for Sonja

He’s a bad astrologer. She’s a four-letter military acronym, her body mutating beyond the scientists’ control. —Starpilot

“I can never remember which one’s the fish-goat,” K. warns her, slipping out of his K-Mart windbreaker. He’s worn holes in the pockets with his keys and keeps losing pens in the lining. “Capricorn? Sagittarius?” The pens leak. His waist is an arresting patchwork of blue and black ink.

“Capricorn,” she tells him.

“Really? Well, there you are, then.”

“It’s the same root as unicorn. Corn, horn; from the latin–“

He coughs, almost loses it. There’s black mold high in the corner of his shower that he can’t get rid of, no matter how much bleach he sprays on it. He can feel it growing in his lungs. She spasms in sympathy, then balls her fists tight as she jumps from five fingers per hand to two, to seven. He stares, fascinated.

“They told me, but… does it hurt?”

“Does your incompetence hurt?”

K. shrugs, unembarrassed. “Sometimes.” He sits down, pulls an antique tarot deck from his hip pocket, warm from his blood. The silk handkerchief is seduction on his skin, a lost extravagance from fatter days. “What do you want to know?”

The soldier leaning not quite against the wall tenses. K. watches her, each bullet she carries a needle pressed against his stomach.

“Tell me,” says Awol, then swallows back a tongue grown knife-edged and too big for her mouth. “Tell me what I’m FOR.”