Kak didn’t feel the synthetic lightning arc from the paddle on her left side and through her rib cage to the paddle on her right. She didn’t feel her heart seize as the current from the defibrillator stunned and silenced the muscle’s confused electrical messages to itself. Somewhere, Philip yelled her name. Like everything else he was lost in the calming peace that replaced her tortured senses. Hidden safely away from her worldly concerns, her anxieties vanished.

She let herself acclimate to it. So this was death. Sightless. Weightless. Regretless. She found she preferred it even to the memory of her happy life before the disease struck her down. Here, there were no questions. No decisions. She sank deeper into the welcoming oblivion until it consumed everything that had ever existed for her. Including time.

How long did she drift in the thoughtless ink of her afterlife? A hundred minutes? A hundred years?

Far less.

In the hundred seconds Kak was dead she learned two things. The first was that contrary to everything she’d been conditioned to think, the line between life and death was smudged and broken, making it difficult to tell which side you were on. The second thing she learned was that death could choose not to swallow you. It could deny you the safety of the abyss. Death could spit you out like a bad taste.

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