PART A (The Psychologist) — 1

(…all around and down below a voice cannot be heard…)

See how my human turns to face me, drawn as to a thing of beauty.

I am pulled like a weight, though not yet moved.

Can you sense our ancient dance?

So close now, there is perfect stillness.

It has to be this way.

See my pattern worn deep into my human’s form.

See my stitch there inside its crusty, blubbery shell.

My crystal palace home.

My lair.

My second lair, for the first has grown dry and stale as I am held, poised within its shredded remnants for what will be but moments more.

Pay attention, little ones, and I will show you the way to the human heart.

Though fluid as thought, we are limited.

For our humans must choose us.

They must initiate.

They must take us in.

Yet see how mine shuffles and zags.

See the crystal gap growing wider there inside, drawing me to its delicious blood.

For it is there the flashing will come.

The crystals have been our destiny ever since spiritless ancestors were carried on ancient winds, separating and reforming across countless worlds and time.

You see, we and the humans are of an entirely different kind.

I will try to show you what it is within their feeble system that keeps them back from us.

Yet be assured if a human reaches this point of hesitation, you have already won.

The hesitation can only ever last another moment.

We cannot help but seek expansion, so perhaps the humans crave but also fear us.

See how mine flinches and trembles, yet does not cease in its approach.

Can you already sense the glorious flashing about to bring itself into being?

How might I describe the flashing?

You must know it for yourselves.

Yet what happens to the humans in the flashing is even more a mystery than is this brief and peaceful, final pause.

Here it comes, as sure as seasons.

See the tiny torn pieces of my dying earthen lair being lifted up.

When my human takes me, watch as I flow to fill the crystal’s space.

See how wide the gap is fixed.

And this grows only ever wider, drawing my human back a little faster every time.

The widening, the return, the hesitation, and the giving in might as well be automatic.

But are we setting a trap?

Are we harming our humans?

Before the world we once imagined began to be our new reality, I would often wonder of such things.

I remain transfixed in these moments of stillness.

I truly do wish to know my human’s real experience.

Why does it resist?

Surely the humans cannot think as we do.

Yet know in an instant they could resurface their whole world and blot us out forever, ending our beloved dance with them for good.

Of course we would be powerless to stop it.

But if humans think at all, I believe their thoughts must move in mere single straight lines from thought to thought.

My hunch is that when my human hesitates, its thoughts would read something like: just one more time . . . just one more . . . just one more…

My human never fails to lose its strange fight against its want for me.

Then the gap widens further, and I am consumed all the more.

But again, is our advantage unfair?

We will discuss such ethical issues soon, young ones, I am sure.

Come now, it is time.

Watch as the flashing takes us.

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I found another draft today.

It’s funny, I have no memory of writing this one either.

Here it is:

Dear M&D,

I miss you both so much.

That’s what I’d want to say, so there you go.

Was it hard to write?

I’m thinking how much harder it would be to send or say in person.

But what’s really the worst that could happen?

What would be so wrong with just opening my mouth, forcing myself past the volcanic waves, and finally telling you both how much I want to be with you?

It’s crazy how someone could throw away their whole life on a whim in their 20’s, not even seeing how brash they’re being in abandoning everything and everyone they love so dear.

I feel terrible for . . . lots of things.

I’m trying to make some changes.

But even if I were to send this, and you were to really read it, I still wouldn’t expect you to believe a single word.

Why would you?

I have no credibility left.

Not anymore.

Just too many lies told too often for far too long . . . and it feels like I’m always starting over again from scratch.

So that’s why I don’t think I can send this.

But once I’m finally able to actually do what I’ve always worked so hard to convince everyone I’m already doing, or going to do . . . what I want to do more than anything . . . then I’ll know I’m ready.

Then I’ll come see you.

That’s my promise to myself, and it can’t just be words this time.

I have to become real.

If you were here, you’d see me turn to myself and plead something along of the lines of: PLEASE, NO MORE LIES!

I wonder what that would look like.

But I cringe now whenever it gets quiet enough, and I start thinking how obvious it must have been that everything out of my mouth was garbage all along.

I couldn’t keep a story straight to save my life.

My mind was a fuzzy, shot, dead mess.

What about all those crazy all-nighters that sort of built themselves up around me while you were upstairs trying to sleep?

Or how I’d disappear for days and weeks, and then show up all bruised and dirty without even trying to explain where I’d been, or what I’d been doing, or anything…?

Remember when I kept claiming I was only on “over-the-counter” drugs?

How many times did I drop out of whichever school?

Yeah, you and everyone must have known.

But still, you never stopped helping me.

You never talked down to me.

You never treated me like I was a failure, even though I’m sure you knew I was.

When I was a kid, I had these daydreams about one day being the one to finally reverse all that bad, dark stuff we…

But, D, that was you.

I saw the efforts you were making . . . going to meetings, forcing yourself to slow down and deal with me better.

You did everything you could.

I guess I’m just trying to say I never understood how amazing you both were, or how good I had it over THERE with you.

Sometimes I wish I’d never left.

I mean, it all happened so fast.

And now, years later, I’m still scraping by on others’ leftovers.

I guess I’m glad it’s finally forcing me to be more honest with myself.

Oh yeah, did I ever tell you I started going to church over THERE before I left?

I know we’re not exactly “church people,” and I only bring it up because something happened at service one morning I can’t stop coming back to in my mind.

This woman I’d never met said she had a “word” for me.

I guess that sort of thing was normal there, but I had no idea what to think.

The “word” was . . . she said she saw me standing in a new place, and when I turned around, expecting to see certain people there behind me, I was devastated to find myself alone.

She told me God had given her the vision so I’d know I was in the right place when it happened, and I’d know I wasn’t really alone . . . that I’d find the right people as soon as I was ready.

Yeah, I still feel very alone.

I’ve been HERE in this “new place” now for years.

I’ve certainly felt let down by some I thought would be there for me.

But more on that in another of these [fake] letters.

I’m actually less jaded than I probably sound.

People are people, and I’m learning just to let them be.

I’ll leave it there.

I so wish I could send this.

Love,

Me

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Someone Like Me (An Introduction)

G’day chaps!

So, here we go again!

Time for you to be thrust once more into my exciting world of painstaking, possibly pointless research.

Yippy!

How’d you like to spend the day with me doing what basically amounts to bursts of frenzied, highfalutin note taking?

Then of course there’s notes on notes.

Then notes on notes on notes.

Then…

Well, you get the idea.

And let’s not forget the joys of gradually X-ing off lines that all but stretch on forever in sneaky false starts and brazen deadends!

Notes, then un-notes, that’s the way!

I’m prepared for my task today . . . a task which absolutely no one has asked of me (nor probably cares about).

Got the old sardine tin cracked a smidge, and I’m nursing a fresh cuppa, all steamy and minty.

What could be better?

Well, I’ll tell ya!

Today I found the FIRST PAGE!

Yes, it’s true (can you believe it, after all this time?).

Being honest, it happened by accident.

But yes, I’ll bet my jolly stars this is in fact it!

I know, I know . . . I can come across a tad excitable.

I’ll work on dialing it back some, sure.

But there was just something so utterly surreal about seeing the words at the end of this new page align with those at the start of what has to be Page 2.

I imagine it might be how seeing earth from space would feel.

And then, like a baby taking its first breath, I just knew.

I saw, sudden as a bang, how the whole thing must fit together.

It all makes s…

But wait.

That would mean this note you’re reading now has to come first, yeah?

And if you’re reading this first, well then you haven’t the foggiest idea who I am or what I’m rabbiting on about.

Sorry, let’s start again, shall we?

This will all make sense, I promise.

So, my name is Archer Catrael.

I’m 47, marginally overweight (read “snuggly and jovial”), and I work in data banking with a large, multinational advertising firm.

I have THE BEST job in the entire world!

One afternoon a few months ago, I was busy corralling some stray wranglers (loose files) here at my cubicle.

I find I tend to do best with the more thoughtless tasks . . . whether that’s wrangler-herding, setting soppy dishes to soak, or just contributing to general office morale . . . in the slow, sleepy hours just after my lunch break.

Anyway, I reached to grab this stack of report papers I like to lay out every few days or so.

Nothing unusual.

But as soon as I yanked and did a sort of half-heave sideways, I felt my fingers brush against something thick and heavy hidden underneath, way down at the bottom of my cabinet.

There should not have been enough space there for anything to fit.

But I knew I’d glanced something other than then the cool metal bottom of the drawer.

Curious, I reached back down into the dark and began to trace the thing’s straight edges.

I was thankful not to feel any sudden movements like sprouting limbs or spikes.

Testing its weight ever so slightly, I guessed the mysterious object to be perhaps a large book or picture frame.

But after carefully wriggling it free from its snug and secret hiding spot, I was a bit deflated to discover a mere plain-looking stack of old stapled papers.

There was no signature, label, or anything else beyond the lines of text that stretched to fill each page.

The staples were uneven and rusty, and had forged a trio of ugly red rings to forever tarnish the surrounding white.

I chucked the document to a pile of odd bits and pieces to get to later (outside my sacred slow afternoon time).

The next morning, I skimmed the first couple pages.

It became obvious right away the thing had been stapled out of order.

As I zipped along each choppy, over-punctuated line, I picked up on hints of themes too personal and complex for me to grasp.

It did not seem at all work-related, that’s for sure!

I snuck it home with me that night to browse through one last time, expecting not to find anything worthwhile.

I planned to shred it and forget it the next day.

I’ve actually got “shredding and forgetting” down to quite a science now after so many years of wasted-effort lists intentionally ballooned with false-conclusion ties and notes (to fill the time).

So I sat to examine the first few pages again, and had to force myself to keep slowing down and really thinking about each line.

What could it be saying?

Why?

Still confused after the second page, I sludged on.

I’m quite a trooper when it comes to soldiering my way through disparate, hostile assemblies of boring words and figures for no good reason.

Anyway, about halfway through the third page, I forget exactly what it was, but a certain phrase seemed to leap right out at me, reminding me of something . . . well, something very specific.

That’s interesting! I thought, and continued to wade back out into the sea of endless type.

Then it happened again, as if from nowhere . . . the writer basically posing some query almost identical to one I’d wrestled with for years (and long given up on).

This went on.

Every now and then, just small, very particular things in the words seemed to reflect my own life, as well as my relationships, and other topics closest to my old heart in eerie ways.

I began to hold the uncanny feeling that the writer must be someone I knew.

Could the document have actually been left for me to find?

But those moments of illumination or connection occurred only for the briefest of stints, at random intervals.

Most of the text was still incoherent, dense, and dry.

Yet moment by moment, I continued deciding to let curiosity get the better of me.

Migrating to my kitchen and rummaging through drawers, I knew it would be a mission to pry up those thick, massive staples knotted through and clamping the whole thing together.

I had to wedge in a corn skewer and jimmy them up, one-by-one, tugging from side to side to gradually tear each metal shard from its tunnel-and-groove home like deep roots from soil.

Regrettably, the whole top-left corner of every page got somewhat garbled in the de-stapling.

Still, all remained perfectly legible.

It took me weeks to read and re-read the whole huge thing, then months again to piece it all back together, a page at a time.

I can’t overstate how often I wondered if I should really be allotting so many hours (much of my work days) to this chancy side project.

But mate, I couldn’t stop!

In fact, it seemed to be whenever I was closest to quitting I’d glance at a few random lines again, and the most vivid new tie-ins would present themselves from nowhere like sparkly fairies emerging from a pond.

The ridiculous feeling that the document had been scribed and left just for me to find and fix grew unshakable.

I even began having these bizarre, recurring dreams of mysterious, colourful creatures hiding secret treasures from other times in dark cabinets for only me to one day discover and decode.

But back to what I started with…

Today feels like an ENORMOUS VICTORY since I finally found what has to be PAGE ONE!

It really makes all my work thus far seem like not such a dismal pissing away of precious (company) time.

I wish I could go through the whole document and show you every place where it connects with my life.

I would likely have done just that if I’d written this first note yesterday.

But now I’m almost sure I’d be missing the whole point if I did.

In the end, it’s really not about me at all.

I’ve been trying, and will continue in notes like this, to show you what I believe the document is in fact about.

But you haven’t seen any of my other notes yet, so my guess is I’m still coming across here as a wee bit dimwitted, batty, fanciful…

And I’m okay with that.

I’ll do my best to wear such labels well if needs be.

Honestly, at this stage, there’s simply no way to escape my compulsion to share.

So here we go…

The first page begins like a note-to-self, though here’s a portion referencing notes to others:

If you include all this, it will seal the deal, giving you something to work for.

That would be spending time with Mangelo.

It would be moving toward that good life, and knowing everything so far can still be redeemed.

Maybe you just saw the very last outline of the very last…

All you knew was it was everything you’d ever felt or known.

Everything you’d ever seen.

There was no distance there.

No pressure.

It just was.

But what was it?

Yeah that still probably doesn’t sound like anything, eh?

Another bit from the first page goes:

You’re a person too . . . Mangelo’s best friend.

But where might H.O. Christianson factor in?

I’ll say it this way: As clues give weight to hunches, finding the beginning (now near the end of my quest) seems to confirm every suspicion that’s formed and bubbled up as I’ve worked so tirelessly to piece this all together—suspicions boiling down to what I believe the document is really for, and why.

Yes, it goes on to talk of many other things—non-human things (if I’m reading those bits right), things that use people as tools, all sorts of mystical stuff…

But sorry, I keep getting ahead of myself.

Let me collect all my other notes and start yet again, one last time.

Archer

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