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By G Venkataraman

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A human being from the twentieth century might have recognised the creature as an ant, though they certainly wouldn't have recognised the cool, bloated orb which the hot yellow sun of the twentieth century had swelled over time inconceivable to become. But then, strictly speaking, human beings hadn't walked the Earth for quite some while. The ant remained still, waiting, its skin glistening in the sunlight. Its mind did not function in any way a human being from the twentieth century would have recognised or understood.

Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast. But silence,' he added with dark humour. ' I put away the watch feeling like a sap. ' I chewed it over. 'How long? I mean — how long has it been from where we were... ' `Oh, not all that long, relatively speaking. ' He held out a thumb, artist-style, to measure the width of the sun, then counted briefly on his fingers. ' Now I knew he was feeding me a line. If there's one thing I hate it's a liar. `What am I some kinda dumb Dora? ' I was shaking. `What are you, hopped up?

Anyway says you. ' `Your lungs are expanding and contracting. It feels like breathing. But what's going in is not good for you. You need an adapter. A piggyback molecule. Something to facilitate oxygen exchange across the semipermeable membranes. ' But it was true. I was feeling half seas over. I remembered Mom and her bottles of coffin varnish. I didn't want to go out like that. Not me. Not ever. ' `Ten minutes from now you'll be dead. ' He held out his hand. 40 There was a doohicky like a sticking plaster on it.

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