That's a good question.
And I don't even know where to begin ...
But I guess picking up where we left off would be a good place to start.
I'd just concluded the Tower of Parlen Min Virtual Book Tour, something I'd worked extremely hard to pull off and was very proud of. Coupled with the Kindle Nation Daily: E-Book of the day promo, I'd done the best that I could at that particular moment in time to get the word out for my book ...
I was moving on to an even bigger project (the Tower of Parlen Min: Chapter Commentaries) when it happened ...
Shortly after I quit my day-job in january, I had a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN ... at least I think I did.
That's right ... you read that right -- I literally lost it.
Of course, I didn't go all psychotic and stuff -- no yelling or screaming, no flipping of tables (though I would've liked to), and definitely no columbine shootings ... I just shut down from everyone and everything around me.
So what caused this mental shutdown? A lot of things ... Producing the video commentaries became such a stressful nightmare that I decided to shutdown the project. One of my editors, Megan, sent me a screenshot of my 'less than okay-ish' book sales over the past 3 months. I gave up on this one girl named Alesi and I think I broke her heart. After working hard for 'The Man' for almost two years, all I had in my savings was a 2000 bucks to my name. My mom, God bless her soul, would not stop nagging and complaining about how my brother and I were such 'disappointments' ... of course she never said we were disappointments, she said it indirectly and the effect was a whole lot worse.
I can't really describe the feeling of losing it, I suppose it's different with everyone.
I felt alone ... in despair ... choked up and drowning in a sea of sorrow ... falling into the depths of a chaotic void whilst the darkest and most evil voices whispered 'you've failed' in my ears over and over and over again ... that feeling multiplied by a million. Hmm ... I guess I can describe it (silly rabbit ...).
As my negative thoughts ate away at my mind, my body went on auto-pilot -- it choose the settings of the worst version of me. I relapsed to all my old and abusive behaviors ... and I felt like it was 2008 all over again. I was truly lost and dead inside ...
But God had not given up on me yet.
In March, my Dad gave 700 bones (as in $700) and so, on a whim, I went out and bought a Netbook and two copies of Anthony Robbins' bestsellers 'Unlimited Power' and 'Awaken the Giant'. From the moment I finished those two books, I knew exactly why my life had fallen apart and why it had been 'less than okay-ish' over the last 20 years or so ... I knew why I had lost it.
I'd been selfish and ungrateful to God for everything he'd given me in entire life and I deserved the punishment. I'd asked for greatness, fortune and fame ... but had no intention of paying the price for it all.
But I'd finally figured it out ... I'd finally discovered THE TRUE SECRET OF SUCCESS.
Do you want to know what that secret is? ... Sure, I'll tell you ... in the next post ;)
That's a good question.
I haven't been what I consider a very good friend for a while now. And to some people ... er - a lot of people, I'm becoming more and more distant. I guess the fortune and glory rat race has made me more and more socially apathetic. It's becoming more and more about business stats, marketing, sales and ROI ... this is not a good thing, because the truth is I need people for wealth, health and love.
So before the next post I just want to take the time to say sorry for not saying 'Hi' more often and telling you what I'm up to these days. For not asking how you are. For not socializing more. Yes, I missed you too ... Megan, Samba and Danny too. Yes, I'll be sure to talk to them in a bit.
What am I listening to right now? Blue Train by Asian Kung-Fu Generation. What's the last good movie I saw? Real Steel, that was execellent! My movie of the year award goes to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. What am reading? Battle Royale by Koshun Takami, it's like Saw vs. Hunger Games, it's really gory. What am I excited about? The Dark Knight Rises trailer ... pure awesomeness!
So what have I been up to? I'm pretty much my day job's b$%*, but during bits of time I get I'm working on a new project; a podcast show called 'Matt Xell: Writer's Advocate' where I promote some of the cool stories I stumble upon on Wattpad.com.Wattpad? It's that one site where people get post and share the stories they write.
Ves? He's in some sort of comma right now ... I can't say too much about that, but I'm still plotting and scheming a bunch of stuff. I still have to tell you about Eslo, Vincent, Willow and Billy first before we can even get to Ves again ... I know it's like forever but I'm working as hard as I possibly can to get the stuff out there.
The Chapter Commentaries videos? Oh - yeah, that's right, it's what I wanted to show you in the next post. So let's get to that, yeah?
Today this Matt Xell would just like to take the time to thank everyone that helped me out and supported me during the seemingly ambitious Tower of Parlen Virtual Book Tour that ran from July 24th to October 31st and was an absolute blast!
First to my heroes the book bloggers and reviewers that were super kind and supportive of a virtually unknown author, and took it of their precious time to patiently read a lengthy 345 pages of a book they don't usually read (and a very unusual one at that) filled with cringing typos and grammar mistakes, and (for the love of God, what's wrong with this guy) is not written in the First Person Perspective that's all so cool and trendy these days and just makes a lot of sense. So !!!SUPER THANKS!!! and !!!BIG UP!!! to Vickie for Coma Calm's Corner, Shanna from A Book Vacation, Precious from Fragments of Life, Rebecca from Everything To Do With Books, Ashlin from Baffling, Bonkers, and Brilliant Books, Ambur from Burning.x.Impossibly.x.Bright, Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Books, Krista from Cubicle Blindness, Michelle from Book Briefs, Gina from The Bucket List, Lauren from Books From a Shelf, Erica from Booked In Chico, Lydia from Gardening Literature, Sabrina, Suzanne and Akansha from Cup of Tea Reviews, Dana from Dana Does Read, Benji from The Non Reluctant Reader, Kristin from Better Read Than Dead, Destiny from Green Lilipads, Sarah from Book Saur's Reviews, Amy Jones; the author of The Soul Quest Trilogy, Michelle and Marissa from Novels on the Run, Jessica from Hoplessly Devoted Bibliophile, Sharli from Entre Libros, Olivia from Magical Books, Leah from The Kings and Queens of YA, Steph from Short & Sweet, Katie from Mon Palais, Rabiah from Confessions of a Readaholic, Nevey Berry from Le Vanity Victorienne, Joselin from Ryning Books, Reut from Reutreads, Trisha from YA Bound, Rida from Raindrop Reflections, Kimberly from Read Now Sleep Later, Donna from Book Lover’s Hideaway, Anya from House Miller, Cassandra from Book & Movie Dimension, Lulu from Lulu The Bookworm, Lee from From Page One, Mayara from The Brazilian Bookworm, Linda from Most Important Letter, Eliora Vespera from Scholar Berry, Gina from My Precious, Velvet from Vvb32 reads, Lisa from Turning Pages, Heather from Earth's Book Nook, Hiba from WovenStrands and Missy from Missy Reads and Reviews. There wouldn't have been a tour to begin with without the consideration and kindness you guys showed to Ves and there aren't many words that explain the GRATITUDE and LOVE I have for you guys, cheers :)
Second, I'd like to thank everyone that attended the tour's event page on Facebook; Daniel K, Chilly, Chimwasu, Kerrie, Pace, Zak, Lydia, Kaya, Ken, Charmboy, Joseph, Kristin, Sing'ombe, Larissa, Bay, Aine, Vaezi, Keely, McHotsa, Nathan, Francisca, Sharli, Farai, Zakiya, Mulundu, Stephanie, Celester, Lu-Marie, Selena, Sabrina, Twanga, Mdyela, Chibale, Mufumbi, Mahonga, Destiny, Jade, Michelle, Woven, Dana, Sagar, Gina, Dennis, Mayara, Kachepa, Trisha, Clyde and Vickie. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much guys, I won't forget the support you gave me and I hope to return it whenever I can!!!
Third, I'd like to thank my six !!!UBER-AWESOME!!! (yes, of course that's a word!) best-friends, my master mind group; Samba Yonga my brilliant and lovely editor, Megan Grant the beautiful 'Jane of all trades' behind the current iteration of TPM, Danny Mexen who I had to drag out of the Copperbelt to help me with the Chapter Commentaries, Kafula aka BBD who helped us shoot and direct the videos and trailer, the inspirational Randis Albion whose awe-mazing cover continues to be paramount to the marketing of the book and The Red Plus himself who pretty much organised the whole tour and ran the whole show. You guys have kept me going through this hellish project, focused on the goal at hand and ever passionate about telling Ves' story to the world! There seems to be an infinitely long way to go before the Trials of Golgotha and I hope you guys will be there to see me through it!
So sorry if I left anyone out, if I did it's because I'm immensely stupid and like Ryan, I don't really know what's going on - heh!
Cheers and thanks again people,
Happy All Hallow’s Eve people! It’s the 43rd and final day of the Tower of Parlen Min Virtual Book Tour. Whoo! I guess we pulled it off! And I couldn’t have done it without your excellent support ... yes even you Danny. So here’s our last stop:
1. Review: Midnight Twilight's Book Blog - http://midnighttwilightsbookblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
And here’s a final recap of where we’ve been throughout the tour:
1. Guest post: Mon Palais - http://monpalais.tumblr.com/post/12113160273/character-bio-vikey-from-tower-of-parlen-min
2. Guest post: Everything To Do With Books - http://everythingtodowithbooks.blogspot.com/2011/10/guest-post-matt-xell-on-jacobius-trent.html
3.Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 2, Part 2 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-2-part-2.html
4. Guest post: CubicleBlindness Book Reviews - http://cubicleblindness.blogspot.com/2011/10/character-interview-with-matt-xell.html
7. Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 1, Part 3 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-1-part-3.html
9. Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 1, Part 2 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-1-part-2.html
11. Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 1, Part 1 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-1-part-1.html
12. Guest post: The Non Reluctant Reader - http://readerbenji.blogspot.com/2011/10/guest-post-from-matt-xell.html
13. Interview: Butterfly Feet Walking On Life - http://walkingbutterflyfeet.blogspot.com/2011/10/interview-with-matt-xell.html
14. Review: Butterfly Feet Walking On Life - http://walkingbutterflyfeet.blogspot.com/2011/10/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
15. Interview and Giveaway: Earth's Book Nook - http://earthsbooknook.blogspot.com/2011/10/matt-xell-interview-and-book-giveaway.html
17. Review: Woven Myst Book Mystique - http://wovenstrands.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/the-tower-of-parlen-min/
18. Interview and Giveaway: All the Days of - http://allthedaysof.blogspot.com/2011/10/author-interview-and-giveaway-with-matt.html
19. Review: Turning Pages - http://turningpages94.blogspot.com/2011/10/book-review-53-tower-of-parlen-min.html
24. Interview: My Precious: Ramblings of a Kindle Addict - http://thecallawayfam.blogspot.com/2011/09/author-interview-tower-of-parlen-min.html
25. Giveaway: My Precious: Ramblings of a Kindle Addict - http://thecallawayfam.blogspot.com/2011/09/giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
27. Review and Giveaway: Most Important Letter - http://mostimportantletter.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/blog-tour-review-giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min-matt-xell/
28. Review: From Page One - http://frompageone.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell/
29. MXL Interview and Giveaway: Brazilian Book Worm - http://brazilianbookworm.blogspot.com/2011/09/unread-interview-and-giveaway-matt-xell.html
31. Book Review: The Book Worm is Here! - http://lulu-bookaddict.blogspot.com/2011/09/review-for-tower-of-parlen-min.html
32. Book Review and Giveaway: House Millar - http://housemillar.host56.com/tower-of-parlen-min-tour-stop/
33.Review: Raindrop Reflections - http://www.raindropreflections.com/682/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell/
35.Giveaway: Ryning Books - http://ryningbooks.blogspot.com/2011/08/giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
36.Review: YA Bound - http://yabound.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell_27.html
40.Giveaway: The Non Reluctant Reader - http://readerbenji.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-giveaway-blog-tour.html
41.Review: The Kings and Queens of YA - http://leahsyabookshelf.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
42.Review: Magical Books - http://magical-books.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-reivew.html
43.Review: Bookedinchico - http://bookedinchico.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-matt-xell.html
45.Review: Novels On The Run - http://novelsontherun.blogspot.com/2011/08/book-review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
46.Review and Giveaway: Amy Jones YA Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy - http://amyjonesyaff.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour.html
47.Review: Readings of Benji - http://readerbenji.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour.html
48.Review and Giveaway: Better Read Than Dead - http://www.angelsdemonsandvampires.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
49.Review, Giveaway and Interview: Dana does Read - http://danadoesread.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-giveaway-and-interview-tower-of.html
50.Review: Ink Scratchers - http://inkscratchers.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
51.Review and Giveaway: BookSaur's Reviews - http://booksaur.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-max-xell.html
52.Review: Cup of Tea Reviews - http://cupofteareviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/blog-tour-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
53.Interview and Giveaway: Cup of Tea Reviews - http://cupofteareviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/blog-tour-interview-with-matt-xell.html
54.Review: Gardening Literature - http://gardeningliterature.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
55.Review: Books From a Shelf - http://booksfromashelf.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min_31.html
56.Guest post and Giveaway: Fragments of Life - http://shusky20.blogspot.com/2011/07/mythologies-of-tower-of-parlen-min.html
57.Review: The Bucket List - http://thebucketlist-gn.blogspot.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
58.Review and Giveaway: Book Briefs - http://bookbriefs.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-and-giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min.html
59.Review: Rhiannon Paille - http://rhiannonpaille.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
60.Review: Sift Reviews - http://www.siftreviews.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-mat-xell.html
61.Review: CubicleBlindness - http://cubicleblindness.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
62.Interview: Baffling, Bonkers and Brilliant - http://bafflingbonkersbrilliantbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/author-interview-matt-xell.html
63.Guest post: Coma Calm's Corner - http://comacalm.blogspot.com/2011/07/stories-that-inspired-tower-of-parlen.html
64.Review: Burning.X.Impossibly.X.Bright - http://burningximpossiblyxbright.blogspot.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour-review.html
65.Giveaway: Burning.X.Impossibly.X.Bright - http://burningximpossiblyxbright.blogspot.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour-giveaway.html
66.MXL Guest Post: Baffling, Bonkers, and Brilliant - http://bafflingbonkersbrilliantbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/guest-post-matt-xell.html
67.Review and Giveaway: Fragments of Life - http://shusky20.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
68.Review and Giveaway: Baffling, Bonkers and Brilliant - http://bafflingbonkersbrilliantbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min.html
69.Review and Giveaway: Everything to do with books - http://everythingtodowithbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-tour-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
70.Review and Giveaway: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy - http://bookvacations.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell/
71.Review and Giveaway: Coma Calms Corner - http://comacalm.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-tourtower-of-parlen-min-matt-xell.html
And that’s it -- it’s been a blast! Let’s do this again sometime after the release of Eclipse Over Atuwis Wood, yeah? ... Maybe ... no?
Cheers and thanks!
Hey everyone, it’s day 42 of the Tower of Parlen Min Virtual Book Tour! Thanks for stopping by! Here’s where we’re at today:
1. Guest post: Mon Palais - http://monpalais.tumblr.com/post/12113160273/character-bio-vikey-from-tower-of-parlen-min
And here’s the recap of where we’ve been so far:
1. Guest post: Everything To Do With Books - http://everythingtodowithbooks.blogspot.com/2011/10/guest-post-matt-xell-on-jacobius-trent.html
2.Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 2, Part 2 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-2-part-2.html
3. Guest post: CubicleBlindness Book Reviews - http://cubicleblindness.blogspot.com/2011/10/character-interview-with-matt-xell.html
6. Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 1, Part 3 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-1-part-3.html
8. Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 1, Part 2 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-1-part-2.html
10. Ves and The Good Doctor - Episode 1, Part 1 - http://mattxell.blogspot.com/2011/10/ves-and-good-doctor-episode-1-part-1.html
11. Guest post: The Non Reluctant Reader - http://readerbenji.blogspot.com/2011/10/guest-post-from-matt-xell.html
12. Interview: Butterfly Feet Walking On Life - http://walkingbutterflyfeet.blogspot.com/2011/10/interview-with-matt-xell.html
13. Review: Butterfly Feet Walking On Life - http://walkingbutterflyfeet.blogspot.com/2011/10/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
14. Interview and Giveaway: Earth's Book Nook - http://earthsbooknook.blogspot.com/2011/10/matt-xell-interview-and-book-giveaway.html
16. Review: Woven Myst Book Mystique - http://wovenstrands.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/the-tower-of-parlen-min/
17. Interview and Giveaway: All the Days of - http://allthedaysof.blogspot.com/2011/10/author-interview-and-giveaway-with-matt.html
18. Review: Turning Pages - http://turningpages94.blogspot.com/2011/10/book-review-53-tower-of-parlen-min.html
23. Interview: My Precious: Ramblings of a Kindle Addict - http://thecallawayfam.blogspot.com/2011/09/author-interview-tower-of-parlen-min.html
24. Giveaway: My Precious: Ramblings of a Kindle Addict - http://thecallawayfam.blogspot.com/2011/09/giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
26. Review and Giveaway: Most Important Letter - http://mostimportantletter.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/blog-tour-review-giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min-matt-xell/
27. Review: From Page One - http://frompageone.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell/
28. MXL Interview and Giveaway: Brazilian Book Worm - http://brazilianbookworm.blogspot.com/2011/09/unread-interview-and-giveaway-matt-xell.html
30. Book Review: The Book Worm is Here! - http://lulu-bookaddict.blogspot.com/2011/09/review-for-tower-of-parlen-min.html
31. Book Review and Giveaway: House Millar - http://housemillar.host56.com/tower-of-parlen-min-tour-stop/
32.Review: Raindrop Reflections - http://www.raindropreflections.com/682/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell/
34.Giveaway: Ryning Books - http://ryningbooks.blogspot.com/2011/08/giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
35.Review: YA Bound - http://yabound.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell_27.html
39.Giveaway: The Non Reluctant Reader - http://readerbenji.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-giveaway-blog-tour.html
40.Review: The Kings and Queens of YA - http://leahsyabookshelf.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
41.Review: Magical Books - http://magical-books.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-reivew.html
42.Review: Bookedinchico - http://bookedinchico.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-matt-xell.html
44.Review: Novels On The Run - http://novelsontherun.blogspot.com/2011/08/book-review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
45.Review and Giveaway: Amy Jones YA Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy - http://amyjonesyaff.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour.html
46.Review: Readings of Benji - http://readerbenji.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour.html
47.Review and Giveaway: Better Read Than Dead - http://www.angelsdemonsandvampires.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
48.Review, Giveaway and Interview: Dana does Read - http://danadoesread.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-giveaway-and-interview-tower-of.html
49.Review: Ink Scratchers - http://inkscratchers.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
50.Review and Giveaway: BookSaur's Reviews - http://booksaur.blogspot.com/2011/08/tower-of-parlen-min-by-max-xell.html
51.Review: Cup of Tea Reviews - http://cupofteareviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/blog-tour-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
52.Interview and Giveaway: Cup of Tea Reviews - http://cupofteareviews.blogspot.com/2011/08/blog-tour-interview-with-matt-xell.html
53.Review: Gardening Literature - http://gardeningliterature.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
54.Review: Books From a Shelf - http://booksfromashelf.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min_31.html
55.Guest post and Giveaway: Fragments of Life - http://shusky20.blogspot.com/2011/07/mythologies-of-tower-of-parlen-min.html
56.Review: The Bucket List - http://thebucketlist-gn.blogspot.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
57.Review and Giveaway: Book Briefs - http://bookbriefs.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-and-giveaway-tower-of-parlen-min.html
58.Review: Rhiannon Paille - http://rhiannonpaille.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
59.Review: Sift Reviews - http://www.siftreviews.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-mat-xell.html
60.Review: CubicleBlindness - http://cubicleblindness.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
61.Interview: Baffling, Bonkers and Brilliant - http://bafflingbonkersbrilliantbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/author-interview-matt-xell.html
62.Guest post: Coma Calm's Corner - http://comacalm.blogspot.com/2011/07/stories-that-inspired-tower-of-parlen.html
63.Review: Burning.X.Impossibly.X.Bright - http://burningximpossiblyxbright.blogspot.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour-review.html
64.Giveaway: Burning.X.Impossibly.X.Bright - http://burningximpossiblyxbright.blogspot.com/2011/07/tower-of-parlen-min-blog-tour-giveaway.html
65.MXL Guest Post: Baffling, Bonkers, and Brilliant - http://bafflingbonkersbrilliantbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/guest-post-matt-xell.html
66.Review and Giveaway: Fragments of Life - http://shusky20.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell.html
67.Review and Giveaway: Baffling, Bonkers and Brilliant - http://bafflingbonkersbrilliantbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-tower-of-parlen-min.html
68.Review and Giveaway: Everything to do with books - http://everythingtodowithbooks.blogspot.com/2011/07/book-tour-tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt.html
69.Review and Giveaway: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy - http://bookvacations.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/tower-of-parlen-min-by-matt-xell/
70.Review and Giveaway: Coma Calms Corner - http://comacalm.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-tourtower-of-parlen-min-matt-xell.html
Cheers and thanks for the support!
Wender was serving the orphans their lunch when Miss Twisty called her into her office. As she entered the office, her heart skipped a beat when she saw the person seated in the chair in front of Miss Twisty’s desk.
“Wender,” Miss Twisty said, “this young man is Dr Armando Elrick.”
“Good – good morning doctor,” Wender swallowed.
“Good morning,” Dr Elrick said with a grin.
“Dr Elrick is a child psychologist, a very famous one, I hear. His here to do some research for a newspaper article he’s writing on the lives of the children at the orphanage. He’ll be here the whole day and I want you to show him around the orphanage and introduce him to the children.” Miss Twisty explained.
“Yes ma’am, I understand,” Wender said.
Dr Elrick stood up and followed Wender out of Miss Twisty’s office.
“This was your great idea?” Wender said, angrily to the doctor when they were a fair distance away from Miss. Twisty’s office.
“Yes,” he replied. “Please play along. I’m already late, let’s avoid wasting anymore time. Show me around this place quickly then take me to where Ves is.”
Wender nodded and gave the doctor a quick tour of the orphanage and introduced him to the other caretakers whom he interviewed about the difficulties of working with the children and gave them some tips on how to deal with the children in better and effective ways. Then Wender took him to the playground and introduced him to some of the children and some of the teens. Wender had to admit that the doctor did get on great with the children who seemed to like him almost instantly; he played with them for a while, taking notes in his journal every now and then.
“Where is Ves?” he asked Wender after a while.
“Over there,” Wender said, pointing at furthest part of the playground.
Ves was seated in one of the corners sketching something on a sheet of paper. A girl, about his age with short wavy brown hair, was seated next to him.
“Who’s the girl?” Dr Elrick asked.
“That’s Milly Hempshed,” Wender told him.
“Ves’ girl friend?”
“Doctor! Ves and Milly are only 8 and 9! But if you must know, Milly is rather fond of Ves and likes to think of him as a brother.”
At that exact moment, they saw Ves suddenly yell at Milly, gesturing at her to go away. And Milly left him.
“Ves no the other hand, as you already know, dislikes anyone who tries to get close to him,” Wender said dully.
Dr Elrick continued chatting and playing with the children (though he kept an eye on Ves) until the sun set. He stayed for dinner, seating himself at one of the tables amongst the children (to have a clear view of Ves who was seated on an adjacent table) and told them stories of his own childhood on an island off the coast of the Etrikan continent. Milly sat next to Ves, talking to him animatedly though he paid her no attention; playing with the vegetables on his plate.
The doctor was turning his head away when Ves suddenly dropped his fork on his plate, slapping a hand to his forehead and wincing in pain.
“What is it?” Milly asked. “Are you okay?”
“It’s my head,” Ves told her. “… It’s about to happen again.”
The doctor furrowed his brows wondering what Ves meant. What was about to happen again? He looked down at his watch momentarily; the time read a quarter to nine.
Ves stood up from the table.
“I’m going to bed,” he told Milly.
“Alright, goodnight then,” she said.
Dr Elrick stood up and followed Ves out of the dinning hall, down two hallways towards the boys’ dormitories. He kept his distance, watching as Ves stumbled down the hallway holding his head, groaning in pain.
Ves kicked off his shoes when he got to the dorm and collapsed onto his bed. Dr Elrick watched silently from the door as Ves writhed for a moment, holding his head tightly … then he stopped. The doctor watched him sit up look around the room with a dazed look on his face.
“So that’s how it happens,” Dr Elrick spoke.
Ves looked up at him with raised eyebrows.
“Who are you?” he asked, not recognizing him.
“My name is Armando Elrick,” the doctor replied.
“Do you work here?”
“Then you don’t belong here. Please leave.”
Wender walked into the room at the moment.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“W – Wender, Wender,” Ves said, pointing at the doctor, “this man … this strange man came in just now and —!”
Ves broke off. He frowned at the doctor.
“Wait … I think I know him,” he said.
“Yes, you do,” Dr Elrick said.
“You’re that doctor, aren’t you?”
“… What are you doing here?
“At the orphanage? I’ve been here all day”
“It’s true, Wender said. “Dr Elrick has been here since the afternoon.”
Ves looked down at the floor, frowning in contemplation.
“It … must have happened again,” he said.
“What must have happened?” Wender asked.
“He lost his memory just now,” Dr Elrick said.
Dr Elrick walked over to Ves’ bed and sat down next to him.
“Ves,” he said, “can you tell us exactly how it happens?”
“No,” Ves said, shaking his head. “You’re just going to tell the others so they can make fun of me and say bad things about me.”
“Why on earth would I do that?” the doctor laughed.
“I dunno, you people are always doing things like that,”
“I don’t think your memory loss is funny. I only want to help you fix it.”
“I don’t need help. I’m fine,”
“Do you really believe that? You can’t honestly tell me that you want to live your life like this … always forgetting the important things. No, I don’t think so. It must get on your nerves often, always waking up and not knowing a thing; where you are, why you’re there … that nerve-racking feeling of disorientation. It must be devilishly frustrating.”
Ves didn’t say anything for a while.
“Fine, I’ll tell you,” Ves said, dully to the doctor. “But not Wender,” he added shaking his head.
“Very well,” Dr Elrick said with a nod. “Wender please leave Ves and I alone for a moment.”
Wender nodded and left the room, closing the door behind her.
“I … get these painful headaches everyday,” Ves explained, “then I get dizzy … and I stop feeling and hearing anything … then it just goes, my memory.
“Sometimes the headaches are really bad … I just … pass out. Some memories do come back, some stuff comes back all mixed up and I can’t make any sense of it. I like to draw, memories come back much faster when I’m doing that. Pictures, sounds, smells and some … feelings … bring back memories. Then it happens again … and everything just goes again,”
“Its kind of like a jigsaw puzzle that you’re in the process solving,” Dr Elrick said, “and just when you’re almost done putting all the pieces together something comes and just breaks it up and throws the pieces all over the place. Then you have to start all over again.”
“Do you really think you can help me?” he asked the doctor.
“Yes. We have to try or else it could drive you mad someday,” Dr Elrick replied
“I don’t think I’ll go mad … I don’t think about it too much, so I’m just fine,” Ves said. “And I don’t think you can fix it.”
“Really?” Dr Elrick laughed a little. “Will you at least let me try?”
Ves smiled to himself.
“Whatever, I don’t really care,” he said.
Some of the other boys came into the dorm to sleep. The doctor looked at his watch and sighed.
“It’s late and I should be going now,” he said. “Goodnight, Ves.”
The doctor stood up and left the room.
“So, what now?” asked Wender who was waiting for the doctor in the hallway.
“I need to go home and get some sleep,” Dr Elrick yawned. “But before I leave I’d like to have a word with Miss Twisty.
* * *
When Dr Elrick spoke with Miss Twisty, he thanked her for letting him spend the day at the orphanage. He told her how much he’d enjoyed talking with other caretakers and playing with the children. He told her that he had learned a lot from the experience and congratulated her on doing an excellent job of running the orphanage, and she, of course, was flattered.
And then of course he asked about Ves.
“Ah, yes. I thought you’d take notice of him sooner or later,” Miss Twisty said. “Ves is a very … special boy.”
“Yes,” Dr Elrick nodded. “Wender told me that he has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
“Yes, a condition he’s had since he was born.”
“Well, Miss Twisty, I must tell you that according to what I’ve seen and heard … I don’t believe that Ves is Autistic at all.”
Miss Twisty raised her eyebrows slightly.
“Oh?” she said. “And what do you think is Ves’ case then doctor?”
The doctor cleared his throat and leaned forward in his seat.
“I believe that what Ves has is a terrible memory loss disorder,” he said clearly.
Miss Twisty frowned.
“A memory loss disorder?” she repeated.
Dr Elrick chose his following words carefully.
“Many of caretakers have told me that Ves has always been a rather forgetful boy and that this forgetfulness is one of the reasons he’s so hard to teach anything like reading or writing. Of course, some of the caretakers think he just pretends to have forgotten, and that often he pretends to not know certain people,” the doctor said. “But this is not a case of simple forgetfulness; it absolutely is a memory loss disorder of likes that I have never seen or heard of.”
“But Doctor, how can you be sure of this?” Miss Twisty asked.
“I spoke to Ves himself. He told me all about it … even how it happens."
Miss Twisty was staring at the doctor in disbelief, a hand over her mouth.
“Ves told you about it?” she asked.
“Yes ma’am,” Dr Elrick replied.
“You really must have a special way with children, Doctor,” Miss Twisty said. “Ves rarely opens up to anyone.”
“Thank you ma’am,” Dr Elrick said, bowing his head and then leaning back. “If you’d allow me ma’am, I’d like to examine Ves for a whole day at my practice. I think I can help him and I’d love to.”
Miss Twisty sat in silence for a while, contemplating. The doctor suspected that she was in shock at everything he’d told just told her, but she didn’t let it show. Then she said finally:
“Very Well … I’ll have Wender bring him to your practice tomorrow morning.”
* * *
Wender and Ves arrived at Astra’s Angel at half past 8 o’clock the following morning. They found Dr Elrick waiting for them at the front desk.
“So why exactly do you want to examine Ves for a whole day again?” Wender asked the doctor.
“I want to know when exactly he loses his memory and I want an MRI scan of his brain at that exact moment,” the doctor replied.
Apart from lunch in the city, they spent the whole day in Dr Elrick’s office. Wender told Dr Elrick to give Ves a pencil and some sheets of paper to sketch on.
“Amazing,” Dr Elrick mused as he saw one of Ves’ sketches. “The illustrations are so life like. Your extraordinary art skills must be linked to some process in your brain that tries to compensate for the faulty storage of memories.”
“Sometimes … I don’t remember what I draw. Like this picture here,” Ves said handing the doctor his latest sketch. “I don’t know when this happened.”
The sketch showed a girl of about 10 years, playing with her skipping rope in the backyard of a suburban home.
“I think that girl's name is Julie or something,” Ves said.
“Interesting,” the doctor said.
At 8 pm, just when they were about to go out for dinner, Ves told them that his head had started stinging. Dr Elrick rushed him back into the building, to the lab. He laid Ves on the platform of the MRI machine and told him to stay still for a while, and then he turned on the machine.
“What do you see?” Wender asked Dr Elrick as they stood by the monitor showing images of Ves’ brain.
“There’s a lot of brain activity at the moment,” he told her with squinted eyes “… a rapid build-up of neural-electric energy. I don’t understand why.”
Ves started writhing and shaking his head in pain, making the image of his brain on the screen unclear.
“Ves, please try to stay still for just a short whi –!”
The doctor didn’t finish his sentence for Ves stopped moving completely that moment; he’d fainted.
“… Oh my,” Dr Elrick muttered looking at the image on the screen of the monitor. “This is something else.”
“What? What do you see?” Wender asked, frantically.
Ves stirred and opened his eyes a minute later.
“W - Where?” he groaned.
Wender left the doctor’s side and went to Ves. Dr Elrick turned off the MRI machine after printing some of the last scans of Ves’ brain.
“… Wender? Where are we?” Ves said sitting up.
“It’s okay Ves, you’re safe,” Wender told him.
Dr Elrick walked towards Ves and bent down until he was level with him. He pulled out a tiny torch from his lab coat and shined it in Ves’ eyes.
“What … are you doing?” Ves asked.
“Your pupils are dilated. Your breathing is labored,” Dr Elrick said, putting a hand on his chest. “Your heartbeat is fast but is normalizing. And you’re extremely disoriented … dizzy, am I right?”
“Yes … but who are you?” Ves said.
“Doctor, I think he needs to lie down,” Wender said.
“Yes. There’s a bed in one of the other rooms. Let’s leave this place,” Dr Elrick said.
After putting Ves to sleep, Wender and Dr Elrick returned to his office. As they were sitting down, Mrs. Wesley walked into the room.
“Working late?” she asked.
“Yes,” the doctor replied. “And you?”
“On my way home, actually. I was just locking up my office,” Mrs. Wesley said. “What’s the latest on Ves Asirin’s case?”
“It’s … almost unbelievable. Have a look at these three MRI scans.”
Dr Elrick handed Mrs. Wesley the printed images of Ves’ brain.
“What am I looking at?” Mrs. Wesley asked.
“The first scan was taken about a minute before Ves lost his memory,” Dr Elrick told her. “What do you see?”
“Unusually high levels of brain activity, especially in the Medial Temporal Lobe and surrounding cortices.”
“Yes. Now look at the next scan and tell me what you see?”
“A very significant decrease in brain activity. And, my god, these dark areas; the entire hippocampal formation; CA fields, denstrate gyrus and subicular complex … and the parahippocumpal corties, the entorhinal and perirhinal … these parts of the brain are completely 'shut down'!”
“Armando, how can this be? What exactly happened?”
“Explain it to me as well,” Wender cut in, “in a way I can understand please. I don’t know any parts of the brain.”
The doctor took in a deep breath then exhaled.
“I’ll explain this as slowly and clearly as I can. I’m still trying to make sense of it myself,” Dr Elrick said. “Wender, what time did Ves wake up this morning?”
“It was half past 7,”
“And what time was it when he complained about his headache tonight,”
“Around 8 o’clock,”
“And yesterday the headache started at a quarter to 9; I was watching him,”
Mrs. Wesley shrugged in confusion.
“And what does that all mean?” she asked.
“It means that everyday, from the moment that Ves wakes up, it takes about 10 to15 hours for his memory to fail. And I suspect that this happens every 10-15 hours regardless of whether he’s awake or asleep.”
“About two times in 24 hours?”
“Possibly. And at this 10th or 15th hour, Ves has a migraine attack caused by a mysterious build up of neural-electric energy in his head, which is most active in the Medial Temporal Lobe; the hippocampal formation, which constitutes the parts in the brain that many scientists and psychologists believe to be responsible for storage and recollection of memory. This surge of neural-electric energy build up ends, of course, with a system wide ‘blackout’ that I believe not only shuts down those parts of his brain but also erases most of the new memories that have not yet been permanently stored. And as you may or may not know, it takes up to several months for memories to be stored permanently.”
“For a simpler explanation, allow me to use the analogy of a Personal Computer that you’ve been using all day without saving any data to the hard disk. Then there comes a powerful electric surge that crashes your computer and erases all the data temporarily stored in the Random Access Memory … even worse, it partially fries your hard disk and corrupts some of the data stored there too. Imagine if that happened to you everyday, every 10 to15 hours.”
Wender shook her head and started crying.
“That sounds … so terrible,” she sobbed.
Dr Elrick sighed, took off his glasses, slumped back in his chair and closed his eyes.
“This is beyond me,” he said. “I’ve never heard or read of any case like this.”
Mrs. Wesley placed the printed images on the doctor’s desk and scratched her hair.
“… I have,” she said.
The doctor opened his eyes and sat up straight.
“What did you say?” he asked Mrs. Wesley.
“I said I’ve heard a case like this … several of them actually,” she replied.
Mrs. Wesley exhaled and put a hand on Wender’s shoulder to comfort her.
“There was a string of such strange cases over 10 years ago. You won’t have heard of them because they were hushed up by the government,” Mrs. Wesley explained
“The church of Orem?” Wender asked.
“Not just the church,” Mrs. Wesley said. “Governments of the Opus Empra, the United Atlantic States, Ire Country, Nihon and many other countries as well,”
“I don’t know it remains a mystery to this day.”
Dr Elrick frowned.
“How did you hear about these cases, Rita?” he asked.
“The same way I heard about the secret auction for your contract, Armando. I have my sources,” Mrs. Wesley replied.
Mrs. Wesley looked at her watch and let out a little squeal.
“Oh, my! it’s gotten really late. I have to get home. I don’t trust my husband with my kids; he likes to spoil them with lots of unhealthy junk food,” she said. “Quickly Armando, give me a pen and paper.”
The doctor did as he was told and Mrs. Wesley scribbled a name and an address on the paper then handed it back to the doctor. Then she turned on her heel and walked off.
“Dr Roland Emerich?” Dr Elrick said reading from the note.
“He’s a retired Neurologist, he worked on some of the cases,” Mrs. Wesley said as she was walking out of the door. “I believe he’s the man you’re looking for … if you want to know more.”
* * *
Roland Emerich lived on the outskirts of the city, an hour and half’s drive to the district of Veramil. His house was a neat 19th century cottage surrounded by a large and colorful garden with a myriad species of flowers, some of them exotic. An orchard of trees loomed in the backyard.
When the cab that Wender, Ves and Dr Elrick had taken drove down the driveway to front of the cottage, they saw Roland with a hose watering a flowerbed in front of the porch. He was an old bearded and bolding man in his late 60s. Dr Elrick was the first one out of the cab; he strode towards Roland and held out a hand to greet him.
“Good afternoon, Dr Emerich,” he greeted
“No, it’s just Roland now,” Roland said, shaking Dr Elrick’s hand. “I’m not a doctor anymore.”
“Forgive me, Roland,” Dr Elrick apologized. “My name is Armando Elrick.”
“Ah, yes. Rita’s protégé. Come to pay a visit to your old masters, eh?” Roland chuckled.
Roland turned to see Wender and Ves coming out of the car. As he got a proper look at Ves he dropped his hose, his eyes widening in shock … or rather disbelief.
“Roland? Is anything wrong?” Dr Elrick asked.
Roland quickly looked away from Ves and composed himself, grinning at the doctor.
“Stupid Roland, where are your manners,” he said to himself. “Please come inside.”
He led them into the cottage, to the living room and when they’d sat down, Dr Elrick introduced Wender and Ves. Then he told Roland the reason why they’d come to see him, going into detail about Ves’ condition.
“Yes, you’re quite right in assuming that I’ve heard of such a case,” Roland said. “And of course Rita Wesley, who would know all about it because of her sniffing around my files at the old hospital where we worked together, is the one who told you that I’d worked on some of these cases.”
“What can you tell us about them?” Dr Elrick asked.
Roland sighed, turning to look at Ves for a moment.
“First we’ll have some tea,” he said, “then I’ll talk.
He stood up and left for the kitchen. He returned some 10 minutes later carrying a tray with a steaming kettle of tea, some teacups on saucers and a plate full of cookies.
“My wife baked these cookies just before she left for the city,” Roland told them “She really loves to bake. She went to buy ingredients for a cake she’s making for my nephew’s birthday.”
Roland placed the tray on the table and Wender stood up to serve them. Roland didn’t drink any tea or eat any of the cookies, though, he just sat with his fingers crossed under his chin watching Ves, his eyes were almost narrowed.
When they were done with their tea, Roland kept his promise, clearing his throat to tell his story.
“Ten years ago when I was at the height of my career, I and several other prominent neurologists, scientists, medical doctors and psychologists of the time were summoned by a secret council consisting of the heads of states of the three world powers: Enger Country, the U.AS and the Opus Empra. We were tasked by this council to examine 12 children aged between 4 and 7, gathered from around the world, who were suffering from some mysterious mental illnesses. Of what importance the children were to this council, we were never told. We were to find out what exactly was wrong with these children and report back to the council as soon as possible.
“Of course the first logical steps were to conduct MRI scans of their brains or operate on their brains and look for physical brain damage. But these children … had no brain damage … all that we did record were high levels of neural-electrical energy in their brains, the cause of which we could not discern.
“The psychologists were just as baffled. All of their ‘mental hypnosis’ and other psychological tests were inconclusive.
“These mental illnesses had strange effects on the children. Some could not speak, some couldn’t see, some couldn’t hear anything, feel anything or walk even though all the parts of their bodies that served these functions were perfectly healthy.
“While we were arguing with each other over our theories of what was happening to them, one by one, the children suddenly started dying of strokes …. They were all dead within 2 weeks; their brains just gave out. The secret council sent us home soon after and had us swear an oath not to disclose any information on the children’s cases to the public.
“A year went by. In that time after, I heard of many stories around the world of children aged 4 to 7 dying of mysterious incurable body dysfunctions. The media and the public thought nothing of them … but I knew these cases were similar to those of the secret council’s 12 children, after carefully looking into those stories I found that I was right.
“Then the secret council came for me again in the summer of 1994. They wanted me and four others to examine a black Etrikan boy about 8 or 9 years old. Upon first seeing the boy, we thought there was nothing wrong with him until of course we did MRI scans of his brain saw that his brain too had high levels of neural electric energy. But he was fine, really; he could talk, walk, see, feel normally …. But a week later he started having seizures. Then he stopped talking, though this, we found was a personal choice of his. When I tried to force him to speak, he said only in his native Etrikan language, ‘The old enemies seek to learn my secrets … but I shan’t tell a single soul. I’ll speak only to the High Master of Orem and the Seven.’ He repeated these words over and over again to anyone who talked to him. And finally he got his wish; some Orem Knights came to collect him one day and took him to see the High Master, I never saw him again.
“I hear that he stopped speaking completely after he’d seen the High Master … well, at least not in any language that normal people can hear. They say he speaks only Kapriseik now, the language of the angels. I also heard that he became like the High-spirited, more like the High Master, with all three great eyes; red, blue and green.”
“Roland,” Dr Elrick asked with a slight frown, “could this boy you’re speaking of be Orem church’s Grand Paladin?”
“You mean Dret Morbis?” Wender cut in excitedly.
“Yes, that’s what he calls himself these days. Back then he was called Lato,” Roland told them. “Five years after they took Lato to see the High Master, the church called on me yet again, this time they came to see me personally … with another boy. They were particularly interested in this boy’s case more than any of the other children … he was extremely well guarded. But … unfortunately, like the other children, I could not help him.”
Roland slumped back in his chair and smiled looking at Ves who, uninterested in Roland’s story, had fallen asleep, leaning his head against Wender’s shoulder.
“You said this young lad has a memory disorder?” Roland asked Dr Elrick.
“Yes,” the doctor replied.
“Hmm … that’s very interesting,” Roland said. “He was only 4 years when I last saw him. He couldn’t speak then … he didn’t even seem to be aware of anyone but himself, living in his own self-centered reality, that hasn’t changed much. I suppose that’s why they settled with notion of him having an Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Dr Elrick raised his eyes for a moment, then he smiled in full understanding.
“But of course … Ves Asirin is the boy the church brought to you 5 years ago,” he said.
“Roland, is that true?” Wender gasped in surprise.
“Yes,” Roland said. “Back then the constant high levels of neural-electrical energy is all we could see on the scans of his brain. I was certain that he would die soon … he used to have such terrible seizures that only stopped when he was sedated. It really is a miracle that he’s alive … even more miraculous is the way his brain has learned to discharge the surges of neural-electrical energy … shutting off parts of the brain and then restarting. His memory loss is an unfortunate, though necessary payoff.”
Dr Elrick exhaled and closed his eyes for a moment, realizing that there was no permanent way to heal Ves’ memory … realizing that that brain process was now as vital to Ves as breathing in and out … and that it was for Ves a healthy process.
“Roland,” Dr Elrick began, “you said that you and the other doctors 10 years ago had theories concerning what caused the unusual high levels of neural-electrical energy in the 12 children. I’d like to hear your theory … what do you think happened to those children?”
Roland cleared his throat before he spoke.
“We, men of science,” he said, “ know very well now and cannot deny or pretend that this world that we live in is full of many strange, mysterious and unexplainable forces … supernatural forces; the High-spirited, Wicca, alchemic transmutation, Spirits … and even angels.”
“You think that something supernatural was responsible for what happened to the children?” Dr Elrick asked with a look of confusion.
“Something … or someone,” Roland said. “Someone who, like the church and the secret council of world governments, knew of the importance of those children … someone who wanted them dead.”
The second those last words left Roland’s mouth, the door bell rang.
“Excuse me,” Roland said.
He stood up and walked out of the living room to answer the door.
“Well now,” boomed Roland’s voice from the front door, “if it isn’t good old Elanora Twisty!”
Wender’s eyes widened in shock and she turned to face the hallway leading from the front door.
“Who are you calling old?” said Miss Twisty, angrily. “You’ve grown old yourself, you git!”
“Ah!” exclaimed Roland again. “And you lieutenant Eslo, came along as well!”
“Please, sir,” said the man Roland had addressed, “Eslo is fine, just Eslo.”
“Still just Eslo? No surname to go with it, eh?” Roland chuckled.
“Roland, invite us in you miserable nut!” Miss Twisty snapped.
“Yes, of course. So sorry, forgot my manners once again.”
Roland, Miss Twisty and the Orem Knight whose name was Eslo entered the living room.
“ Good afternoon ma’am,” Wender said, standing up and bowing her at Miss Twisty.
“Afternoon Wender and you Dr Elrick,” Miss Twisty replied.
The doctor kindly bowed his head.
“Ma’am this is a surprise, what are you doing here?” Wender asked.
“Eslo and I had gone to Astra’s Angel to collect you and Ves. When we arrived there Mrs. Wesley informed us that you’d left to visit Roland here, who is an old friend of mine,” Miss Twisty explained.
“Will you be staying a while? Shall I put on some tea?” Roland asked.
“No thank you, Roland, but we must be on our way,” Miss Twisty said.
Wender put her hand on Ves shoulder and shook him gently.
“Ves dear, wake up, we’re leaving,” she said.
Ves opened his eyes and turned look at the new faces in the room, he only recognized Miss Twisty of course.
“Dr Elrick, I am afraid to say there won’t be any space for you in the car. Can you find your own way back into the city?” Miss Twisty asked.
“Yes ma’am, no need to worry, I’ll call myself a cab,” Dr Elrick said.
“Very good. We’ll be on our way then,” Miss Twisty said.
Ves waved goodbye to the doctor and then said to Roland:
“Thank you for the cookies. I really liked them … I think I remember eating them … some time ago.”
Roland slowly grinned, tears coming to his eyes.
“Well, bravo. My wife will be glad to hear that,” Roland said. “Please let me pack some cookies for you and your friends at the orphanage.”
Roland dashed to the kitchen and returned a minute later with a jar of cookies, which he handed to Ves. Roland and Dr Elrick escorted Wender, Ves, Miss Twisty and Eslo to the car in the driveway and waved at them as they drove off, then the two went back into the cottage and returned to living room.
“Am I right in assuming that it was you who called Miss Twisty here when you went into the kitchen to make the tea?” Dr Elrick asked Roland.
“Yes,” Roland replied. “I’m sorry, but you must understand that that child must always be in the protection of the church or at least within reach of them.”
“I’m guessing then that you did find out the importance of those 12 children to that secret council … and of Ves' importance to the church?”
“Yes … but that is too great a secret to reveal. I cannot tell you,”
“But why then did you tell us everything else?”
“Because … you and young Miss Wender really want to help Ves cope with his condition, and I do believe that you can. And even if that condition of his really is incurable … Ves needs people like the two of you in his life.”
* * *
After dinner, when she had helped tuck in some of the younger children into bed and read them bedtime stories till they had fallen asleep, Wender went to see Miss Twisty in her office.
“Yes, come in. Have a seat,” Miss Twisty beckoned as Wender entered the office.
“Ma’am …” Wender began, “I’m sorry but … I have to know.”
Wender swallowed before she spoke again.
“Is it true?” she asked. “Did something … or someone hurt Ves like that … his brain – his memory, I mean?”
“Yes,” Miss Twisty replied.
“Who – who would do such a thing? What kind of evil—?”
“— Wender, lower your voice, child!”
Wender nodded and composed herself.
“I’m sorry…” Wender said. “Who did it?”
“I cannot tell you,” Miss Twisty told her.
“I’m sworn to an oath of secrecy to the High Master of Orem himself. I cannot reveal any information concerning that case.”
“—Wender you must respect me!”
Wender nodded slowly.
“Roland, that old bugger, should not have told you a single word on the matter. But I understand why he told you what he did … the guilt of failing to save those poor 12 children and the keeping of such dark secrets must eat at his soul … but it is a price he and the few that know must pay, a responsibility we must all uphold,” Miss Twisty said.
Miss Twisty leaned forward and said to Wender in a very serious tone:
“I trust that, as it is a part of his profession, Dr Elrick will keep all that he has learned to himself. And I want you to do the same. I don’t want you looking into the matter any further, it will not serve you or Ves. Am I understood?”
“Yes ma’am,” Wender said.
“Do I have your word and your promise?”
“You do, ma’am,
“I have a request.”
Miss Twisty leaned back.
“Let me hear it,” she said.
“I would like Ves to continue seeing Dr Elrick,” Wender said.
“… Very well, he shall,” Miss Twisty nodded. “But I have a request too.”
Miss Twisty smiled.
“If it’s okay with you, I would like the church to pay for the sessions, expensive as they are, from now on,” she said.
Wender nodded slowly, her cheeks going red.
“You’re a brilliant young woman, Wender,” Miss Twisty said. “Your heart is filled with only goodness and love … and this orphanage … and Ves are privileged to have you.”
Wender grinned, her cheeks going even redder.
“Thank you ma’am … that means a lot to me.”
* * *
When Ves walked into Dr Elrick’s office, he found the doctor by his window, looking out at the city scape.
“I really love this view, don’t you?” Dr Elrick said.
Ves went to stand by his side.
“It’s nice, I guess,” he said.
“Where’s Wender today?” Dr Elrick asked.
“She’s taken some of the older kids to a place called a museum,” Ves told him.
“What a shame. I’ve grown fond of seeing her everyday. Such a fine woman she is.”
The doctor left the window and went to sit behind his desk.
“I have something for you,” he said to Ves.
“Oh? What is it?” Ves asked.
“Come and have a look.”
Ves went to stand in front of the Dr Elrick’s desk. Dr Elrick lifted a thin brown package from the desk and handed it to Ves.
“Go on, open it,” the doctor said.
Ves tore off the brown wrapping and pulled from it a brand new leather bound book with a large gold plated letter ‘V’ on the cover.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Open it,” Dr Elrick told him.
Ves pulled strap from the cover and opened the book and went through its pages.
“It’s empty,” he said.
“That’s right. It’s meant to be a scrapbook. You’re supposed to draw in it or write in it like journal and stick things like photographs and clippings from magazines and newspapers. I want you to use it to record your most important memories in there from now on.
“It’s mine?” Ves asked with a smile.
“Yes. I had it made just for you,” Dr Elrick said.
Ves closed the scrapbook and put the strap back onto the cover. On this strap was a small silver plate on which were engraved three symbols.
“What do they mean?” he asked Dr Elrick.
“They’re Nihonese ideograms or ‘hiragana’ ... ‘me – mo – ri’, that’s what they say,” Dr Elrick explained.
“Me – mo – ri …” Ves repeated to himself.
Ves looked up at the doctor, meeting his eyes for the first time.
“You still think you can help me?” he asked.
“Yes,” Dr Elrick nodded with a grin. “I think I can.”
“ Thank you … you really are a good doctor.”