Adam wanders the empty roads-empty of people, but many cars are left behind-with the golden orb in hand, his one tie to answers. There is no time; at least, not easily found. Time and date on every PC, phone, clock and watch, the former of which are useless now. A fine film of dust is fallen on everything, and his footsteps from his home are apparent; the only footsteps around. Nothing has been touched for some time, with the dust unsettled, and there is no wind, leading the kid to believe there are no tides. And if there are no tides, there is no moon-or no movement of that moon. Or no movement of the rock he strides. It isn't so hard, then, to believe there is no time, yet the definitive presence of gravity stirs his mind again and he is left without answer. The black, lightless imposter in the sky hangs exactly at noon, and stares, and watches, this seer of all, this unholy blight. A watch should still be running; many last for years. No question the kid was asleep longer than he needed drink or water, and he didn't hunger. He is nervous but content and relatively healthy, if not groggy.
A spot high in the air, said the angel, if he can call her that. A quick scan reveals a hotel across the highway, distant, but the tallest thing around. The kid treks off due south, never tiring, reluctant, never frightened. The thin string between he and anyone spins and unwinds the farther he goes. Hits the highway, climbs over a guard rail. Cars packed in both directions. Gray dust over them all, like ashes rained from the sky. The kid rubs a window away of its silver filth, and inside, in the darkness, he finds four people. None of them are moving. Heads lulled. In the driver's seat is a woman, asleep, for had she been dead, surely she would be rotting. Skin is fine, skin like porcelain, healthy and shining, just as her son and two daughters. Son in the passenger seat is in his teens, daughter behind the driver's is a little over nine or ten. Shoulders slumped, head on her shoulder, and she's sleeping, even if her chest isn't moving. Other girl is hidden by the passenger seat, but she's sleeping, too, and Adam taps the window. No response. He bangs, and pulls at the passenger door, but it's locked. They won't wake up. Sleeping beauties.
Cars and cars and cars. There must've been an accident ahead, and it stopped all traffic. Some cars were trying to ram the barriers to get away, but all were trapped, all were running and trapped. Thousands of cars, in both directions, until the hills blocked the view beyond, where the cars mounted and disappeared behind-still. Maybe he is dead. Adam once watched a movie-or maybe it was a TV show-where someone had died, and he continued to live as a spirit, but didn't know he was dead. And nobody would respond to him, like no one bothers to greet the wind, or notices the stars in space violently erupt and kill all around them. A phantom, a ghost. Out to seek revenge for the one which murdered him. But Adam doesn't feel murdered. He checks his body for scars; only one on his head. Stitched up. But he doesn't remember getting it. Hit his head. That's what killed him. Something hit his head, or he fell. And if he were a phantom, it must have been someone who deliberately killed him. He has no recollection of either happening.
The kid weaves through the westbound traffic, hops the barrier, and climbs the eastbound traffic. Hotel is in reach, a Holiday Inn, one he never visited, for no particular reason. One of several hotels, certainly. No cars around, excluding one or two who met head to head at an intersection. More asleep in there; asleep like the kid was an hour ago, or the human-clock equivalent. Hotel stands fairly tall, but doesn't quite meet the high vaguely described by the angel. It will do, the kid tells himself. It's the tallest thing around.
Through the double doors, Adam enters the lobby. Just as outside, it is dead silent, excluding his footsteps and breaths. No machines whirr. No wind stirs. The doors close behind him, and after, all is dead silent. Everyone must be sleeping, here, too. The clerk at the front desk is absent. He notices an open cabinet with a latch, and inside, keys glint. A maintenance key; in case the roof is locked. He searches inside; keys are labeled with non-sense, scribbles on duct tape. One key ring is more crowded than the others, so he takes it.
Kid faces the staircase. It's dark; power's out here, too. Elevator's out. One step at a time. Arm on the handrail. Find the step. And the next. Till he hits the second floor. A long hallway stretches from this floor, before the staircase to the third. Every room door is open, faint, white light shining from the open windows through the dusk. Curious, the boy walks this hallway, peering into every room; some beds are made, some aren't, and the rooms whose beds aren't are messy. Evacuated. Everyone was evacuated. Except one room, one room whose door is closed and locked. A faint sound of wind is heard inside. Or not-breathing. Someone is gasping for air behind the thin door. Adam grips the golden sphere and key ring in his hands. Someone else; someone still alive. The hairs on his neck give tribute. But who would it be? Were they friendly? Were they just waking up, just like the kid? Something taps against the door, from the inside. Three taps. Pause. Three more. Over and over. As if waiting for Adam to make his move. The kid buckles. He doesn't know what's inside. And so he leaves it be, at least until the golden orb is delivered.
One step at a time. Careful. Third floor. All doors open on this floor, too. Next steps. Careful. Fourth floor. Doors open, methodical, all of them. Last stop before the roof. Light glimmers from the crevices of this metal door, a shining gateway into the unknown. Who waits for him upon tossing this sphere of gold; more winged hermaphrodites, doubtless, but will they be so friendly? Adam prepares a set of excuses to give if questioned about this object and the likelihood of a dead angel of which he had no relation with, though the truth can sometimes be misconstrued as lie-never definitive. Take breath, Adam. Push the bar. Push bar clanks, and so the door rubs with rust as it opens.
Door shuts behind the kid again. All is silent. He moves for the roof's edge. Long way down; longer way to Hell. Adam watches the golden orb once more, runs his fingers over the complex carved designs. The product of sentience in the palm of his hand. How does it fly? He steps back, winds his arm, and chucks the orb into the sky. It rises, for only a moment, and falls. A victim to height, it seems to head for solid ground. Yet it slows, and hovers, and finally, stops. Midair, the golden sphere clicks, and its grooves unlock and glow with blue tint. A lull wave of deep sound rocks the kid's body gently, inside and out, like magnets pulling and releasing him.
The flock of androgyny should be here soon. They'll be friendly. Of course they'll be friendly, the kid tells himself. The last one was friendly enough, even when dying. Internal bleeding. If not from the spear wedged into her belly, the fall. A wonder to whom the spear belonged to; who would kill an innocent creature? Perhaps a madman. Perhaps these angels, as he will call them, are not benign so. And yet, with everyone asleep, it's hard to imagine where they came from.
Not alone. Not everyone slept. Adam sleeps no more, nor does the cry flowing from below belong to the resting. Heart pumps double time. He pulls away from the golden orb's daunting, powerful spell, and leans to view a group gathered at the foot of his fortress. There's a man, well and lively, shoulders broad and dressed proper, and another, more petite man, casual dress, whose black backpack holds two sharpened wooden sticks which jet from its pocket. In their custody, bound at the wrists and ankles, is a young woman, a pale lady, maybe an Arab.