2009-10-25: The Nonbeliever



Date: October 25, 2009


Aaron's newest stalker leaves him in possession of a first issue of 9th Wonders and a sketchbook.

"The Nonbeliever"

Aaron's Apartment

It's not the first time Aaron has found his apartment to be far too large for him. Considering it was once the home of his parents as well, it should not be terribly surprising. He adjusts the collar of his shirt as he listens to the line on the other end of his phone go to voicemail. He lets out a sigh, stopping against the railing leading to the main floor. "Gillian, it's Aaron. Uh, I was hoping you might like to join me for dinner at my place? I gave you my address in my last message. Otherwise it's just me, myself, and I, and I can't say I much care for my self in terms of company. Call me?" He flips his phone closed and willingly knocks his head against the banister. "Oh my God, I'm so lame." After banging his head on the rail a few more times he clips his phone to his belt and walks towards his study.

Whether there's a level of lameness or not, within moments of the phone getting hung up, there's a heavy knock on the front door of the apartment. The sound defies quick identification. Not a fist. Not a foot. It sounds like someone decided to knock with a big wooden stick. Which an eye through the spyglass would show is exactly right. The tall dark skinned man holds a big stick in one hand, resting back against his shoulder. He's dressed in a coat, which proclaims love for NYC, and a thick orange scarf, which looks handmade.

Well that— that's too early to be Gillian, and that didn't sound like a normal knock. Aaron heads back towards the stairs and takes them down to the main floor of the apartment and heads to the door, where he peers out to see the dark-skinned man. He doesn't recognize the man. Keeping the door chained, he opens it and looks out. "Can I help you?" Please don't be a fan, please don't be a fan.

"Only if you know how to get tickets to see Leno," the man says, an accent that's not easily recognized. It shares some similarities with British, though it's African. Then again, a good portion of Africa was part of the British Empire for a time, so that might explain things. A shift of his hand and there's something sticking through the door under the chain. A comic book, of all things. "I am here to help you." But if he knew how to get tickets to Leno he probably wouldn't say no. "There is someone that you need to find." Under the comic book is a notebook of some kind, like a sketchpad.

"Sorry, don't know how to get tickets," is Aaron's first reply as the man speaks through his door. But then he's sticking something through the door at him and saying he's here to help him. "I'm sorry?" Aaron asks, clearly confused, though he does reach to take the comic book and sketchpad underneath, which he starts to thumb through all the while taking the occasional glance outside the cracked door. "I don't get it, is this some kind of promotion or something?"

The comic book is an issue of 9th Wonders. The first issue, actually. One that shows a baby Claire being handed over on a rooftop, and a little Japanese boy looking uncaring about what is happening. He's got a GameBoy to play. Fourteen years ago, it says, though at this point it's been even longer. Though it's a comic book. Those things aren't real. The sketchpad shows crude drawings. One of a hand sketching something on the margins of a notebook, with his name written down next to it. Name and address, of all things. The sketch is a design of some kind, almost tribal, thorny, and in a different style than the rest of the drawing. Notably, the hand looks feminine, especially the small ring on it.

"Destiny seems to have something in mind for you."

Aaron shakes the whole comic around a bit as he gets it pinned between his hand and the sketchbook as he begins to thumb through it. Naturally, he stops immediately on the sketch of the girly hands writing in the margins of some notebook. The fact that this creepy African dude has his name and address on some sketch has him somewhat concerned. His address has never been listed. "Where did you get this? Is this some kind of joke?"

"Not a joke," Usutu says, though there's a smile that suddenly shows up on his mouth, white teeth flashing. "My spirit guides show me the future, and I drew what I saw. One of the people that has a place in destiny has your address, and your name, Michaels. That is how I found you." He nudges the notebook, in such a way that would imply flipping a page. The next page shows something else. The mannequin wearing a scarf. And a second one, only in part, with the arm and sleeve of the dress visible. Without the colors, it's difficult to tell exactly, but there's a crack in the drawing, marring part of it.

"Yeah, sure, bub," Aaron says, though he does humour the African man and does indeed turn the page over. This sketch gets his attention about as well as the first. The image is unmistakable, if not somewhat dated, from his first trip to the boutique that used to be the calamitous music hall. His eyes immediately flicker to the red scarf hanging on the set of coat hooks only feet from the door. "Hey, what the— have you been following me?" The other man's statement about one with a place in destiny has apparently been somehow jumbled up into making Aaron thing he has a stalker. "Look, I don't know who you are or who put you up to this, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

With no move to take back his notepad, or the comic, Usutu steps away from the door. He could shove his stick in to keep it from closing all the way, but that's not the time for this. "If destiny wants you to do something, it will make you do it," he says, voice taking on an ominous tone, before he turns away and walks down the hall. At least for a stalker he leaves when he's asked to.

"That— what?" Aaron stares as the man retreats, leaving the comic and sketchbook in his hands. No, he honestly didn't expect it would be that easy. It's never that easy. He closes the door, locks it, and walks towards the dining room, where he sets the comic and the sketchbook down. "What. the. fuck?"

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