IN THE MIDDLE OF A flat grey wasteland, under a grey streaky sky, a handful of figures warmed themselves at a snapping fire.
“Hey! What are you doing?”
One of the figures had turned to stare across the waste — a vast landscape of broken dryers and tumbledown swingsets, with here and there half a gas station or bowling alley.
“Don’t do that.”
He takes the gaping figure and turns him tenderly toward the flames to warm his hands again.
“It’s why I’m here. And that” — a sweeping arm — “is why that’s there. The wasteland is only for wasting you.”
“Don’t mention it. Just keep your hands warm. Even when you’re the last one here.”