STARCHILD SERIAL: 1.5 “The Town Historian”
Angel City Starchild
1.5 “The Town Historian”
The Town Historian finds me sitting slumped over on a stool at Maxwell’s. He takes a seat across from me without saying a word. I don’t recognize him at first, and there’s no reason I would. Most people in the area don’t know we have a town historian. I know, because I read about it in the Gazette a year back. Even a saw a little black and white photo of the man. But by the time he finds me, I’m nearly at my wit’s end with my search for Lenny.
I’m also as drunk as a coon hunter, and he spares me any pleasantries. “Lenny is a special person, Cornelius. I know him. Not well. But I know him. I also know you’ve been turning over every stone trying to find him.” He shrugs, mistaking my drunk, dumbfounded look for one of shock. “I hear things.”
“Who the fuck are you?” I yell, louder than necessary.
“I’m a government worker, you could say. I know more secrets about this place than the people in charge do. They keep me on the payroll because they know I’ll never tell.
“They like people like me. Sane and quiet. They can even deal with people like Lenny, insane and loud. It’s people who aren’t crazy, but still run their mouths, ask too many questions– those are the ones they don’t quite know how to deal with.”
“Who? Who’s they?”
He smiles warmly. “Like I was saying- Lenny is a special kind of person. You won’t find someone like him anywhere else in the world. But here? In Humber County? There are dozens of people like him. Special people. People who have visions, people who have abilities. Unnatural abilities. Don’t you find that strange? Things happen here that–anywhere else in the world–would be newsworthy. But we just pass them off as bizarre occurrences. We’re used to them.”
I blink. I can feel myself drooling. It’s the same feeling as having a brilliant idea, right before you fall asleep. Satisfied and proud, but afraid that the idea will be gone by morning. Paralyzed by exhaustion. Unable to document it.
I belch a bit of throw-up into my mouth, then swallow it back down.
“Stop looking for Lenny,” he says. He’s the fourth person to tell me this today. “He doesn’t want to be found.”
“What do you care? Why don’t you want me to find him?”
He laughs. “I don’t care if you actually find him. But I know you won’t. And I’m scared of what you’ll find in his place.”
And then… I black out. Someone kicks me in the head. I open my eyes. The lights are on and the place is empty, save Max standing over me with a broom stick. I roll myself over and push myself off the ground–which I now see is filthy as all hell. It sticks to my hands as I push off it, onto my feet.
“Wha—” I start to talk and realize I don’t want to. Max seems to understand. He walks over to the door and sees me out.
Tomorrow I’ll track down the Historian. I’ll find him in the twisted innards of the Humber Community Center, where they keep him in a labyrinth of books and artifacts. A place where no one will find him. He’ll tell me things I should never learn, things I’ll secretly wish had been kept from me. Soon after that, I’ll find Lenny, walking alone in a cornfield at dusk. The day after that, I’ll be dead.
But tonight, with the stars spinning overhead, there’s just me. Drunken Cornelius. Stumbling his way home through the abandoned streets of Angel City.