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Pages “Faith, here's an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven.” ~The Porter Oct 2005 – Iraq Strange, actually, to put pen to paper and know that no eye lingers above my shoulder. Strange and freeing and yet entirely managing to underscore that which is less desirable to ponder. It's easier to be the good soldier under the eye of a watchful 'god'. Once Man has stepped into strange lands, the whispers grow louder, the darkness colder, the hiss of the sea becomes menace. I wonder if that's how they felt, those first nights on our unwelcoming rocks. I think about that sometimes, though I know it would surprise them to know that I think it. Alienation, a rebirth into a life like nothing expected. I understand, though I have had no time, no room for sympathy. And they will likely never know that I understand. Such is the way of it. And such is the way of pointless introspection. I always did figure there'd be time enough for it eventually. This book of pages even smells differently than my others. And it will be this one I burn first. All good sorcerers do, I suppose. Introspection. And yet, avoidance. I write these words to avoid writing other words and to avoid thinking and here – let me stop my egoist playing and confront. Poor Alex. I failed. If there is a hell beyond the island – and here, just barely beyond J's consistent eye let me say now that the island itself is enough my own hell (a truth that R would damn me for, but damn him first) – but if there is such horror beyond and I condemned to it, here is why. I take the rest of it as my own burden, I have ever known and accepted my responsibilities, unasked for but carried, but she (here the ink is blurred) It is possible to keep innocence on the island, I think. She was the closest to it. And she has been sacrificed through my failure. I must steel myself now. C will paint me with what he did to her, and I must deny it, and I dare not, alone out here, allow myself to think that he is right. Not now. There is too much to be done. 2006 (date left illegible) – Russia The work with S has progressed nicely. I believe this is the domino effect that I need. If I had been left with better specifics, I would know for certain. There is a risk that I have pushed too far. This is what backup plans are for, at least, though I am growing weary of harboring and nesting them. They are the only children I have now, my schemes. At least they never leave me. Have bought a new hat. It is perhaps a little ridiculous, but then, so are the times we live in and the roles that we are set to play. I'm allowed my small jokes, even if no one else will understand. Dec 2007 – California The rest of my odd little Goldberg device is now set in motion. What C did, I have altered. That much is always easy. He builds such architecture, and with a gentle prod it warps around him. It was a good lesson, learned early and well. He does not adapt as freely – if he did, this might have all

ended much earlier, though who can say to what end? Well, someone could, and I'd like to not take the night to think on it too much. I've done more than enough of that lately. Should all this work well, then the time of introspection is over. I have weighed my own heart and find – what? I do not know. It is not for me to judge or forgive, is it? There are methods enough for that, and I am set for them. I'm sorry for what I did. But the tale can't crawl towards its conclusion without betrayal and sacrifice. It occurs to me, bleakly, that Judas and Brutus rhyme, if poorly. Tomorrow I will begin to go and tell the others – and there is a loaded word – what was done and what must now be done. I will tell them the truth, though they won't hear it clearly until later, and still they will damn me as a liar. Fair enough. Moral relativism and meta-ethical considerations aside, I cannot argue their perspective. Had I the courage to embrace cowardice – and I argue that my phrasing is not fallacious in this scenario – I might take the opportunity to not return. I might get away with it. At least for a little while. But it would all come back eventually, wouldn't it? Later A full list of what I have borne and permitted would be a diary unto itself. A man is easily read when he is enraged, and so, in short, I have carried a veritable plague of bruisings in my time. I am also not optimistic enough to believe I am done. Shootings, stabbings, beatings, these are all my lot. I am astonished that my nose remains as straight as it does. Being taken hostage via kidney, that, I confess, had real imagination to it. But a microwaveable pastry? Astonishing! Two feet to my left and high. I watched it slide down the wall via the corner of my eye's range of vision, and, bemused, could only realize that if the sodium content was not but one way to ensure death, surely the lava-like consistency might have finished the job! Well done, H, you might have succeeded where others have failed! A pity then that you had to take S quite so literally. At least I do retain a very good lawyer, though you'll not thank me for it. And neither will she. **** Hard to keep an arm from itching when bound up tight in a sling. Ben ignored it, drawing upon his thinning reservoir of will. His plan had worked, the temptation avoided, the plane awaited. He rifled through the still half-empty book with his uninjured hand, expression blank but for the intense blue gaze. From time to time, a muscle jumped in his jawline as he reread familiar longhand scrawls. The homeless men who thought to claim the burning can of garbage felt it wise to not draw too near. Finally, in one smooth motion, he dropped the book into the fire. He watched it crackle for a moment, thin leather binding transforming into a heavier, rich smoke that left him disquieted. Then he walked away and never spared a look back. Fragments rose on the currents and drifted away to become ash, their words parted from context and become anonymous. -a half-burnt page, unknown dateI'm so tired.

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