There was no continuing aspect to the rapture. It did not unfold — it was never folded. It simply was, was over, and that was that. Few in the Posse of Matrons had witnessed a Ministering to the Lamb. The ritual capitalized on the low-hanging fruit of Texas cologne: its capacity to make the recipient embrace death, indeed copulate with it, smile on lips, song echoing in stopped heart.
Astrid bint Wanda had pre-boarded her bier and was starting her climb to glory. All muscle activity was largely shut down. She still managed to blow bubbly kisses to blushing boys seen only by her, and to talk a blue streak, although her lips didn’t move to the words. The verbal activity registered only as a rocky mountain range of excited light on the monitors.
Lavendar Larchmont was at the controls, flanked by her sombre Posse cohort. She keyed and knobbed tenderly, dealing as she was with a Matron of the first order who also foreshadowed the penultimate end of a telling. She mastered a ripple of emotion as she dialed Astrid toward the threshold, minding closely the gradient of ecstasy. Lavendar wanted to give her senior colleague the longest death-glide possible before the coup de jet intercepted the brain’s last flare, held in reserve for the ultimate emergency, inducing a what-the-fuck instant even in deep metempsychosis, and the élan vital ran out of road. Lavendar would never have thought her first duty as newly invested Brilliant Maximx of the Posse of Matrons would be to gas her predecessor. It was a complex honor.
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