Ren looked around, holding his camera and quietly noting the architecture as he walked down the Edinburgh street.  

St. Peter’s Episcopal is close to here, he remembered, according to the GPS on his I.T.5 phone. Should be somewhere down Lutton Place… He then paused and stood at the intersection, waiting for the crosswalk to signal his turn.

It had been some time since Ren had last been to this city, once accompanying his dad here years before on a business trip. Perks of having a European history professor for a dad, Ren supposed… As many times as he’d listened to the dozens of lectures his dad had given over the years back at NY State, Ren felt he could name at least a hundred famous Scottish locations without even needing to search for them online. St. Peter’s, in fact, was just one of many churches in Edinburgh that Ren supposed he would reacquaint himself with during his time here. 

Not that it’d impress Harold to receive any new pictures of local churches, Ren thought sardonically about his father. He’s seen *everything.*

The crosswalk light changed. All of the cars slowed to a stop, and Ren and a few other pedestrians crossed diagonally. The sky turned a foggy grey, and a light drizzle began. Ren thought of pulling up his hood over his head, but then decided against it. The rain wasn’t that heavy, after all… though if it got any heavier, he might have to rethink his capturing plans for the day and just go straight to the Institute. 

That would be just my luck, thought Ren, as the rain began to pick up a little more. Still, he pressed on. 

Somewhere across from him as he walked closer to the church, Ren thought he had caught the rough shape of two black girls… he briefly turned his head for a second look and saw their backs: indeed, one girl with braids tied in a bun was saying something in an American accent… something about getting “cheap real Scottish food”…while carrying a large trunk in one hand, and pulling the second girl with dreadlocks… who seemed clumsily overladen with luggage and bags on either arm. 

Ren raised his eyebrows a little. Strangely, he almost felt a desire to pursue those two and capture them. (Or at the very least help that poor, clumsy girl the first was pulling…) However, taking cheap gag shots at the expense of others wasn’t his style.

Ren continued onward towards the church.

…and, let his mind process. 

Just about 4 hours ago, he’d landed in the city.

12 hours ago, he was in his pickup back on his mom’s farm…

No… Tom’s pickup now, Ren reminded himself. Once Tom had dropped him off at the airport just… 10 hours ago now?  Ren had sold the hard-earned Ford to him, as they’d previously agreed upon. 

Tom didn’t know anything else. Once he’d gotten to Ren, who had put the knife away, Tom didn’t see anything besides Ren’s usual grin, and maybe some tiredness around Ren’s eyes. The only thing Tom questioned was the empty beer cans in the passenger’s seat.

Really, man?” Tom had said, glancing at the six pack container as Ren tossed it to the back, climbing in the truck from the other side, “You sure you wanted to get s***faced RIGHT before you go to another country?” 

Ren had replied with a slight grin, “Naaah… I’m fine. You know I can’t get drunk. Remember when Grimes thought he could beat me in that drinking contest?”

“Oh yeah… I forgot,” Tom had laughed in response, thankfully not pushing the matter any further as they drove from the dirt road to the main path to the city, joking about Grimes in their high school days…

…Now, Ren was here. 

A few feet down, and there it was: St. Peter’s. Unmistakable as a church with its long, tall tower, crosses at the tops of its peaks, large, arched entryway, and classically-matching arched windows alongside the door to its front. 

Ren unscrewed the lens cap from his camera, and placed the cap in his pocket. Studying, he surveyed the area to see what caught his interest. 

…His thoughts wandered farther. 

Not even 24 hours ago then, was when Ren’s doctor had given him the news… Ren had not gotten any sleep since then. Had done nothing except, first, feel a mild sense of shock… and then, get very, very angry. 

Why. Why? 

And now, of all things, Ren was here. Hundreds of miles away, standing in Edinburgh, in front of St. Peter’s Episcopal… preparing to snap a picture. 

…Why. 

Was this going to give him the answer? Was commemorating this CHURCH going to give him the answer, when not even 24 hours ago, God had failed him?

Ren laughed slightly at the bitter irony. The rain get heavier around him. 

Did any of this have an answer???? 

…Then, he sighed. For, just the same, Ren couldn’t help but notice a scene to the side of the church’s facade: within the gated area, little children played in the church’s garden. Laughing and running around, clearly happy. Ren’s mood softened, as the grey clouds cleared to reveal patches of blue again. 

He raised his camera to his face, sharpened his focus, and clicked a few shots, utilizing the soft rays of pale light coming from between the gaps in the clouds. When Ren looked at the images in his camera’s memory deck, he smiled to himself. Portions of the arched, aged stone gray windows made a pleasing backdrop to the kids happy smiles. They continued to play, and Ren continued to walk onward. 

Shifting his headphones over his ears, Ren scrolled through his playlist on his I.T.5, vaguely seeing a large green hill in the distance. Even though he could feel immense pain with each step he walked… 

Nah, I’m fine… This wouldn’t stop him. He’d go to the top of Arthur’s Seat and be back with enough time to spare for lunch.
And then… maybe call his mom. Let her know he got there safely, after all.  

A few yards down, Ren noticed that there was no clear path directly from the end of Lutton Place to Arthur’s Seat; in order to reach the small mountain, he’d have to detour. And… for certain… as his head was starting to throb now, he needed to take his medication. 

No… I can MAKE it. This bullsh** is not gonna stop me.

But then, Ren stopped, breathing heavily. Trying to keep the ache from showing on his face, he pulled his phone back out, and leaned against a nearby wall, trembling ever so slightly.

Arthur’s Seat would have to wait for another day… and… 

…it was getting late anyway. 

If Ren was going to get his ID card from the Institute before it got dark, then he needed to turn around. He would stop at the corner shop he passed and get some of his favorite brand of orange soda to help down his meds. 

10 minutes later, Ren stood with a small group of people, waiting for the bus that would take him to the Institute. He drank his soda, feeling slightly better thanks to the slow effects of the medication… though extremely dry-mouthed. 

The bus came, and Ren got on, choosing a bottom row seat so as to not have to exert more energy. He chose a relaxing tune on his playlist and stared out the window at his reflection, pale and transparent in the glass… 

(((NO!!!!!!!!!)))) she had screamed….. her eyes widened with alarm and protest. A vague figure of a woman… pale and transparent, and yet so real to him. 

It was the one thing Ren did not quite get, as he thought about it… that strange… woman he had seen. 

He didn’t know where she had come from or what she was doing there. He felt her fear for him send a shock wave through his body; her pure desire for him not to… 

…not to… do it.  

And she had felt so real. Who was she? 

But then,Ren scoffed, answering his own question. She was purple. Purple,naked, transparent, and floating in midair. ‘Nuff said.  

He closed his eyes and leaned his head back a bit. Helluva dream, he thought, and kept his eyes closed for just a bit longer, not wanting to miss his stop. 

Still… Ren couldn’t help but think as the bus drew ever closer to the red brick building… That dream saved my life. 

…He hoped it was worth it.