Downtown sidewalks in disbelief littered her stare with a snowfall of shattered glass. Last night's clouds had finally broken — for good. The closeted morning heat was just coming out, shimmering the laddered streets into a Florida nativity scene; snow flung out by believers bereft of earthly anchor. Only a slight breeze stirred fumes and sulfur in steam up from the crunched wreckage, against an overturned police cruiser's lonely remaining tire desperately spinning smoke to the rhythm of a looping APB. Others were emerging slowly but exponentially. They came from cars, basement stairways, dumpsters, subway entrances and exits. Everyone meanwhile clung to something, holding steady while the ground beneath shifted and dug brokenly into the soles of their work shoes and high heels. Trained eyes tried to discern who could be said to have won something, when what they had heard all night was everyone losing everything.
Eyes angled upward, first from aversion, second from hope, third to focus the sound of rotors descending. With no clouds left, she could easily see the copters. Everything had settled so heavily that all movement sank when they came down. She knew that something must happen soon, but for now, there was just nothing left. She turned away from the landing and its megaphones, spinning faster and faster, around but not away.
The countdown had stalled at 'T' minus 69 seconds when Desiree, the first
female ape to go up in space, winked at me slyly and pouted her thick,
rubbery lips unmistakably -- the first of many such advances during what
would prove to be the longest, and most memorable, space voyage of my
-- Winning sentence, 1985 Bulwer-Lytton bad fiction contest.
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