“He was a scientist to the end. Even as a paranoid schizophrenic he tried to catalog every little pink elephant he saw and scientifically evaluate it.”

Angela ran her hands over the stack of field notebooks, many yellow with intense age and loving wear. “These?”

“Yeah. Not just his own hallucinations, either; he spent the last few years haunting every internet kookspace he could worm into, trying to get corroboration of what he was seeing and to record things that others had experienced but he hadn’t.” Jacobs tapped one of the books. “Field and collector notes, even a set of nomenclature…it would be a crowning work of scholarship if it weren’t completely insane.”

“Please don’t use that word. He was my grandfather even if he was just another kook to you.” Angela picked up one of the more recent books. “Can I read it?”

“I’m not sure if I would,” said Jacobs. “If you’re worried about preserving any sort of conception you have of him from the past.”

Angela brushed him off and opened to a random page. “Kellisande Lume. Appears as a worm building tunnels out of light in he sky above buildings that face to the southwest. Causes people to look at the pavement when they walk and gradually lose the ability to appreciate natural beauty. Driven away by strong odors of olives, clocks running backwards, and people with a vague sense of empowerment. Collects dried leaves and is 90% constructed therefrom aside from its skin. Only visible to .0001% of the population naturally as well as those who have been blind from birth and recently gained their sight.”

“It goes on like that for 127 volumes,” said Jacobs. “There’s one that lures people to their deaths by painting pictures that can’t be described out of dust motes, and one that lives in melancholy beams of sunlight grazing on the sighs of the brokenhearted.”

“Are…are you sure he was crazy?” Angela said. “Things like that really could exist, if no one could see them.”

“Listen to yourself,” Jacobs said. “Look, we brought you here for insight into your grandfather’s disappearance, not to talk metaphysics. There’s more in here, come on.

He led Angela into the adjacent library, passing through a beam of wintery midday light from an attic window above and shuddering with an involuntary sigh.

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“Well, we lost contact years ago. We’d grown up nearby, gone to the same schools, same college, but he was never interested in taking it any further. Said I was like a sister more than anything else, and if you know anything about relationships you know that’s the kiss of death.”

“Fair enough. But why contact you when he died? That was decades ago, wasn’t it? What about his family?”

“He doesn’t have any. Not anymore, anyway. His parents were only children and his brother developed paranoid schizophrenia his sophomore year. He’s in no shape to do anything even if he’s still alive.”

“Why not someone else then? I just don’t see why he felt the need to rip you away from everything here when there’s so much water under the bridge.”

“I…the officer said they didn’t think he had any friends. He was…basically a shut-in, doing all his work over the internet from home.”


“My number was the only one they could find in his house. It’s how the police were able to track me down. It…it kills me a little, you know, to think that he might have been carrying a torch all those years. He had his shot and he blew it, but nobody, me least of all, wants to be the thing that drove someone to die so lonely and alone that they were discovered a week later by the mailman.”

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