He awoke from his sickness a new man. Strange mental clarity. The fever had burned away all that he’d been.
He sat up in bed and looked outside. City grey streaked beneath sky grey. Nebulous striations. Magnetic clouds. The waterfront cranes looked strange like monstrous alien birds in the distance, each of their eyeless faces turned to gaze upon him.
Life recharged with energy. Ecstatic heart. Everything was still. Very still. Seagulls cried from the rooftops.
He didn’t mourn what he’d lost, if indeed he’d lost anything at all. There were pictures around him. Books. Notes. Relics of someone who’d lived there before, in that apartment, in his body, but they were relics of someone else’s life.
He didn’t even want to know that dead man’s name. He only wanted to know his own.
Mr. Gacsnay will be your name, a raspy, powerful voice said from somewhere beyond the veil. You have been given another chance to live life as a man. Not as one of the empty, mewling children as you’ve been. You’ve been given the chance because you have been given a mission. Accept it and live as a man, or refuse the fever and next time will consume you.
He felt no fear at the voice, the mission, or the threat. He felt very stable. Still. For the first time he could remember feeling no need to make noise just to make noise. No need to issue any opinions. No need to formulate a to-do plan.
From there, he went into the hall and up the stairs to the building rooftop. A slight rain had begun to fall. It felt good on his bare skin. It occurred to him he was only in his shorts. He didn’t care.
He walked to the edge of the rooftop and climbed up onto the ledge. He gripped the edge of the ledge with his toes. He looked over the city and saw a world glorious in its mystery. He understood nothing about it anymore. No, he never understood it. Now, though, he admitted that.
He embraced it.
As the rain fell harder he raised his arms up in celebration. He turned his face to the sky and swallowed its water. He was cold and electric and alive. The world’s lies no longer touched him.
He was born again. He was alive for the very first time. He was Mr. Gacsnay, and he would be consumed by fever or else find out exactly what that meant.