AB Intra

The weather is perfect today — or not, depending on how you like your Christmas weather. But it’s a nice day for a stroll among the dead, which seems like an appropriate way to spend a holiday during the plague. — Cason

The best age for slaughter is above fifteen. Usually they have some curves, some meat on them by then — the younger ones are too stickly-bony. Karalika knows that the Farm restaurant customers like fat. — Parmar

The guards led them into the great hall. Cerberus’s hackles raised upon spying the king. The beast seldom envisioned his own future, yet found himself eagerly anticipating the day he would usher this despicable soul into his master’s realm. — Blondin

And here I was with Grace: a woman of sound mind, independent means, and mature beauty. If I made the right moves, I could throw my lot in with her and sponge off a spouse, as so many of my other male friends did. — Tottenham

Patents on vertical crypts were snatched up initially by Forest Lawn, and the first of them, used by Cheney’s firms, stood like enormous beige refrigerators on the freeway hilltops leading down into Covina and grittier points east. — Wirick

The heatwave wandered in from the long evening, piece by piece as the door opened, stacking up around us, Claude glistening in his phone screen as the melted cold from our drinks pooled over the bar and we drank until it was in our laps, while the music played slow and thick like it was released by a valve. — Saleen

She loved her collection of Golden Guides, especially the wildflower and cactus ones, because the watercolor illustrations were so grandma. Someday, if thrift stores ever reopened, she’d find the one on stars. There was no hope of getting the one on hallucinogenic plants, which was so rare auction bids started way above $500. — Black

The girl on Star Gladiator smiled. Once Kole had spent his last quarter, she offered another from a plastic cup. He hesitated, wondering what kind of person would give away her game money, but then she just dropped it in the slot herself, and it felt so good to keep burning through the pixelated race course that he took the next one she handed him, too. — Maio

But she didn’t like the way his body changed, how he wouldn’t just pull the paper up all the way to his face but brought his shoulders inside it as well, wrapping the news around him like a shield. Then when he was done, he’d put it down, folding the pages and taking it with him. — Bell

I consider sitting next to the mother and her son. I want to show solidarity. I want the boy to learn how to swim like penguins. But that would be invasive. It’s bad enough I’m eavesdropping. — Popelka

Iwould like, at this point, to be able to tell you that Roland found, during his systematic subjugation of this long-neglected wilderness, some token of Monique’s already mythical presence, a trove for his pious fantasies — perhaps an earring that had carelessly forsaken her downy lobe some sunny day, or a flimsy silver necklace with a heart pendant, or a tiny, two-pronged key that would inevitably unlock the startling secrets of her diary. — Walter

Benjamin Franklin is said to have observed — for what reason I don’t know — that humankind should keep our eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut after. By “after marriage” he must mean during marriage, but half-shut to what? Warning signs? Disappointments? The problem with pithy aphorisms is the lack of elaboration. — Ruby

Didn’t like to think about it, but he’d voted for the current president, the Fascist-in-Chief, He Whose Name She Would Not Mention, which might’ve been unforgivable, if Eli wasn’t family, but Azalea held out hope for everybody: that was an essential part of her nature, her boundless optimism, her faith in people’s better angels. — Andes

We could build kites in class, maybe, fly them when the snow disappears from the football field. It’ll get warm again. It won’t be winter forever. I’ll just have to research a little bit, how kites work, their aerodynamics straight out of someone’s dream. — Farmer

Erskine longed for the days of his boyhood, when he and his buddies went swimming and fishing together in the Big Two-Headed Hebrew River, roughhoused, played baseball, and knew not what changes were in store for them once they assumed adulthood. — Gifford

After the book store went out of business — it was a front for the Russian mafia, and no explanation was provided for its disappearance — Ragwell moved to Piccadilly and became a rectory cat. In the rectory, also a front for the Russian mafia, Ragwell listened to Bach toccatas on the organ, and pondered his future. — Warner