Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The first thing he knew was that his head hurt.

The man raised his eyes and immediately was forced to shade them against the bright sun coming down from the treetops. He stepped forward and immediately tumbled to the ground from his high perch. That didn't help stop the pain. He vaguely remembered that he had climbed the tree to escape from a pursuer, but he couldn't recall any of the details.

When he had managed to lift himself out of the dirt - now with a newly scraped knee and a ringing in his ears - he got his first good look at the mess there was at the base of the tree. Strewn around his feet were various items that looked as if they could be helpful - a rucksack, a compass, a book of road maps, a wallet, and a single half-empty flask of brandy.

"Some party," mumbled the man, and clutched his head again, waiting for the pain to pass.

There were no cards or IDs inside the wallet, just a few twenties and one check for three hundred dollars. Most of the writing was illegible in his daze, but the man could tell that the signature and the amount of money were written by different people. Someone had given him a blank check - who? Why?

The man shrugged and packed it all into the rucksack. He hefted it over his shoulder and began walking towards the line of buildings he could see on the horizon. Something told him he'd be there soon.

Something was nagging at him in the back of his mind, though. Some vital piece of information. The man stopped in his trek and focused on the thought, willing it to come forward where he could see it, and it molded itself into a voice - the first of several. "Do not worry," said the voice. "You just have to

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