Welcome. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’d ask how you came to be here, but I know you can’t tell me. Do you know where we are? No? Well I suppose that is to be expected, so don’t be troubled. You were somewhere else, and now you’re here. That’s all.
Come now, Stranger, and be at your ease. It is true that in the past I was cruel to travelers, but those days are now long faded. You see before you a broken creature. I will do you no harm. You must be weary after your long journey. Sit yourself down. Take what food and drink there is. It is only the simple fare of a shepherd, but I offer what I have.
I had trouble sleeping through the night in high school: insomnia. But I hated the label.
It is a stupid and hateful prejudice that words are truth-bearers. I remember those torturous dark nights spent shifting beneath my blankets: the desperation of those countless hours I spent tossing and turning. I felt like I was lost in a thick mist. I tried everything: supplements, meditation, exercises. But nothing brought me any nearer that gentle foretaste of death. Insomnia: what nerve it must take to reduce it all to four digestible syllables.
When the two teenage hot dog vendors laughed at Brandon Viktor, he saw their tongues stick out. The thin, stoop shouldered 21 year old took the wiener from its bun and bit a huge piece off. Everyone in Princetown thought they could make fun of him, but he still had a powerful chomp.
So here you are, sitting on the train, reading this book, looking for excitement. The cover caught your attention: some sad hero, sweat pouring down his forehead, eyes desperate with fear. You love to read about poor souls in torment.
The first Pango babies were born six years ago. It started in Southeast Asia so, naturally, no one in the West believed it. The odd morning show’s chuckling hosts would read reports of Cambodian women giving birth to strange creatures and they’d laugh it off. Then a Pango was born in San Francisco.
Anna was not one to look twice at anything or anyone. Everyone looked twice at her though. They couldn’t help it.
Most people don’t bother looking twice at insignificant details, so unsurprisingly she wasn’t particularly popular. People thought Anna was either arrogant, or stupid, or both. But I knew that when she did look twice at something, even more rarely someone, that look could take hours, it could take days. I’ve spent my whole life waiting for her to look at me like that.