The Woods

Alan didn’t know a thing about rare, incurable blood diseases. He’d expected to die of a heart attack or a stroke, something common, almost generic. With luck he’d die in his sleep, his regrets intact, his body as imperfect when he departed this world as it was perfect when he arrived. That would balance the scales, he thought. He didn’t believe in salvation, but he did believe in symmetry. What exists in space-time now will not exist in a future devoid of heat, light, energy, and matter. Just before the end, his existence would be so infinitesimal that what he’d been would not even qualify as matter. Still, earlier that day when the infectious disease specialist at the hospital told him that he’d become the host of a rare parasite, Alan had never felt so human—or not quite human, more like a biological specimen, a squirming gob of spit laid on a glass slide to be studied under a microscope.

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