The horizon is a blue meniscus. From up here, where the horses used to live, they can see all the way down to the town’s remains. When catastrophe rolled away, a tide of unfixed turning, this was what it left behind. Seedy structures, makeshift people. Survivals.

“That one looks like an ice cream cone,” says Phillie. She’s wrapped in a knitted scarf of yellows and greens. She clutches her binoculars with delicate chilblained fingers.

“Ice creams were never that shape,” says Iris. “Looks more like a time machine.”

“Time machines wouldn’t look like that.”

“Sure they will.”

The Viewpoint sign still stands beside the wrought-iron bench where they sit. Its OS symbol fans out like eyelashes around an empty socket.

Phillie raises the binoculars again. “The bad news is I think someone’s already moved into it. They’ve even put pot plants outside the door, see? Actual garden-type flowers.”

“I’m all right where I am anyway,” says Iris. She pushes back the peak of her cap and turns her broad face to the sky.

“For now, maybe. But we can’t stay here forever.”

“Yes. For now. Home sweet home.”

“I want my old life back.”

“Christ! I hope you can do better than that.”

The horses’ bones jut in the field; the ravens have moved on. Phillie turns her gaze onto the ruined copse below them. “Yours looks kind of like a deflated hot-air balloon,” she says. The salvaged plastic frame of Iris’s bender is just visible amid a thicket of scrub and bramble, nestling in dark fruit. Water droplets rest on the plastic, tensed to fall. “Or maybe a solar-powered flying car.”

“Now is all there is,” says Iris, suddenly furious.

Image credit: Martian dust devil trails, by NASA/JPL/University of Arizona, public domain

Take a peek behind the veil.

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