the smuggler’s bible


They quarantine Hollyhock for sixteen months somewhere in the desert. She sits cross-legged on the thin mattress wrapping and unwrapping her pillow in the green wool army blanket. The doctors cease, after much frustration, to attempt treatment with sedatives.

Finally, in winter, she stands before cameras. The Christmasseract is very close now, glowing warmly, brighter than the moon in the night sky.

The crowd is silent. After a moment, someone asks, “Will it hurt, when he comes?”

Hollyhock shakes her head. “Don’t worry. One silent night,” she says, “and all of us, good and bad, shall have what we deserve.”