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And the two headed woman wandered into sight around a heap of rubble. She stopped and looked down at Zerchi. …He noticed that the head of Mrs. Grales slept soundly on the other shoulder while Rachel smiled. It seemed a young, shy smile that hoped for friendship.

…He glanced again at the face of Mrs. Grales. It had grown gray with the impersonal mask of coma. …Somehow he felt certain it was dying. He could imagine it withering and eventually falling away like a scab or an umbilical cord. Who then was Rachel? And what?

…His vision went foggy, he could no longer see her form. But cool fingertips touched his forehead and he heard her say one word.

“Live.”

Then she was gone. He could hear her voice trailing away in the new ruins. “La la la, la-la-la…”

~ excerpt from A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

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Rachel

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