100 push-ups, three times a day.

Five miles on foot, at a strong and steady pace.

A heart rate of my age (which will remain unsaid), subtracted from 220. Multiplied by 0.7, held for roughly 30 minutes. Each and every day.

Lean meats. Raw vegetables. Plenty of water.

A fresh haircut and a daily shave. Brush and floss at least twice daily.

Clean clothes and a well-kept yard. No newspaper on the stoop. No grass clippings on the drive.

Keeping up appearances.

I’m just like you.

Move along.

nothing to see here.

Nothing to see here.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

It’s okay if you want to leave. I won’t mind. Honest. It’s all been a flight of fancy. A dalliance. A sham to keep you interested. But I don’t want you interested anymore.

It’s okay to say goodbye.

There will be no TWIST in my story. There will be no SHOCKING ENDING. Just the story of an everyday Joe who came across a little bump in the road.

The numbers mean nothing. They are meaningless. Just numbers randomly plucked from the air. Dig and search and break out your secret decoder ring … you won’t find any hidden messages.

BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE.

Of course, if you leave now you’ll be leaving behind the possibilities of what could be. Because every story has an ending. And as I told you, we’re halfway there.

I bet you want to know how it ends.

I know I do.

But it’s a secret … even to me, and you’re the only one who’s invited to join me in that discovery.

The neighbors? Oh no, they are not invited. I’m normal. I’m a happy, productive suburbanite. Healthy. Clean-cut. Out for a morning jog every day at 6 am. Mowing my lawn every Thursday afternoon.

Deliveries from big brown trucks in packages marked with smiles paid for by the insurance money. What’s inside? The neighbors don’t know. The neighbors don’t care.

I’m normal. Just like everyone else.

Before? A bump in the road. A little fall from the wagon. Grief, misery, despair. Mourning.

All part of the process.

But open the door and come inside, all ye who are invited. All ye who dare. For something new is happening. Something new and wondrous and oh so secret.

To paraphrase Sallah when speaking to the great Indiana Jones, I was digging in the wrong place.

But now I know where. Thanks to the gods and the visitors and the visions of space and fallen stars and deep craters.

Not in the corner. No, no, no. And not a tiny little hole. Everything up to now has been far too timid. What this calls for is not some simple dig, but rather an excavation. The furniture has all been moved from the living room. The couch is in the kitchen, the television in the tub. The coffee table in the fireplace.

I do the heavy work in the middle of the day, while the rest of the world is away at work and school, busied in the repetitive nonsense of daily life.

You have no idea how difficult it is to get a skid-steer into a house. The wall between the living room had to go completely. The upper floors sag a bit, but so far they look like they’ll hold. But believe you me, I won’t be going back up there anytime soon.

No, I’m going down. Down very very deep. So deep I might even hit lava.

But don’t worry, I have my fire extinguisher.

SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME

I’M TIRED AND I WANT TO GO TO BED

SHOW ME THE WAY TO GO HOME

Now is when the shark would attack, when it would be bashing against the good ship Ouroboros and I’d be too lost in my head to hear it breach the hull until it’s far too late and the ship is sinking and the shark is ready to pull the whole damn thing to the bottom of the ocean.

A towering pike of speared pigs rise like spears from the sea.

Call me Quint.

Call me Ahab.

Call me maybe.

The story continues here.