Gritt, eyes closed in deep meditation, inhaled every last ghostly molecule like the old master he was.

“What is a flag?” said Gritt moodily. His eyes were still closed. “A symbol of popular lies, I reckon.” He lifted his leathery eyelids halfway. He gazed into the nothing he saw before him. “Woulda died fer them stars and stripes. Watched a lotta men dew jus that. All the terrible things we man-apes have done ta meat, Shark. All the sins we have committed in the dark. Picassos of carnage, that’s all we is.” Gritt outstretched his arms as if grasping at all of human existence. “And here we are, at the end of all things, imprisoned in this hell we have wrought, imbued with the dreams of our sleepin forebears, and gone mad knowing we have squandered the sum of our collective experiences. Our ancestors crawled on their hands and knees through the horrors of time and space so we could . . . sell a few more cans’uv Coca-Cola. . . .”


“I have gone to dark places and have seen the dark things growing there. I tried ta see the world fer what it was. I tried ta live inside of it. All in vain.” He exhaled deeply. “All in vain.”