"Rebirth" Prologue ~~~~~~ June, 2002 Northfield, MN Radiance streamed in the window as the end of the day dragged the sun lower into the sky. The room was small and open - a deep blue carpet caught the brilliance and tossed it against cream-colored walls. A mahogany table sat to the right of the window, four chairs pushed neatly underneath it, and a plain tablecloth blanketing the shiny surface. To the left lay a modest-sized kitchen, pale green in color, with wooden cupboards and smooth counters of the same colors. The kitchen gave way to a short hallway, lined with pictures, leading to the front door. On the opposite side of the kitchen and makeshift dining area was a small den. A recliner was in one corner on the other side of a wall lined with an expensive stereo system. Where a TV would sit in most homes was a large window overlooking a lake, still and peaceful. Facing the calming view was a coffee table, the same mahogany as in the dining room, and, behind that, a couch. A smaller, square table was to the right of the couch and on it rested a vase of flowers and a picture. The only sounds in the room were the steady ticking of a clock mounted over the dining room table, and the soft breathing of the room's one occupant. He was stretched out on the couch, one arm tucked under his head, the other pressed to his body as if he was cold. His eyes moved back and forth beneath his lids as he dreamed, and every so often one hand would twitch restlessly. Otherwise, he was perfectly still. For a long time nothing moved except the passage of time and then, without any indication or warning, his eyes snapped open and his great, gulping breaths swallowed up the silence and the calm. A hand reached out blindly, snagging the picture off of the table. He brought it into his field of vision and gazed at it, his respiration slowing like it was a drug. He traced the image with one fingertip, a sad smile curling his lips and bringing recognition into his eyes. Both arms wrapped around the picture, clutching it to his chest as he drifted back to sleep.