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Volume 3, Issue 3, October 31, 2008

End of Days
by Tyree Campbell

        Marjod was lying face-down on the floor of the cabin when Kern returned from the traps late in the morning. As Kern dropped to a knee beside her left shoulder, he wondered whether he should turn her over, to see her one last time. But if he saw how she had done it, he might be tempted to try it himself.
        Oh, Marjod . . .
        A seagull skreeed, as if to mourn her passing, the echoes fading in the surrounding Rockies like the spirit that had been hers, muted by the lush pads of spring wildflowers.
       Kern had not been gone very long--the traps and weirs were still empty--but in the interim Marjod had managed to do something to herself so swiftly that the nanogens could not repair it in time to keep her alive.
        She was facing away from him, one blue eye still staring into the beyond. Under her chin welled a puddle of blood, almost black in the shadows behind the old sofa. The puddle was contiguous with the great pool that had spilled from under her torso, the liquid cool and tacky as it soaked into the knee of his denims. She had fallen on her right arm. Her left arm, alongside her body, was also black with blood. He realized now what she had done.
        Kern thumbed her eyelid shut, and sighed heavily as he rose, loathing the task her death made necessary. His eyes followed the broad ribbon, black in shadow and crimson in the sunlight through the front window, to her heart where it had come to rest against the south wall. It had ceased beating, but that scarcely mattered to the nanogens. Already they had constructed tendrils in the direction of Marjod's corpse, had begun lengthening the stumps of the aorta and the pulmonary arteries and veins. He stood still, staring. My God, how had she found the strength and the will to complete her final task? To make not just the one great incision, but to plunge her hand inside the cavity and hack and slash until all the links between the heart and the body were severed . . .
       Oh, Marjod--
       He could guess what she had used: the fish filleting knife, sharp as a scalpel and sturdy enough to cut through sinew. She knew his daily routines, and she knew how long the human body could live without oxygen. The length of his absence had been more than sufficient. Dead Marjod might be, yet the nanogens could work miracles, even rebuild the brain if necessary. They could not re-ignite life itself, but they would try.

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