The Space Between
Two of us were lunching at a sidewalk cafe, just bitching about our boss, when a pigeon fell from the clouds. Plop, right next to our laptop bags.
Plop. Plop plop plop-plop-ploploplop.
Now we could see the sky was a wrong-colored pall, settling.
Millions shrieked and scattered. Every being above ground succumbed within minutes, but hundreds of thousands poured into the cavities below. To escape the gas, we gushed through the subways and sewers. To escape the crowds, we flowed through unmarked doors, down unlit stairwells, and seeped through hatches into yet more secret places.
Finally there was only a crawlspace, a black horizontal crevice between the concrete city and the damp earth, wider than we could perceive but barely two feet high. Perhaps a few hundred of us oozed quietly through it, distributing like cells smeared on a microscope slide. No one spoke or cried here; there were only grunts and stifled squeaks as bloodied fingers and knees met the dry crunch of former tenants.
When I collapsed onto my back at last, his hand groped my arm. He whispered my name. “How long do you think we have?”
I felt for his hair, and said into his ear, “less than an hour.”
I’d never touched him before.
“Does your phone work?”
We’d never be with our own families again. That life was already over. These minutes were something else.
I held his face against mine as he reached under my shirt.