"Bond"- Chapter One
River Road
The Virginia Exhibit
A Lost Car on Spike Canyon
The Beneficiaries
Invisible The Morning After
Beautiful Shadows
Something Like Wonder
Try to Keep Up
A Series of Moments Between Clocks
The Unromantic REAL World of Gulliver's Travels
Meant for One Thing
The Lesser of Evils
Love and Nemesis
The Sinning Bishop
The World In Your Pocket
Higher Purpose
A Promising Look at Genesis
Not For The Ladies
Fooling Around and Falling In Love
The Tediousness of Tragic Love
Poetic Analysis for "The Trees"
Creation On Dub
Creating the Universe
Fast Acting In Small Doses
As Crazy As They
We Can Always Use More Utopia
A Little Church in Corinth
The Theory of Carl Rogers
Historically Speaking
Different Shades, Same Color
A Rose for a Funeral
Obsessed With Race

     Windows were snapping closed all over Palmer Ellis. A cold rain had come unexpectedly from the distant sea, casting its heavy splashing drops into the winding creeks surrounding the town and violently filling the upturned barrels at the edge of the marketplace. Rivelets of water ran along the grain of the wooden storefronts and seeped through the carelessly shaped awnings, pelting the few people huddled below them with icy droplets. Some left the shops and taverns, eager to be safe and warm in their homes when the storm came, but a few remained on the walk below the awnings, cursing the sudden cold but doing nothing about it.

     Cian Norse, the wealthy store-owner, emerged from one of his shops, pulling his heavy wool coat around his broad form and ducking his head against the rain. He had been spending the morning overseeing the order of this particular grain and flowerseed shop, the Bittersweet Crossing, which had been put to complete disarray the night before by a rebellious former employee. Intent on seeing everything in working order again, Cian had done a rare thing and actually approached his workers, offering his take on the situation, and sticking around to see it carried out. Generally, the carrying-out process was one completed by his many devoted lackeys.

     Rather than heading home, where every person would be heading were their homes anything like his, he turned and walked down the center of the path toward the Banker's Quarters. Normally clean-shaven and pale with the comfort of easy living, Cian was out of character on this day. The few people in the street noticed this as he passed, but were be sure to keep their eyes downcast if his were ever to rise for meeting. He looked as if he had had a sleepless night, and an undesirable morning.

     More doors were opening around the square, spilling out their visitors and loitering masses onto the shining stone of the walkway. People were gone just as quickly as they appeared, splitting up and heading into the many paths between buildings- likely feeling they would be more sheltered from the rain in the narrow alleyways. Those who had been standing in the street felt the cold finally soaking through their thin clothing, and moved along their own way.

     Soon the sound of the pilling water hitting the various upper surfaces of the town became the only chorus. Those who remained in the street did so only out of a lack of other options, and those kind didn't usually make much noise anyway. Lorey, the youngest- a curly-haired doll of a little girl in rags and cloth shoes- whispersang into the dark wood of the Crossing as she leaned her forehead against it.

     "I think we should pray," suggested the woman in burlap that sometimes sat next to her.

     "This rain comes from Ecli," confirmed another- a thin, bony man seated several feet away, carving a piece of damp wood cut from a loose plank. His eyes darted nervously about as he heard the thunking footsteps of someone approaching around the corner- someone with heavy, expensive footwear. "It seems he has been disappointed."

     "Nonsense," the burlap woman replied sharply, her own ears perking up to the footfalls. "He is merely reminding us to pray. We are not to take that privilege for granted."

     Lorey didn't know what to think, and said a prayer in her mind just to be safe. She had been told that little girls were immoral, and often the first to forget about Ecli. She wanted his protection. She didn't want to feel the fear she felt at times like this, when she saw the Bad Doctor rounding the corner to their little awning shelter, casting his terrible black eyes and toothy smile down to look at the carving skeleton-man. She squeezed closed her eyes and turned back to the sweet-smelling wood of the storefront, singing her whispery song and hoping that Ecli might hear it and keep the Bad Doctor from looking at her.

     Detrich the Healer did not so much as notice Lorey. In her rags, curled up the way she was, she appeared to be only a pile of grain sacks. The woman by the door had been lucky to find the cloth sacks laying about, he thought to himself, especially if the storm was going to get worse.

     He stepped past the Crossing, musing to himself the stir it would cause were he intent on going inside. He loved this rain and it's ability to clear the marketplace of human life- save for those few decorating the storefronts- and grant him unbothered passage into the better-looking parts of the town. He valued his few opportunities to walk through the gardens surrounding the Sun House, smelling the perfume of the rare flowers there. In this rain they would be shining and their colors bright... he might spend the afternoon enjoying such pleasantries. Of course, it would not hurt to combine a little business with his pleasure. If he ran across a Shora, he would pick it and take it with him, being sure to leave his small sack of coins in the message box near the gate. One Shora was hardly worth the money he would give them, but it would seduce their easily triggered tempers into serenity. That was worth endless funds to him in his current situation.

     Detrich really did think Palmer Ellis was a nice town, once you removed all the people. The type that usualy milled around the square were mostly empty-headed, but for some reason they had enough in their head to know how to judge. The edge of town was a little easier to deal with, but venture out far enough into the countryside and you encountered a whole new set of hard heads.

     His smile cut short, Detrich's instinct told him to move out of the street. He adjusted his path, taking him into a grove of shrubs lining a short stone wall, out of sight for the most part. Someone was walking by in the other direction, into the empty marketplace, and whomever it was, they looked plenty tired of walking. The passerby held an empty grain sack in one tanned hand and a planting bag slung over the opposite shoulder, pulling down with its apparent weight. He appeared to not be interested in Detrich's possible presence, and instead continued on with a weary raking of his fingers through his sun-lightened hair. Detrich smiled again, amused by his own flightiness, and moved quickly toward the back gate of the Sun House garden across the widening street.