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When Sonia arrived in New York, Penn Station was nearly deserted. The air conditioning in the station was broken, and as she stepped out onto the platform, she gagged on the hot stale air. She wandered in a daze as the scattered passengers, barely covered in T-shirts and shorts, the backs of their sweaty legs impressed with the pattern of Amtrak upholstery, sagged up the stairs toward the exit.

She took a cab to the Upper West Side and then just wandered around the empty streets. The pavement under her feet had gone soft in the sun. She stopped at a sleepy outdoor café for a cold drink and watched the sweaty, disinterested people go by.

A week of constant 100-degree heat had soaked into the streets, and into the garbage that was ground into the streets, and stored itself as latent laziness. Even in the evenings, when the sun was gone, it stunted any motivation the city had by radiating out its soporific stench. The heat had driven most everyone out of Manhattan for the month of August, and those who remained were in a sort of heat-stroke trance, unable or uninterested in doing or saying much of anything at all.

A little old lady made her way down the sidewalk more slowly than Sonia thought possible. Sonia looked away, took a sip of her ice coffee, and then glanced back to find the old lady no further on her way than she had been before; and yet her legs were moving and she waddled from side to side, and breathed heavily from the exertion. Other people dragged themselves up and down the street under the oppressive heat, appeared around the corner, and disappeared in the other direction, but the little old lady seemed to make no progress at all. Sonia watched her with interest, imagining that, perhaps, through her years of experience, she had mastered a technique for managing the summer heat. She then imagined herself as an old lady, moving at a snail’s pace, not because of infirmity, but because of a deeper understanding of the universe and reconciliation with its inner laws. Maybe a new law of thermodynamics! As these fancies played out in her fancy, she gazed at the old lady, sipped on the iced coffee, and long after it was finished, lost in thought, sucked on the straw and slurped at the slow drippings of the ice.

Finally, the glass was empty and the little old lady turned to her. She opened her mouth as if to tell her something. Sonia leaned forward and gave the lady a friendly smile, having spent the last several minutes watching the woman, and imagining here life story and her metaphysical condition. The heat wasn’t so bad, maybe.

“Why won’t you help?” the old lady gasped, her face collapsing into an expression of deep sorrow. She fell face forward onto the sidewalk.

The old lady had been dying right in front of her. Her brain had cooked.

Date Written: April 04, 2004
Author: Ewan Snow
Average Vote: 3.5714

04/7/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan (4):
04/7/2004 Craig Lewis (4): Love the tone. Almost a five.
04/7/2004 Mr. Pony (5): I like this. I like that it takes its time. Part of me thinks that it's slightly too long, but the word count leads me to believe that the author cut exactly as many words as could be reasonably cut. Good job.
04/7/2004 Dylan Danko (4): I don't know. I really liked this till the denouement. I'm giving it 4 b/c you cunts pretend not to like the idea of 1/2 stars. I'll make it up to the author at a later date.
04/7/2004 qualcomm (3): telegraphed ending. i knew there wasn't going to be any rape.
04/7/2004 Mr. Pony: Oh, come on, you must have thought there was at least a chance after that ice thing.
04/7/2004 Jimson S. Sorghum (4): 4.5
04/7/2004 Will Disney (4): yes it was good. a nice change of pace. a little long. one more word and at least we would've gotten a warning.
04/7/2004 scoop (3): well-written but too long. it seems you could cut the first three nicely written grafs and get the same milage out of this joke much more efficiently.
04/7/2004 Benny Maniacs (3): Nice but long, like my cock. Is it possible that the Author had written this before (during the summer?) and then tried to fit it into the acme 499 words slot? I think your short would have been better served if you had re-conjured up the story, starting from scratch, and only keeping the key elements. Nice tone though. Old dead lady is a second to rape. The Lerpa?
04/7/2004 Benny Maniacs: My guess is this is the work of none other than the seldom seen yet beautiful catfish.
04/7/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: What leads you to this assumption, Maniacs? I'm just curious. Is it the style? The perspective?
04/7/2004 qualcomm: I think Maniacs is basing his assumption on the fact that Catfish is a guest and wouldn't be able to post to the author's section. So you see, it must be him. Dumb fucking blonde.
04/7/2004 Mr. Pony: I thought he was talking about the elusive Queefish.
04/7/2004 Jon Matza (3): Appreciate the effort here, but a madman like me doesn't have the patience for a short like this. Too much like "real" writing/lit. Plus you, author, recently took me to task for writing a long-winded short w/a joke shortage (I think you said 0.28 jokes) - a complaint that could be leveled against this puppy. The scales of justice fly both ways in the face of the apocalypse, brother.
04/7/2004 mr.coffee (3): Too long for me 2.
04/8/2004 catfish (3): thank you benny, but this writing is out of my league. too long though.....
04/8/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: uhhh, catfish? You should probably call him Benny, or Maniacs. You don't want to piss these people off. Even if you're complimenting them!
04/8/2004 catfish: righto Ferucio.
04/8/2004 Lola (2): This wasn't funny enough to warrant the length. And the punch line didn't really have enough punch for me.
04/8/2004 Jimson S. Sorghum: I really wish I'd given this a five now to compensate for all the lesser votes. I was completely drawn into the story and the ending caught me by surprise and I laughed. I don't think that it matters that there weren't that many jokes, I so rarely laugh out loud at these things, that that merits a five on its own. The writing is good. It's a sickeningly accurate portrayal of summer in the city, when the back of my neck is so dirty and gritty....
04/8/2004 qualcomm: don't you dare compensate for my vote
06/2/2004 Phony Millions (5): Forgot about this one - don't know why I didn't vote before. Dark and great!