[S] ==>

The streets are empty. Wind skims the voids keeping neighbors apart, as if grazing the hollow of a cut reed, or say, a plundered mailbox. A familiar note is produced. It's the one Desolation plays to keep its instrument in tune.

It is your thirteenth birthday, and as with all twelve preceding it, something feels missing from your life. The game presently eluding you is only the latest sleight of hand in the repertoire of an unseen riddler, one to engender a sense not of mirth, but of lack. His coarse schemes are those less of a prankster than a common pickpocket. His riddle is Absence itself. It is a mystery dispersing altogether, like the moon's faint reflection, with even one pebble of inquiry dropped in its black well. It is the most diabolical riddle of all.

"Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire." -Walt Whitman

Yes, you are certain Walt Whitman said that. One hundred percent positive.

You have a feeling it's going to be a long day.

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