The Poison Pie Publishing House presents:

Shaharazad and the 10,001 Diluvian Knights
(link to main page of novel)


July 1, 2020
A central tenet of the ethics of reciprocity is labeled, the "golden rule" and is present in slightly varying formulations in many religious traditions and belief systems. In the New Testament, it is rendered

12Therefore whatever you would have others do unto you, so do unto them. This is the law and the prophets.

while in The Analects it is expressed as the inverse "silver rule",

Tsze-kung asked, saying, "Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."

It was nothing smaller than this ancient principle with which Cole struggled. Shaharazad seemed determined to allow his internal conflict to come to a resolution before the deluge was unleashed.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Han Bennink - unreleased live recording, tracks 3-10 (November 9, 2017, Le Guess Who? Festival, Utrecht, The Netherlands, digital files)

July 2, 2020
Cole was familiar with the story of Abraham. His thoughts returned to it as he considered the sacrifice of his own family to the deluge.

2Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love--Isaac--and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you."

As a child, Cole had been taught that this command was a test of Abraham's faith and so he had always regarded it. Indeed, the author of Genesis explicitly presented the episode in a manner that emphasized this interpretation. Yet, given his present circumstances, Cole began to see the story in a different light. In years to come the descendants of Abraham would kill many in the name of the Lord. The willingness to sacrifice his own son at God's behest provided a justification for all subsequent acts of divinely ordained murder, for the golden rule mandated that he should not do unto others that which he was unwilling to do to himself. Abraham was a hard man of unclouded devotion. He was willing to sacrifice his own son. Thereafter, he could in complete obedience to the golden rule, murder, at the Lord's command, the families of others. His lineage inherited this sanction, granting them perpetual immunity from moral condemnation.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Peter Brötzmann & Heather Leigh - unreleased live recording, track 1 (April 1, 2018, De Studio, Antwerp, Belgium, digital file)

July 3, 2020
We should be cautious in drawing too great a parallel between Cole and Abraham. Cole had no intention of founding one or more religions, certainly not great ones spread across the world nor even a minor cult. Also, Cole was under no illusion that Shaharazad would grant a last minute reprieve, sparing Halley and Elaine from the imminent deluge. Finally, Cole did not possess within himself the internal trait--call it either strength or barbarity, depending on your point of view--that would have allowed him to sacrifice his daughter in the way that Abraham had offered Isaac. Already, Cole experienced the intimations of his weakness, though he could not yet discern the particular detail in which his failure would manifest. Gentle reader, bear with us if we repeat ourselves to exhaustion when we restate that all these thoughts were laid bare to Shaharazad, as if she had already watched them play out, projected on a cosmic screen perceptible only to those unconstrained to a mere four dimensions.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Peter Brötzmann, Marino Pliakas, Michael Wertmüller & Heather Leigh - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-2 (April 6, 2018, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany, digital files)

July 4, 2020
Lying on the mattress in the apartment, Shaharazad appeared to Cole. As a projection, she registered only to his sense of sight. She had no scent to her. Her pale blue illumination was nevertheless calming. The undulations of the tentacles that composed her face hypnotized Cole. It was true that, when Shaharazad had been juxtaposed with his wife, he had joined with her. He admitted an emotional attachment to her, for he was alone and the task before him onerous. He did not dare ask her if she felt the same way because he took for granted that she did not. She was an ancient and alien creature, who had lived on many worlds, separated by hundreds of millions of years. He was merely a tool, useful for the current relocation.

Cole needed another human with whom he could talk. Were there not ten thousand heralds? "I need to talk to another herald," Cole demanded of Shaharazad. In response, she waved her many tentacles languidly, lulling Cole to sleep.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Peter Brötzmann, Marino Pliakas, Michael Wertmüller & Heather Leigh - unreleased live recording, track 3 (April 6, 2018, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany, digital files)

July 5, 2020
Each night, Cole continued to press for a meeting with another herald, though Shaharazad showed no signs of yielding to his demands. Perhaps, she thought he sought to organize a coalition and lead an insurrection against the diluvian knights. Such a notion had passed through Cole's mind, but only fleetingly. He did not the begrudge the aliens a safe haven and he earnestly believed that a smaller population of humanity would be able to live in greater harmony with the Earth, providing everyone a better quality of life, with each generation leaving the planet in no worse shape than they had found it. No, Cole just wanted companionship.

Regarding his determination to see the deluge through, he felt that he had reached no decisive conclusion. Still, Cole's introspection seemed to satisfy Shaharazad, who revealed to him a second set of twelve pairs of numbers, identifying another coordinate in time and space. She explained that, while each of the ten thousand heralds now possessed the seeds of the deluge, a handful would also be given the vaccine to ensure the survival of the race. Based on criteria to which he was not privy, Cole had been selected from among the ten thousand for this task.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Peter Brötzmann & Heather Leigh - unreleased live recording, track 1 (April 27, 2018, Super Deluxe, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 6, 2020
When the appointed time arrived, Cole drove his truck to a rural county an hour and a half north of town. According to the map, this location did not lie within protected lands. It had no special designation. Perhaps it was an expanse of undeveloped, private property. Cole envisioned himself being shot by the owner for trespassing, but he knew that he would not be excused from this task so easily.

The hour for the arrival of the second meteorite, for that is what he assumed he would find, was set for two o'clock in the morning. Accordingly, he had departed town in the dark and, once he exited from the interstate, proceeded slowly along the unfamiliar county roads. The terrain grew increasingly hilly. He entered a forest that surely, in daylight hours, would have pleased him with its overhanging canopy formed of beech, sugar maple, yellow poplar, red oak, buckeye and hickory. Far from any streetlight, with the waning moon close to southern horizon and shielded by the abundant foliage, Cole entered an arboreal tunnel. Halley would have enjoyed this ride. He looked over at the passenger seat and found that his imagination was so deficient, not even Shaharazad appeared to keep him company.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Peter Brötzmann & Heather Leigh - unreleased live recording, track 2 (April 27, 2018, Super Deluxe, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 7, 2020
Still deep within the forest's dark cover, Cole pulled over onto the scant shoulder of the road when the GPS unit indicated that he had arrived. Unlike the previous wildlife management area, there was no clearing here. The road continued on, disappearing around a curve. A barb wire fence was strung along both sides of the road. Beyond that the ground sloped steeply downward. Cole moved adjacent to the fence, just a few feet from the truck. His boots sank into soft, wet earth, reminding him momentarily of the mudflats where the other meteorite had come to rest. With the aid of his flashlight, he peered over the wire, down into a wide gully, in which run-off from the surrounding hills had accumulated. Puddles were scattered over the surface, forming fragmented rings around the bases of old trees. If the meteor landed a hundred yards from here, Cole judged it could be difficult to locate. The forest had not been thinned in decades and in early July the undergrowth was dense. Again, Cole brushed aside his doubts. There was no chance that he should be freed from his obligation by a matter so trivial as being unable to find the vaccine.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Peter Brötzmann & Heather Leigh - unreleased live recording, track 3 (April 27, 2018, Super Deluxe, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 8, 2020
It began to rain. Individual drops fell upon the tree cover, losing their momentum upon impact if not with the first leaf then with the second or third. Thermodynamics and gravity initially conspired to invite smaller droplets to coalesce into larger forms, which reduced the surface area between water and air, then to adopt distended forms that navigated winding paths along branches toward lower elevations. Beneath the canopy, Cole experienced the rain as free-falling rivulets that plunged from kinks and knots in the boughs above. He positioned himself to avoid the largest of these streams. As if both were unsatisfied with their collaboration, thermodynamics broke the streams into discontinuous plugs, which gravity proceeded to fling to the ground following the parabolic trajectories induced by their chaotic motion. As a result, Cole was unable to find a place to stand where he remained dry. As the intensity of the storm increased, the man resigned himself to getting soaked to the skin.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Peter Brötzmann - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-3 (August 3, 2018, Zebulon, Los Angeles, California, United States, digital files)

July 9, 2020
To those in the outside world who remained awake at this late hour, the trail of the meteor lit up the night sky. Hidden beneath the forest canopy, Cole did not receive advance notice of its arrival until it burst through the foliage and crashed into the slope leading from the embankment, on which the road sat, down to the rain-filled gully. So close did it land that the shockwave knocked Cole over. Mud was thrown high in the air and landed in clumps from the hood of the truck to the bed. With his ears ringing, Cole rose immediately. He intended to claim his prize and depart as quickly as possible. He retrieved the shovel and slipped between a gap in the barb wire. He managed to sidle down the slope without losing his balance. The small spherical orb lay exposed in the earth, steam hissing from the wet ground around it. Scooping it up in the shovel, Cole carried it back up the incline, careful to balance it in the metal blade, lest it fall out and roll down the hill to be lost in the gully. In this manner, he successfully navigated his way back through the fence without injury, then deposited the meteorite in the five-gallon bucket. What water had sloshed out during the drive over here had been replenished by the rain. Covered in flecks of mud and soaking wet, Cole returned to the cab and, executing a U-turn, made his get-away.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Peter Brötzmann - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-4 (August 8, 2018, The Chapel, San Francisco, California, United States, digital files)

July 10, 2020
Despite his desire to quickly put miles between himself and the impact site, the heavy rain forced Cole to drive at a speed half the posted limit. The wipers had cleared the splattered mud from the windshield, but larger clumps clung stubbornly to the hood and the bed of the truck. Cole had not seen another vehicle on the county road, neither coming nor going, until a pair of pickup trucks appeared at a distance headed toward him. As they approached, he supposed that they were moving faster than was safe, given the conditions, but they slowed down considerably by the time they reached him. The first truck held two men and the second one. By their appearance, Cole judged them all to be country folk. They seemed to stare at him with an unwelcome intensity; Cole chided himself for his paranoia. Nevertheless, his brain soon convinced him that the only reason to be out on the isolated road during a rain storm in the middle of the night was to locate the meteorite. His mind concocted all sorts of unsubstantiated scenarios in which these men had read the newspaper accounts of the previous local meteorite fall and knew that the suspect responsible for its theft had driven a blue full-size pickup. An irrational panic seized Cole as he accepted that they would soon realize they were late to the game and be after him.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Peter Brötzmann - unreleased live recording, tracks 5-8 (August 8, 2018, The Chapel, San Francisco, California, United States, digital files)

July 11, 2020
So certain was Cole that he would shortly meet resistance that he pulled over at an abandoned filling station. From the antiquated design of the exterior sign and the state of dilapidation of the shop in general, Cole judged the business to have been shuttered for decades. Despite the downpour, he jumped out of the cab and grabbed with his bare hands the now-cool meteorite from the bucket in the bed of the truck. There were two restrooms accessible from the exterior of the side of the building. Vandals or vagrants had removed one door entirely and left the other dangling from the top hinge. Cole entered the men's room and quickly lifted the lid from the tank at the back of the toilet in the single stall. He set the meteorite inside the tank then carefully replaced the lid. He ran back to the truck so that his momentary departure from the road would go unnoticed. To aid him in his attempt at stealth, the rain washed away all traces of both his tire tracks and his footprints. Soon, Cole was traveling down the county road again, his treasure secreted away.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Fredrik Nilsen, Joe Potts & Tom Recchion - unreleased live recording, track 1 (April 8, 2019, KXLU Studio, Los Angeles, California, United States, digital file)

July 12, 2020
Cole's intuition served him well for not far up ahead a police cruiser was stopped sideways on the road, blocking both lanes of traffic. Its lights flashed red and blue, though its siren was silent, as Cole drew to a stop. One officer sat in the driver's seat, though he did not immediately act. He appeared occupied in conversation on his cell phone. Several minutes passed, which for Cole seemed gruesomely extended. Shortly, the two pickup trucks, which had passed Cole minutes earlier, appeared from behind and came to a stop, one in each lane. With the steep slope of the shoulder of the road, they had effectively closed off any means of escape. Cole had no means to reassure them that he had no intention of fleeing. When the officer concluded his call, he emerged wearing a long rain jacket, which was open at the front so that the firearm at his belt remained accessible. He approached the truck and Cole rolled down his window halfway, to prevent too much rain from falling into the cab, though he reminded himself that he was already soaking wet.

The officer shined his flashlight first on Cole's face then on his hands and lap. "What are you doing way out here in the middle of nowhere and the middle of the night in a thunderstorm?" The skies chose that moment to flash and crack as if to emphasize the question.

Cole racked his brains for a sensible reply, a hapless response with which the officer was all too familiar.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & The Observatory - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-2 (November 28 & 29, 2019, Play Freely Festival, Singapore, digital files)

July 13, 2020
The three men in the trucks behind Cole never left their vehicles and thus were spared from venturing into the storm. Without mentioning the meteorite, the officer asked Cole for permission to search the vehicle. Cole declined to grant permission. The officer then arrested Cole for driving under the influence. He told Cole that he could smell the alcohol on his breath. Cole thought this an unlikely fabrication, but he could not be entirely sure. He had found it necessary to buttress his courage before heading out to claim the meteorite with a couple drinks. In any case, the formality of a breathalyzer test was deemed unnecessary. With no show of resistance, Cole was escorted to the back seat of the squad car and taken to the county jail, where he was booked. A second officer confiscated his cell phone and did not offer for him to make a call before locking him in a cell. It was just as well; Cole could think of no one to call but Elaine, who, if she were inclined to speak to him, would immediately detect that he was not telling her the whole truth.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Suishou No Fune - unreleased live recording, track 1 (February 24, 2005, Penguin House, Koenji, Tokyo, Japan, digital file)

July 14, 2020
A strange calm descended over Cole. Having never before been incarcerated, he expected that he would be filled with anxiety. Instead, he lay quietly on the single bed and contemplated the origin of the uncanny premonition, which had caused him to stash away the meteorite only a matter of minutes before his apprehension. He supposed that it had been a message from Shaharazad, though up to that point she had limited her communications to the middle of the night. He wondered if she would visit him in jail, for it seemed he was destined to spend the night there.

Cole's spirits were lifted by an even more unlikely thought. If he contacted no one and chose to remain in the cell, it would fall to the diluvian knights to secure his release. Perhaps, another among the ten thousand knights would bestow their chosen herald with the coordinates of this police station and appropriate instructions. The notion excited Cole for his desire to meet another herald had not diminished in the least. His present situation seemed an ideal occasion for such a rendezvous.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Suishou No Fune - unreleased live recording, track 1 (February 24, 2005, Penguin House, Koenji, Tokyo, Japan, digital file)

July 15, 2020
That night, despite the narrow cot, Shaharazad came to Cole. Given the confines, she lay extraordinarily close to him. The undulating tentacles that composed her face almost touched the end of Cole's nose. He wordlessly expressed the relief that he felt regarding his utter loss of control over his own fate. He no longer had to be concerned with the logistics of such matters as extricating himself from this unpleasant predicament. Instead, he now accepted that he was nothing more than a puppet executing commands delivered to him by the diluvian knight. If Shaharazad experienced dismay at Cole's surrender, she did not show it, even though it was surely an unhealthy development in the attitude of her herald. He had not yet performed the task for which he had been prepared. It was too soon for him to give up.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Tatsuya Yoshida & Wakan - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-4 (August 14, 1998, Showboat, Koenji, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 16, 2020
In the morning, Cole woke with a certainty that today he would come face to face with another herald. He had harbored this desire for weeks and he greatly anticipated the meeting. When he was led out to the lobby of the county building in the early afternoon, to his consternation he found Elaine. At first, her expression conveyed distress but, as Cole's unmistakable disappointment registered with her, she grew cold. He resisted the impulse to deny having called her and, instead, opted for a simple, "Thank you."

She did not ask for an explanation in the lobby, nor in the parking lot nor as she drove him to the impound lot where he was allowed to retrieve his truck. Adopting exclusively her role as a lawyer, she merely indicated that the charges of driving under the influence had been dropped, since a cursory inquiry had revealed that the responding officer had failed to follow protocol during the arrest. Cole had been released with a warning not to return to these wayward parts. However, she executed the rescue to completion and returned home only after seeing Cole back on the road himself.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Tatsuya Yoshida & Wakan - unreleased live recording, tracks 5-6 (August 14, 1998, Showboat, Koenji, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 17, 2020
Once Cole had returned to the relative safety of the city, he stopped for lunch at a cafe, as he had not yet eaten. Seated at a small table for two beside a window, he felt a sense of guilt for the hurt, which his disappointed reaction had induced in Elaine. He knew that, from Elaine's point of view, the cause of their separation was his alleged infidelity. He had never been able to convincingly explain that he was not involved in any extra-marital affair because, of course, the truth was too unbelievable. Besides, Cole had assigned Shaharazad to the same category as the trio of squids--topics that he not bring himself to reveal to anyone. Absorbed in these thoughts, he made slow and listless work of his food. As a result of this delay, Cole had not yet reached the apartment when he received a panicked telephone call from Elaine informing him that the house had been broken into and ransacked while she had been gone to retrieve him.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, track 1 (February 9, 2020, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, digital file)

July 18, 2020
It was the first time Cole had returned to the house since Elaine had asked him to leave. Halley had been out with a friend all day and had not yet returned. Elaine had already texted her to make sure that she was safe. In the kitchen, drawers and cupboards had been emptied. In the bedrooms, dressers were overturned and the contents of closets thrown to the floor. Curiously, Elaine waited to call the police until Cole arrived. "Is there anything you want to tell me?" she asked him, after he had surveyed the wrecked rooms.

Cole opened his mouth to speak one truth but another emerged. "I have never cheated on you."

"There was no affair," Elaine confirmed for herself. She added, almost as an afterthought, "What is it then?"

For an answer, she perceived Cole's agitation. "I have to go."

She realized then that Cole feared his own apartment had been similarly searched. "What's going on? If you won't tell me anything, why did you have them call me to come get you today?"

"I did no such thing." Cole repeated the denial several times.

As he left, Elaine tried to reassure him. "I did not mention to anyone that you were no longer living with me in this house."

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, track 1 (February 9, 2020, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, digital file)

July 19, 2020
Cole drove directly to his apartment. He found it untouched. He immediately retrieved the meteorite from where he had left it in the back of his closet and returned to the vehicle. He surveyed the cab and the bed. There were no signs that the vehicle had been searched, although he was certain that it had been. In the parking lot, he sat in the truck with the meteorite wrapped in a towel on the passenger seat beside him. Cole was filled with a crushing despair. He had expected Shaharazad to send another herald to rescue him, but it had been Elaine who found him. Moreover, she had kept to herself the dissolution of their marriage. He regarded her silence as a refusal to betray him, even if it arose from a desire to keep her personal life private. Cole lamented that the ransacking of her house was an insignificant disruption of her life compared to the suffering that would soon follow.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino, Doravideo, Yoshihide Otomo, Toshiharu Mikawa, ASTRO, Miho Wakabayashi & MIYA - unreleased live recording, track 1 (July 19, 2020, Goodman, Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan, live streaming)

July 20, 2020
Cole no longer felt comfortable leaving the meteorite in his apartment. Nor could he retrieve the second one from its hiding spot until he had a safe place for them both. Renting a storage space offered no security, since it could easily be traced to him. He knew that banks offered safe deposit boxes of sufficient size to hold the spherical object but Cole lived in an era when the deceit of bankers had caused much misery to ordinary citizens. He would not trust a bank. Instead, he recalled a winding road near his mother's house. Each curve corresponded to a bend in the river along which it traveled. A margin of woods about one hundred feet wide descended steeply from the road to the bank. Cole pulled the car over and crept through the underbrush. Lifting a half-submerged stone, he disturbed a crawdad which skittered away, just as they had when he was a child. He hollowed out a muddy hole, which quickly filled with water. Supposing it was water-proof, he lowered the meteorite into the hole and replaced the stone. In a moment, the current had removed all signs of tampering. Since he was in the vicinity, Cole considered visiting his mother. Ultimately he decided against the idea, lest he be observed and her house ransacked as a result.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, track 1 (April 7, 2019, Zebulon, Los Angeles, California, United States, digital file)

July 21, 2020
That night Shaharazad faithfully returned to Cole's side. Although he felt that he was due an explanation for the events of the long day, the luminescent tentacles, which covered Shaharazad's face, waved with an almost carefree indifference to his troubles. In an effort to resist the hypnotic patterns, Cole focused his attention on a single point at the center of her face. He concentrated on the following demand, which he projected with all his will, "Tell me the rest of the plan!" By way of response, Cole imagined that Shaharazad momentarily formed her tentacles into the semblance of a smile.

The smile, as we all know, is a flexible expression. It can be warm or sardonic, depending upon nuanced tensions in the proximate facial muscles. While we largely rely on what we imagine to be our own words in the telling of this tale, to describe Shaharazad's smile, mirrored on Cole's face, we turn to the words of another, written more than half a century ago, which emerged unbidden from our memory at the moment of writing.

It had the same smile, enigmatic and remote, at once meaningless and inscrutable. *

*Lagerkvist, Pär (1891-1974), The Sybil, translated from Sibyllan by Naomi Walford, Chatto and Windus Ltd., London, 1958.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, track 1 (May 7, 2019, Forestlimit, Hatagaya, Tokyo, Japan, digital file)

July 22, 2020
In the morning, Cole arrived at work to find a chaotic scene. Two policemen were inspecting the office while a third spoke to the manager. Apparently, someone had broken into the office sometime last night. Several cubicles had been rifled through. Cole's work space was among those that had been left in the greatest disarray. The drawers of the desk were left open and the contents strewn on the floor. He was not allowed to access the cubicle until the officers had collected fingerprints, most of which were surely his own.

For the first time in a month, Cole spotted Elaine at work. Her eyes were fixed on him, though she remained at the far side of the room. He wondered if she had already told anyone at the office that her house had been the scene of a similar crime only the day before. If so, Cole quietly debated whether the connection would prove sufficiently curious for the police to investigate further. Meanwhile, his co-workers gathered in the break room and shared conspiracy theories regarding industrial espionage. Who could blame their competitors for coveting their magnificently structured codes? After lunch, Cole was allowed to clean up the mess and return his attention to the project at hand.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Manami Kakudo - unreleased live recording, track 1 (July 20, 2020, 440 (four forty), Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan, digital file)

July 23, 2020
Elaine returned home after work. After the break-in, her parents had driven into town and collected Halley, taking her back with them for a few days. Elaine had arranged for a contractor to come tomorrow to repair the damaged window in the back of the house, through which the criminals had gained access to the house. In the meantime, the window had been temporarily taped and boarded up.

She sat alone in the house and surveyed her surroundings. Most of the mess she had already cleaned up. A knot of anxiety had settled in her stomach. She believed without knowing any details that Cole's arrest and the break-ins at her house and the office were connected. The phone lay in her lap, tempting her to call her husband. If there was to be a chance for reconciliation, this was surely a critical moment to salvage their marriage. A mixture of curiosity, indignation and a genuine desire to help Cole urged her to contact him. At the same time, it seemed likely that he was involved in some illegal activity. She was wary of getting involved lest both parents become implicated, leaving their daughter without a guardian. Elaine sat on the couch for an hour without acting, contemplating not for the first time her distaste for identifying herself as a twice-divorced woman.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino & Manami Kakudo - unreleased live recording, track 1 (July 20, 2020, 440 (four forty), Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan, digital file)

July 24, 2020
That night Shaharazad came to Cole with a third set of twelve pairs of numbers. Almost immediately Cole intuited that these spatial and temporal coordinates were not intended to lead him to a yet another meteorite. The string of numbers was accompanied by the instruction to open the second meteorite, the one ostensibly containing the vaccine, at the time and place prescribed. Cole's immediate impulse was to leap out of bed and enter the coordinates into the computer to identify the location that was to be spared from the deluge. However, his sessions with Shaharazad invariably ended with him descending into a deep sleep. So, although it seems impossible to imagine, Cole waited until the following morning for this additional piece of information. In contrast to the spatial coordinates, he was able to immediately decipher the time, for those six pairs of digits corresponded to the hour, minute and second of a day, month and year. In a matter of days, the vaccine was to be released. Although he did not yet know the hour, he was confident that the opening of the first meteor, within which the deluge slept, would soon follow.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-7 (October 9, 2018, Jam Factory, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, digital files)

July 25, 2020
The coordinates provided by Shaharazad corresponded to a hotel in Daegu, the third largest city in South Korea. Cole spent some time on the computer validating for himself the criteria for exclusion from the deluge. The first requirement was that the residents should already have demonstrated zero population growth. South Korea presently had a population of 51.6 million. Nationally, it still slowly grew, though, based on the English language sites readable to Cole, this modest growth was attributed to immigration from southeast Asia. Even that gain was expected to wholly taper off by 2023.

The second requirement of the diluvian knights was that the government in the selected region should possess no nuclear arsenal. Shaharazad had attributed this constraint to the unwillingness of the knights to live under the threat of nuclear holocaust, but it could just as likely have been due to their fear of retaliation. In Cole's mind, this meant that the vaccine would somehow be limited to impacting South Korea, since its neighbor to the north made a regular show of proclaiming its nuclear capabilities. Perhaps the presence of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas provided a barrier, which served to better isolate the people of the south for vaccination.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, tracks 1,3-5 (July 23, 2018, Koenji High, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 26, 2020
The only other limit known to Cole in the selection of survivors of the deluge was the total number to emerge: one percent of the planet's population, or roughly 80 million people. Shaharazad had already indicated that he was not the only herald to receive a vaccine. Since South Korea could not fulfill the total alone, Cole speculated that there were other locations--perhaps peninsulas or islands--destined for vaccination, which remained hidden from him.

In any case, he had a simple task or so he thought. In trying to reserve a room at the hotel, he discovered that Shaharazad had not taken into account the difference in languages. He found a Korean travel agency in Los Angeles with a bilingual agent who offered to book both the lodging and the flight. However, when asked the straightforward question of how many travelers would be on the trip, Cole realized that he was unprepared to proceed. He promised to call back.

This was his Abraham moment, which he already had accepted that he would fail. He had proceeded along the direction provided by Shaharazad knowing this moment would come. He lacked the internal fortitude required to sacrifice Elaine and Halley as Abraham had intended to sacrifice Isaac.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, track 2 (July 23, 2018, Koenji High, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 27, 2020
If Cole had predicted his own weakness, it must have been known to Shaharazad as well. This thought circulated through his mind as he drove to Elaine's house. He called ahead so, from the front porch, she watched him impassively as he pulled the truck into the driveway. With her arms folded across her chest, she greeted him, though she did not invite him in the house. "Are you finally going to explain to me what's going on?"

What could Cole say? Although he had attempted to rehearse his opening lines for months, he was no closer at this moment to finding speakable words than he had ever been. "I need you to trust me."

"That's asking too much," she replied.

"I am taking a trip to South Korea in a day or two. I think you and Halley should come with me."

To be sure, this unexpected invitation caught Elaine by surprise. She pressed him for an explanation, but he hemmed and hawed. He confirmed that the trip was not related to work. "What kind of trouble have you got yourself into?" she asked with a plaintive note.

Although Cole begged her to agree, he refused to declare that an apocalypse drew nigh. With these half-hearted measures, how could we possibly expect him to succeed in his attempt to persuade Elaine?

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-3 (August 18, 2017, Supersense Festival 2017, Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia, digital files)

July 28, 2020
If Elaine refused to accompany him, Cole next pleaded for her to allow their daughter to go. "It is imperative that you let Halley come with me."

At this statement, Elaine's suspicions began to shift from her husband's involvement in some criminal activity to madness. "She's not here," she said, taken aback. "She's still at my folks' house."

Cole interpreted the absence of an outright denial as the best response he was likely to receive from Elaine. He therefore turned and immediately head for the truck.

"Where are you going?" she called after him.

"I have to talk to Halley," he called back over his shoulder. During the forty minute drive north to the home of Elaine's parents, Cole debated whether he should call to announce his arrival. He refrained from doing so because he suspected that he would have only one chance to make his case and he thought it best to do so in person. Of course, if Elaine felt inclined to phone ahead and warn her daughter, he had no problem with that. He had always trusted her judgment.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-3 (August 14, 2016, Lady Jane, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 29, 2020
His mother-in-law stood at the window with the curtain pulled to the side and kept an eye on Halley as she talked to Cole in the front yard. Although dusk was approaching, the chickens had not been put back in the coop and continued to strut and cluck about father and daughter. While she thought the timing odd and the delivery of the invitation strange, Halley was thrilled with the opportunity to visit Korea. Her international travels had thus far been limited to Toronto and the Yucatán peninsula. She still had two weeks before school started and she assured her father that her passport was still active.

She did not accompany him back that night. Her grandmother had already planned on driving to the city with her in the morning. Cole promised to book the flight and let her know tomorrow of their departure. After this brief exchange, as he returned on the highway, he did not experience the sense of relief, which he had anticipated. Instead, his anxiety shifted to grim visions of his vaccinated daughter rummaging for food in a post-apocalyptic and utterly depopulated America. He contemplated the logistics of abandoning her in Daegu.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, tracks 4-9 (August 14, 2016, Lady Jane, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

July 30, 2020
Shaharazad betrayed no hint of irritation that Cole had invited his daughter to accompany him to Korea where he was to release the vaccine. Lying on his side, Cole gazed into the translucent, blue tentacles and discovered, rather anticlimactically we suppose, that a sight, which had once appeared profoundly alien to him, now offered the comfort of familiarity. He longed to slide his face forward into the space in which the luminescent appendages waved, if only to feel for a moment their ethereal caress, but he did not dare indulge this fantasy. He had been assigned a difficult task, one from which many human beings would have turned away; there was no place now for sentimentality or frivolous pleasures. Discipline and vigilance were the hallmarks of the path by which he would be able to complete his work.

Neither disappointment at the herald's restraint nor judgment of any kind issued from the diluvian knight. Her demeanor remained, as ever, meaningless and inscrutable.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, tracks 1-4 (May 29, 2017, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, Slovenia, digital files)

July 31, 2020
In her excitement, Halley had forgotten to ask why Cole was visiting Korea at all. When her father called to inform her that he had booked the flights for the following day, she put the question to him.

He deflected the question by providing details of the itinerary. They would fly to Atlanta, followed by a fifteen hour flight to Incheon International Airport outside of Seoul. For the last leg of the trip, they either had to take the subway to Seoul's domestic airport, Gimpo, or to the Seoul train station, where they could board the high-speed rail, KTX, which would deliver them to Daegu in an hour and forty minutes. He had opted for the train.

On their second day in Daegu, the travel agent had arranged for them to visit Palgongsan, a sacred mountain just outside the city. There they could hike to the temple at the summit. It had been described to Cole as a historically significant highlight of Daegu, though one not frequented by foreigners. Halley had already begun to research the site before the conversation drew to a close. She barely reacted when Cole requested that she let her mother know that he had bought a third ticket in hopes that she would change her mind and join them.

written while listening to:  Keiji Haino - unreleased live recording, track 1 (May 3, 2016, Showboat, Koenji, Tokyo, Japan, digital files)

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