Today I received a letter. Today I received a letter, wedged under the front door to my small room, up on the seventh floor of my shitty little building in this shitty, smoggy city. I mean, the weird thing about this would be, you know, who sends fucking letters these days, right? I haven’t sent a letter in ages, everything in the whole country is digital. Well yes, that is pretty weird, but the weirder part is that I don’t even have a letterbox, let alone an address. I’ve barely got any money to my name, I can’t afford a real place with a real address, and the box I’m living in is basically a glorified cupboard. I pay for it in cash: old rumpled bank notes, no questions asked. Not that I would care if they did ask questions. I’m not doing it illegally. I’m just a student, but that’s not important. At least not yet. Today I received a letter regarding a message I posted in an online forum the other day, which I guess in itself requires some explanation? I posted the message on a public forum for the city, I guess the kind that acts as a proxy for the old sort of information that used to get passed around about unsavory sort of people. Usually between gangs of criminals, trying to figure out who was in town, either those who needed to be feared or taken advantage of. Like I said though, I’m not a criminal, just a poor student. I don’t even really trade information on those kind of forums, but I just had a question that needed answering and I couldn’t think of anywhere else it might be answered. I figured it would just get buried beneath all the badly-disguised talk of illegal drugs and weapons, and it did, until this fucking letter showed up. Anyways, I thought I was being followed. Well, no, I was pretty damn sure I was being followed by the strangest fucking man I’ve ever seen. Everyday last week, and the week before that, he was on the corner of Two east and Twenty-five north at exactly midday, just standing there and staring at me. Though he was far enough away that maybe I imagined it, maybe he wasn’t staring at all, but he still knew, and he was still there, and he still saved my life. So I guess I’m just telling this story backwards and then forwards again and just in the most confusing way possible, sorry. My mind just works in the most confusing way possible, my professors tell me that all the time, though they somehow mean it in a positive way. I guess if I actually tried to start from the beginning of this ordeal it would start with that man. The week before last I noticed him on my way home after meeting with a professor of mine. This professor was helping me write this crazy fucking paper of mine, all about the possibilities of different dimensions of sorts, different planes of existence besides our own and how it would explain a lot of the stuff wrong with today’s physics. She thinks it’s pretty odd and out there, but that I’m the same way and also really young to be coming up with this stuff and maybe, just maybe it’ll take me somewhere. Point being, this professor likes me and my ideas, so she tells me I’m welcome to come back every day that week and next to we can work on this paper, but after that she’ll be too busy. So on my way home I’m fucking thrilled, I’m not really watching out for weird fucking men just standing around, but on my way home that first day I did notice him, right across from the big clock on Twenty-five north. Not because I could tell he was weird yet, just because of his skin. He just had really, really dark skin and it really stood out, you know? I mean you know the type, obviously from the Midlands, just that perfect tone, like something straight out of a play, or some sort of fashion model, definitely not the kind of person you see in the part of town I live in, not that close to Two east, not that close to anywhere near here. It was like he’d sucked all the shadows straight out of the air and refined them into some rare, deep crystal. He was that dark, that regal, an echo of the primordial peace as they would say further north. And he was tall too, he towered over all the other pedestrians, which was why I could see him so well from across the street, just standing there, shining. I mean he seemed attractive from far away, but I didn’t give him much thought at that time. he just stuck out in my mind, just one of those people. Then I saw him the next day, and the next. I started to get curious, and maybe a bit nervous I guess. I even crossed the street so I could walk past him, and he was just staring at the clock. I found myself looking at it too, like I was going to somehow understand what the beautiful, crazy idiot was trying to see, but he was just watching the time change to midday. Every time I walked away from him, though, I got the feeling that he was looking at me. No proof, but that’s the way it felt. And it only got weirder from there. They guy wasn’t wearing normal clothes. I mean, not city clothes, but not Midlands clothes either. It was real weird, rural stuff, like something from a Southern farmer, only just really antique looking. So he really did seem to be from a play, with the costume and all. And he had these very bright, unnatural-looking white freckles on his face, which seemed to only seemed to bring out his high cheekbones. I guess there was also the part where he didn’t have any fucking hair. So... that’s pretty weird, right? I didn’t think anybody would believe me, but there were other people on the street everyday, and other people saw him, mostly they would look at him and try not to stare. So I knew I wasn’t hallucinating him, but I was worried maybe I was getting a bit paranoid, thinking he was watching me and all. Until last week, the last day I saw him. I walked by him again, but this time, as I went to cross the street, I felt a firm hand on my shoulder, stopping me. So I turned around and there he was, his large, delicate hand still on my shoulder, just like it was no big fucking deal. He looked at the clock and then he looked at me and fuck he was just too gorgeous and too fucking eery, but I just couldn’t move, I was so fucking afraid, and then I heard this horrible rumble behind me. The streets in this part of the city have never been good, obviously, but now I was standing in front of a sinkhole that was impossibly deep and at least fifty feet across. I basically went from one moment of shock to another, first the strange man touching me for seemingly no reason at all, and then what would have been my certain death. Well, I guess maybe you’ve never almost fucking died before, but it’s kind of a big deal. So yes, maybe I should have turned around and gone after the fucker, but I didn’t think of that right away, ok? I was in a ridiculous amount of shock. Just, fuck. So people were pushing past me and I finally got it in my head to turn around and find that tall fucker, but I had no idea how long I’d been standing there and by the time I turned around he was gone. I ran a ways but the city is huge, and I had no idea which way he went. Fuck, I had no idea what had just happened. It was literally the most disturbing event in my entire life, nothing else even comes close to that. Which is basically why I bothered to post it on the forum at all. I needed to know who this guy was, where he went, what he knew, and how he knew what he knew. Because there was no fucking way I was going to assume this happened by chance. He had been watching me, and he had waited, and he had saved me, or something. Well my post gets buried, no responses, nobody knows anything and then I get this letter. The postage is hard to make out (I’m not even sure what all these symbols mean, it’s not like I’ve ever mailed anything before, or received mail before, you know?), but it’s clearly foreign. The letter is on what I would assume is nice paper, but the text itself seems pretty poorly written. The fucker even spelled my name wrong (some foreign thing I think) but anyways, this is what it said: Dear Zalethi, I encountered your post the other day merely by chance. Others in my division monitor the more digital of happenings, but my job is regarding the ancient and the archaic. We had an overlap the other day over your posted notice, but since it was I who did most of the work, I who requested they set up the initial search function and I who had to cross-reference all of the literature before my superiors would grant me international postage, I got to send the letter. Anyway, I just want to tell you how excited I am to talk with a blessèd such as yourself. The encounter you described is one of great importance to my work, and if I am correct, which I most certainly am, your involvement is a new link, which will help to complete a chain of events stretching back hundreds if not thousands of years! The being you encountered, the one who saved your life, appears to be none other than Jinua, meaning “the bridge.” He goes by many other, darker names, though Jinua is as close to his real name as I have found, if a real name were something the divines ever intended for themselves. I believe that Jinua has been misunderstood throughout the ages, as you might be able to tell through his other names, such as “The ender of nations,” “the harbinger,” and most notably, “presides over the death of kings.” What those people back then never really understood is that he never brought death, he simply observed it! You see, the misconception arose when the bloodline he followed began to involve royalty, who were always closely guarded. He was always present at the death of each king, until the monarchy was lost. Since then there have been scattered reports of him, at births and at deaths, but his reputation still stands as a bringer of death to this day! What I am saying must make little sense to you as there is no reputation for anything divine in your nation, so it might be hard for your city intellect to understand. What is most important is that you write me back, because I am travelling soon to your city to meet with you, that I might gather more information. I am not one to converse digitally, it does not suit me, and so I have made arrangements such that this letter might reach you and that I might as well. Yours most truly, Rihaal Mefsta So anyway, that was the letter I got today, and the whole story to go with it. And I’m not going to mail him back, I’m going to fucking bed. I can’t deal with this fucking shit.