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Welcome to the Big Empty, the world after the Flashback, a world in which most the population has vanished and where dinosaurs roam freely. You can survive here, if you're lucky, and if you're not in the wrong place at the wrong time--which is everywhere and all the time. But what you'll never do is remain the same, for this is a world whose very purpose is to change you: for better or for worse. So take a deep dive into these loosely connected tales of the Dinosaur Apocalypse (each of which can be read individually or as a part of the greater saga): tales of wonder and terror, death and survival, blood and beauty. Do it today, before the apocalypse comes.
He hesitated before peeling off a wedge and placing it in his mouth, at which he closed his eyes and seemed to melt, hanging back his head, working his jaw in a circular motion, reopening his eyes—pausing suddenly.
"What?" I asked. "What is it?"
He tilted his head, peering into the branches. "Isn't that strange?"
I followed his gaze into the tree but, alas, saw nothing. Which, of course, was precisely the problem; there was nothing—no oranges, no leaves, no uppermost branches, it was as though someone or something had picked the treetop clean.
"Someone has a helluva reach," said Maldano.
I looked around the lot: at the lichen-covered Public Market and the Jersey Mike's Subs with the Prius in its window, at the Vietnamese Nail Salon and the El Buzo Peruvian Restaurant. "We should split up, canvas the area. Make sure—there's nothing else."
"Yeah," said Maldano. "I think you're right."
I headed for the Public Market. "Make a sweep of the strip mall. I'm going to check out that grocery store."
He laughed a little at that—which caused me to pause.
I half-turned, but didn't make eye contact. "Sorry?"
"I mean, in all this? This Big Empty? This 'world tenanted by willows … and the souls of willows?'"
There was something in his voice. Something subtle, something contentious.
"Call it what you like," I said, and continued toward the market.