Episode 1:

Of Fate, Free Will, & Anaphylactic Hypersensitivity

Original Draft

I see her while waiting in line at one of those cookie-cutter burger joints, the reek of grease picking at my nostrils like an invasive clawed finger. I sneeze, turn my head to wipe my nose, and she's standing there, conversing with daddy.

She's with a group of girls, between ages 6 and 10, maybe a swim team of some sort because they're all wearing bathing suits under their shorts. Then again, maybe they're just neighborhood girls, cuz a dip in the neighbor's pool seems like a grand idea when it's piss hot outside. And it is.

She's the only one with her daddy there, and they both know it. He smiles, apparently comes to some sort of a momentous decision, and reaches into his pocket. Then daddy gives her a hug, gives her a coin, and leaves her to her friends. "Call me when you're done," his lips say from two lines over. Then his big girl is alone with her friends.

The wolf cubs sense the departure of her alpha male, and they gleefully swarm around her and over each other as they claw and paw their way towards the counter. They can't seem to decide what they want.

I've already decided.

I step forward in the line, into the "on deck" position, and keep one ear focused on the conversation before me, and one eye on the girl. The other eye and ear are off in a world of their own. The cool conditioned air sends chills down my sweat-soaked back, mirroring the icy pinpricks I feel on my bare arms as the gooseflesh ripples in anticipation of something that hasn't fully hit me yet.

She's the second-shortest of her gaggle, entirely nondescript, maybe eight years old. Beautiful blue-gray eyes, steely, scared. Pooldamp blonde hair smashed behind her ears, licking her neck. A face like a lost bird, trapped in a house, banging against windows, dying to get out. She looks confused, not sure where to focus her attention, and so she just keeps staring at the coin in her tight little fist. She doesn't see me watching her. She doesn't appear to see anything at all. Just the coin that daddy gave her.

She drops it when I take her.


Subject: Edison North. Average height, average build, a bit too thick in the legs, a bit too thin in the chest, a body built from more exercise than eating, more flight than fight. Gray hair peppered with pockets of black dye that escaped the soap hangs loosely over his head, a few strands idly falling into warm brown eyes, flecked with just enough green to tease the word "hazel" from the lips of onlookers. A handsome man, though decidedly at the low end of that spectrum, growing slightly more haggard as middle age digs its claws in deeper. A decidedly unremarkable person, one you would never notice on the street or on the subway, probably voted most likely to live a totally average, obscure life before dying, quietly, in a two-room apartment in East Brooklyn at the unripe old age of 59.

He is the greatest serial mass murderer in history, and the most wanted man in the world.


(section omitted for comparison purposes)


There are those who argue that our lives are predetermined, that no matter what we do or who we are, we're simply living out a scripted sequence, like a complex sprite in some obscure first-person-shooter-type video game, a mindless drone only pretending to have intelligence and free will, married to a predefined bit of code that determines everything.

Then there are those who claim that we are in total control of our lives, that despite all the myriad influences and events going on around us every day, we ultimately wield the power to change our present and our future, simply by making countless small choices which ultimately build up and, in some cases, boil over into a frenzy that alters who we are and how we see the world.

When I was eight years old, I was abducted from a fast food restaurant by a man who took me, in all likelihood, because of a small splotch of mayonnaise on his hamburger. And so I believe in neither free will nor predetermination.

I believe in condiments.

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