Marcus shelves the last of the books on his cart with a frown, sighing. He casts a despondent frown behind himself as he turns the cart around, eyes travelling from the fully-stocked bookshelves to a bright blue binder sitting atop a stack of compressed cardboard boxes, all labeled in thick black Sharpie with the word 'books', written in a large, somewhat curly scrawl. The most recent tower of books to be scanned in sits beside the boxes; a haphazard and tipping compilation of books of various sizes, set one on top of another in no particular order. It seems that whoever stacked the books also hadn't taken the laws of physics and gravity into consideration, for books as big as laptops were placed over books one-third that size, oftentimes in the centre of the collection so that the stack wobbles and sways with each breeze, however slight.

The shop-keep ignores the tall pile, scooping up the blue binder. It contains a spiral bound notebook, and fifty or so double-sided printed pages, all decorated in copious amounts of red, orange, green, and blue inks, noting word variation, correction, and the striking-out of entire sentences. This binder contains the manuscript and notes of the shop-keep himself, for a story, a book, that he, Marcus, had been working on since his freshman year of high school. Ten years later and he was still writing that selfsame novel, to the point where he often will stay up all through the night, editing and writing and typing the chapters of the novel into the morning, not noticing how late it truly is until he reads the clock and realizes with a start that he has to hurry to be at work before he runs late that day. Today was one such day, and he looks forward to getting home and falling asleep on the couch to the soft sounds of classic rock and the constant bubbling of the twenty gallon fish tank he had set up in the living room of his small studio apartment.

That thought causes a slight smile to spread across his face, and he grabs the ring of keys from his desk, the binder tucked tightly against his chest. Finding the key that corresponds with the front lock on the entrance door, Marcus switches the lights to the small shop off, then walks out the door, locking the two key-locks behind him. His slightly beat-up 1990s Volkswagen Rabbit sits along the curb, its metallic red surface laced with scratches and rust alike.

Marcus gives the vehicle a quick once-over before unlocking it, slipping into the driver's seat and setting the blue three-ring on the passenger seat. He starts the car with another key from the key ring, turning the heat up to drive out the crisp, late-fall air from the cab of the car.

While waiting for the windshield to defrost and for the nip of the wintry air to leave the area he bobs his head to old rock tunes on the radio. After several minutes, the man switches the car into gear and backs out from his parallel park, driving down Main Street at a leisurely pace; he is one of very few out on the road at this point, for the green LED lettering on his dashboard announces that it is exactly 11:23 at night.

Something catches his eyes, and he looks away from the road and out the passenger-side window. A young woman, of about twenty or twenty-one years of age waves at him, her dark brown and shockingly wavy hair blowing into tangles in the combined wind of both his passing car and the natural weather. She appears to be wearing plain jeans and a baggy black sweater, giving him a rather disturbing grin, her eyes too wide; unnaturally so. Unsettled, he watches her as he drives, focused entirely on the girl, and saving none of it for the road whatsoever. Suddenly, the wheel of the car jerks in his hands, spinning wildly to the left as the vehicle careens in the same direction. Everything moves too quickly for Marcus' mind to comprehend it. Flashes of scenes go through his mind.

The road.

The shattered windows of his car, the world flipped upside-down.

Searing pain from his waist down, clouding his mind.

The brief sight of the girl hovering over him; the wide-eyed look and stretched-out smile.

Black.