For generations, for nearly a century, the Rofotou family had been gathering the pieces of a puzzle that they believed would unlock some grand secret of the universe, or some extravagant treasure, or at least some profound piece of wisdom. But I didn’t know anything about that before a dark-haired woman named Red came knocking on my door one day. I didn’t know why she asked to see my old dream logs. And I certainly didn’t know what any of it had to do with Mrs. Highweather.
“How long has it been…since I closed my eyes?” I asked.
The medical technician sitting beside my cot offered me a business-like smile and said, “Just about thirty-seven minutes.”
I frowned. It had felt longer to me. Almost two hours. I had a crick in my neck. The cot wasn’t very comfortable. They didn’t want me to accidentally fall asleep. I sat up and swung my legs around so I was sitting at the edge of the cot.
“Is there such a thing as hallucinogenic moss?”
Seyyal raised her brows as she asked the question, and watched her cousin’s fork freeze in mid-air. They were having their usual monthly brunch and catching up with each other. And Seyyal had already somewhat updated Yalanda about the subject that had been occupying her mind since she’d gotten back from vacation, her left foot.
It’s quite easy to get into the fairy realm, you see. They want you to come to them. They need you to come to them. So quite easy to get into the fairy realm. But almost no one gets out.
“It’s about time,” Kret said, grinning and nodding. She put her hands on her hips and turned to the captain. “My team have reported more sparking and glowing over the past few days. The sooner we switch over the better. But this one is not from the original plant, so I want to run some more field tests.”
In the town of Pennyhaven, there was honor among thieves.
“So what do you think it means?”
The mayor gazed up at the sky and released a long sigh. “I can’t draw any conclusions based on what I know so far.”
“Oh, come on, you have to have some thoughts.”
Mayor Joyance glanced over at his newest friend. She quirked her brows.
“Of course I have thoughts,” he said. “Just no conclusions.”
What if you knew that you only had twenty-five years to live, safely and surely, but you would be alone, watching your death approach, unable to escape it?
And what if you knew that whatever you did or accomplished in that time would most certainly never be known by the rest of your people? So you won’t be leaving behind a legacy of observations and musings. Not even raw data collected by the sensors will make it out. What would you do? Who would you be?
Do you think you’d last?
Do you think I will last?
Three major things will happen to me over the course of the coming year. I’ll meet someone. I’ll think he’s wonderful. He won’t be. That’s the first thing. Second, I’ll break my arm in a cowardly attempt to flee from my own responsibilities. And third, I’ll serve on the crew of the most extravagant ship to ever sail the nine seas, the Glorious.
How do I know these things will happen?
Because I told myself they would in a letter…a letter that was meant for a future me two years from now, and somehow ended up being delivered to the current me.
There is a valley, where grow flowers of every hue and kind, colors and fragrance in harmony. They sing songs, it is said, in spring and summer, songs whose ghosts and echoes can be heard in winter and fall.
These flowers are singular, for each is inhabited by an animating spirit.
The valley is haunted, they say.