At night, the children walked to the top of the hill, where the school looms over the town, and stack wooden pallets against a drainpipe to climb atop the alcove and leap from there to the main building, and scale to the highest point, where a small metal shed holds cable and antennas. The children checked the orientation of the antennas and made corrections as necessary, guided by starlight, and when they were satisfied they took two and a half foot pipes and began pounding at the walls of the shed, slowly, as though they were mimicking a pulse, as though they were trying to call down something to the city of Devlin. I watched them from the invisible hearse, parked in a graveyard to the south, and fiddled with the scanner, trying to see if I could pick up a return signal, but all I heard was static. The graves there were partially wound with multicolored string, where visitors would tie a loop around the obelisk-like headstones upon each visit, with some so covered it was as if they wore sweaters. I noticed every headstone had at least one loop bound to it, all in the same color string, and I imagined some old man walking the rows every so often, checking for bare headstones. The fields outside the graveyard were not so much a hiding-place as a locus of surrogate light, containing fragmented images from all directions, the breath frozen as luminous things hunted out my time-pulse. Gratitude sprang up and forth once the lights stopped. I had planted my journals out in the fields, not staying long enough to see what sprouted up, struggling for sunlight, new words meshed from the old. Airborne harvesters sifted the grain, the pages, the clouds, pulling the materials apart for pieces to what the harvester-cult considered a portal to end-of-time, something called the Final Wisdom, diagrams hidden in the steganographic source-text of their holy books. The automated pilots waved, and I waved back. The earth was filled with portals.

Distance between cities was marked by rural touchstones, by the distance of silos and groves of trees, so that those who came here to hide often built mockeries of such standard scenery, farms whose size fooled the eye, modified road signs tricking the unwary into following endless emptied creekbeds in search of gas and lodging, the husks of cars with Illinois plates rusting in the later summer sun. Unschooled children with .22s hid in the trees and shot out tires at unimaginable range, sending half-wolf dogs out to pick through the wreckage like a turtle's tasty innards. I paid two of them to watch over me as I entered the edge of town, where a partial immortal hid in a jar from the agents of the Empyreal, little more than a head and pieces of chest left of him, speaking advice to the Mayor of Devlin from some future eigenstate. Dampeners in the tiles of the ceiling along the hallways of the Devlin city council building absorbed faith and radiated blistered fear. I was protected, but knew to pay attention to such foul omens. Children smiled at me, unsettlingly, and I whistled short themes they would remember and whistle themselves, in quiet times, for the rest of their lives. Orange voices. At a certain length, tone-sequences began to fold on themselves, algorithms coded in the first few sequences in order to map the unfolding of the entire piece, frequency limiters and repetition hues, cerulean in the light, a milk-white hum as the interoffice spiral tightened and I closed in on this place's heart, tucked away, stored in a jar of bleach and gooseberries to repel stray dreams. "You, you are a key," I mumbled, and tucked the jar beneath my coat, and so was caught by weekend vigilantes in homemade police uniforms.

the exit is hidden within the exit