See Jack Die

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Mallon Park, Dallas

2 weeks later . . .

Ricky, Ms. Josephine, and I, we are all sitting at a pinkish purple concrete table that may or may not be a large turtle. We’re watching a bunch of Mallard ducks teach their kids how to walk in a straight line. The sun is peaking out from behind these huge cotton candy clouds that are spread across the sky. Since my recent flirts with death in Damascus, I have made it a point to stop and smell the roses.

Ricky says this will most likely get me stung by bees, but I think it’s worth the risk.

I haven’t crossed over since I ate the contents of that necklace. I’m still a bit unsteady from being dead so much. I look at the world a bit differently than I did before all of this. The question of is there, or isn’t there, a God . . . that’s something I don’t have to speculate about.

But as always, questions beget more questions. I find some answers only to be left at the foot of many more empty blanks.

When I told Ricky and Ms. Josephine about my discussion with Uriel, we all looked at each other as if we’d dodged a bullet. Well, considerably more than a bullet. Each of us had our own part in the blunder of universal proportions that we created, but there is no finger pointing. No blame. We are a team, them and I. Now, we look at the future.

The world, I told them, it’s a little more evil now than it was before we got involved. Thanks to my incredible level of gullibility, there are 23 trespassing souls who have no business being in the Earth plane.

And they’re not here to be good guys, either.

My job, I explained to them, is to hunt them down. All 23 of them. One by one.

Ricky asked me about Kristen, but I haven’t yet found a way to tell him about her. I’d rather have him remember her the way I thought she was—this beautiful person from my past that crossed dimensions, fighting against all odds to find me. That’s the kind of thing that a true love story would give you. And that’s the way I would like to remember her . . . for now.

Because, if I consider what really happened. That I killed this girl I loved more than anything in this world, I have to ponder the kind of monster that I truly was. Maybe Ricky’s right? Maybe my lost past is a sword that cuts both ways. I might not like who I was.

I did a little reading last night, about the story of Saul of Tarsus. He was a vile and evil thing until his conversion in Damascus. Saul became Paul, the apostle who made the foundations for a better world. He transformed from a monster, into someone who wanted to make a positive difference. He became good, through choice.

Perhaps I, too, have gone through my own conversion. Mine did not so much happen in Damascus, but culminated with a head wound that caused,

“. . . Localized bilateral lesions in the limbic system, notably in the hippocampus and medial side of the temporal lobe, as well as parts of the thalamus, and their associated connections . . .

That’s what those fancy, know-it-all doctors say, anyway. What they mean: my marbles got scrambled. I’m coping with my crooked brain.

I called to ask Dr. Monica about this, but the hospital said that there was no Dr. Monica Evans employed by them. And further, that there never was. I’m not sure what that means about the state of my mental stability. More questions.

Could I still be going crazy?

Doubtful. All my delusions, they’re real. The monsters I see, they do exist. Late in the day, in those moments between dogs and wolves, if you think you see the shadows stretching a little more than they normally should . . . it might not be that you’re hallucinating.

The spooks, they’re for real.

The Gatherers, they still do their bidding.

But what is our option? Hide? Pretend the scary things aren’t actually walking among us? No. That is an untenable position, now.

Man up, or back down. That’s what I say.

So to win back my salvation, I must track down 23 evil souls. This is my only chance at an afterlife. I work for the other side now. I’m not a tard-farmer, I’m a dead-tracker. Think of me as a bounty-hunter, or a skip tracer, or a detective . . . or even an agent. Yeah, that’s it . . . an Agent of the Dead.

My name is Jack Pagan . . . I am five months and sixteen days old, and I can promise you: the things you don’t want to see . . . they’re watching you.

And their plot to destroy the foundations of Religion, hatched in secret in the year 325 AD, it had not succeeded . . . not yet. But like all such conspiracies of debauchery and chaos, this story is not over.

For what none but a privileged few knew, was that the 23 evils had escaped the Land of Sorrows, exactly as planned. Through their persistence and diabolical dedication, they had crossed back from the land of darkness and shadows, to the Earth, exactly as it had been prophesied.

And this dark plot, born the exact same time as our religion was born, it is only just beginning. The days until the End are numbered. Steadily approaching.

And only the Pagan can stop them . . .

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