Chapter: Finding the Path

Entry: Jul 16, 2007

... and remember.

The phrase blinked through his consciousness like a fizzling strobe transmitted over AM radio—choppy, indistinct, mostly indecipherable.

But Kyle got it. Oblivious or not, four syllables repeated often enough always completed, filling in blanks until the message was clear. Kyle didn't know exactly what he was supposed to remember, but apparently it didn't matter. Some dreams were prophetic, others just set the tone for the day, making him uncomfortably horny or content without discernible cause, but truthfully, they were a load of BS. No surprise there. Most everything is bullshit, especially dreams.

And the rest was lost anyway. There were fragments suggesting a train, possibly rushing headlong into a sunset marred by rippling air-currents burning in a hot summer, the kind rife with fireflies, refreshing sweat, and sleepless nights experiencing the rawness of inescapable discomfort. But that kind of thing brought people together, made them one in their suffering, like an unexpectedly difficult test in school, or his father's stories of hammering together a treehouse in an uncommonly fiery Washington summer, between blissful orgies of lemonade and wading in the crick along the Lammond farm, collecting pollywogs and unlucky snakes while cows skeptically watched them pass. His dad always joked, he could meet those kids years later as ancient grandparents bordering on senility, but they'd always remember that shallow, muddy creek and the garter snakes sometimes slithering between their toes.

Winter or not, awake or asleep, Kyle longed to feel that connection, felt it as a terrible loss, pining for that place he'd only seen behind closed eyes. He knew then, that frustration and depression would shape his day, like as not. But even having been there, just a little, did him good. It was a respite he needed desperately, though why was a complete mystery.

A mystery like his journal, lying open with a sheet of paper haphazardly over the cracked spine, his own frenzied words demanding immediate attention. "Read every morning!" it said, and then, almost as an afterthought, "See if anything repeats." Huh? Obviously Frank up to his old tricks again. Gotta set the old man straight. Screwing with a man's journal ain't right. Aughtta be a law.

"Yeah, sure dad. Like I'll fall for that," he mumbled. But Kyle was always the curious type, so he read it anyway, maybe to see if Frank inserted a few of his own choice comments or observations.

Sometimes the most damning things are the ones unexpected, caused by ourselves in a flurry of misguided passion, or maybe drunken confusion. In a way, reading these entries, repeating variants of the same day, was the essence of inebriation. Kyle felt dizzy reading his own handwriting describing things that hadn't happened, couldn't possibly happen. Dr. Z asking him to explore a town? Mr. Spizer a frothing caricature of injustice?

Whoever suggested truth is stranger than fiction, never read Kyle's journal. Kyle wondered if there was such a disease as Sleep Writing, because he had a bad case. It's fatal, maam. I'm right sorry fer that. We'll give him morphine, so he'll go easy. He only wished his life were really that exciting. His journal painted him as a rough anthropologist, finding in this sleepy burg things eclipsing the most notable Egyptian digs of the century. If there was any credible word in those hastily and barely legible lines, he could publish in a scholarly journal and enjoy life as a renown figure. Man of the year, 1946.

But it was preposterous. Well, almost. He needed a test, something incontrovertible he could relay somehow to himself, that the assertions were all fact. Really, the choice was obvious: see if Dr. Z asks for research on some place called Old Town, and don't talk in Mr. Spizer's class, just to watch the day's lesson. Anything else was likely incidental; it was most important to verify these bombastic claims.

They were obviously false, every one. Kyle hated the idea of scribbling out several days worth of entries, but they were all ruined, or maybe he'd grabbed his journal instead of a notebook while daydreaming in class. But it was a goal for the day. He was still too new to really know anyone, so paying rapt attention to class made him feel uncomfortably nerdy, but one day could be explained away—so sayeth the master of The Social.

Kyle socialized like fish breathed water. He gambled looking odd for a single day would have little to no impact after he fully activated his charm, cranking up the dial so stations across the country swooned at his skill in that regard. Maybe he'd do it anyway, at lunch, between classes, just to cut rumors off at the pass. I ain't no bookworm. Just wanted to win brownie-points for later, when I start messin' with 'em. Gimme time to work my magic, boys and girls. Yeah. Sure 'nough.

Call it a gift. Label it a curse. Just don't scuff the shoes.

Somewhere, somewhen, an old woman rolled her eyes at the meaningless posturing. Kyle really can be an arrogant ass, sometimes. He better grow out of it, or Rue'll eat him for five meals a day.

Kyle, the quintessential teenage boy, barely suppressed the urge to flex before dressing for the day. Maybe he'd hit on a girl, just for kicks, just to prove everything was normal, peachy, Oll Korrect. Sure Frank claimed an ideal childhood, but Kyle was a Big Fish in a frightfully tiny pond, and he'd eat them guppies and wash 'em down with the faculty. A little false bravado never really hurt anyone, and Kyle suddenly ached without it, naked and exposed while not espousing his own virtues subtly among an audience.

One thing was certain: he'd feel far less vulnerable later, once he'd put this insanity to rest. This town was creepy, maybe a little eerie, but supernatural? Tell me another one, Jack.

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