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Thomas woke under a rising full moon. Resa made a fire on the sand from branches up on the hill. He gazed at her naked body, how the flickering flames made small shadows of her nose, lips, and breasts. Gulls caught the offshore breezes and coasted, their silhouettes playing hide and seek on the craters and crevices of the moon’s bright surface.
He pointed to the gulls. “Are those real?”
“I think so. They seem a lot like the ones I remember from home. But they started wildlife roundups and euthanizing domestic animals in my time because they were disease vectors, so maybe yes, maybe no? The gulls seem natural. Most everything the Cavalos make isn’t quite the same and it’s obvious how it isn’t so. ” She reached for her blouse. “We should be getting back, Tom.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea for me.”
“Suit yourself. There’s somebody I want to meet. I’m going to ask one of the Librarians to introduce me.”
He reached for her. “You’re going to leave? Just like that?”
She stroked his face. He held her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers. She smiled and pulled her hand back. “Tommy. My world’s not like that. We did what we did. That’s all there is to it.”
“You don’t love me?”
“Love you? Of course I do, Tommy. But there are different kinds of love. I’m not committed to you or anything like that.”
“I can’t…I won’t believe you.”
“Tom, I care about you. But I don’t love you. Not that way. You’ve got to get out more, Tom. All the cultures here are different. Haven’t you met any of the other Thinkers?”
“I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry, Tom. You think you’ve been here six years and never talked with anyone other than some Cavalos, some Librarians, a few Thinkers and the Travelers who brought you here?”
“I hear some Thinkers once in a while while when I’m in the Neuroscaphe. I hear them crying. I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want to cry. And here, in this time and place, this is the first time anybody has ever let me just think.”
She nodded. “You too?”
“You said this was the first time anybody ever let you think. Your family thought you were a freak, too? Is that what happened? Did your family sell you to anybody who could score something they could use?”
“No, never. My family loved me. They still do, somewhere in time. My family did everything they could to help me. It was everybody else. The teachers, the schools, other kids. My brother, Roland, he’s my twin, he use to come home with black eyes and bloody noses and split lips because he’d go fight for me and tell everybody he was me when people picked on me. He thought I didn’t know.
“But I did. He never told me. Mom and Pop would always watch out for me. Ro and Ceilly, my sister, they were always protecting me so I’d have the time to think.
“No, my family loved me. It was everyone else who hated and feared me.”
The fire popped into human form. “That, dear Thomas, is the one thing all you Thinkers have in common.”
Resa pulled back. “Who’re you?”
“Lucifer, dear lady.”
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