Heartlands: Pursuing the trail

The man on the tracks | Picking up the tracks | Adhesion Coefficient

Trees rustle under the sunset. Jay enjoys a cold beer, while Erin sips on a Long Island Iced Tea with fairy spit. She looks at Jay, picturing him old, frail and senile in a nursing home. Cringing, she ignores the thought. “So, what’s happening with you father now that you’ve flown the nest, darling?”

Jay shrugs, sips his drink and smiles. “Not sure, but I hear he’s doing better as the interim principle. He’ll probably be fine so long as he stays busy. Because of a favor I called in, the board is probably going to take their time,” Jay says, leaning over the porch rail. He looks at the sky, then looks at Erin. “I think we both needed this.”

Erin nods. “I would happen to agree.” She puts her hand on Jay’s back. They watch the lightning bugs fade in and out of existence, while frogs sing and crickets chirp. “About the sickly Schreren boy,” Erin says, squirming.

Jay observes his wife. He chooses his words with careful consideration. “What is it?” he asks, studying Erin’s discomfort. “Is it something serious, Erin? I need to know. It’s extremely important,” Jay says, leaning in. He takes another sip of his drink and looks around. He sighs into the still summer air.

“Well, it’s important, but maybe not quite so serious. Apparently, there are multiple boundaries between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. There are entities responsible for human spirits crossing over, accepting death, and all the other transitions that happen in between. At the end of that process, there’s Wayne-Wright,” Erin responds, fidgeting with her hands. Her leg taps as she looks down at her drink. “Wayne-Wright tends to the spirits waiting to be born. He’s the opposite of what humans imagine for the Grim Reaper. Remembering him is somewhat of an omen though. And every so often there are children who recall their existence pre-birth.”

Jay shrugs. “Okay, well what does that all mean, Erin?”

Frustrated, Erin glares at Jay. “Why, it means what it means, Jay. It’s not serious, but it’s not good. What else do you require of me?” she asks, raising her voice. She strokes her long locks of hair, twirling her fingers. “I like Walt and Marianne. I don’t want to concern myself or you with the natural trajectory of their lives. Junior was born unlucky and shall live as such. We should make our peace with the Schrerens now and keep our distance.”

“Natural trajectory? Make our peace?” Jay mutters. “Okay, now I really need to know what this omen is. I don’t care how bad it is. If my friend and his wife are in danger, I’d like to know, Erin. There’s no way I’m keeping my distance either. If we could stop the egg, or whatever the hell that dragon thing was, we can stop this.”

“That’s not how this works, darling. There are laws that transcend your human-bound morality and level of comprehension. There is a term called l’appel du vide, the call of the void. It’s when a person hurls themselves into a void, like a hole, chasm, crevice or pit. Junior will forever live a life where he doesn’t feel he belongs, unless and until he answers the call of the void in a metaphorical sense. That boy will toss himself into problematic situations that you and I will likely never fully comprehend,” Erin says, her voice low and filled with concern. She gets up and walks back into the house. At the doorframe, she looks back at Jay and says, “If you want to understand what I mean, bring the Schrerens a small, encased animal like a gerbil or a fish, perhaps maybe even a reptile. See how long it stays alive and the circumstances surrounding it’s inevitable disappearance. The call of void manifests in different ways, but their boy’s call will be answered by the muffled cries of the lives he ends. It’s only a matter of time.”

The door closes behind Erin. Jay continues to stare off into the completely dark horizon. The lightning bugs’ flickering flashes fade into the night leaving Jay alone with his thoughts.

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