Author's Notes:

This was the beginning of a special kind of Hell reserved for those crazy enough to try their hand at NaNoWriMo. Like me.

Constructive criticism makes the world go around.

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Chapter I: Prelude

He perched comfortably atop one of the many great boulders that thrust skyward from the fertile bosom of the earth, the rough edges of this part of the world having been softened by the passage of time and millennia of weather. There was no better place, he was sure, on this living realm or in the world of the dead. The sharp sea tang on the keen ocean breeze tickled his senses, and the southerly wind exhaled over a sea of sweet-scented grasses and tall-stemmed flowers, their yellow heads nodding. No other being stirred in this panoramic landscape other than him; as he eased himself against a sunlit rock-face to bask in the warmth, there was naught a bird's cry or the chattering chastisement of rodents among the ripening grass; there was naught but the sighting wind and the grass whispering secrets of the earth as they danced and bowed. He closed his eyes, as if hoping to imprint this moment, this gentle day, upon his mind, to carry evermore like a sinner's confessions imparted.

The weight at his hip had fallen off as he climbed to this sanctuary, lost somewhere in the tall grass and swallowed up by the living earth. Perhaps it would lie there, forgotten, and turn to dust, to be carried away by the wind and washed away by the rains. Or it may be picked up by another wanderer, who would feel the weight of the burden and wonder of its nature and the disposition of its former carrier. Ah, no, it cannot by thus. It was but a temporary loss; he would reclaim it later after too brief a respite. There is no way to part a griever from his, nor a sinner from his sin.

Yet kindly Mother Earth granted her weary child some blessed reprieve. She held a cure for the hurts of the world, perhaps somewhere an elixir, even, to eternal happiness. It would not be for him.

A hawk's cry startles him, so unusual to hear in this part of the world. Birds are said to be messengers of the gods, able to flit easily from different planes of existence and reality as they carry the messages between worlds of what they see from far above with keen-eyed sight. He knows only one hawk so bold to seek him out here. Loath as he is to leave, he knows the hawk carries something of grave import that will send him off on yet another adventure and place more weight upon him. He opens his eyes, and the wide universe lays within them, an eternity of stories untold and heroes unsung mirrored there, an unspoken wisdom gained, not from the ponderings of a scholar, but from long years of transgression. He stands, the burden is returned, and runs, following the shadow of the crying hawk.

A clerk snoozed behind the front desk at the far end of the lobby, an unworthy obstacle obstructing his path to an important destination. A most important destination, he supposed, of utmost importance, ergo not able to be caught up by such trivialities. He passed the clerk without her noting anything but a cool draft and a strange, phantom light in her dreams. He walked down the narrow halls, up stairs, then down again, wandering in an oddly rational manner.

An innocent chirrup, a sweet bird whistle, halted his progress down a dimly-lit corridor. The hospital did not keep any birds. The doors, he noticed, his skin prickling and neck hair rising, were quite literally bolted shut. Thick metal, complex locks, and the intricacies of hair-thin wiring protected the person inside. Or did they protect the outside from the person within? He walked through the wall.

"I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts--doodly-doot--here they are a-standing in a row..." He is singing and walking in circles when the ghost phases through the walls. "Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head..."

"Hey, you can see me?" the ghost frowns a bit as it speaks, peering down at him.

"Why no, I do not see you." He calculates the area of each circle he completes, then contemplates the differences between this circle and the last one.

"Har har, very funny. I've been looking for you, you know."

"So you're not an angel."


"Rather, you are a manifestation of my inner self here to guide me on my soul searching."

"Kind of. Sure, let's go with that."

"They are right, I am insane." He throws up his hands, makes a few circles in his cubicle, and ends up precisely where he was before he'd thrown up his hands and made a few circles. Twenty-six point four nine one metres, he thinks.

It has to be exactly twenty-six point four nine one metres. Twenty-six point five meant that the world would go spinning into the sun for a fantastic, catastrophic end to the slab of mostly carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. Just as those four elements are the truest necessities to life, twenty-six point four nine one metres is the distance between where he is now and where he was ten minutes ago when the not-angel first appeared.

It has to be exactly twenty-six point four nine one metres. Twenty six meant that the universe is not ordered in a predictable manner. The last time he'd come up with that conclusion, they took him away and put him in a spongy room where he'd missed his old cubicle and occasional storybook. Just as the phases of the moon were in a predictable and logical order, twenty-six point four nine one metres is the distance between where he is now and where he was ten minutes ago when the not-angel first appeared.

"You know, this soul searching thing takes a while. It's best to start as soon as possible. Early bird gets the worm, but the one that gets up at three in the morning gets the French toast."

"Oh dear, is it three? I should be in bed by three, otherwise the White Men come in and administer the serum." He lies down in bed—rather stiffly because the doctors say his health is in decline—and turns on his left side, facing the wall. He always sleeps on his left side. He always wakes on his left side.

"Listen, dude, the sooner we start your blasted soul searching, the sooner we'll be done and you'll be free."

He doesn't answer. He is asleep on his left side. If he isn't asleep by three, the White Men come.

The apparition sighs and settles down on the floor.

November 1, 2005. And so it begins.

February 13, 2006. Is this me getting off of my arse to edit? I believe so. Warning: haphazardly scheduled updates.