This Broken Eternity
Chapter: Earth's Angelic Merry-Go-Round
Fridays for most were slugging along until it was time to clock out, then falling home for the weekend to relax and recharge for things started all over again. For Isaac Pace, Fridays were a day of quick business, with several clients to attend to, all of them ready to shell out money for his primary time. He didn't have the weekends off, either, or any other day. Isaac was a proprietor of a one-man business, and things never seemed to slow down, especially not in this City.
And that was just fine with him.
"Thanks for your business!" he called out, tossing a wave to the trio of high school students clustered in one of the many coffee shops that populated the City's Central Mall. It was a big building, and a pain to navigate at times, but Isaac loved it. He headed up to the counter to get a refill on his tea before leaving, and watched the boy behind the counter, nametag declaring his name was Brian, the boy that had taken his order.
Isaac could have sworn that Brian's eyes had been brown before, and his photographic memory assured that he was right. So it was interesting that Brian's eyes were now more hazel, a subtle change—but a change nonetheless.
When Brian turned back, Isaac kept up his smile. The information was tucked away for later use, but probably would never come up. When it came down to it, most people didn't notice things like that, let alone come to ask about it. Most people who would notice would brush the occasion off as colored contacts or the like.
But once you accepted the existence of strange things, they were everywhere. It was as simple as that.
Five months ago, Isaac had been introduced to the phrase, "The world as it is." It had only happened once, and it wasn't something that reoccurred in any popularity. As a consultant, Isaac had to be open to any number of opportunities, and the supernatural had been one of them. But this was a new way of looking at it, so he had been doing his best to see how far the concept had spread.
And what better place to check for that than with high school students?
The three students in question—two girls and one boy—were from Fiburst Academy, and they hadn't known about the phrase, but seemed intrigued by it. Well, they claimed not to know about it, but the dark haired girl—Ámbar Hovik—reacted when the words had left his lips at first, though she had covered it up well.
But that didn't matter much, because Isaac was really just looking to see how far the phrase's reach went. He didn't need to know about all the ins and outs, just that it was there. And if he was spreading the rumor himself, that was good enough.
The one boy—Elias Kendrik—had seemed completely enraptured by the idea and would probably look into it more. Isaac had made a note to look into it at a later date.
And exiting the mall, his tea cup in hand, Isaac pulled up his mental list of clients, ready to head to his next meeting.
The next client wasn't a very important one, not very interesting. But they had the money, and Isaac was running a business. They had agreed to meet at one of Isaac's many homes/offices throughout the City. This one in particular was his favorite: a massive penthouse with a public and a private sector and an excellent view of the street below.
Isaac wasn't above driving, but he preferred to walk. As if to counter the previous winter's onset, spring had come in full force. It wasn't unbearably hot, but it was definitely warm. Walking was nothing difficult, and he had plenty of time anyway.
The streets were filled with all types. Students heading home or out after school, people hunting for groceries, members of the Daelman Family, trying to be discreet, police officers, trying to do their jobs. Walking let Isaac observe, and his memory guaranteed that he could sit down and reflect back on what he had seen later on. Sometimes, he found potential clients or the information that had been requested in these sessions.
As he came up on his apartment building, Isaac took a chance to look up. Most people tended not to, because they thought there was nothing for them to see. Isaac tended to believe the same thing, but that didn't mean it wasn't something to look at. The sky was absolutely clear, a pure blue that would have made a Crayola colored pencil jealous. No clouds, just sky and sun.
And a small shadow, falling ever closer, at a rate that would definitely cause some damage when it hit the ground.
Isaac looked around, feeling a bit greedy. Surely, someone would panic at the sight. They might even have a small riot on their hands, and the policemen would be forced to do their job for once. But there was nothing but the usual chatter of life, and even that was below average.
Isaac looked back up, only to see that the shadow had gotten bigger—and much so. A massive pair of wings had erupted, though the changing image made it hard to tell how big they could be. Isaac closed his eyes and froze the image. Whatever those wings were supporting, it was roughly human size, which meant that the wings would easily be fifteen feet long—a piece.
There weren't many things that could make Isaac Pace stop dead in his tracks, but this was turning out to be one of them. While nobody else did—Ignorance, right?—he watched as the shadow from the sky descended, coming to a stop on top of an apartment building, specifically the one that Isaac had been ready to head into.
There's no such thing as coincidence.
Whether or not this was a work of fate, Isaac was not one to let opportunities go to waste, and he hoped to never be. Blinking a few times to clear his thoughts out, he finally smiled and headed into the building, tipping the security guard a nod before entering the elevator. As usual, Isaac headed to the top floor. Unlike usual, he didn't head for this penthouse, instead locating the emergency stairs and heading to the roof.
For security reasons, the door to the roof tended to be locked. Because Isaac often found himself with the need to get into places he didn't need to, the consultant was prepared. He pulled out a small emergency kit from his pocket, extracted the lock pick, and with a few experienced movements, the door opened as easily if he held the key.
More than once he had considered getting a master's key for the building, but that would require him to have keys for every other place he frequented, and that was a bit too much weight to be carrying around on a daily basis. The lock pick would have to do.
The world wasn't that much different from the roof top as compared to the ground, save that he could now see the tops of buildings instead of just looking up at them. The roof he was on was kept clean in comparisons to some of the others, but that really didn't matter so much as the figure collapsed on the ground about eleven feet away.
Isaac walked over to the figure. If there had been a few more feet of variance, the mysterious flying object would have landed in the alleyway instead. Glad that at least this way Isaac could have the experience of discovery to himself, Isaac kicked into observation mode.
The most obvious thing of note was that the wings were gone—or it would be more accurate to say that they had shrunk, and were shrinking still. Slowly they retreated, one white feather at a time, into the person's back, disappearing between tears in the fabric. The woman—for she was in fact a woman in appearance—was wearing a tattered white dress, her face partially hidden behind a messy shock of hair so brown it almost seemed to glow with flicks of gold in the sunlight.
Common sense kicked in, and Isaac leaned in to check her pulse. He had expected it to be slow, but it was pattering along at a rate much faster than average. This meant the woman was alive, but possibly in danger. But her breathing seemed even if not shallow, and the laxness of her expression made Isaac come to the conclusion that she was sleeping, or at least very effective of acting like it.
Given that she had just had wings until a moment ago, Isaac was willing to make some exceptions to human physiology for the moment. At the very least, she wouldn't die if he dithered around for a few more minutes.
There was more to this world than met the average eye. This was something that Isaac had always believed, though he tended to take it in a more personal viewpoint—that every person was capable of seeing the world differently, and no one person could see everything. There were to many viewpoints for that.
But five months ago had entered the more concrete possibility that something more was out there. Just believing that, Isaac had been able to find more evidence to suggest it. Maybe that was the power of expectation, which was why he had been working to gather more information, see if he was on to something. So far, the search had been going slowly, but it had been moving, which was good enough for him. He hadn't made his way into this business through impatience after all.
But just because he could control his impulses didn't mean he still didn't feel them.
There was something itching inside him that had been waiting to get out. It was a different feeling than curiosity or enthusiasm. It was closer to a compulsion, and while Isaac didn't like giving in to those sorts of things, sometimes exceptions needed to be made in order to have any fun.
The impulse was greater here, that was for sure. In front of him was a major piece of tangible proof. The world in the way Isaac thought it was different from "the world as it is." In order to grow, he needed to accept that, but seeing was believing after all, and clichés did have their perks from time to time.
And so the woman in front of him with her now disappeared wings was—he somehow knew for certain—the absolute key to all of his goals. Isaac Pace felt this with a feeling much like instinct, just with a bit more absolute certainty to it.
He leaned down next to her. She was still unconscious or in a façade like state suggesting it. Keeping his guard up, he reached out to touch her with one hand, shaking her shoulder slightly. The woman didn't stir, which also could have been part of the act. But that was the other things about life—taking risks was how you got places, not by sitting around like a moron and letting opportunities pass you by.
And, well, if she was hostile, at least he had several other places of business to work from. It wouldn't hurt him much to lose his deposit on this place anyway.
With less care than one would give a sack of potatoes, Isaac worked on tossing the woman to his back. He didn't have the strength to do anything like carry her over his shoulder, but he could handle piggyback, and she was pretty light. Isaac wrapped her arms around him, and it felt like she tightened the loose grip on him, just a little.
Not sure if he exactly liked the implications of being hugged by something that—for all practical purposes—seemed to be an angel, Isaac walked back down the stairs to his penthouse.
The fabled Isaac Pace arrives. If you want to try and poke more at him, he does make an appearance in my [Twelve Shots of Summer] One Shot, "Illusive Obligation," which takes place before this story.
Isaac also plays a role in Twelve Zero Zero. He's been a tricky character to nail down, especially since he's based off some other characters but I didn't want it to be super obvious. At the end of drafting this story, I feel like I have a much better grip on him than I did in the early days, but it's nice to look back.
Next week, a proper first conversation. Please look forward to it!