Marcy Marcy Marcy.

Kind of like a Brady Bunch sort of thing. I just don’t know what to do with her. Always causing problems.

So, I did what I could, and took her for a walk. Down into the city. Rain fell on the drive, to the point where I could hardly see a thing. The windshield obscured by the torrents of heaven tears so cumbersome not even the most frantic swoosh swoosh of wipers could combat their incessant blindness.

But I drove anyway, praying that in the darkness anyone else out venturing the dead highways would do the right thing and flip on their lights. If not to light up their own way, to be a warning beacon for others. Avoid what is coming. Pass in the night. Inches or miles of space between as two strangers flee the past and embrace the unsure future.

Marcy by my side. In my head, in my heart. In my trunk.

The doll remains buried, for she has sprouted. Her roots have taken hold in the depths of my castle, spreading their memoried spirit throughout the foundation.

The Marcy reborn. A ghost in my heart, she travels with me. Sometimes visible, most times not. I know she is there.

Do you see her?

Does she frighten you? Or bring you peace?

In the empty alleyway tendrils of Canal street, we ambled side by side. Drunk in the knowing that everything will be alright, now that she has returned.

For she is my new guiding light. My new lamppost.

The rain had subsided by the time we parked the car. Nothing but mist and the stink of wet pavement. Steam from the sewer grates and shadows in the fog. Dampness made edible, flowering on the taste buds of my tongue.

Marcy, o Marcy. How does your garden grow?

This way or that way. The dousing rod of the mind, given direction by the gentle hand which guides me.

Down the alleys, along the fetid canal. Bodies and clairvoyants lie buried beneath the glass surface. Old bicycles and lost toys. A wedding ring and a house key.

A lockbox with a secret inside.

A scurry of rats, feeling the fleshy giant who stumbles their way. Who does he talk to? Where is his friend? Claws scrape the pavement and squeals echo against the wet walls of the dead city.

They fear what is coming.

The mass upon which they’d huddled, gnawing greedily with their yellowed teeth and black plagues, I did not wish to see it. The desire to run and hide, to dive into the canal and sink to the depths if for no reason other than to seek eternal refuge. The creatures at the bottom, welcoming me with open arms and loving embrace.

My forever home.

But my feet took me forward, one militant step at a time. Marcy beckoned. Marcy begged. Marcy.

My eyes went blind, yet still I moved. Guided onward, forever onward, to the inevitable future of which I accept I have no control.

Hours later I woke on a bench, as the sun rose far to the east, casting thick shadows of a waking city across my groggy self.

One seagull pecked another, as the two fought greedily over the head of a rotting fish. The French fries from the carnivals had all been washed away.

A box, simple and silver, nestled neatly in the palm of my hand.

One by one I punch in the numbers.

4.

Click

8.

Click.

17.

Click

6.

Click.

35.

Click.

Nothing happened

No magic. No applause. No joyful noise.

Until my finger found a button.

And the box opened.

To reveal a bed of soft red velvet and solitary iron key.

Continue to Chapter Nineteen.