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Tim Coe
Accidental genre writer
Accidental genre writer

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So, to recap:

This morning you woke up in a coffin in California after being killed in a car accident in Michigan with your sister. Well, I guess neither of you is dead— you’ve been journeymanning across town, learning to harness your inborn telekinetic abilities under the passive-aggressive guidance of a time-traveling bureaucrat named— apparently— Candy; and meanwhile your sister has spent her time since the accident building some kind of luddite cult somehow related to her own telekinetic abilities, earning her the moniker Adversary from Candy’s band of time-traveling bureaucrat/assassins.

And so here you are, right now, held upside-down by your sister’s mind, floated toward where she stands at the head of a ballroom/lecture hall in a semi-ritzy downtown hotel after a botched assassination attempt which she seems about to blame on you as soon as she sees your face. Momentarily however she is distracted by talking to her gathered audience, her acolytes, whatever, gesturing toward someone near the back of the room whom you cannot yet see because of the particular angles of walls and every time you try to move your head you become disoriented. Fox is still in the hallway outside the ballroom. Also, the police are on their way.

‘And do you know what these assassins call us in their power state?’ Danni is saying. There is a wide look in her eyes and you are afraid of her seeing you and— who even knows what her response would be. ‘Adversary!’ she cries. ‘As though we are the interloper, the usurper, the power-that-would-be. And yet there they reveal their fear: their fear of their own power, its tenuous footing, its illegitimacy. Its basis in inhumanity, in invasion, in a denial of everything that makes us who and what we are. “Adversary,”’ she spits, ‘like a dog.’

While you are suspended mid-air you are having a difficult time getting the feeling that you’ve only just learned of the tacticity of your surroundings, that brain-straining feeling that is like quietly sensing each knuckle on your own hands once at a time without moving them. But you try anyway as you are tractored along toward Danni’s stage, ever closer to her realization of your identity and after what feels like an eternity there is the slight tactile tug of a long metal corner on the leg of one of the hundreds of identical chairs lined across the ballroom. Upside-down as you are you are not immediately able to figure out how to move the damn thing but it flips up a few inches into the air crookedly in a way that you hope goes unnoticed by the dozens (hundreds?) of folks sitting in the ballroom around you. You float the chair toward yourself and grab onto it with your hands and clutch it to your face— anything to buy yourself some more time before Danni turns her attention to you. God only knows what would happen.

By now you are far enough inside the room that you are able to turn your head toward the broken-out window of the control booth at the back and get a look at the assassin with the weird electronic rifle you either blew up or sabotaged or triggered or something. Fox is only just now passing the threshold of the door behind you— you are twisted around enough behind your chair that you can see him, and beyond him the group of bystanders from your abbreviated fight in the lobby— and you turn from him to see the assassin, just as upside-down as you, suspended mid-air just like you, her bald head maybe six inches from the thin carpeting of the ballroom floor.

Well, it’s Candy, of course. She meets your eyes. It is impossible to read her expression.

‘For that,’ Danni is saying into her microphone, ‘I call them “adversary,” ladies and gentleman. Meet your adversaries, embarrassed from their technocratic fear centers.’

There is a general cacophony of bodies shuffling, all of the people turning in their chairs to look at Candy and yourself. No one says anything. You hide behind your chair.

‘Her name is Candy,’ you hear Fox say from directly behind you. You swivel your head and see his shins. ‘From down on the corner, from the look of it.’ He nudges your nose with the tip of one boot. ‘Right?’ he says to you.

You don’t say anything. Candy shifts her glare to Danni up on the stage.

‘Well,’ Fox says to you, louder than would be strictly necessary if he were speaking only to you, ‘you going to introduce yourself?’


R. Defend Candy.
T. Drop the chair and explain yourself to Danni.
F. Cause a distraction and try to get out of here.
A. Go along with whatever Fox says.

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‘Alright,’ you say and plaster a smile on your face. You can still feel the rifle in the control room between yourself and your sister, that small knob-filled space with someone standing inside, waiting for an opportunity to murder Danni. Waiting for you to help. ‘Alright, I’m sorry,’ you say. You turn to Fox and share the smile with him and you remember his coming by the house to speak with your father, your mother’s rolled eyes, the clatter of dishes in the sink.

He is standing now, his hands at his sides, with an uncertain look. He is touching the first two fingers of his left hand to his thumb in rapid succession, something like a nervous twitch that you do not believe is a nervous twitch. He raises one eyebrow at you and flicks his eyes at the crowd gathered behind you, the hotel employee immediately to your side. Fox spreads both hands in the air, a sort of nothing-up-my-sleeves gesture, and says, ‘No hard feelings,’ and does not move.

You are meanwhile feeling around the rifle in the control room, trying to understand its mechanism. You know nothing about guns— you went hunting once, long ago, with your uncle whose name you do not even remember (nor do you know whose brother he was), a long too-early trek into the Michigan woods up the north shore of the lake, the air everywhere too cold, the sun tepid and meek, a thin fog spreading across the leaf-strewn earth. You carried the gun that your uncle handed you and felt, for the entirety of the (uneventful) trip, the great weight of its deadliness weighing on your arm, as though it were poised for calamity. Once you got home your arm was sore for the rest of the day because of how rigid and locked you’d kept it, so afraid were you of that gun.

This one, though, is different. You know nothing about guns but this one seems shaped wrong, all sleek and even, like something drawn by a four-year-old, with no mechanisms that you can find on the outside except for the trigger (which, once you locate it, makes you nervous even just to touch with your mind). Inside the rifle is a shell of some kind, behind it a tiny metal rod caked in grease, and behind that— circuitry, tiny bits of metal on thin plastic, and it hurts your head trying to feel around the stuff. It’s some kind of futuristic fucking sci-fi gun.

‘Um?’ says the hotel employee and you realize that you are standing here with this shit-eating grin on your face and staring into the distance.

‘I’m going!’ you say too loudly. In desperation you feel the edge of one of the chips inside the rifle and yank it up slightly, what should be enough to dislodge a connector or two, and you feel immediately the entire thing move and you become disoriented and lose your feeling for the small control room completely and refocus on Fox’s face and there is a sharp cracking noise from behind him through the ballroom doors and the sounds of people screaming.

Fox whirls around and casts a glance back at you and races toward the ballroom. The people in the crowd behind you have ducked down and the hotel employee and standing in a shock and you do not know what to do.

The gun went off. The fucking gun went off. Danni—

‘ASSASSIN!’ your sister’s voice screams from the ballroom and both sets of double doors swing open simultaneously and you can see from here chaos and disorder of people scrambling out of their hotel seats and trying to figure where to run to. Fox is only halfway to the doors and you see him from behind reach into his pocket for something.

And there is breaking glass and more screaming. You cannot see what is going on from here and you start forward and feel your feet betray you and you turn over in the air and do not land— something is holding you, now, holding you upside-down suspended over the thin hotel carpeting.

‘Assassin!’ Danni shouts again. ‘This is the fear that marries power! This is the fear which you can overcome!’

You are whipped forward through the air toward the ballroom and you have to lift your head toward your feet to avoid slamming into the small display of hardbound books with Danni’s face on them on the folding table that Fox had been sitting behind when you found him. A man in a grey suit runs out of the ballroom past you and does not even look at you dangling in the air but there is no one else running out and you have barely enough time to find that severely odd. You are past Fox already now and you try to turn your head to look back at him but cannot and you are almost inside the ballroom and all you can think is that you cannot let Danni see you, you cannot let Danni see you. Already there are people sitting back down in the chairs and there are a few stray shards of broken tinted glass spilled out on the carpet in front of you from (you assume) the front of the control room and you do not know what happens now.


E. Wrestle your way to the floor and run back out of the ballroom.
F. Cover your face with something.
B. Do nothing and wait to see what happens.



Fox is lying on the thin carpeting of the hotel floor before you. Behind you a crowd is gathering and you have the nagging sensation in the back of your brain that you need to clear out of here sooner rather than later— whether because of the crowd, the (perhaps-imagined?) threat of the police, the assassins from the Brotherhood of Forensic Historians, or simply because this has already been a long fucked-up day and you’re ready to be somewhere less complicated, less anxiety-inducing, less requiring of strange powers you never knew you possessed. You can feel every potted palm in this hotel hallway, the lobby behind you with its carefully-arranged ‘casual’ clusters of loveseats and overstuffed chairs, the bellhops and luggage conveyances, the wide windows and dark-wood desks, the singular footsteps of guests on their various ways out to participate in the clouded-over New Year’s Day.

And beyond that, you can feel, if you try (but don’t think about it), the smooth-closing elevator doors, the grungy shafts and greasy thick cables, the particular globs of grease that have bunched at the lower extremity of one particular steel cable, bits of dust and metal shavings embedded in it, its temperature low, its color unknown. Feeling like this, with your mind, in this way, is a strange and curiously irritating sensation, like trying to feel the exact positioning of your fingers without looking down at them or moving them at all. The more you concentrate on it the more abstract and difficult it becomes, the less you are sure that you aren’t just making shit up. You have to relax and listen, so to speak, let the physical reality come to you.

Police. You definitely heard it this time. Someone behind you.

The closed double doors ahead of you, the small folding table which Fox sat behind recently, the stacks of books with Danni’s face on them. The thin wood grain on the doors, the mulchy particle-wood of the table, the rubber feet on the tablelegs, the inverse dimples at the bottom of each foot, the downward press of that dull rubber point balanced against the upward spread of the thin carpet fibers. The built-in doorstop mechanisms at the outward swings of each of the doors, the narrow black-brushed gap below those doors. You feel inside the ballroom, the multitude of modular stackable chairs laid out in slightly-uneven rows, the feet in front of each of those chairs (although some chairs do not have feet in front of them— they are empty chairs; no one is sitting cross-legged, you determine), the smoothed fibers of the chairs’ upholstery. The aisle between the chairs, someone standing in the aisle. Someone with a camera, the complex electronics within the camera so small and esoteric you get lost for a moment between circuit boards and sensor cells and two double-A batteries.

‘Hey,’ someone is saying behind you. Some do-gooder in the crowd that’s formed, maybe someone who didn’t see Fox forced to somersault with no obvious physical means for doing so. Someone who thinks you beat up and old ex-hippie. ‘What’s going on here.’

There is no podium at the front of the ballroom. There is a row of one two three more modular chairs to stage left and each of them is empty and you find a pair of feet pacing across the stage which is higher than you’d thought, about three feet off the floor, exposed structural pipes criss-crossing and hard plastic surface covered with more thin carpet which flexes as the someone on stage walks from one end to the other and that person is holding a wireless microphone and speaking. It must be Danni.


None of this is helpful, though. You cannot see inside the ballroom, and you cannot hear what she is saying. The ceiling of the room is fairly high but you cannot feel anyone up there, no hidden catwalk pockets or jerryrigged lights ready to fall. At the wings of the ballroom are rolling racks for coats and briefcases both of which are nearly empty. Beneath the stage is no bomb or mysterious mechanism. The back of the room has the double doors which you can see with your own eyes and between the two sets of doors is a room with two wide boards each covered with faders and knobs and a desktop computer and you once again become lost, your brain tracing wires and circuits and a squirrel’s nest of cables extending down from the desk and into the walls and up into the ceiling but there is someone in the room as well, a rolling desk chair kicked to the back of the room, the person holding an object the shape of which you cannot immediately identify but gradually realize is some kind of rifle.

Someone puts his hand on your shoulder and turns you around and you are shocked and disoriented for a moment and you see a man in a burgundy vest with a small nametag standing in front of you and behind him the crowd which has grown to a dozen or so onlookers. ‘I’m afraid I need to ask you to leave our establishment,’ the man says sternly.

‘The police are coming!’ a woman behind him says, holding up a cell phone.

You’re out of time. You need to do something now. A distant siren wails through the open lobby doors ahead. Fox, behind you, is getting to his feet.


U. Go quietly but attempt to sabotage the rifle.
H. Talk to Fox.
V. Ignore the man and concentrate on the rifle. 



It is New Year’s Day, 2014. That’s what Candy said, what the woman in the pet shop told you. Candy.

You don’t want to go into the ballroom— and you certainly don’t want to stand here talking to Fox, who always gave you the creeps anyhow, even before he was somehow involved in time-traveling assassins and psychic powers. Candy can help you. She’ll have to.

Try to think for a moment. What was is that she told you? The historic record, tracking you through paperwork and data. You picture her briefly in some office building of the future, soft grey cubicle walls on three sides of her, computer screens and reams of paper surrounding her, as she tries to match up this newspaper editorial with this Facebook status update with that security camera footage. That’s probably not it— it’s probably all computer-assisted, some technology you can’t imagine, some process you wouldn’t understand to look at it. But that’s the gist of what she told you: she knows what you do only when you leave evidence of it, and only after you do it. However that works. Thinking about it makes your eyebrows hurt.

Fox is still looking up at you over the rims of his John Lennon glasses, his fingers on the tabletop tap-tap-tapping away. You give the phoniest smile you can muster and turn and walk away.

Already today you’ve seen Candy three times. Is that right? Three times? Once under the bridge after you left the gas station early this morning. Once in the alley eight blocks north of where you killed Bradley Wayne. And once in the electronics store immediately after you derailed the red trolley car.

‘Hey!’ you hear Fox shout, and the scuffle of a metal folding chair scooting back on thin hotel carpeting.

You look around. Something for the historical record. Something to get Candy’s attention. If you could find a phone to use, you could call Danni again. You aren’t sure hotels have payphones anymore, but you could ask at the front desk. You move in that direction and hear footsteps racing behind you.

‘Where the fuck do you think you’re going?’ Fox says, only a few feet back.


You turn around and face him. His face is one big scowl, the lines on his forehead showing his age. His feet plant wide like he’s bracing himself against you. The way the soles of his old leather boots press against the carpet fibers, the tiny worn nubs of nylon shoved in every direction by the weight of his body, the angles of his legs, the particular tension of each of his muscles. Below the carpet is a thin pad and below that is plyboard and then unfinished concrete, cold, and you can feel its pores. Fox’s toes spread inside of his socks, inside of his boots. The flare of his jeans. His mass, the pull of gravity, the various forces tying him to the carpet.

You flip him over without moving.

His feet lift just enough to lose purchase with the floor and you somersault him backwards, ass-over-teakettle. He lands face-down on the hotel carpet, slightly spreadeagle, and immediately pushes himself up on his elbows and looks back up at you.

‘Your sister—’ he begins, but there is already a small crowd gathering behind you (you can feel them) and Fox cuts himself off, apparently unwilling to say whatever it was he had to say in front of strangers.

‘Candy!’ you shout. You tilt your head up, slightly, like you’re praying, or something, like Candy is some deity willing to descend to the mortal plane only when supplicated. ‘I could use some help!’

There are five or six people behind you. You can hear them and you can feel their feet pressed into the carpet. Someone among them must have Twitter or a blog or must be calling their husband to tell them what they just saw, what they just heard.

Maybe she’s already left you a note. You approach Fox where he is lying on the floor pushed up on his elbows and you consider, briefly, checking his pockets, but you don’t think Candy would risk that. Look around you. There is a big potted palm to one side and you walk there and poke in the planter but there’s no yellow sticky note, no mysterious folded sheet of paper. Nothing in your pockets, nothing suddenly written on the palms of your hands. You’re glad, you realize, that you are no longer wearing the cheap suit jacket which said MANCHESTER GRAND HYATT ADVERSARY. That could get awkward.

Some of the people watching this whole thing are beginning to speak to one another and you hear someone say the word police but it is unclear whether they are suggesting or affirming a call. Your face has been on the news already today.

There’s something else. Fox is drumming his fingers on the carpet where he is lying. It must be Morse Code. But there is no secret room beneath the hotel, no hidden telegraph in the floor. And you realize that if you care to pay attention you can feel the tapping of his fingers, you can feel the tiny vibrations of the pads of his fingers on the thin patterned carpet, and that even if your eyes were closed you would know he was tapping, you would know he was communicating something with someone.

Where the hell is Candy? Why hasn’t she made an appearance in some suit or other, her bald head gleaming back the fluorescent lights, that particular grimace of hers, her impatience with you?

‘Candy!’ you shout again. Someone has got to be writing this down.

It is New Year’s Day. Danni is in that ballroom just over there, giving some speech that the Brotherhood does not want her to give, and if you do not do anything about it they will kill you. If you go in there and Danni sees you and is distracted, the Brotherhood will kill her and then they will kill you. Candy said there is another way. That if Danni knows that you exist, she will— what? Call off her speech? Change what she’s saying? Something that will satisfy the Brotherhood and won’t get her killed. Something about your father. Something about finding your father.

But how do you do this?


P. Feel around the hotel with your mind to see what you can find.
L. Ask Fox for help.
M. Get close to the ballroom to overhear Danni's speech.



As far back as you can remember your father had been friends with a man whose only name was Fox. It’s the sort of situation where by the time you were old enough to wonder how they’d met he had been a part of your life for long enough that you could not ask. Fox would only come around every once in a while, every few months, with a sheaf of legal papers for your father to look over or with a certain look on his face which meant that your father would disappear with him into the family room downstairs for a few hours and that that night you would lie in your bed awake hearing the muffled voices of your mother and father speaking downstairs heading toward midnight, a certain tone of stress or hurried decisiveness despite your being unable to decipher any particulars of language or opinion. In those early days before the house was completed your bedroom was the highest point in the structure and you would look up at the exposed rafters watching for spiders or the accumulated breath of your parents perhaps and you would wonder when you would fall asleep or what your younger sister was thinking of all of this.

You approach Fox where he is seated now at the table outside of the entrance to the Hyatt ballroom where your sister is speaking and you make a small noise and he looks up. He spreads his two hands out flat on the tabletop and his expression is difficult to read behind his glasses. Surprised, yes. And something else?

You’ve never known Fox that well. He is and always has been the sort of archetypical burned-out hippie, the long grey hair and the too-tanned skin, his particularly cynical view of the provinces of politicians. Your mother, too, seemed distant from him, and there was a certain smile she kept at the ready to flash at him should he show up unannounced (as he always seemed to) at the back kitchen door, apparently having wandered in through the woods and over the duneside from God knows where. Your mother in the kitchen with a pot of coffee on the stove and Fox waving at her through the window and then waiting patiently at the screen door like an obedient spaniel until she would wipe her hands and open it for him, as though she had any choice in the matter. Fox entering and saying something perfunctory to her and perhaps nodding at you were you nearby and then heading for the stairs down to the family room. He would sometimes spend the night if his conversations with your father ran long, stretched out awkwardly on a recliner by the fireplace.

‘Fox,’ you say.

‘Well,’ he says. He sounds the same. There is something surprising about finding something familiar here on this strange day in California.

After your father disappeared you expected that Fox would stop appearing at the house. For a while, at least, he did, but after your mother’s death he suddenly seemed to strike up a kinship with Danni in a way that you never understood.

Fox taps his fingertips on the tabletop and looks like he is about to stand and then does not. ‘You’re alive,’ he says to you. He is looking you over and you remember the discarded suit jacket, the sweated-through white shirt, the cheap suit pants and thin shoes. The gaunt look to your face in the reflection forever ago at the gas station.

‘I need to talk to Danni,’ you say. ‘Somewhere alone, and private.’

He seems distracted. The fingers still tapping. ‘Uh huh,’ he says.

You can hear, quietly, through the double doors behind Fox the rise and fall of a woman’s amplified voice in the ballroom. Danni. Your sister. You cannot hear what she is saying. Perhaps the words government surveillance. She’s already started speaking.

‘Can you arrange that?’ you say. ‘Don’t tell her it’s me.’

You can picture her at a glass podium perhaps, maybe a Powerpoint screen behind her, her hands gripping the podium edges. Is she smiling? Nervous? At ease? How is she after the car accident that killed you? That car accident that seemed to have no cause— the wheel jerking in your hands, Danni sitting quietly in the passenger seat, on her way to some conference in Grand Rapids. You remember Fox coming and speaking to her and then, days later, her insistence that you drive her into Grand Rapids for this conference. And the wheel jerking in your hand.

‘Don’t tell her,’ Fox echoes back. ‘Talk to Danielle.’ The fingers tapping. He glances down at them and then back at you. ‘Privately.’

Tap-tap. Tap tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap tap.

He smiles suddenly, broadly. ‘It’s so good to see you,’ he says. ‘I wonder who you got. Reed? Wren? West? Any idea?’

‘What?’ you say.

Tap-tap-tap. tap-tap. tap-tap tap.

‘It’s pretty good work,’ Fox says. ‘Back from the dead, showing up here like this. Near-perfect timing, really.’ He lifts one hand from the table and adjusts his glasses. ‘Must have been a hell of a lot of paperwork.’

You take a step backward. You can still hear Danni’s muffled voice from the ballroom. Fox’s fingers tapping on the table, nearly silent. ‘What,’ you say flatly.


I. Enter the ballroom and attempt to stop the assassination.
O. Tell Fox what you know and try to find out what he knows.
P. Try to find some way to talk to Candy again. 



This morning you awoke inside of a coffin. Now you are downtown in some California city, the air too dry and cool, wearing most of a cheap suit, your shirt soaked through with sweat, your lungs burning, your head swimming and dull. Now you are trying to use your apparently-there-all-along paranormal brain powers to find a hotel in order to aid time-travelings bureaucrats in murdering someone they refer to with a comic book bad guy name.

You come to a stop and your legs are like soft rubber. You lean over and rest your hands on your knees and try to breathe and you close your eyes and listen to the rasp of your own throat, the thudding of your own heart in your chest. Your feet hurt in your cheap funeral shoes. People pass by you on the sidewalk and you can see their legs and shoes as they avoid you on the pavement with your head pointed down toward the ground and you do not care. The sounds of cars driving by. The call of a seagull somewhere. Just stand here for a while.

How exactly does one go about using psychic powers? You don’t know what muscle to flex. Do you think about hotels in general, the name of this particular hotel (MANCHESTER GRAND HYATT), something else? It’s like you can’t figure out which muscle to flex. Remember the trolley car. Remember the man with the hammer, rushing at you— Bradley Wayne. You remember that you felt the thing, the shape and form of it, the steel rails beneath the trolley, the dull snap of Bradley Wayne’s neck.

Very well.

With your eyes open you stare at the cement pavement immediately beneath your feet and concentrate on the pits and cracks, the texture and spent gum, the seams between the individual slabs. The feel it would have beneath the smooth-running flat of your hand. Its temperature on this cool day with no sun, the grey clouds above. You trace outward from where you are standing until the pavement abuts the side of a building here, feel the intersection of brick and mortar, the grit and trash, cigarette butts, scraps of weather-worn paper, shards of plastic devoured by the rushing wheels of automobiles, lint, flakes of skin, dirt from the city planters. Feel the palm trees in those planters, the tall stalks and bulbous roots, the breeze against the trunk, the soil and big round pot. Up ahead another street leads perpendicularly away from an intersection but you imagine the palm trees lining that street as well, spaced just so, the cars parked parallel along one side of the street, emergency brakes on and wheels canted against the downhill slope of the asphalt. You feel the impact of dozens of feet along the sidewalk, the individualized paces of each person, the pock of a woman’s heels, the soft rubber padding of a man’s sneakers. You feel outward, expanding along the sidewalks of downtown, the facades of apartment buildings and restaurants, parking garages, a shopping mall. A hotel.

Maybe you’re just imagining it but you can feel it now, distinctly, the wide C-shaped driveway in the front, the criss-crossed planters, the enormous overhang sheltering the valet area, the bellhops with brass luggage carts, the sets of double doors, the small tombstone-like sign out front pointing drivers toward the airport. It is not far from here.

You try to run but your legs refuse and you settle for a weary, exhausted heavy-footed jogging, feeling like your legs are about to collapse beneath you. Several blocks along (you glance at a sign) J Street. Some huge building like an overturned cruise liner looms ahead of you to the left. J Street comes to an end and there is a walkway to a pedestrian crossing across a wide street with busy traffic and you wait for the light to change before feeling with your mind inside of the electrical box at the crossing and switch the mechanism which triggers the light changing to yellow and then to red and you jog across. The huge building is to your left and you turn right. Ahead of you is a parking structure attached to another tall building with a several-stories peak at the top and the word HYATT visible in gold lights hundreds of feet above you.

The front of the hotel is exactly as you pictured it— the C-shaped drive, the valets, the bellhops, the palm trees. You are too exhausted to react to this. You enter through one of the sets of double doors and find yourself in an enormous lobby with paintings set into the walls above the front desk, dark wood and gilt everywhere, huge modern-looking chandeliers above you, men and women in casual suits strolling about and laughing, the windows behind you illuminating the entire room with daylight.

There is a placard on a stand with an arrow pointing in one direction and the placard has a photograph of an attractive young woman smiling professionally.

It is your sister. TELEKINESIS, TELECOMMUTING, the placard says, and then your sister’s name beneath that. ‘Danielle,’ it calls her. She is speaking at 4pm. It says something about a book.

You follow the direction of the arrow toward the foyer outside of a hotel ballroom. The doors are closed already and there is a folding table set up in front upon which is an arrangement of hardcover books each with Danni’s picture on it and the title TELEKINESIS, TELECOMMUTING. There is a man with long grey hair seated at the table looking downward. He wears small round John Lennon glasses and you recognize him and you duck to one side behind a potted ficus and try to reason things out.

It’s Fox, your father’s friend from long ago in Michigan. Danni is the Adversary of the Brotherhood of Forensic Historians. Apparently. You have been sent here to distract her just long enough for them to put a bullet in her head.

Your sister.

Your sister is, as Candy described her, incredibly powerful. The Adversary, whatever that means. (You are breathing very loudly.) Telekinesis, Telecommuting. You think about the long drive to Grand Rapids with Danni, the wheel jerking in your hand, then nothing. An accident which killed you. You remember Fox— who is here right now— coming to visit the house in Michigan after your father disappeared, after your mother died, and speaking to Danni and barely acknowledging you.

The highway outside of Grand Rapids. You do not remember any obstructions on the road. But the wheel twisted in your hands and the car rolled over and you died.

Whose fault was that?

But now you have a decision to make— Danni is in that ballroom right now, through the doors just past Fox. The Brotherhood has someone in there as well, waiting for you, expecting you to rush in. To assassinate Danni, your sister, the Adversary. Here you are.


V. Talk to Fox about arranging a secret meeting with Danni.
B. Hide and observe Fox.
N. Enter the ballroom. 



Your father disappeared on September 30th, 2008. He used never to leave the house— the house that he and your mother built, bit by bit, floor by eccentric floor, slanting gradually up the side of a Michigan dune until they decided that it was completed. He would take brief walks around the house, perhaps, tall strides through the uncleared woods immediate surrounding, stepping over dried branches and leaves, looking down and never up, as though the trees did not interest him in the slightest. Your mother had a small garden going outside of the kitchen window which your father would often tramp through as though he had no idea it was there, despite her repeated protestations; otherwise he kept himself to the house, the wide front porch outside of the dining room on the main floor, hardly ever even venturing up to the rooms above or the cabin below. Sitting by the fireplace listening to Dylan or Joan Baez, chatting with his friend Fox who would come by sometimes and stay for days in a guest room on one of the lofted floors above.

You are running. You have never been a runner— certainly not before you died recently. You are running in an unknown city in an unfamiliar climate, the air dry and cool, like high mountain air, perhaps, palm trees stoic above you, an ocean somewhere nearby, no grass anywhere to speak of, and you are going to a hotel downtown to get someone killed by strangers from the future (maybe?) who brought you back to life somehow via paperwork so that their political goals can be fulfilled.

You give a wide berth to the accident scene, the derailed bright-red trolley car, the crowd of onlookers, the police and fire officials who seem, for the most part, to be simply more onlookers, albeit in uniform. A fireman in the heavy yellow coat and hat is speaking to who you imagine must be the trolley conductor. Neither seems particularly urgent.

Follow the trolley tracks. You don’t know where you’re going, and Candy hasn’t bothered to tell you how to get there. That helicopter hovers overhead somewhere and you follow the trolley tracks. There is a police car a little aways from the others with its driver’s-side door standing open and you can see inside of it for a moment the dash panels and radio equipment, the tiny steady lights, the beat-up upholstery on the seats, and you think again of sitting in that car with Danni, the feel of steering wheel wrenching in your hands, the confusion, the car’s momentum carrying it forward while the front wheels attempted to shove it to one side. You think about that feeling, and the feeling when you derailed the trolley; when you killed Bradley Wayne outside his apartment building this morning.

Running is terrible. It is the worst thing. You already feel as though you don’t really know how your legs are supposed to work. There is a raw and painful feeling in your throat, like the end of a week-long cough. Your legs have a queasy Jell-o feeling about the knees. You are only just barely past the scene of the derailment. How far is five miles?

Maybe if you don’t think about it. Focus on something else. Danni. Your mother. Her long fall from the observatory. Don’t think about that, actually.

Candy said that the Adversary is looking for your father. You can’t figure out what to do with your hands. Your father disappeared years ago; a funeral was held; flowers were left by the garage by well-meaning strangers and your family shrank inward. Should you hold them rigid and blade-like, cutting through the air? Let them hang limp at your sides? Both of your parents were attorneys; you cannot think for the life of you why some Adversary with magic powers would care about your father.

How many other people have the same super brain powers that you, apparently, do? Is it, perhaps, the sort of thing that can be taught? If the Adversary begins some kind of political faction today in that hotel, do the Adversary’s powers have anything to do with that? Is he teaching others how to brain-magic trolleys off of their tracks or snap guys’ necks if they’re rushing you with a hammer? You can imagine how something like that could affect the future.

The trolley tracks lead you to cross under a wide highway underpass and suddenly on the other side you are hit with the smell of the ocean, a sharp saltiness thin in the air, the sounds of traffic and the helicopter above and no surf but you can see if you look where the buildings fall away and the earth is one long unbroken line at the edge of the clouded-over grey sky. There are waves visible, waves no bigger than those on Lake Michigan. You remember sitting at lakeside in the winter and watching storm waves crash on the sand and the black malicious clouds swarming in from above, the rain hissing darkly on the water.

You feel as though you are going to die. Again. There is no way you can go on running. There is no way. You can go perhaps three more paces. At the end of those three you go another three. Each one feels like death. You aren’t breathing right. What’s it supposed to be— in through the nose, out through the mouth? You try to do that for a bit and you do not seem to be getting enough air. Or else you aren’t exhaling enough air. It’s not working. Focus on your breathing, maybe. Focus on your father. Focus on Danni.

You cross a small bridge where for a moment you have to run actually on the tracks themselves and although it is only at most twenty feet across the thing you have a brief fantasy of a trolley barreling down on you and your having to dive off into the culvert or whatever it is that you’re crossing but of course no such thing actually occurs.

Keep going. Keep running.

At some point you realize that you have been running for a bit without thinking at all— nothing in your head whatsoever. Ahead of you is a huge curving bridge stretching out into the ocean toward what appears to be an island speckled with low buildings and trees. You keep running. Your legs will never forgive you for this. Your head feels light, airy; your entire torso is on fire. You have pulled off the cheap suit jacket (MANCHESTER GRAND HYATT ADVERSARY) and thrown it behind you and you do not even strictly recall doing so.

There is a trainyard, huge cargo containers sitting motionless on flatbeds. The tracks curve away from the coast and inland and you follow them and you are going to die. Skyscrapers rise up before you. To your left is a baseball stadium and warehouses, empty-looking apartment buildings, office buildings beyond them. You realize that you have no idea where in downtown the Manchester Grand Hyatt is. You have to stop running right now. If you stop running, ever, you will explode. What do you do.


F. Ask a passerby for directions to the hotel.
G. Attempt to harness your brain powers to locate the hotel.
H. Find the hotel using your own common sense. 
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