After all these years, it just seems like someone ought to tell the story the way it should have been told all along.
When Paul Phillips walked into that antique store, Astor City was a typical small Midwestern city, kind of like Green Bay without the Packers, if you know what I mean. There was nothing, really, to distinguish it from any other medium-sized city – the same crime, the same nice people, the same morons, the same saints, the same sinners.
Why this man in this city was chosen for what had to be done, only the chooser completely understands. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
But: Astor City. A little town that sprang up a couple hundred years ago at the junction of two pretty impressive (if not mighty) rivers: The Shikaakwa River and the East Shikaakwa River. Nobody said the settlers were particularly creative, but they did have a knack for locating a place to live.
Within a couple of decades, they had a pretty impressive (if not mighty) middling-sized city, and within a couple of centuries they had a good-sized city with, again, the same crime, the same nice people, the same morons, the same saints, the same sinners, as any number of middling-sized cities you could name.
Obviously, something changed, or else you wouldn’t be reading this story because there’d be no story to tell.
What happened was:
The universe shifted, and something dark burst from a yawning crack in the nature of being.
It raced through the void with an attitude of purpose as fleet and as certain as death, as if it were running from its own demise. It was a black lightningbolt against blackness.
The dark something from the crack in existence did not turn from its perfectly straight path, not even when it passed too close to stars and black holes, where reason said it must be sucked into nothingness.
The unreasonable something-dark sped between asteroids, past comets and through planets, ever silent, ever relentless, ignoring even the curves in the cosmos as it pressed straight on.
When the dark reached the planet you and I call home, it did not speed through, or between, or past. Like ointment melting into an eye, it oozed over the entire outer atmosphere and began to sink slowly down, spreading itself more thinly as it worked its way into the sky, settled into the soil, and dissipated in the water.
Something dark and beyond reason was now part of the very fabric of Earth.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that every action generates an equal reaction, and so something noble and worthy and true blasted into existence at around the same time.
It’s a little harder to describe in just a few words, so let’s just begin by saying there was this bird. And through the ages, the bird sought out men who were noble and worthy and true, to fight the dark.
So: There was this bird. There was this man.
And there was this pottery.
And it was 1995.