Darlene smiles at Big John. “Duluth,” she says, “Love it or loathe it, you can never leave it or lose it.”
“I always wondered what that meant,” says Big John, drawing her voluptuous body close to his own whipcord body.
“It means us, among other things,” says Darlene. “It is what it is—forever.” Then she whispers, “Hold me.”
And Big John, warm and mature at last, says, of his own accord, with absolute sincerity and trust—and no prodding from Darlene—“I will. Because I know now that that is all that a woman wants.”
Entangled in one another’s arms, neither notices the millions and millions and millions of bugs that are now streaming across the Heights, devouring everything in their path.
The macrocosm of insect life at the heart of the Mayor Herridge Swamp has suddenly metastasized. Secretly egged on by the bankrupt centipedes from outer space, the bugs have taken over Duluth through a mere shift in tense, replacing those temporary interlopers, the human race.
Now Tricia sits at the late Rosemary Klein Kantor’s word-processor and with her mandibles she proceeds to tap out a Duluth totally unlike Duluth or even “Duluth.” Mandibles clacking with glee, Tricia describes the metamorphosis from present-day human Duluth to the myriapodal one, simultaneous with the other, yes, but equally immutable and autonomous.
Duluth! Tricia taps, love it or loath it, you can never leave it or lose it because no matter how blunt with insectivorous time your mandibles become those myriad eggs that you cannot help but lay cannot help but hatch new vermiforous and myriapodal generations, forever lively in this present tense where you—all of you—are now at large, even though, simultaneously, you are elsewhere, too, rooted in that centripetal darkness where all this was, and where all this will be, once the bright inflorescence that is, or—now for that terminal shift, Tricia; press the lever!—was present-day human Duluth has come to its predestined articulated and paginated end. Yes. Duluth! Loved. Loathed. Left. Lost.