Chapter 1: From Ash
Smoke, flames, blood, and screams. These are my first memories of life. I was soot covered and clothed in an all black leotard, surrounded by a plane cracked in half like the great skull of Zeus in the deliverance of Athena. I sprang forth from the rubble of United Airlines Flight 175 from Denver to Portland International Airport on December 28th, 1978. However, I was not on the plane, in fact, I didn't even know my name. I remember nothing after the initial shock. I fainted and the horrifying scene faded to blackness. I woke up 48 hours later in a hospital bed where Doctors assumed me to be a amnesiac bystander. I was carried from the wreckage by a young man who laid me down in front of a flower shop on Burnside Street. In the days following, as no one came to claim me, I was unofficially adopted by the owners of the flower shop who had amiably checked in on me during my hospital stay.
When I left, the doctors gave me my medical records containing the remnants of my identity.
Sex: Female Hair: Brown
Age: Approx. 18 years old Eyes: Brown
Height: 5'4 3/4 Race: Caucasian
Weight: 125 lbs. Blood Type: B+
The young couple that adopted me, Janice and Richard Ferguson, recently purchased a flower shop and christened me after its name, The Lucky Clover. In exchange for food and lodging, I work full time arranging bouquets, and filling orders while Janice and Richard tend to their more medicinal growing.
I have worked at The Lucky Clover every day, watching the streets of Portland heal the tremendous gashes carved into its surface. The wreckage is clear, but one wound still seeps, refusing to scar. It itches in the corners of my mind like an infection. I am the walking casualty of the crash. I am nothing but a shade, a wandering ghost in a human shell. No family, no friends, no past, and no future. I speak immaculate English, literate in mathematics, and I can even rattle off current and historical events. I have all the ingredients of a life, but lack the identity to make me complete.
Surrounding the mystery of my birth, there is one secret I have kept hidden that haunts me constantly.
These bizarre, serial codes are inked into the skin on the underside of my right wrist. I have deduced that whatever Tempus is, I must be the second. As for the next row, these numbers correspond to the year, month, and day of the plane crash. The third set of numbers is what concerns me the most. Every day at midnight, the number decreases by 24. I assume that this is a countdown of hours, leading me to whatever it is counting down to, I have a finite amount of time until EXP. I have pondered what these three numbers could be; exponential functions, or perhaps EXP the Jimi Hendrix song. However, I fear it may mean Expiry Date. On the day of the crash, I had 8,760 hours. Since then I have lost 1,008 hours leaving me with only 323 days left until the dreaded EXP.
In my monotonous existence at the flower shop, I can't help but ponder such things as these peculiar numbers and my anonymous savior. From the hazy blur of my memories from the plane crash, I have stitched together the fragments of my mysterious knight. After I collapsed, I recall a strong pair of arms swiftly scooping me up, clutching me close to a powerful chest. Taking a deep breath, I channeled my other sensory memories. He smelled like the woods with traces of fresh pine. He had laid me down on the bench outside of Clover's and wrapped me in his gray suit jacket. For a moment, I regained consciousness enough to see a young man in his mid twenties. On his handsome, clean shaven face, his most striking feature were a pair of gem-like hazel eyes. The center radiated outward honey brown, then mingled with garnet green and flecked with gold. Like his woodland aroma, I felt as if I was looking up into an enormous pine tree.
After checking my body for injuries through my elastic satin garb, he leaned over me and whispered in my ear.
"Don't be afraid Clo. No matter wherever, whenever you are, I will always protect you."
He waited with me, stroking my hair, until Janice and Richard arrived and explained that I was a victim of the plane crash. Before he left, he leaned over me once more and kissed my forehead.
Richard and Janice took him to be a relative of mine, an older brother perhaps. Janice tells me that he looked like a young, wealthy business man due to his dapper attire. Janice would say that he looked like he just walked out of The Great Gatsby. However, even though I know little of typical family relationships, he felt like more than a brother.
I often romanticize in my rosy room, that he is my prince charming or knight in shining hour. One day, perhaps he will walk into the flower shop and sweep me off my feet. If only my bell bottom jeans could transform into a ball gown and the shop was actually a sunny meadow in the countryside.
Unfortunately, the only people who wander into the flower shop come in search of a more potent herb that Richard and Janice tend to in the far back.
You would think that since I have no memories, I lack a personality or morals. This could not be farther from the truth. I think that because I have no memories, I have so much more to lose. Every day, every experience is an opportunity to learn something new or perhaps uncover something old. The Fergusons have often prescribed "alternative" remedies for my amnesia; but with so little time until I must face EXP, I do not want to chance wasting a single second.
If I can't discover who I am, I may as well become someone and make my mark on this earth before facing whatever unveiling comes when the clock hits zero.
During my daydreams, I occasionally read through some of the order messages. Flipping through arbitrarily, I stumbled upon this peculiar note.
Order: 14 in' arrangement w/ forget me nots and white roses
Pickup: 9:10-10:15 Thursday, February 20th
Message: For my dearest,
"be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing;
there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing."
E. Must be a secret admirer. What began as moderate confusion over the love note, turned into a disorienting vertigo. Numbers on the receipt sprang forth and shuffled themselves, burning their way into my retina. I shut my eyes closed but the numbers still swarmed as if trapped in with me behind my eyelids.
910 1015 20
They shuffled themselves around behind closed eyes until eight numbers emerged recreated, searing into my spinning brain.
2001 09 11
The floor seemed to shatter beneath my feet and the walls viciously tore apart revealing abysmal swirling blackness. It looked as if the whole universe was sliced open and spilled forth onto an artist's pallet then violently mixed together so that every tint of color combined to the darkened hue of black. And I was in the midst of the mix with the murderous twangs of pain striking at my skull. The tears that poured from my eyes only entered the opaque whirlpool. Then, all at once, as if every fiber of my being was torn in a different direction and from the blackness, a crevice opened up and a white godly light emerged and I was pulled in to a place equally terrifying.