’s quarters on the way back to mine. Finding her door slightly ajar, I pressed my flat hand against the panel, opening it the rest of the way.

She sat at her workstation, her back to me. Her body was straight, arms at a perfect ninety-degree angle before her, feet planted firmly on the floor. “Codie?”

“Download complete,” she said, her voice flat, even, perhaps a bit mechanical. “Disconnecting from cross-link neural server in five, four, three, two, one, disconnecting now.” She lifted her hand from the worktop in a sharp movement, the fingers curling into a fist.

Codie brought that hand to her face, working the fingers open and closed, open and closed, open and closed as if she was re-learning the workings of her body.

She looked down, splaying a hand over her chest, turned again and studied her other hand. “Brilliant,” she whispered.

I leaned against the doorframe, crossing my arms over my chest, and my feet beneath me. “What’s brilliant?” I asked, nonchalantly. “What’cha doing there?”

She gasped, obviously startled. She stood, quickly, braced her hands against the back of her chair and stared, bug-eyed at me. “Oh,” she intoned. “Oh my. Oh my God,” she moaned, her hand clapped to her mouth.

“Codie, what is it, what’s wrong?”

Her lips pulled into a curving bow, opening up to a full-teethed-open-mouthed-tongue-poking out smile, her eyes sparkling and dancing with a happiness and mirth I’d never seen on her face.

“Codie?” I repeated.

She strode toward me, her arms opened wide, and when she reached me, she nearly collided into me. She pressed her cheek against my chest, her arms curled round and squeezing hard against my middle. She hummed in pleasure, her fingers digging into the flesh of my back, hanging on to my body like she would drown and I was her lifeline…

“Oh… oh Ted.”

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