April 11, 2036

When you look at the city of New York from an aerial point of view you’re immediately taken and blown away by its magnificence. I remember my first stroll down the West Side highway overlooking the Hudson. The electric sky above, the golden sunlight streaming magic all around me. It’s the one of the prettiest extended stretch of urban parkway in America. Once the sun is down, though, a total shift happens and your perception changes. All of a sudden, the streets become congested, traffic becomes unbearable, garbage starts to pour out all over the streets and drunken lunatics are seen in corners and alleyways blowing off steam. Wherever you go, it feels as if the apocalypse is among you. You start seeing the flaws. In Manhattan you see decadence; wealthy millionaires indulging in their corrupted lifestyles whereas in the surrounded boroughs, you see straight up violence. It almost feels as if the whole world is coming apart.

Today, hundreds of residents have been quarantined after contracting a strain of highly contagious viruses. Symptoms have been described as generally mild, but with six people already dead, the matter can no longer be taken lightly. At JFK airport, the CDC quarantined two airplanes upon their arrival after three hundred passengers and crew reported feeling ill. Patients whose tests came back inconclusive are being kept at hospitals as a precaution until further results are back. Regardless of that, the city keeps on going. People are seen wearing face masks as they go about their daily lives while other shelter themselves in their homes. With the summer heat and humidity right around the corner, we’re expecting the worst.

I’m one of the many who stayed home these past two weeks. I just can’t do it. Not only is the virus a major cause for concern, but after six years of living here, the city’s filthiness, decay and disorder has now invaded every neighborhood—wealthy or poor— turning the world’s largest metropolis into a borderline dystopian cesspool. Homelessness has become its own rising epidemic despite the city’s various attempts at reducing the problem. People are camped on sidewalks, benches and storefronts. I recently walked out on a guy peeing in a garbage can a block away from my building. Another one tried to commit suicide by throwing himself from a thirteenth story window only to land in a pile of garbage. He twisted his neck but didn’t die. The entire city has gone mad, and I’d rather witness its unravelling from the inside. So far, beside my agoraphobic anxiety, my OCD cleanliness has made a comeback almost twenty years later. No matter how many showers I take, I can’t seem to be able to relieve the discomfort from feeling dirty. I used to take two, now I take five. On my nightstand, I keep a disinfectant spray, a large bottle of sanitizer and wipes. I’m in my own little quarantine. If I ever go out, I make sure to plan accordingly. I no longer sit on trains or hold on to the polls. I open doors using a tissue and avoid touching my shoes; I stick to pushing one heel by the other to take them off. It might seem crazy and a lot to deal with, but it’s really the least anyone could do in this situation.

Two years later, and my favorite hobby remains the same. Obsessing over Matthew Eldon to the point I lose sleep. I think about his mystery, his elusiveness, his cunning elegance topped with a hint of menace. However, I’m finally able to see things a little more clearly now. I’ve come to terms with the unpleasant memories I’ve ignored for years. When you love someone, you disregard the minor imperfections and put all your focus on their qualities. At some point, that’s all you see.

Here’s the thing about my past relationship with Matt. It was bad. A toxic trainwreck. Certainly not always and not in extreme ways until of course, I found out about the killings. Writing about him, I struggled tremendously, carefully filtering certain elements about him; toning down the things I didn’t like and enhancing the things I did. I was mainly concerned about his faithfulness. Matt liked his boys and that bothered me— quite a lot. I was afraid of the day I’d grow older and he’d start looking for sex somewhere else. But age wasn’t even the issue. It was his never-ending gluttonous desire to engage in sexual endeavors with good-looking men. Out of spite, I did the same. However, I often stuck to my fantasies and never carried through with any of them. I simply didn’t see the point knowing he was the one I wanted. The only ounce of security came from the fact I knew he wouldn’t be able to go through life without me. The downfall of our relationship was proof of that.

A few weeks into moving with him, I felt like I’ve abandoned my life to be with someone who, for the most part, wasn’t even there. I found myself going to many art galleries and trying to get inspired, but nothing triggered my creativity. My days were blending in together with no clear distinction. Then one day, Matt convinced me to grab my camera and venture out as some sort of diversion. I walked down the streets of Seattle and started taking pictures of grimy streets and passers. Out of nowhere, I was suddenly caught off guard by a handsome young man (aka, Stranger #1) leaving the barbershop. He was dressed in a henley, jeans, his hair buzzed on the sides with a nice fade. I stood by him as he waited for the walk signal and stared at him. For some reason, I couldn’t stop. The light eventually changed and he started walking. I was paralyzed. I couldn’t bring myself to follow him. It’s a bad idea, I thought. It’s wrong.

I did it anyway.

For the rest of the afternoon, I walked behind him like a shadow, taking hundreds of pictures of his every movement, documenting every single moment in every single street. I was intrigued by him simply wandering around aimlessly with no destination in mind. Eventually, his pace picked up and he rushed to catch the bus. At that point, I should’ve stopped. Getting on it would be crossing the line.  I wouldn’t be just following him, but stalking him. It was a complex and frightening experience. I was afraid he’d see me.

In retrospect, that’s how Matt met one of his lovers; by stalking them.

By the time we arrived at Lake Forest Park, I had drifted by a brief state of pensiveness, by my own willingness of course; I couldn’t spend the entire commute looking at him. It would’ve been too weird.

When the bus was signaled to stop and I saw him get off, I almost impulsively followed, but the person sitting next to me made it impossible for me to move swiftly without causing a scene. I watched as the stranger turned away behind a corner and disappeared. On the way back to Matt’s, I felt a certain unease, dreary yet thrilling. I scrolled through the many pictures and the incident had already passed. It was behind me now.

At dinner, my little quest made for an interesting conversation. Matt pointed out I had a hair fetish; Trichophilia, is what he called it. When I showed him the boy’s pictures, he was just as taken by him as I was, and for once, we found some common ground. There was no jealousy. We were able to discuss our attraction like adults. However, I really want it that encounter and the conversation that followed to be singular—a one time thing. I wasn’t interested in sitting down and hearing about the beautiful men he encountered on a daily basis, mainly because I knew his infatuation was besotted and strictly carnal, whereas mine was more platonic. I won’t deny my attraction to the stranger wasn’t purely sexual at first, but the end result was more of an artistic achievement; following someone around and letting them come up with the narrative by passively controlling me and where I went. Living in a city, we rarely get to see the same faces. Just like passengers on a boat, a train or an airplane, our encounters are deemed short from the get go. It’s the concept of traveling. Crossing paths with a stranger during your trajectory is really all you get, unless for some reason, you decide to engage or actively change the course of that nature. And that’s what Matt was good at. Interference.

I remember us vividly walking through the dark hallways of the motel. He said he had a surprise waiting for me in our room. I couldn’t possibly come up with what happened next. He had found him. The stranger. He never revealed how he managed to track him down. I shook in terror to the revelation. I never thought I’d ever see him again. His handsome, squarish face illuminated by the soft neon blue light of the pole outside created subtle shadows and highlighted his green eyes as they looked straight at me. He remained quiet. I could hardly even hear him breathe. The moment was gloomy and surreal. I’m begging my memory not to fail me right now. Matt drew the shades and turned down some of the lights, he cranked up the heat to what felt like suffocating levels. He pushed me closer to the stranger who finally took the initiative and started to undress me. Matt never got fully naked; he remained in his unbuttoned shirt and briefs. His hideous self-absorption never allowed him to give himself away easily if at all. The stranger’s intensity conquered me. He got on top of me, held me down on the bed, pressed his body into mine, spread my legs and stuck it inside me. I was right in the middle of the bed. Matt disappeared in the bathroom before emerging again, naked and bearing nothing but his erection. No, he didn’t. My fantasies are getting the best of me. The stranger’s writhing body wrapped around mine, rubbing all over my catatonic body. Slower, faster, faster, slower. Matt’s face seemed to lack any sort of expression. He watched us stoically, touching himself but only passively, without any intention to excite himself. My eyes glittered with hectic emotion. His attitude was throwing me off. I wanted him to engage. I expected him to engage. The stranger didn’t seem to care. He twined his legs with mine as they merged deeper into the stiff cloth of the sheets under us. Matt’s demeanor kept throwing me off. I no longer wanted it. I closed my eyes attempting to dismiss my unnerving thoughts and focused on the feeling. The stranger’s sudden moans served as an indicator to his nearing ejaculation. It all went downhill from there. Matt finally stepped in. He grabbed the boy right before he came, covered his mouth with a handkerchief and savagely shoved in into his face until he knocked him out with what I eventually learned was ketamine. It was his vile way of obliterating the incident from the boy’s memory.

“I can’t engage in these sort of things without putting my anonymity in jeopardy”. He revealed. “Next time you find yourself fancying some stranger, think about the consequences.”

Somehow it was all my fault, and after that night Matt’s spiteful behavior only seemed to increase. He knew how make me feel scapegoated. His undercurrent violence was garbled with rage simmering and boiling under the surface, ready to reveal itself whenever given the chance. Thinking about every moment we shared in our relationship, I’m now able to find clarity. Minor events are charged with uncommon emotion and subtle actions are fraught with new meanings. I picture me standing at the threshold of his office and looking in, never able to cross the doorframe, scared of making him mad. That concrete moment defines the dynamic of our relationship. Him blocking all my attempts to reach him. Me giving him everything without getting anything in return.

There are many things that need to be said about Matthew Eldon. Things I’ve either repressed or never mentioned before. Things I’ve either forgotten or that have escaped me. Things I’ve deemed as unimportant. The devil is in the details, they say. I see it now. The turning was slow, but the signs were there, scattered or hidden under a false sense of normalcy. I still can’t decide whether it was bad for me or not. Either way, the persona remains impossible to dissect, analyze or study. The layers are endless and in my head they’re constantly shifting. I’m left with his livid rage, cunningness and evasiveness, with the lies and wild stories that never seemed to build up. Cruelty often comes in subtle ways. Matt remains a dark void. And now, according to the internet, he never existed.

Facing the ferry’s foggy window, the latent sky indicated it could rain at any moment. Soon, it did, and the wind sloppily blew the falling rain drops in opposing directions. My wavered thoughts did the same. My mood flat as the sky above, I imagined myself falling in the water and letting it inhale me. I’d scream but it’s a muted sound. When my life asks me to put a stop to it, I bury myself in sex. However, that approach haven’t been very effective lately as it’s become hard for me to find suitable partners— or brush off the impediments of sex. Performance anxiety, unrealistic expectations, staying hard and focused.

The real reason I went on a ferry five times during the same week? Luke Holbrook (aka, Stranger #2) whom I first came across underground at Penn Station. It was the night a snowstorm was predicted to hit, delaying trains and disrupting people’s schedules. The station became overwhelmingly crowded with people as more delays were announced. I was just commuting within the city when I came across the hectic crowd of travelers and within that crowd, he stood out like a needle in a haystack. Wavy blond hair tucked under a dark navy cap, distressed jeans that looked like they’ve been worn for ages, and a faded St. Louis eagles t-shirt. On his back was a heavyweight military canvas bag. In his left arm was a smaller darker colored one. I remember visually zoning in on him. His perpetually bleary face, almost asymmetric with hungover agony immediately etched itself into my memory. I watched him as he looked at the schedule screen. His face was expressionless. Unlike the people around him, he didn’t seem worried, fazed or annoyed by the turbulence. I walked toward him, scanning smaller things like his gray sneakers, his brown leather watch, his patchy beard. His physique was toned, slightly rugged. His forearms were firm, smooth and almost completely hairless. He started moving and I followed. He stopped by a subway diner and had a snack: A BLT sandwich he washed down with some root beer. Two hours later, he stopped at a coffee shop. He ordered a small cup of cold brew and added just a smidge of cream. Then he gulped it straight from the cup. I would’ve inserted the lid and straw to avoid coffee teeth stains, but he didn’t seem to care. Looking at him, he didn’t strike me as the type of guy who cared about vanity stuff even though he was effortlessly beautiful. His skin was clean and soft, his hair messy in the most perfect way. He didn’t need to force himself to stay in shape. His job took care of that.

I watched him sit at the communal table, and I had the guts to do the same. I figured I was done spying on him from a distance. Besides, I needed to discover his scent. I casually sat right across from him.  Gutsy, but I needed to get close. His face was buried in his laptop screen, but I could tell he noticed me sitting down. I put my camera away and used my phone to snap a few shots. I made sure it wasn’t obvious, but when his demeanor suddenly changed and his upper body turned at an angle and closed itself to me, I knew I was making him uncomfortable. A moment later, he grabbed his belongings and moved away to another, more private table. I felt rejected and the feeling lingered, eating away my self-worth. Pain-stricken and somewhat maddened, I refused to leave it at that. When he left, I followed. He entered one of the restrooms. I paced around outside then proceeded in walking in. He was using the urinal. Another man was inside, washing his hands. I pretended to wash my hands too. Soon, the man left and we were alone. When he saw me again, he glared at me and gave me the cold shoulder as he cleaned up.

“May I ask why you left the table?” I bluntly asked.
“Because you were taking pictures of me.” I didn’t react.
“Fair enough.” I said turning away.
“That’s it. You’re not going to apologize?”
“For what? For admiring you?”

I was never one to assert this kind of confidence or speak so defensively when I was clearly the one intruding. Being able to accomplish that was a clear indication I’ve finally freed myself from social restraints and wasn’t shy about letting the world know it instead of keeping that type of behavior hidden or practiced in secrecy.

“Lock the door.” He interrupted me. I turned around, confused. Once he unzipped his jeans, my heart started racing. I reached for the lock and twisted it, took off my jacket and threw it on the floor. I walked up to him and kissed him, but he didn’t seem to engage. I leaned over the counter and gripped the sink, letting him do all the work. He blindly reached for my belt, unbuckled it, then savagely pulled my pants down. He ran his hand through my ass, then slid one under each hipbone and lifted me up. My upper body fell and lowered until my head was at the faucet’s proximity. I rested my elbows inwardly against the surface, both palms firmly pressed against the edge of the sink’s curved slope. He reached down and wormed his tongue into my ass, spat on it enough times to make it wet and easy for his thick cock to slide right inside me. I felt him shove in the tip of it then nothing. He pressed his forearm under my chin so hard I couldn’t breathe. He didn’t let up the pressure until he was finished.

Awakened from a denial slumber to a new world of carefreeness and adventure, we had sex religiously in the confines of the ferry’s bathroom where he worked as a crew member. We never got fully naked; airing on the side of caution in case an emergency arose. The fucking was hot but sloppy. Primal. He’d fuck me as the boat rocked left and right, drips of rain clattering and drizzling against the scratched foggy window. At first, we avoided facing each other while getting it on— our way of keeping things casual. However, it wasn’t long before we started catching feelings for one another, and that quickly proved to be a cause for concern. We didn’t have much in common, but the sex was too good not to give it a try. One thing was for sure, though. Extricating myself from a painful relationship only to throw myself in another one was one bad idea.

For the durancy of our relationship, I was able to put my pervasive loneliness on hold. The first few weeks were spent on the ferry where time passed quickly, but not one second was wasted. Once he let his guards down and opened up to me, he lavished me with so much attention it was somewhat overwhelming. Ultimately, I was drawn to his honestly and integrity. He was also a painter who sharpened my curiosity in art and managed to cool my temper. He often teased me about my morose attitude and cheered me up whenever I felt down. His sexual aggression and roughness always transformed into gentleness. I was relieved to know I could have sex with the same person time and again without it becoming dull. He reminded me how it felt like to be taken by Matt minus the fear and danger. Sometimes, for extra thrills, we’d engage in spontaneous sex. Our most memorable was at Battery Park, behind a crypt-like stone chamber. It was pouring and we had just had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We strolled around near the shoreline before stationing ourselves by the vault. We kissed for a long time, his spit thick and slimy, his breath smelling of beer. I stuck my hand inside his jeans and jerked him off until his bulge no longer fit. We rested our hands on each other’s shoulders and the more his breathing intensified, the more I got aroused. I knelt on the damp, saucy ground and took him in my mouth. He grabbed my scalp and fucked my face until he ejaculated. He reciprocated.

Luke was from polish decent. He grew up with chronic depression which he strongly believed was genetically transferred by his father. His teenage years were spent at rave parties where him and his previous group of friends did every single drug they could lay their hands on. He struggled through art school and was temporarily homeless after his parents kicked him out of the house when his drug abuse made him violent and highly unstable. After he described that part of his life to me, he expected his history to detach me from him, but on the contrary, my attachment to him reached a deeper, stronger level. Because hearing about how he managed to turn his whole life around enthralled me. Reality never exceeds our expectations, though, and so I found comfort in my discretion and passiveness. Instead of being in the moment, I fantasized about what the future between us could be like even though I knew I couldn’t see him much longer due to my growing feelings toward him. They were diminishing my burning obsession with Matt and I couldn’t let that happen. I wanted to keep myself lingering in the land of the despicable.

After kissing my forehead, he got up to use the bathroom and closed the door behind him. The sound it made although subtle, startled me. Even when I could clearly hear him inside, it felt as if the whole thing was a figment of my imagination. A sadness clouded my whole body as I felt the rage of being awakened from something so beautiful and brief. My eyes turned inward as I reflected upon what my current life has become. Lying in bed, I tiredly stared at the ceiling where the slit between the curtains framed the room’s light in a long straight narrow line. I pulled my pillow close to me and wrapped my legs around it. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine I was holding Matt. I’ve slept next to him enough times to memorize him, and so far my memory has been pretty good at projecting something of his likeness. Luke was making too much noise, though, which threw me off and interrupted my daydream. I forced my eyes shut and pushed him out, imagined Matt as being the one in the shower. Hearing the outside air whistle in the foggy dry ice put me at ease. It felt sentimental. But then, I felt reality creep its way back in, telling me I was and will always be alone. I felt pushed away, removed and ostracized from my desire to be loved, a mysterious voice in my head telling me I didn’t deserve it. It sounded sinister, like it was mocking me. And so the raging feeling rose back up again, making my heart ache. Angry lust invaded my body as I rolled over, shoved the pillow between my thighs, slipped out of my underwear and started to feverishly hump it, just enough to send myself crazy and start crying. Luke rushed out to inspect. He felt awkward and dumbfounded when he saw me in a state of hysteria. Up until that point, he’s only seen the relaxed and pleasant side of me. He tried checking on me, calming me down and asking me what was wrong and I completely ignored him. After a while, he felt uncomfortable seeing me in such a vulnerable state, especially since I’ve never exhibited such disturbing behavior where he could see it. He gathered his things and left my apartment. I never heard from him again.

I wish I could turn back time and allow myself another chance at love, but I know it would only tear me apart. I couldn’t cope with letting him go so soon, but I had to. I can’t believe I’ve almost tricked myself once again into thinking I was ready to sink my teeth into yet another relationship. I’m glad I’ve successfully managed to hit the brakes before things turned sour. Doing that, I allowed him to move on and hopefully find a more suitable partner he could share his life with. Does it hurt to see myself push someone like him away? It does. But after everything he’s been through, he deserves to be happy, and I’m not going to allow my selfishness to take something he truly deserves away from him. He successfully managed to bury his past while my demons still haunt me. In his case, his addiction was an experience, a learning lesson that allowed him to grow into a better human being. My past is filled with atrocities, and those stains will stay with me forever.  I’m meant to be alone. I need to accept that. I can’t dissociate myself from my wrongdoings and pretend I deserve normalcy and happiness. This is no longer about lack of self-esteem— it never really was.

Not much can be said about the first couple of days after our break up. I was a zombie. I did’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t work or do anything to fill out my time. I was too disconnected from everything around me that even getting bored wasn’t an option. As I dwelled upon our separation, I suddenly remembered something. When he came by my apartment, I showed him the painting of the Twin Towers. He said it reminded him of the work of a Swedish artist by the name of Jakob Hellström. I looked the man up and gasped to the revelation. The exact same painting showed up in one of the online archives. Painted in 2006, it was an original artwork sold at an auction. Although none of the information specified who the buyer was, I knew it was Matt.

Beside his art, Jakob was known for having a relationship with his twin sister, Astrid, a performance artist. Over the years, their artistic endeavors frequently intertwined as they collaborated on a number of pieces. They broke up in 2017 through a performance titled, Unloved. He died a few months ago, years after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Upon my rabbit hole search, I came across an event, a private art exhibit in Tribeca in which Astrid would honor her brother through the last piece of art that united them. I wasn’t sure how, but I had to attend. I decided to try my luck and show up elegantly dressed hoping to trick the host into letting me in. Of course, due to the nature of the event, I knew I’d be asked to provide my name at the door as there was a guest list. I did my homework, researching family members, public figures and artists I was certain would be invited. The person who came the closest to my physical appearance was Newt Bolle, a contemporary ballet dancer. With enough pictures of him online, I managed to put together an outfit he would wear and topped that off with a similar haircut.

I showed up at what looked like a forsaken industrial loft early enough to guarantee I’d get in before Newt arrived. The hostess informed me they were admitting guests only an hour before the event started, so I paced around the sidewalk until it was time. Dark fancy cars arrived one after the other, dropping guests and driving off. I anxiously waited for the check-in time, hoping Newt wouldn’t make a punctual appearance. He didn’t. Facing the host and security guard, I acted like I was meant to be there and my attitude prevailed upon me.

Red lights illuminated four immense, distant walls while a strong warm orange beam of light coming straight from the ceiling highlighted what I guessed was a statue hidden underneath a Burgundy drape. As people gathered in the room for the unveiling, I remained slightly removed from everything and stealthily walked among the crowd with a a straight face and didn’t engage with anyone.

The lights dimmed. The room went completely silent.

Red lips, eyes smeared with make up, Astrid finally made her entrance into the room wearing a black evening silk satin dress with a grain de poudre coat hanging over her shoulders. She walked to the center of the space and faced us.

“Thank you all for being here tonight, to honor the legacy of my brother.” She started, her voice crumpled and raspy. “True love does exist. Sometimes it takes years to find. Sometimes you have to search for it. Luckily mine was there from the start. We were together before we entered the world and we remain spiritually connected until the very end.”

Her words made my heart beat faster. I found myself continuously catching my breath. Then I smelled something tenacious and otherworldly. A scent I was deeply familiar with. Wild, woody and resinous. I looked around and tried to find its source, but with a room full of people it was almost impossible. The smell’s density and thickness was like a poisonous gas infecting the air. I felt transported into a wet cedar forest.  As the ceremony went on, my heart was burdened. It was telling me something. It was taking me back. My gut leaked with anxiety. I focused on what was happening in front of me while fighting off the emotional tension.

“I’ve never had a relationship with such a degree of symbiotic quality. The thirty-eight years of our union were strong and burning up. We became this great art couple, and everyone was projecting the image of this perfect couple onto us. Thing is, he was rarely happy with his work, neither was I, and the better our pieces of art became, the worse our relationship was becoming. We were monogamous until a certain point when the tightness of that ideology started to unravel and disintegrate. He had a sexual affair with someone while I did too, except he did it with my best friend, which hurt me so bad, so started to hate him. Hating the person you love is the worst feeling in the world.”

Her words made me ill. My stomach was in knots. I wanted to get out of there.

“Eventually, we dropped our disdain for each other and completely let go of the past.” She finally turned away from us and took a few steps toward the veiled monument. She extended her arm revealing her distinctively long and spider-like fingers. Her manicured nails were almost just as long. She pulled the drapes and as soon as they fell down, everyone gasped. He looked so real you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

After learning about her brother’s impeding death, Astrid reconciled with him and for the remaining months of his life, endeavored to create a monument of himself. As he wasted away, she labored in her private studio, creating her most personal piece yet. With the use of earthenware, she flawlessly managed to create an identical reproduction. The size, proportions and textures all matched Jakob’s physical appearance. She even went as far as to use some of his own body hair, carefully drilling tiny holes on the clay and placing each follicle individually. Right before he died, his teeth and nails were extracted and also used to adorn his doppelgänger.

The room was in complete shock. Astrid got up on the pedestal and faced her long-lost lover. She touched him as if she was discovering him for the very first time. Her mind seemed to travel, drowning itself in a sorrowful state of romantic disenchantment. She closed her eyes, leaned in and her lips met his. The moment felt so personal, as if we were intruding. Her loss had become palpable. Oracular. Along with her, the crowd slowly lost itself in a mediative melancholy and the smell I noticed earlier during the ceremony exuded itself once more. The second time around, it felt like it was coming right from behind me. It was powerful and invigorating. The more I inhaled it, the more my peripheral vision seemed to decrease. I became agitated, paranoid and concerned about my safety. It felt as if someone was watching me. A noisy silhouette peering at me from its corner, but I was unable to tell whether it was all part of my imagination. The whole thing turned into a nightmare closing in on itself. I walked out.

Barging out of the double doors, I was caught unaware by a tall gentleman.

“Hi, there. I’m Patrick.” The words echoed in my mind as his shadow stabilized against the lighter background, allowing me to delineate its content. My head swiveled for a second. I thought he was talking to someone behind me, but he was clearly talking to me. My face scrunched as I struggled to keep a distance and finally locked eyes with him. A blonde male figure with thin tortoiseshell glasses and a well-tailored gray square pattern suit stood in front of me. I took another half a step back, alarmed and crippled. He looked at me and smirked.

“…And you must be the imposter.”

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