From Dr. Ehirllimbal's private journal—
September 26, 1965: There are marks on my hands, scratches and cuts as if I have wrestled rose bushes in my sleep. It is entirely possible. I do not remember the last few days.
My bed is a bivouac beneath tall trees. The walls of my house are nothing more than a screen of thick brush. My library is a collection of dried palm leaves, and my notes are written in the juice of pomegranates mixed with clay. I am back in the garden, fully. When I try to dream of my home in Massachusetts, all that I can imagine is smoke and fire.
The old world is gone. The school, the journal, Julio and Eduardo, Gabrielle: all of that past is cut off from me now. Will this separation be enough to save my family? Will Versai give up?
The scratches on my hands make me wonder. Will the fire be enough to dissuade him? Will the loss of his men set him back enough that he will no longer try to find the secret of the blackleaf? Some of the cuts are deep; I fear Versai will never stop.
Then, the death of my other and the destruction of all my work will only delay him. He will have to find another path to the garden, and I can only hope the route is torturous enough that the delays are multitudinous. I hope they will give me enough time to discover some of the expressions of the plant. I must find ways to protect myself. To protect my family.
He knows they are my weakness. He knows that, if I have perpetrated a great hoax upon him and I am not as dead as I wish him to believe, then I will, eventually, reach out to my children. He knows they are the keys that will unlock my secrets.
Julio is a strong boy; he carries the weight of his name with great pride and responsibility. When the time comes, I know he will be ready. He will be ready to make the journey south to find me, and I know I will not have to guide him. I know he will find his own way.
Eduardo, on the other hand . . . I do not know what to make of the boy. I do not know how he came to be. He is an enigma to me, and of all the things I have left behind, I will miss the opportunity to watch him grow up the most. While I had to leave everything behind, I am plagued by the idea that I have forsaken something truly miraculous.
The boy does not dream. He has never dreamed, nor does he seem to know how to. Born as he was from such a fanciful oneirological expression, how can he be so . . . blank? Is he waiting to be filled? Is he the gourd which has not quite ripened? What will happen when—if—he does?
And, when that time comes, will Versai get to him first?