“I need to think. I need a rest. I need peace.” I sauntered through the people orchard barely taking notice of the eyes that watched from the keeper’s shed nearby. I felt uneasy and sick at my stomach. Blood oozed from my nostrils.
“You’re getting soft on top of irrelevant. Can’t take a little crazy. Useless,” Not-quite-Caleb hammered my brain.
As I tried to make my way to the road, I again became aware of an eerie set of red eyes jeering at me from the gate house just ahead. My head hurt so bad I wanted to slit my own throat and end this existence.
“Go ahead. Slit your throat. I knew you were a coward.” Not-quite-Caleb kept badgering me. “None of this is real, except the pain. Your best decision is to end it all. Go ahead. You have a knife in your pocket.”
“I have what you seek.” The red eyes of the bulky stranger standing in the garden gate pierced into my mind. “You seek peace.”
“I warn you, If you are here to bust me up, it’ll be fight like you’ve never had before.”
“Good, there is still a lot of vibrant life in you. You’ll do fine.”
The bulky stranger, at first only a silhouette against the street lights, pivoted and walked toward me. What next? I don’t know if I can deal with much more macabre.
“Let me introduce myself. I am Sinistrus.” He removed the rose from his lapel and offered it to me. “Go ahead, take it. This will bring you peace. Just take it.”
I knew I was having another delusion. If I can get to the “place of beginnings” I know I can sort this out and clean up the mess I’ve made. I wiped the blood from my upper lip. Strangely, my pounding headache had subsided. A rose appeared in my hands. Energy and vitality filled my whole being. This is not a delusion.
“Ready to talk?” Sinistrus asked. “You and I have a lot to talk about.”
“Do I know you?” I asked.
“No, but I know you…and the clone.”
“What? How? Why?” I once again found myself in the midst of fate and all its machinations. “ Sinistrus was a bulky red eyed being with a cloak of what appeared to be scales from an enormous creature of some kind. He carried a staff with a curious crescent medallion at its apex. His feet were not covered by any shoes, but by a leather wrap, worn like a sock without bindings. My apprehension was the least of my concerns. I knew I had to get to the “place of beginnings,” which for me was a place of answers.
“Caleb, I know you seek the “place of beginnings.” Just touch the rose and you will be there.
This is more than nuts. I have truly lost my ever-lovin’ mind.
“Yup, idiot. You finally got it. You’ve lost your mind.” Not-quite-Caleb shouted into my skull.
My mind went totally numb. A feeling I once dreaded, but sought with every fiber of my being. Somehow Not-quite-Caleb was silent. “How did you do that?” I asked Sinistrus. “What, where did you go?” I looked around and the people orchard was gone. The street lights gone. My headache gone. I looked around me and could only see that I was not anywhere I had ever been. The trees were different. The smells were alien. The wind was curiously warm and cold.
“Welcome,” Sinistrus said.