2nd City

A SHINING ARTIFACT OF THE PAST

ALL YOUR MEANINGLESS DAYS: A SHINING ARTIFACT OF THE PAST

Quick Draft!

Opening:

Manipra surveys his city, allowing himself the glimmer of pride for having some part in its restitution. Cangianté in a suit with a bright tie shoots him… dead?

July ?, 2014

  • Root talks about the Litany and the Disciples requirement to mitigate the chance of world-shattering Paradox.
  • Cangianté talks about Morvan and going to Boston.

Root finds out that Morvan & Airyaman didn’t get along because Morvan didn’t like people who didn’t share a high opine of his own self worth, and ditto awakened in general.
Root gets number for Potestas. Leaves a message referencing the various “air/bird” key phrases for Mystery Initiation. Airyaman tells Root a package will find him @ Boston, and he’s to bring it back to Airyaman.

Tower goes to Athenaeum to find a book by Morvan; comes back instead with a book about the Fallen Realms, b/c that phrase reminds him of something Root said about the Blood of the Fallen Realms being needed as a sacrament to cast the LItany.

Cangianté doesn’t like the way he paints now – it has better structure, but less passion? DIscussion w/familiar about shape changing and body possessing.

Root asks Libra if they can do Mystagogue business/“Library exchange” whilst out in Boston. She shifts from avarice to suspicion to [I forget], but then tells him to take a package to Chain Parris. (When Root later looks for a gift to bring to Potestas via Fate magic – it is strongly alluded to that Potestas would like to have whatever is in the sealed package for Chain Parris.) Also, Libra mentions that if they find any items that would be of value to Chicago’s collection, she can arrange a trade.

Root auguries Meta+danger+Boston: Gets something about alleyways and ducking into a door by herself.
Discussion about whether she should go, decide it’s up to her since she’s a full member of the cabal.

Roof battle w/7 Conflagrations & Trilby.
Postcog – it’s as if those moments in time erased; but "the city remembers.’
Root stays to do temporal sympathy spell to find the beer can. Winds up in crazy paradox and seeing Olmsted and many other versions of himself. Olmsted says something about Herald getting them in the end. “burnt” impressions in grass.
Root rifles through Cangianté’s things to find gun because of Bedlam: Fixation to awaken Martha.

Meanwhile, rest of cabal goes to Cassandra’s Visions. Turns out the rock holding the spirit was broken – Taliesin & Cassandra couldn’t see who did it b/c of similar time issue that Root’s postcog ran into when Herald was around.

7 Conflagrations shows up again. Epic battle. Again. Tower & Deathsong are severely burned. Rest are okay.

Rose called to heal them, they go to Parker House.

Root purchases gun, does his time sight, shoot, time undo thing w/Martha. Mad paradox ensues. Uh oh, she’s now bleeding out (how did that happen!?) and Root is at least partially made out of marble now?

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Between the Books
Book 2 and 3

Less of a session, more of an interlude review.

Prophecies

  • Verifies banes, again
  • Fire is biggest threat; they should leave Chicago and never look back
  • Caligiante: standing his ground when he should run

Lyra

  • Lyra’s use of vulgar magic and her faith of rule of law in Chicago consilium

Meta

  • Sacrament: brass key (her key to meat)
  • her cabal is her greatest danger
  • safest thing for her to do is join a different cabal
  • specifically cabal is going to face difficulties that she is not ready to deal with.

Book Author

  • sketches author: Asian lady, long hair; 15 or 80 :p

Tower & the Stone

  • if he dies, soul stone goes to Bellisama or if she is gone, the athenaeum
  • writes a bit about the legacy to submit to athenaeum/Libra
  • Root & Tower are willing to be co-acquisitors
  • Slate would notice, but not anyone else, would note that Tower doesn’t age. He informs Tower.

Tower Lichdom

  • Augury shows Tower in some library with a lamp, light kept tight around him via magic. Reading books on soul removal and Lichdom. He looked same age, yet haggard. Like years wore on him.
  • Told slate about the Lichdom, but not soul removal. Possibly something new.
  • Root & Lyra facing off, magical items in hand; in our fifties.
  • sense is that it could tear cabal apart
  • Root & Tower; tweedy suit, 40s, walking through dirt path/forest. Tower looks same, “look, I don’t know how it works, their magic tends to be wildly variable. It could be you eat something, but we’ll see when we buy it. Like like a ren fair in visual and aural presentation.
  • last thing Root hears Root say is, “Let’s buy you a soul.”
  • also worth noting, Root walked with bad limp and had a cane.
  • nothing weird about Tower via time
  • Root asks Airyaman about it; tells him about spirit lich and to tell him about it four years ago. (Root would try if he could)
  • Tower talks to Webber about it; he casts something. Reddish grey fog swirls, following his fingers. Tower smells musty paper, flipping pages as if the books sprouted wings and fly around room. W gathers smoke in his hands, pokes and prods it. “Interesting.” Smoke dissipates. “You’ve sustained a spiritual injury.”
  • “this reminds me of something, but it reminds me of a place where you can start looking. It’s only known to a rather obscure set; not to be repeated, and you will be in my debt.”
  • there is a story of a group of Magi in East of Europe who were seeking immortality and vampires that wanted to seek ability to walk during day. They teamed up, called up entities of lower depths (some say abyssal). They did a ritual and vampires wound up being obliterated but strength of souls. Mages found they could gain immortality via eating men’s souls. Reapers known as Tremere infected. Or Tremere for short. Never heard of a Tremere taking on curse against its will, but doesn’t mean it’s not impossible.
  • Weber says Zora was delightful.
  • As payment, Tower suggests that he tells Webber about the Underworld.
  • “How do you know what you know?” I suppose that’s part of the story.
  • Weber is interested most about the Burgess ghost and it’s masquerading and the river. He also tells him where we came up. He’ll also keep the conversation between them unless a string of unexpected soul losses occurs, then I can’t say that will hold.

Tower & Slate visit flame spirit

  • what are you doing?
  • ‘Burning’ Tower lights lighter. “Oooooo, burning.”
  • Tower understands spirit tongue when Caligiante uses it to talk with fire spirit.
  • Tower also gets Frigga’s advice for interacting with spirits when he tells her that he can see & interact with fire spirits
    • are fire spirits are more dangerous than other spirits here? They are aggressive anywhere fire holds sway; and fire and bloodshed make Chicago what it is, historically.
    • but fire is unpredictable and quick to change direction; leaps from one source of fuel to another. Probably attuned to fire in manner both metaphorical & thus spiritually, perhaps.
    • practical advice: make deals with them, anything moderately complex thought will always try to get the better hand; don’t reneg on a deal, be careful what you promise.
  • Kor is working security at AIC, she’s a former police officer
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Suddenly, Everything Has Changed
A HEAP OF BROKEN IMAGES Chapter 1

A HEAP OF BROKEN IMAGES
Part II of The Perfect City

On June 28, 2004, an hour or so after midnight, a thin man sat straight before a bank of computer monitors. He had black hair, chin length and straight, perhaps a little oily, and stubble that attested to the days that had passed without a shave. On one monitor, a number of incredibly complex equations stood out in green against black, and his hand moved slowly over his keyboard, considering. On a second monitor, a fantasy role-playing game cast a bright glow over the man in friendly primaries. His other hand danced across the keyboard, calling up healing spells and blessings to aid his party against the giant woodland beast.
He didn’t notice the wobbling of his monitors at first, but wobbling quickly became shaking as the whole of the city quaked. He stood still, waited for the tremors to pass, then turned his full attention to a third monitor. His hands flew across the keys summoning up complex formulae and equations. A map of the city appeared, then red concentric circles spreading from the Loop. Finally, with a few more keystrokes, the man called up a small green dot that appeared in the center of the Loop. Then a second. A third. More began appearing further afield, and he watched, mouth agape, at each new chime.
The creaking of his bedroom door swinging open drew him to his feet, fingers shifting at his sides. He checked a security monitor, which, with a few taps of his fingers, rapidly cycled through views of his apartment. Seeing nothing worrisome, he looked out into his apartment proper, and saw his front door open. He approached cautiously, marveling at the three deadbolts that had turned open to allow the door to open. He looked down the stairs, noting his neighbors doors had all similarly opened. And below, beyond them, the door to the street stood open as well.
*
“Did you feel that?” asked the girl who was sheltering against Tycho’s chest. He didn’t remember her name, didn’t remember how she got pressed against him, didn’t really remember clearly how he ended up at this party in this upscale Loop apartment, its floor to ceiling windows overlooking the shorter buildings, the park, the Lake. The question annoyed him. Had there ever been one more ridiculous? He removed himself from her, grabbed the nearest bottle of liquor (coconut tequila), swigged, grimaced, and put the bottle down hard enough to break it, drawing forth a series of groans from the party-goers. He opened the fridge, drank directly from the Brita pitcher, and then left it on the counter before stumbling out into the hall. He examined his left hand for a moment, the shards of glass buried in his palm, the bright red blood that seemed almost to glow from within as it ran along the crevasses of his hand, forming symbols that bristled with meaning just outside his ken. Then he was in the elevator, then the lobby, then outside. His feet were bare, but he didn’t give a damn. He just wanted to be home. So he took off towards a hotel where he knew he could get a cab.
*

It was the car alarms that woke Don up. He stumbled out of bed, looked through the window, and saw several of the vehicles on the street below blaring and flashing. He heard Duchamp barking from Tycho’s place. He checked in on Ethan, but his roommate had been gone since he’d left the morning before, mumbling something to himself about “the silver dragon.” He went outside to check out the ruckus, and one of his neighbors informed him of the quake (and admired his dog). Don felt a bit off, so he decided to go for a run, heading away from the Lake with Duchamp. He felt warmth coming off of the L, so he decided to take the last train into the city.
*
Eitan Dimanche awoke early on the most important day of his life. He hopped out of bed and pulled on his scholar’s robes, grabbed up his stylus and paprys, then sent messages to his companions via the small clockwork bird built for that purpose. He took up his gear abacus, played with it for a few minutes (why he did this he couldn’t say… it just filled him with wonder this morning), and made his way into the common room, where his companion was smoking an exotic leaf from a hookah. He took a hit, then informed his companion that he was off to take the Silver Dragon into the City. He walked through the University and to the Wall, where the Dragon nested. He climbed the platform to the top of the wall, had his ticket punched by a dapperly dressed gentleman, and climbed on back of the Silver Dragon, an open air clockwork contraption that ran the rails into the City. He wondered aloud at it, something that wasn’t entirely out of character, and the rabbit in the trilby seated across from him agreed with him on the wonder of the contraption.
Eitan struck up a conversation with the rabbit, whose name was Harold, and he told the rabbit that he reminded him of another Harold in a trilby.
“That’s not his name, you know,” the rabbit said.
“What is his name, then?”
“What isn’t? He has so many you lose count. Want to know a secret?”
“Sure.”
“Harold is a joke name. He’s no Harold. He’s a Herald.”
Then they chatted about angelic heralds and magic tricks as they continued along towards the City.
*

It was the early morning hours in the Loop, so the city was largely dead, the streets almost empty, as Tycho made his way along, seeking a ride back to Evanston, to his home and his dog.
“Look at the little cicada. He looks lost.”
The voice came from a pair of women, clearly dressed for some manner of costume party in robes of a Greek or Roman style… Tycho was no expert on historical women’s fashion. One of the women was young, quite the looker, the other a bit older, but not entirely out of the range of his interest. But he wanted to get home, and made his excuses.
“What’s at home?” the younger one asked, teasing.
“My dog, for one.”
“Is he?’
“Isn’t he?”
“Perhaps not.”
“Also I’m bleeding.”
“Are you?”
He looked at his hand and found it healed. “I guess not.”
They talked for a bit in this circuitous manner, and finally the younger woman offered him a hit from a pipe. He took it, noting that the two women were made up to look like statues with something like plaster or paper mache on their skin. He asked them about their jobs as living statues.
“Is that so bad? To stand still and be admired? There’s much here to be admired, no?”
“What is this?” he asked about the drugs in the pipe. They smelled of pot, but sweeter.
Her answer sounded something like “Anima eruditum.”
So he lit up and inhaled.
*
The door opened, and Don exited with Duchamps onto the L platform at State and Lake. He looked down at the Chicago Theater sign, and the glowing red letters took several seconds to resolve into something he could make sense of. He went down the stairs and approached the theater, passing some SAIC students sitting at the corner, and looked up at the marquee. It read “Don Shaver: One Night Only.” He moved to the door and found it locked. Instead he bathed in the overhanging lights for a time, allowing their glow to suffuse his skin. He seemed illuminated from within… and then Duchamp bolted. He took off after the dog, noticing his name on the street signs as he passed. Each intersection was as it should be – Randolph and State, Washington and State – but they were also each Don and Shaver. The street numbers on the buildings, too, drew his attention, as if they had some secret they wished to impart to him. And then he looked back for Duchamp but the puppy was gone.
He was at Madison and State, the metaphorical center of the city, the 0 point on the grid, from which all street numbers were measured. But he was also at Don Shaver and Don Shaver. There were people out, surprising for the hour, but more surprising were that they were in brightly colored robes, like the choir of some rainbow revival. He stopped one of the men, a tall individual with long, wavy hair, and asked if he’d seen the dog.
“No, man. We ain’t seen your dog.”
Don asked about the robes, and the man said he was in a band. “The Band. Not THE The Band, but The Another Band.” He invited Don to their show.
Don accepted, and joined the procession north up State.
*

By the time the Silver Dragon crossed the River (held in place by the Iron Seals) and crossed into the City, Harold the Rabbit had left him, leaving behind only a trilby that was sadly too small for Eitan’s head. The City was a glorious monument to human ingenuity, all crystal towers laced in silver, swirling, organic architecture, flowing floral street lamps. Even the clouds were edged in silver and swam in the spiral of the golden ratio.
Hat in hand, Eitan descended the Dragon Rail to the cobblestone street and progressed between two towers to the temple of the lions. Harold hopped from within the hat, took it, bid him farewell, and took off north.
Eitan spoke with the lions for a bit, who reminded him that Harold the Rabbit was not Harold the Herald and gave him some advice – that he shouldn’t accept what is (everything, after all, changes).
“Today’s the most important day of my life. I suppose that means it’s all downhill from here.”
“Such is the nature of time. But you know what else is wondrous about time? Eventually you hit the bottom.”
“What’s great about that?”
“Where do you go from there?”
“Up!”
And then a final warning: “You should watch out for the troll.”
Eitan took off after the rabbit, but then ran directly into the troll. Oops.
The troll had ashen, bluish skin, and was armored, the crest of the City emblazoned on his breastplate. They chatted about how he was bound to his fate and could do nothing outside of it. He was a protector of the people of the City, but not bound to help them find their own destinies. The troll made a deal – he’d help Eitan find the rabbit if Eitan would go save a merchant from bandits a few streets away.
Eitan agreed.
*
The smoke went straight through Tycho’s body, past his lungs and down to his fingers, his toes. He held it in as long as he could, then exhaled with a pleasure that was like an orgasm. He didn’t feel the least like coughing. He took a second hit, as good as the first, and the world around him took on a wet, shimmering aspect, as if the edges of his vision were going watery.
“This is a city of women, you know,” the younger figure said. “The Faceless Mother. The Gilded Queen. Us. Yet we’re all always answering to that big black cock.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Industry, and this is Agriculture.”
“Where did you get this shit? It’s amazing. Can I get the name of your dealer?”
“No.”
“Maybe your number? Just so I can get some more?”
“You’ll know where to find us. We just stand here, after all.”
“Let me give you some money, at least.” He handed them a twenty, and Industry’s hand slid across it, taking the color from it.
“You already understand. Nothing comes without a price. A word of advice. Tonight, you’ll have to go up, but those arms of yours won’t get you there.”
Tycho looked at his arms, then back to her.
“And one other thing: Watch out for That Thing in the Plaza. You should go. You’ve got someone coming to meet you.”
He nodded and took off towards the Lake. The other figures on the street seemed blurry, unimportant. He passed a tall figure in a hoodie in jeans, a figure that looked up into his face in the last moment before passing. Tycho registered a pair of rectangular lenses, pale skin, curls of copper hair. He kept going. At the next cross street, he found Duchamp.
“Hey Duchamp, what are you doing down here?”
“Short man brought me here!” Duchamp answered happily.
“Don? Why? Wait, you can talk?”
“I talk all the time!”
Duchamp’s leash had been dragging behind him, and when Tycho picked it up, he found the loop at the end burned away. After a moment of wonder at this and conversation with his dog, Tycho was brought back to the moment by a loud, resounding thud that shook the panes of the nearby buildings.
It sounded like a footstep.
*

The procession had stopped in front of a building with doors of glass set into brass (or perhaps gold). Each member of the choir took a key from around his or her neck and unlocked the door before stepping through and closing it behind them. Don felt a heavy warmth on his chest and located his own key. It was thick, made of gold, with pearlescent crystalline feathers radiating from the ring. He moved it around, watching the feathers lag slightly behind the key, like tracers. When his attention returned to the doors, the procession had finished going in, leaving him alone. He put his key into the door, opened it, and stepped through into the darkness. All around him were racks of robes like those worn by the band. He took one, choosing orange, and put it on, making sure it fit. A door opened ahead of him, pouring warm light from it. He entered it, the elevator, and looked over the buttons, which had symbols on them he didn’t recognize. He pressed the highest one. As the elevator rose, he looked through the window on the far side of it into an impossibly dark abyss. The indicator on the inside of the elevator was the same color as his robes, and it moved across the top of the door like the arc of the sun’s journey. Finally the elevator passed beyond the darkness, into a closed, stone shaft.
The bell ring and the car came to its stop. The doors opened. The light poured in.
*
Eitan found the merchant’s shop indicated by the troll, a small grocer’s stall in the base of one of the crystalline towers, nestled between a money lender’s and a seller of exotic foods from the far east. Eitan walked through the door and was immediately greeted with a crossbow bolt to the heart. He spun, hit the wall, and slid down it. As he watched, a second bandit fired on the merchant, who dropped, bolt protruding from his throat. Eitan watched, and the lion’s words came back to him.
“No… I don’t accept this.”
Eitan walked through the door into the shop, leapt immediately over the counter. The crossbow bolt took him in the rib, and he fell heavily atop the merchant, whose head hit the counter top, leaving a bloody trail down it. They both hit the ground hard, the merchant’s neck with a sickening crunch. Eitan refused again.
Eitan walked through the door into the shop, leapt immediately upon one of the bandits, smashing him over the head with his mechanical abacus. The second bandit turned on him, but Eitan willed the man’s bowstring to snap, and it did, sending the bolt across his cheek. The first bandit stood and stabbed at Eitan with a knife, but Eitan caught the knife with a fruit, then bashed him again. He took the two bandits, pulled out a dagger, and stuck them to the wall by their clothing, telling the merchant to flee and call on the guard.
He knew then, that there were so many ways this could have turned out. So many things that could have happened. Things that had to happen. Things that could change. Things that couldn’t. It was a matrix of possibility, and he stood at its origin.
He set off to find the troll.
*

Tycho fled, Duchamp ahead of him, down the wide streets of Chicago, as the massive footsteps followed at a block’s remove. As he passed an intersection, he caught a glimpse of the thing as it made the intersection a block down in a single stride: it was impossibly huge, all metal girders, like a spider that had curled up and died only to become the ribcage of some great primate. He saw the glow of the L tracks ahead of him and made for them, running below them. Whatever the thing was, it stopped, unwilling to cross the tracks.
Tycho and Duchamp made their way along under the tracks towards the Quincy Station, but as he approached, the stairs into the station rose from the street, then, like the lower jaw of some great lizard, they opened, speaking: “You should run.”
Then Tycho heard a sound like a low, rolling thunder. He didn’t look back, but ran, Duchamp at his side. He pounded, barefoot down the street, the soles of his feet thickening into dog-like pads, and then he took a tight corner, letting what pursued him continue past.
It was a stampede of bulls of every size and shape, some small and stone, some massive bronze.
Then they were past, and Tycho continued walking… until he saw a small white creature that, birdlike, took off ahead of him. He felt a predatory need to consume it.
He gave chase.
*
Don exited into near-blinding daylight. The sky was a perfect cerulean, broken only by tiny whitecaps of the thinnest clouds. The buildings of Chicago rose all around him, and he wondered if the numbers of their floors was significant, too, if when combined with their street numbers, with the street names, they unlocked the secrets of Chicago.
Erected on the rooftop was a large, rectangular tent. Don walked forward, lifted the flap, and entered. Inside he found rows of empty folding chairs leading up to a low stage, where The Another Band was loading in. The man with wavy hair smiled beatifically down on him.
“Why do you play?” Don asked.
“Why DO I play?” the man answered.
“Because you’re a band?”
“No. We’re a band because we play. Why do we play?”
Don shook his head, confused.
“Why do you do radio?”
“Because I want to?”
“Is it mere desire?”
“I feel driven to.”
“Drive. That’s the rub.”
“That’s not that unusual,” Don said.
“Isn’t it though? How many people do you know, your friends your family, your classmates, how many of them do what they were driven to do? How many do what they wanted to do as children? How many even do what they wanted to as students?”
“Not many.”
“And you? Are you doing what you’re driven to?”
“Yes.”
“Are you really?”
“I guess not.” He didn’t really want to be sitting behind the console at a shitty Evanston 80s station.
“It’s a little embarrassing isn’t it?”
“A little. But I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to try.”
“Trying’s not enough.”
“I’m going to do.”
The man smiled again. “Do you want to join our band?”
“I can sing, I guess.”
The man extended his hand, and pulled Don up onto the stage. “Are you sure about this? Once you join, there’s no return.”
Don nodded, then he noticed the knife in the man’s hand.
It slid into Don’s stomach.
*

Eitan found the troll. “I did it! I saved the merchant!”
“You did.”
“So you can tell me where the rabbit is.”
“You can tell ME where the rabbit is.”
Eitan considered for a moment. “Three blocks north, then one on the right.”
“Then go.”
Eitan took off in the direction mentioned, passing two crystalline blocks rising from a shallow pool in which played small-statured individuals with pointed ears. Inside the blocks danced impossible figures of prismatic beauty. Eitan continued and passed a massive crystal ball that reflected him.
He came upon a long, silver snake with scales like shingles, and he climbed its back. It began slithering among the buildings, finally rearing up and biting the bottom of a tower with a sheer diamond apex. There he met Harold, who wished him well, then jumped into his own hat, reached out of it, and pulled the hat into itself, vanishing.
*
Tycho chased the bird book thing as it winged (paged?) along, until it gained altitude. He leapt to grab it but missed. Then he noticed a familiar figure loping towards him from the darkness. It was Ethan.
“There you are! Look around you! This is madness. Everything is wrong!”
“It’s very strange.”
“The buildings, they’re not right?”
“Where have you been, Ethan?”
“Don’t use that name!”
“What should I call you?”
“Olmsted, obviously. Look Sullivan, everything’s wrong!”
“Oh. Is this part of the vision? Are you from the future or something?”
“From the…. OH. Right, the Opener of Ways. Wait, no. You would have told me, wouldn’t you have? If you’d seen me.”
“Maybe I won’t?” Tycho glanced down at Duchamp. When he looked back up, Ethan was gone.
Above, the bird book flapped up around a towering phallic obelisk of smooth obsidian. Tycho tried to climb it, but slid down it. There were no footholds. Then, realizing based on his location that this had to be the Sears Tower, he walked around the base, looking for one of the building’s many entrances. He made two circuits without locating a way in.
He remembered the words of the statue woman: “You’ll have to go up, but those arms won’t get you there.”
So he stepped back, took a run, and leapt. As he did, his feet changed, scaling over, his toenails extending into claws. His arms went out to either side, instinctually, then sprouted feathers. He was a bird, then, and his muscles burned as he pushed himself into the air. He flew along the flat surface of the tower, rising, exulting in the rush of the wind, in the altitude. As he reached the apex of the tower he saw the observation deck and an open window there, like a gaping maw. He flew into it, alighting, and the maw closed behind him, teeth-like shards of glass melting together. He was no longer a bird. He wondered aloud at the incredible experience.
“That it was,” came voice from behind him. He turned to it.
It was his mother.
*

Don stumbled backwards, swinging his fists at the bandleader, but missing. He fell backwards from the stage as the band began to play a form of choir-rock that filled the tent with solid waves of sound. Don put his hands to his wounds, but the blood within him was fire, and it singed his skin. It burst forth in a gout, lighting the roof of the tent and causing it to ripple away. Then the fire began to pour forth from his ears, his eyes, his nostrils, and he was burning, just as the band had begun to burn, all wreathed in bright blue fire. He opened his mouth and sang, face upturned, and the heavens opened, revealing a night sky filled with celestial spheres and moons bound to planets by wires and gears. The rays of the sun moved opposite one another like the teeth of a pair of clippers. He looked back down to the band, and they’d transformed into chrome angels, their heads turned towards the sky, their metal wings splayed behind them, backs arched like hood ornaments.
They all sang.
*
Tycho spoke to his mother.
“You have chosen the most difficult road. The road that walks between. Between man and woman. Between sickness and health. Between spirit and flesh. You must be strong to survive it.”
“When did I make this choice?” he asked.
“You made it with your soul. The when is not relevant.”
They spoke for a time, and then she said, “This is what you sought.” It was the book. As he approached it, he saw that it was made of stone. He lifted it and turned the pages, which felt like heavy vellum but looked carved of stone. Each page had characters he couldn’t recognize, but he knew somehow that they were all names. Some were struck out in blood. He went to the earliest pages. They were filled with simple, primal things – pictograms, bloody handprints. He flipped to the last page, it was blank.
“Do I sign this?”
“Your soul wants you to.”
“And if I don’t?”
“You go back.”
“I agree with my soul. Do you have a pen?”
“You have the ink you need.”
He felt a sharp pain in his hand and saw that the glass from the tequila still jutted from his palm. He pulled out the glass, rubbed his hands together, and put a bloody left handprint in the book. He felt power rush up his arm and through his body, tearing open his already open eyes. When he looked back to his mother, her face was missing, and laurels rested in her hair.
“Ceres…”
“I’ve been called that.”
He looked out over the city and saw fires burning in many windows. Where there weren’t fires, there were often burn marks. He blinked, and it all was gone. He was alone, in the observation deck of the Sears Tower, not entirely sure how he actually got there.
*

The band parted before Don and revealed a radio tower just belong them, an old-style one, short and pyramidal, shining and made of gold. He crossed the stage and approached, finding the metal crossbeams to bear symbols in silver. He climbed to the apex and found an old radio there. Rather than a dial, it had a keyhole. Don didn’t hesitate. He put the key into the hole and turned.
Electricity danced across the dome of the night sky, gathered in the center, and arced down in a bolt, striking Don and throwing him from the tower. He landed lightly at its base as the remnants of the tent burned down around him. Everything made sense now. He was Chicago. He was fire, and he was blood. His name was the city’s name. Of course he’d been born here, of course he’d come to school here. Of course he’d found his secret self in the center of the city. He felt sudden disgust for both Burgess and Ellsworth and the way they’d attempted to manipulate the city. He threw the electricity that danced in his hair, in his fingertips, back into the sky, and it illuminated the stars.
Then he knew everything. He was one with the cosmos. Later he’d describe it as his soul being bombarded with arcane knowledge it wasn’t prepared for, so much information that it fundamentally shifted his understanding of the universe. But at the time, it was simply gnosis.
And then the moment was past, and it deflated, along with his vision, like a hot air balloon robbed of its heat, and he was left alone at the top of the Macy’s building in the Loop.
*
The diamond tower included an open archway from which grew thorned vines of silver like razor wire. Eitan stepped from the snake’s head into the archway and made his way through a dark corridor, the thorns baiting at his skin, reopening the wound he got on the glass at Ellsworth’s house. He stepped into a pentagonal chamber with walls of equal length, and he realized that joining the points of the room would create a pentagram, which included triangles whose sides were in lengths described by the golden ratio. Phi, he realized, was everywhere, not just the spiral. He took up a large, silver thorn and began inscribing the pentagram in the floor. As he did so, glowing silver writing appeared all around him, though he couldn’t read any of the listed names. As he finished, he realized he was no longer in a chamber, but under the bows of five massive trees, each carved with moon silver characters. He moved to the point of the pentagram and signed his name before driving the thorn into the earth. With that, he felt suddenly the importance of himself in this moment. Of all the other places he could be at all of the other times. All of them were absolutely wrong. He was, for the first time in his life, in absolutely the right place at absolutely the right time.
*

Tycho used the elevator to descend to the ground floor of the tower, then simply walked out of the building. He found Duchamp waiting for him, but the dog didn’t seem to have anything more to say. He checked his phone and found a couple of missed calls and a message. He listened to the message first.
“This is a call for Tycho Swords. You are listed as the emergency contact for an Ethan Moody. Mr. Moody is currently in Intensive Care at Cook County Hospital. He’s been shot.”
As he spoke on the phone, he was approached by the familiar figure of Don, who had descended the stairs from the Macy’s building and been wandering the streets of the Loop, trying to understand what had happened to him. They exchange brief, confused notes, realize that oh yeah, Ethan’s in the hospital, and start making their way to see him.

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If That Railroad Train Was Mine
THE CHICAGO WORKING - Chapter 5

On a warm summer day in 2004, four young people sat around an apartment in Evanston, pouring over a series of old documents, each one with a few of the pages. The pages had post-its on them to indicate what order they’d come out of the folder in, but given that sentences were cut off at the end of pages without getting picked up on the next, it seemed that pages were missing, and it was possible it didn’t matter what order the pages were in anyway. They took notes in composition notebooks, sharing what they discovered, trying to work out the underlying principles. At one point, the girl with pink hair looked up and read out loud:
“Through pyramidal geometry, Egyptian priests assimilated the essence of the gods into the resonance, directing destiny itself.” She looked up at the others. “What the fuck does that even mean?”
A few nights later, Ethan stared at Simon Ellsworth’s reflection in the window of a Blue Line train as it hurtled towards O’Hare. “Listen…” the image said, its voice created by the sound of the passing wind and the rattling of the trains on the rails. “You understand now, don’t you?” Ellsworth told them that he had ‘called them,’ and that they had come. He told them that Burgess, who he admitted to having killed years before, was still around, and had killed him. Not out of vengeance, but to stop him from mucking up Burgess’ plans. “He treats people like property… hollows them out… wears them like clothes.” He then explained that to stop Burgess, they’d have to enter his house (“The hideous monstrosity of his in Gold Coast”) locate his casket or urn, and deface the images on it.
The quartet plied him for as much info as they could get out of him, but soon the train passed out of his area of influence and he was gone. The characters retreated to Elsa’s Logan Sq. apartment to discuss plans. They had the approximate location of the house, so they decided to go by it and scope it out. They did so, and Tycho identified the specific building by his pocket watch, which reactivated near the home.
The four returned to Evanston for further planning and sleep.
The next day they purchased a bunch of equipment from the hardware store: sledgehammers, rope, a hatchet, flashlights, duct tape, flares, a crowbar, a cordless drill, and more. That night, around 1 am, they returned to the house, entering via the back. They’d been worried about the floodlights with motion sensors that were around the house, but someone had come before them and broken the lights out. So the group used the crowbar to break into the back. They made their way through the house, experiencing a haunting phenomenon or two, before Ethan was struck by a flying piece of art when he moved a sofa. As they moved up the stairs to the next floor they were assaulted by a man of plaster who tapped the walls and floors with its fingers to find its way. They managed to take it apart between the three of them, only to have another attack them from the direction they came. They overcame this one, and found themselves face to face with the man from the Burgess agency sign. He told them to leave, and they grandstanded a bit, saying they would defeat him. He pointed out that Ellsworth was manipulating them, that Ellsworth had murdered him, but they were set in their course. He threatened Don’s sister, and offered up the remaining parts of the Chicago Working Folio, but they wouldn’t budge, attacking him instead. He immediately went limp.
The quartet went upstairs, fairly worse for wear from their brushes with the plaster creatures. On the third floor, they fought another monster, then came upon an older woman dressed (and with hair styled) exactly like the agent form downstairs. (“Did no one ever tell you that it was rude to rifle through another man’s wardrobe?”) The Agent attempted to make another plea, refusing to abandon the woman when they attacked. They held her down and Tycho slipped past, opening a closet in the bathroom she’d been guarding and finding a spiral stair into the depths.
The stair was narrow, so the group was forced to abandon most of their belongs before the descent. On the way down, they heard tapping on the far sides of the wall and coming up from the depths. The woman they left above began dropping their own equipment on their heads, cracking open Elsa’s skull with their cordless drill. They managed to get off the stair just before the crowbar hit the ground behind them.
In the basement they found more of the pods that created the minions and fought four more in brutal combat that left them nearing death before they managed to dispatch them. They located Burgess’s sarcophagus and began defacing it as more minions began pouring from the walls. A minion grabbed Ethan and pulled him to the ground, choking him, as another grabbed Elsa. Finally, just as all seems lost, the minions crumble to dust, and the tapping throughout the house ends.
Ethan gets up, and the group opens the sarcophagus. They find a corpse, like you do. Tycho uses a flare to burn it, and then checks his watch to see if its still running. It’s not. It’s broken. The group makes its way out and into the night in search of medical attention.
As they round the corner, a tall figure in jeans and a hoodie peels off of the shadows, a crowbar in hand. It looks to a nearby man in a trilby, who tips his hat. The figure nods in return, and the two walk away in opposite directions.
A few days later, after the agents have woken and gone to the police with their experiences of lost time, Burgess Real Estate collapses. Apparently there’s no one to prosecute, no one to sue. Then, one day, the sign on the Burgess sign on the church in Bucktown is replaced with a new sign from a different developer:
Walsh Industries.

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The Strings That Control the System
Chapter 4

On a warm summer morning in Chicago, an office stirred with the first hints of the work day ahead. Through the large windows, the ever-growing, ever-changing skyline was visible, host to the tallest buildings in the world. Blueprints and drawings papered the walls. Rows of slanted drafting tables stood empty, save for a rare few early risers.
A man, a little overweight, with a round nose and thin hair, entered the office, picked up a coffee, and approached one of the desks. At the desk opposite, a tall, thin man with slicked back hair was already at work, his coat draped across the back of his chair rather than hanging on one of the nearby racks. The sitting man looked up, eyes falling on the other man’s coffee.
“Stuff’ll kill you, Simon.”
“Worse ways to go. Good morning to you, too, John.” Simon lowered himself into his seat. “What are we doing today?”
“Same thing we do every day,” John answered. “We’re going to change Chicago.”
Half a century later, Elsa, all pink hair and scraped elbows, asks Tycho “Do you really think he’ll burn it?” They’re in the front of Tycho’s car, and she’s looking back at Ethan, who’s passed out from sheer exhaustion and pain. He’s holding the Chicago Working folio tight to his chest. They’re parked in front of a hardware store.
Inside, Don was browsing the shovels. He thought back to what Ethan had suggested that morning – that he and Joyce pretend to be looking to move in together when they went to investigate the Bucktown converted church. Don had responded that it wasn’t the right time. That had been an understatement. A few nights before, Joyce had come over. She had Don make her tea, then, the two of them sitting at the kitchen table, she told him that his leaping into the burning house to save Ellsworth had been brave – a level of heroism that she didn’t expect from him – but also selfish. That she couldn’t be with someone so willing to risk everything for someone they barely knew. Don tried to convince her it was a one-time thing, but her mind was made up. Don was brought back to the present by his phone ringing, a call from his sister. Despite not really wanting to answer, he did so reaching out to take a shovel at the same time. As his fingers wrapped around the handle, however, his phone shorted out and the lights in the store flickered. He shrugs this off as odd and buys the shovel.
The quartet travel to three locations given in Ellsworth’s will and speak to the people living there, getting a feel for what extent, if any, these people knew Ellsworth.
Don received another call from his sister Ashley, and this time he answered it. “Tell Ethan to come get his phone.” Some creepy guy who sounded like a brunette version of the agent at the church had given it to her. Ethan realized he’d left his phone in the basement at the church, where he’d been almost choked out by a plaster man. So they got out to Aurora, and after making sure everyone was alright (and that Ashley had had the smarts to meet that guy in public to get the phone), they headed back into the city and for bed.
The next day, back to business: only one of the owners of a potential Ellsworth burial plot had actually known the old man, so they decided to try to bury him there. Ethan set to trying to convince him (with bribery), which backfired. The group started talking about sneaking Ellsworth’s ashes onto one of the properties, Elsa got pissed, and she made a final (successful) appeal to the house owner, John Milovic, who remembered Ellsworth as the man who renovated his house when he was just a kid, and whose dad had some kind of relationship with the old man.
So they buried Ellsworth, and Ethan gave his late friend a moving eulogy.
Over the next few weeks, the group studied the Folio, learning quite a bit about sacred geometry and geomancy from it, getting a crash course in basic occultism.
They found that upon entering the city, however, they were experiencing unusual sensations – the buildings and streets seemed almost to hum or glow with emotional power. The angled cross streets made them feel like they might fall along them towards the center of the city. Each of them experienced this slightly differently – Ethan felt powerful deja vu; Don feelings of power and order; and Tycho strong hunger, a racing heart, and cold sweats. But mostly they felt a strong sense of the emotions the buildings themselves seemed to want to inspire.
They got in touch with Elsa and learned she was hearing music and feeling a sense of vertigo. They decide to go down to Ukrainian Village to see if it was more potent where they buried Ellsworth, but in the cab, Don began hearing snatches of phantom radio broadcast. He got the driver to tune in to the news where they found out that two men dressed exactly the same way had jumped onto the tracks at exactly the same time at two different L platforms. their cabby dropped them off at the Damen L stop. As they got on the train, Tycho noticed a number of things: signs for an upcoming series called Grey’s Anatomy, a brochure for a local hospital, an ad for Zoloft, that made him realize that the area’s energies are focused on healing.
They got on the train and as they rode along, they saw the city through the window begin to twist and curl, ribbons of light bending along the L lines and streets. Then, in the interplay of light and reflection in the window, Ethan saw the image of Simon Ellsworth.

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The Agency
THE CHICAGO WORKING Chapter 3

Late one night, in Bucktown, a lone figure, tall, wearing a hoodie and jeans, stepped into a streetlamp and looked up at an old church. It approached the building, looked at a large sign for the Burgess and Associates Agency, pulled out a canister, and spray painted something on the front, a bright pink curly villain’s mustache, right on top of the image of the bland, blond agent. It smirked at its handiwork, stepped back, and walked away into the shadows.
The next morning, the front of the church opened and a bland, blond man walked out to the sidewalk. He picked up his paper, turned, frowned. He walked over to the sign, cocked his head slightly at the defaced sign, then walked back into the church, closing the door behind him.
Meanwhile, Tycho, Ethan, and Don were at an Evanston library, pouring over old documents, spooling through microfiche, and browsing the internet. Between them they learned the following:
Burgess Agency had been around since the seventies or eighties, buying, renovating and renting properties from South Loop to Lakeview and more recently out into Wicker Park and Bucktown.
-Holabird and Root is an important architectural firm in the city. The “Root” in the name was John Wellborn Root, Jr., son of the Root mentioned by Ellsworth (who had been one of the great geniuses of early Chicago architecture and the 1893 World’s Fair… until he died before its completion).
-Two men left Holabird and Root in 1953 to pursue their own firms: Simon Ellsworth and John Michael Burgess. Neither had significant success. (See Chicago Working for more background on this, if you want it.)
-Burgess Agency is renting out a property -a converted church
in Bucktown, not far from the thrift store the sweats came from.
The group decides to head down to Bucktown to check out the property. The plan is for Don and Tycho to pretend to be looking for a place while Ethan scopes out the place from Tycho’s car. Ethan suggests they grab Joyce and have Joyce and Don pretending to be a couple, but Don told him it wasn’t the right time.
As Tycho and Don approached the house, they saw a sign with a bland blond man whose face had been given an additional pink curly mustache. Scraping away at the paint they saw a pudgy man in scrubs – Richard.
The pair began to accost Richard, and Ethan saw him soon enough and stormed towards him. Richard withered under the onslaught and confessed: he’d been given this job and a place to live by a Burgess Real Estate Agent in exchange for leaving the night he did and leaving Ellsworth’s door unlocked. He felt terrible about it, as he hadn’t wanted the old man to die. Now he was in possession of the old man’s will and ashes, and some crazy instructions about the disposition of said ashes. He’d hand that stuff over if the group didn’t go to the cops with what they knew of his role in Ellsworth’s death. An agreement was struck, and plans changed. Now Tycho was going to check out the property by himself while Ethan and Don got the ashes and will from Richard’s creepy basement apartment.
And creepy it is. While Tycho explores the lush, if somewhat lifeless condo being sold upstairs, weathering sometimes racist or homophobic comments, sometimes feeling like he was being looked over like a piece of meat, Don and Ethan were getting what they needed from Richard. Despite being the middle of summer and the A/C not running, it was incredibly cold in the basement. Ethan meandered into the storage room, moving along the walls, which were the same color and texture as the plaster they’d found earlier. He came across a strange bulge in the wall, cracked it open, and found an odd, round object, like a small bowling ball.
And then it looked up at him and grabbed him by the throat.
As the plaster man choked Ethan out, Richard slammed the door to his apartment in Don’s face, and Don ran into the storage room, only to narrowly avoid being waylaid himself by a second plaster creature. Don ran back into the hall, beating on Richard’s door, trying to get help. Meanwhile Ethan dropped his phone, which he’d been using for light, while trying to pry himself free, and his vision began to swim, stars lighting the edges of his awareness. (As a note, Ethan’s player had two dice to this roll – he failed it like four times before finally getting a success and freeing himself. He was about to start taking wound penalties that would have reduced him further.) Somehow, at the last moment, he broke free, scrambling into the hall. The pair ran up the stairs, past the descending Tycho and bland real estate agent, and into the front yard. As Ethan ran heedlessly into the street, a girl on a bicycle collided with him, sending him sprawling. Don grabbed him and helped him up, and the pair ran to Tycho’s car, which they couldn’t get into, having misplaced the keys.
Tycho played it as cool as possible, thanking the agent for his time, crossing the lawn, and helping the girl up; a girl who turned out to be Elsa, who was not happy. They put her bike in the back of the car and drove away.
Once out of Bucktown, tensions cooled a little. Ethan read Ellsworth’s will, which, along with a bunch of sacred geometry mumbo jumbo, asked the reader to sneak into “The True Chicago Public Library,” get an urn hidden in a vent there, burn anything else they find in the vent, and then bury his ashes, in the urn, on one of three properties listed in his letter.
So the group headed for the Loop. The stopped into a Walgreens to get Ethan some painkillers. Ethan also purchased a lighter and hairspray, which raised absolutely no suspicions.
“The True Chicago Public Library,” the group knew, from their discussions with Ellsworth, referred to the current Chicago Cultural Center. They made their way there, pausing to pat the bronze bull statue outside for luck. Inside, Don and Elsa kept watch while Ethan and Tycho opened a head-high vent. A few run-ins with curious parents and a watchful docent were diffused with some quick double-talk, and the group managed to get the urn – a metal triangular prism about twice the size of a football – and a leather folder marked “CHICAGO WORKINGFIRST FOLIO.” Ethan resolved immediately to burn it.
The quartet left the Cultural Center, returned to Tycho’s car, and drove into the warm afternoon, looking for a burial ground.

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The Night of the Fire
THE CHICAGO WORKING Chapter 2

Tycho Swords is alone in his bedroom, on ecstasy, watching a watch swing back and forth. Suddenly it slams to a stop and he hears someone pounding on his door. He runs to the living room, sparing a glance at Elsa, who’s adjusting her shirt, before throwing open the door. Across the hall he can see Ethan standing up, outlined in the flames bursting from Ellsworth’s apartment. Don had been knocking on the door, but even now he’s bolted. Joyce follows into the hall, holding a cell phone, talking to 911. Ethan, still rather drunk and just shocked out of sleepwalking by a slap from Don, walks into his window before realizing he needs to exit his apartment via his door like a person.
Outside, Elsa and Joyce watch from the porch as Ethan, in a fit of alcohol-fueled heroic athleticism, manages to jump up to the fire escape ladder and pull it down. He’s not great at climbing it, though, and falls over. Don, who had seen figures moving in the burning apartment before he knocked on Tycho’s door, scales the ladder, wraps a shirt around his fist, and hits the window. He hand bounces off of the glass. As Ethan pulls himself up, Don kicks out the window and a blast of fire erupts, knocking both down and setting them alight. Don jumps into the house. Ethan crawls through the window, slicing open his forearm.
Tycho, like a reasonable person, goes through the front door and takes the stairs. He finds the front door to Ellsworth’s apartment unlocked, which is a tad odd.
Once all three are inside, they spread out a bit, trying to stay low, but still getting blistered by the heat and choked by the smoke. Ethan finds some thick, unusual material on the floor and shoves it in his pocket.
Nobody finds Ellsworth.
Don realizes that, oh shit, he’s on fire, and stops, drops, and rolls.
Tycho sees Ethan’s shirt is on fire and he grabs a rug to beat the flames out. He sees Ethan’s bleeding, but before he can help arms appear out of the darkness, wrap around him, and pull him through the smoke. He struggles briefly before realizing he’s being pulled out by a fireman.
Outside, at the ambulance, their burns being bandaged and oxygen being forced down their lungs, Don and Tycho wait while Joyce and Elsa berate them for their idiocy.
Ethan doesn’t come out.
Until the firemen drag him out, bloody and burned.
He mumbles to himself about Ellsworth as he’s loaded into the back of the ambulance.
Tycho notices a figure in baggy sweats near the mouth of an alley across the street. When it notices his attention, it bolts, and Tycho takes off after him. He chases the figure through lawns, over furniture and fences, Elsa trailing behind. Tycho rounds a corner and gets hit full in the face with cold water, freaking for a sec before he realizes it’s a sprinkler. He sees the figure duck into an alley and, recognizing it as a prime spot for an ambush, grabs a trashcan lid to use as a shield. He rounds the corner widely, looks into the depths of the alley… and sees nothing.
He walks in, pokes along, and finds a set of sweat pants and hoodie. He picks them up and finds them filled with some kind of chalky material.
Elsa catches up, and they rifle through the pockets, finding only a ticket with three digits on it: 4 9 9.
They return to the house to find that the ambulance has left. Joyce got left behind, and the three gather some overnight essentials and get a cab to the hospital.
The next morning, Dan and Ethan are released, but not before all of them get questioned by one of Evanston’s two detectives, who makes it clear that they should in no way hamper or involve themselves in the investigation, a reasonable concern, given Ethan’s interest in seeing Ellsworth’s killer come to justice. (Ethan’s sure it was Richard, who was nowhere to be found, and who he has taken to referring to as “Dick,” with great scorn.)
The group returns to the site where Tycho ran down the running man and they dig through the material, realizing it’s plaster. Ethan notes that he found a lot of loose plaster inside Ellsworth’s apartment the night of the fire. In the sober light of day, the paper Tycho found also makes a lot more sense: it’s a price tag, the kind you might get from a thrift store, for $4.99. They argue a lot about how much to tell the police, eventually deciding to keep the clothes and ticket for themselves, but to tell the police about the chase and the location of the pile of plaster.
That night, the last night before finals, the undergraduates of Northwestern howl out their windows in a tradition known as Primal Scream.
A few weeks pass, and things go more or less back to normal. Don works. Ethan and Tycho use their wounds and the fire to get extensions on their work, and eventually they both manage to pass their courses. Ethan even graduates, which only comes as a slight surprise. When talking to his advisor about Ellsworth, Ethan learns that Ellsworth was once part of a minor scandal in Chicago architecture – apparently he and a friend at Holabird and Root had a falling out over the direction they thought architecture in the city should go. Ellsworth represented the old guard of classic Chicago style, his associate was a modernist. They went their separate ways, founded competing firms, and neither had any success to speak of. Ethan, remembering that Ellsworth often expressed regrets over a friendship that had soured a long time ago, decided that he needed to figure out who this second person was.
Meanwhile, Ethan and Tycho pursue the one lead they have: the ticket. Eventually they track it to a Bucktown thrift store. The pair go to the store and speak to one of the unhelpful cashiers. Ethan makes a dramatic appeal to her, though, and she cracks, admitting that a rather bland man with blonde hair came in and bought three sets of sweats. It struck her as strange, because none of the clothing matched, and it didn’t really seem to fit him. Or his bow-tie and jacket metrosexual style.
They thank her (and give her some cash) then leave. On the train platform on their way home, they see a billboard displaying a blandly smiling blond man in a bow tie and blazer. The company it was advertising? Burgess and Associates Real Estate Agency.

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Things Were Good When We Were Young
THE CHICAGO WORKING Chapter 1

Our story began with an old man. Simon Ellsworth, new next-door neighbor to the characters, apprehends them one morning on their way to the Lake, telling them of Chicago’s bloody, blistering history. He speaks of Burnham and Root. Of Angelic whispers and the thundering voice of the El. He speaks of gangland violence and political machination. He speaks of ghosts, literal and metaphorical that haunt the gridded streets. Of the river. Of the lake. Of the fire.
The characters help his nurse move the remainder of his belongings inside before they continue to the lake, where they spend a day kayaking and swimming.
On returning home, Tycho stops to chat with Richard, Ellsworth’s layabout live-in nurse, who’s enjoying a bowl, about the medicine that Ellsworth has access to. Apparently the old man’s dying of cancer and has been for almost a decade. When Tycho gets back inside, he hears a ticking sound. He digs through his closet to find a shoebox of old stuff from his mother, including his grandfather’s pocket watch. The piece is strange, with three faces and numerous hands that move at different rates. Tycho had always thought it was broken, but now it ticked away. Duchamp didn’t care for it, though, growling at it, and Tycho put it back in the box.
Don calls his girlfriend, and Ethan hits the books. The productivity doesn’t last, however, and Don, Joyce and Tycho set out for a night on the town, dragging a reluctant Ethan along.
They hit up a club in Wicker Park where a friend of Tycho’s who used to be a member of the headlining band meets up with them. This is Elsa. She has pink hair. Elsa and Tycho drop X, Don and Joyce drink, and Ethan figures in for a penny, in for a pound and gets uproariously drunk. Tycho falls over at some point, Ethan accidentally trips over him and starts a fight (a rare Dramatic Failure!), and the next thing we know, everybody’s been kicked out and are on a bus back towards the Red Line.
They get home, Tycho takes Duchamp out, Ethan starts scribbling some nonsense about the golden ratio (which he’d been reading up on) before passing out, and Don and Joyce retire to the bedroom. Tycho and Elsa make out a bit before falling asleep on Tycho’s shag carpet.
Sometime later, Tycho is awakened by the ticking coming from the other room. He goes to his bedroom, digs out the watch, and lets it sway back and forth in front of him. It almost seems to glow in the faint light, and it leaves tracers in his drug-addled vision.
Meanwhile, Don wakes up and stumbles from his room and takes a leak. On his way back, he glances into Ethan’s room, sees Ethan’s not there. He goes to the living room and finds Ethan staring into the night, oddly lit by a bright orange glow.
“The vesica piscis opens.”
Ellsworth’s apartment is in flames.

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