Prologue.


While tightening the straps on his backpack and scanning the room for his board, Adam contemplates suicide. If he was going to, he'd hang himself. He imagines it as the same sort of feeling he gets from standing on a balcony that thrusts over the ocean, with nothing but sky and sun to conquer it. It's uncanny to think about and hard to explain. It's more like freedom than an end, dying, and if he wasn't such a coward he'd try it.

But he is a coward. He's afraid. Because the world keeps lying to everyone, to him. The sky isn't blue, for one. Colours are perceived, they aren't fact. Another: you can't touch the internet but it's the biggest thing around. It's got everything inside of it and it doesn't even have a tangible inside for everything to be in. A Third: numerals. Why is everything at a base of ten? Why not six? Clockwork is done in a base of six. Why are these two things different? Mid-day should be twenty-o'clock and that should be the end of it. People should be getting tired of these lies, this crap, but they aren't. The world just continues. It stays steady at a humming bass line. The murmur of life freaks him out, but he can't kill himself to get away from it.

"Adam!"

Comes the sharp, back-prickling hawk cry of his mother. He ignores it, because it means his cousin is here to pick him up and take them to their grandmother's. For the whole summer. But it's got to be better than working, even if he does have to leave his friends and the park behind. It's got to be better than putting up with this city, because if everyone thinks it's his fault then it might as well be his fault. Matt, his sister, this whole mess is his fault, and the entire damn city told him to get out. Again, killing himself would solve that, but.

He now has something to stay in this world for, at least for a little while: trying to fix this thing.

He can't do it. No way.

"Are you ready hun?" His mom says from the hallway.

"Just gotta find my socks," he replies, but they're on his feet, bright and orange. He wants to look at his room one more time. There's a burning in his gut shouting that the next part of his life is going to attempt to screw with him. He doesn't like long car rides, though, and tells himself that it's probably just nerves from the definite one ahead. Feeling this way is awful. He used to be so energetic before this whole affair happened, but he hasn't left the house much in nearly a month. His mind feels like an acidic pig fetus left out in the sun too long, boiling and shrivelling up under the heat and pressure of one-hundred-thousand people hating it for something it didn't do.

"She's here! Let's go!"

Snatching his board from under his bed, he runs downstairs and out the door, whipping past his cousin Krystal, without a hint of recognition.

She rolls her brown eyes and says, "This is gunna fuckin' suck."


Being his only and favourite cousin simultaneously, Krystal Brooks is someone he considers sane. Despite her grass smoking, tattoos, lip rings, attitude problem, conservative parents, sexual habits, and general outlook on life, Adam likes her. All of that was annoying during high school, because he thought she was just trying to fit in or stand out or be some stereotype - but now that that crap's been over for two years, he doesn't really mind. She's still his cousin, no matter how many phone calls he gets a six AM asking him to come pick her up, please, but she doesn't know the address.

"Okay..." Adam folds his arms, thinking. "Either risk getting AIDS or stand naked in the middle of city hall."

"Naked," Krystal answers. "Obviously." She checks the mirror to her left then changes lanes. "Either eat a walrus penis raw, or a cooked human arm."

"Human arm."

"That's disgusting."

"Fuck you. I'm not eating a walrus dick."

"But I though you liked–"

"Ha. Ha." Adam kicks the bottom of his feet onto the dash board, and scrunches himself up in the passenger seat. "Um... Either bring Hitler back to life or have sex with a really fat guy."

Krystal stares out the front window for three seconds, and then asks, "How fat?"

"Really really fat," Adam answers, trying not to smile. He's suppose to be in a bad mood, dammit.

"Yeah, but how fat? Are we talkin' Rosie O'Donnell or Anna Nicole Smith?"

"Mmm... you remember Hana's English Professor?"

Krystal shifts gears, looking for the exit. "Kingston?" Adam nods. "Bringing Hitler back, then."

"Seriously?"

"Whatever."

"But he killed all those people."

"He wouldn't get away with it twice. And anyway, I am not having sex with Professor Kingston."

Adam laughs a bit. "You're terrible."

"And you're smiling..." She grins, eyes on the road. "Your mother would have a kitten."

"Shut up." He doesn't stop. "Your go."

Krystal thinks, hums, tilts her head and suddenly snaps her fingers, shifting the jeep a little to the left. "Either have sex on the floor of a public bathroom in a New York city subway or on your parents' bed the night after their anniversary."

"Bathroom floor," comes a very pressing response from Adam.

"Mm, good choice."

The sun beats in on his face, and he feels warm.