I stayed in the decaying cabin for many nights, steeping in twilight and sleeping within caches of secreted darkness. I dreamed into the structure’s cobwebbed corners and soft rotting wood, hoping to record the impressions of the things that walked with me in sleep—to be available for others who might be summoned to this place of old bones and secrets.
Having soaked up as much darkness as I was able, I abandoned the shack to the ghost of its past. As I wandered the woods, I eventually stumbled upon the faintest scratch of a road. I moved along the path and wondered about the names on the list. I couldn’t help but speculate that the list was given to me by the Queen of the Deadworld herself. I had after all just delivered one of her acolytes to the other side of sleep, returning to dream what was once stolen by flesh. Yet the whole thing seemed wholly out of fashion with the devices of her cold intents, as nothing within this silent calling felt like anything other than a warm and wonderful dream. So, I began my hunt with the dying sun bleeding across my face, feeling as if my body had become nearly weightless, leaving only the artist behind—nothing but a dream of quiet knives and endless transformations.
Strangely, amid a sprawling stand of trees, where the forest had nearly healed from the small worn path, there stood a nameless restaurant. I knew it as such by the rotting plaque that hung over its ramshackle door: “Come in and Try Our Daily Special.” I had not yet eaten and found it to be as suitable a place as any, so I entered.
As I ate my tasteless meal at the worn lunch counter, I withdrew one of the articles I found in the shack and scanned it. The title read “The Family Man Suspected in the Death of Nine.” I had once let slip, to the artist I mentioned earlier, a small particle of my history. He was a kinetic bit of art—still breathing, in awe of what he had become—and supplied my admirers with the information I had imparted. Thus, my new name was born. While clearly, I am more than the mere sum of my family’s bones (although they persist as my best works to date), I do rather enjoy the name.
The next article I selected concerned a church that had been built—three years ago, by the given date. One of the carpenters who had contributed to the effort was named (and circled) in the piece: Hayden Trill. I generally don’t do things in any particular order, but it was nice to see that he was the next person on my list. I knew—felt—that the town with the church must be nearby, and so I packed up my family and left the nameless restaurant, stomach full and mind abuzz with possibilities.
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