For those who can think in the languages of time, graveyards, like the landscapes into which they are cut; betray their secrets for the price of a glance. Oakbird McHenry stood before the headstone and smiled. The ground beneath his old, bare feet was lush and mattress soft, the turf young and still scarred at the edge where it had been cut and laid only a few weeks before. The warmth of the sun dried the solitary tear that had escaped his left eye, his good eye, and the small patch of cheek above his beard, which he had dyed a special blue for the occasion, felt pleasant as the skin became tight and cooled in the breeze.

Momentarily, guilt stung his chest. Murder was not natural to his hand and whilst the only function of the man now here buried was simply to die, be buried and cause reason for said headstone; the memory of issuing the command still made him feel a little dizzy. He read the inscription again:

‘He rests, shaped perfect at the right hand. Restless pathways now ended that peace may carry a gentle soul, sleep in the kingdom of heaven.’

Oakbird sneered inwardly; like all messenger texts, the key words in the third, fourth and twentieth positions were its only real function but even so; the glib sentimentality was in rather poor taste. This man, this dead being; peace and rest had played no part in his short existence. But this was the way of conspiracy and this man, this thing now here buried; was just another part of another layer of another part of a more secret, deeper conspiracy. If only they had known what they were starting, those ancient few. Had all this bloodshed, this pain and upset; had that really been their intention? He doubted it, but if you allow the visionaries to be in charge then that’s what you get, visions. What you don’t get is detail. The wretched corpse now six feet beneath him was one such detail. At least his mother has been in on it; at least he had been spared that guilt.