Today's excerpt is from Things Mysterious by Matthew Chabin.
We hope you enjoy today's tease!
He had been a soldier once, a husband and, before that, a student athlete. Now he was none of these things. He felt transparent, unseen, a rumor of a person fading into an anonymous job, a name on a paystub, a collection of internet passwords: Rom@nKing, Aces’n8s, D-stroystory. No one ever called him D, or Das, or even Dasan anymore. He no longer looked forward to his days off and took extra shifts just to fill his time. Easier that way. Better not to sit around and think.
He stepped out of the elevator and turned a corner into the Dawkins and Dewey law offices. He paused long enough at the counter to write the time in his notebook and scan the front pages of the Oregonian and the New York Times. Then he started down another hallway, passed through a door, climbed a short flight of steps to a landing, where he used his keys to open two more doors, and stepped out onto the rooftop.
The wind had fallen off, but a thick fog had rolled in behind it. Dasan could faintly make out the poniard spire of the First Presbyterian Church with its purple floodlights. If he peered over the rail, he could also see the illuminated signs of Spartacus Leathers and Powel’s City of Books in the street below. The hills to the west were completely swallowed up, so the city seemed to terminate in a heaped darkness. The monolithic, fifty-story Wells Fargo Center vanished into the grey heights as though dissolved by a malignant, alien atmosphere, while to the south, rising from the new construction, a giant crane hung its long neck out into the gloom, predatory in its stillness.
Something was wrong.
Something was wrong with his life. He was about to turn thirty and he had the same salary as when he was eighteen. That wasn’t even adjusting for inflation. His parents had somehow, to their eternal credit, stayed together until he was out of the house, but both were invested in their respective new families, and he’d become a marginal satellite at best.
He had always had an image of himself as the kind of guy that nice, cool girls would be into. He was considerate, industrious, tall (if a bit gangly), good looking and fairly neat in his habits. Yet since his divorce, he seemed all but invisible to women, as if they occupied a parallel universe where he appeared only as an outline, a faceless abstract of man. He was all crumpled inside, sapped, unable to summon much enthusiasm for the dating ritual and apparently even less able to inspire it. He had begun to contemplate the very real possibility he would go through life without ever finding his—what was it?—‘soul’s counterpart in another.’ He would live an uncelebrated life and ultimately die alone.
There was something else. Something that pulled like a thread unraveling at the back of his mind and sent cold little oscillations of fear rippling through his nerves. He didn’t know what it was that pulled upon the thread, but it was becoming harder and harder to ignore. It tugged away as he looked down on the numb and half-frozen city, He stepped back, gripped by a nauseating vertigo. Reflexively his mind flew to the single beacon within range, a spark of color that drew his focus and gave him hope. The girl on the MAX, Ms. There-Again-Gone.
God, but God… how beautiful was she.