The next thing Linklater knew, he was flying.

It was sudden and unexpected. Linklater, after all, had spent the last six months worrying about the Stavrios account. Andrei Stavrios was a very impatient man, and the project had been dropped onto Linklater's table sixty-four days late with half the budget already gone. A desperate, late-night neural-net discussion with the electronics magnate had convinced him at the end of one white-knuckled fist that he was not going to be given an extension on this one -- not now, not tomorrow, not in a million years. It was little wonder that Linklater ended up popping aspirins like candy.

Now, however, Linklater felt nothing but an absolute sensation of light-headedness, as though a designer drug had gone off in the center of his brain. He knew instantly that it wasn’t the aspirin; Aspirin didn’t gave anything close to the high he was feeling right then. Linklater also felt the wind howling across his face, but it seemed like such a tiny detail on the skin of pure, unadulterated bliss.

For that matter, there was also the faint sound of screaming. At first Linklater thought that it was coming from him, that he was the one screaming at the sight of the whole world rushing out in one gaping maw. But after a few moments of white silence, Linklater felt the scream growing fainter and fainter, until it finally disappeared in the roar and the whisper of the wind. Linklater was happy for that.

For once in his short, sorry measure of human life, Linklater finally felt on top of the game. Stavrios could not reach him now, and neither could his secretary, or the firm’s managing partners, or even his nagging ex-wife. Linklater was running – no, flying – away from them all, and it gave a glorious feeling that mixed with the naked fear running about in the pit of his stomach. He was gone, and far gone at that. They couldn’t control him anymore.

The pavement came up silently and abruptly. Linklater almost didn’t see it coming, despite the fact that it was right there, waiting to meet him at the end of his flight.

In the end, the only thing on Linklater’s mind was the white silence, cold and expansive. He felt his consciousness slip into its fold, knowing that when the final impact came, he wouldn’t feel it one bit.

After innumerable hundreds of feet and a speed that was swiftly approaching terminal velocity if it hadn’t reached there already, Linklater’s death and disintegration were virtually instantaneous.


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