Digital Ischemia



Venom listens to Blink breathing. He doesn’t snore. Score. So much of her wants to lie with him, just be there. Some of her would savour replaying the intricate pleasures of his fingers, his face, his smooth, stringy skin… But the internal harridan shrieks ‘sybarite!’ She stirs.

Venom trudges in her now habitual grovelling posture. Her knees are like drying cement. These tunnels are engrimed with abradings from her calloused palms. Yet she can’t sleep until she’s pushed forward the frontier of space exploration. She’s ill-prepared for tonight’s venture, having let herself be woefully distracted. How about just even checking out that nobbly branch tunnel? Hopefully it’s a dead end, tick it off. The harridan cracks a cauldron over her head: no, of course, hopefully it’s a passage to miraculous salvation. This could be it. Lighting up time.

A yank at her arm makes her flinch with fright. Blink’s voice is gentle but insistent.
“How is it she knew the rabbit was contaminated? How does she know when a storm’s coming? Why does she bleed like that?”
Venom silently herds her wits.
He tosses out another tack, “how far did you think you’d get without me?”
“I thought you were sleeping.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I know.” His turn for silence. In her inbox of questions she clicks ‘previous’. “She’s not getting all the nutrition she needs. I can’t do any better for her.”
“I have a better idea: I think she’s highly sensitive.”
Venom stares at Blink’s voice, then drops her head, feeling a mental wall crash down, quite unexpectedly: he’s figured out the next clue.
He sees only the dark blob sway. He reaches for feedback.

Twisting she resigns herself to words before action. “How did I not hear you?”
“I have your rhythm.”
“Don’t be lewd.”
He snorts. “Can I say something?”
His sincerity trounces her narkiness. “Thank you for asking me.”
“Oh. Right. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind.”
He spits offence, “sorry?”
“Well, sitting in the refectory, with you giving me all that flattering attention, it was either going to be the gauntlet of the swans under the footbridge or the paradoxical bushcraft section of the library.”
He double-takes at her, cynicism flailing at burgeoning pride.

She resumes her direction. His company, muttering notwithstanding, renews her determination. Her flattery should get him a fair distance.

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