• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 08

The Periodic Table

Vanity is a dirty word around here, up there with greed but they all come, line up, sign the declaration. Understand they must not open their eyes. ‘I’m doing it for the fame,’ she says. ‘I’m doing it for the money,’ he says. ‘I want to get naked and feel it slide over my body,’ someone else thinks. They all want number 79 pored all over them. Hot gold liquid seeping into every crack, every line, every wrinkle.

Later, when 79 has been exhausted, number 80 is used. No one signs the declaration. No one cares, their eyes wide open as tiny balls of quicksilver hang on curled tips of eyelashes. Visible to the naked eye after sunset, Mercury lingers close to the huge ball of gold that hangs in the sky.