And when she was old and full of sleep she looked up to find her death peering in the window. The shock of it — that fleshless face! those cobwebbed eyes! — ran through her like power lines, like turbines, like water breaking against the dam.

“I have known you,” she said.

“Yes,” said her death, “but will you know me yet again?”

“Always,” she vowed, “always and forever,” and her death gave that half-forgotten sclerotic chuckle and was gone. She took her rifle down from above the door, cleaned and oiled it, hands slow but gaining, and set out to track her down.

For a year and a day she hunted her death through the alleys and the plazas of the city that had once been hers. Broke old friends, old promises, new kneecaps. The old flash was gone, but not the blade; she drew maps in blood on the undersides of tables in rotting bars, traced the letters of an unsayable name among the spindle-legged cranes of the harborside.

Her death was wily, old and clever.

She ran her death to ground at last, pinned her to earth between her shadow and her hair. “Found you,” she growled, knobby finger gentle on the trigger. “When you get to hell, you tell ’em Tits Akimbo sent you.”

“Always and forever,” said her death, and laughs again.

“The fuck you say,” she said, and cored the middle of her empty head open with one beautiful perfect shot. “I’m an almighty god of death.”