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He has it and he's willing to die for it. It's huge. He has to keep it under a loose-faced scowl or someone will know he has it and leave him bleeding in the street with the want of it. That's how precious he knows it is.

To suffer for it is to appreciate it. It has to be set on fire and swallowed with acid. Only the brave will survive the trial. The weak will die under its flames and he knows the weak should die. Evil invades weak hearts and turns them. Good is the exclusive purvey of the strong. And the strong distinguish themselves by killing the weak.

When evil is gone there will be no need for strength. Everything will be better.

This is how he made it: books. He opened the books and his mind rose from its moorings to float on the waves of ideas. First he read Plutarch and Tacticus. Kant and Aristotle. Hegel and Marx. With them devoured he moved to Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Then Augustine in the tower explained god to him.

When the philosophers and historians left his mind wet and sticky, the damage was done by the novelists. Within their stories he found secrets written in code to sleepers throughout the human race. Vonnegut explained no one was human but him. Pynchon led him on a search for the only other living human amid a land of robots and fools. Helprin explained the true history of New York that had been suppressed by all other chroniclers. Swordsmen and magic horses. Entire communities that appeared when the time was right.

Light bridges to heaven.

Books make his burning, golden ideal. At first he holds it close in silence. Then it speaks to him. He is the first, it says. Though it had lived in the minds of millions of men, it assembles itself to existence only when the right elements mix in the fecundity of his mind. Never before have these ideas come together in exactly this way with the right combination of nutrient and suppliment.

It is alive now. It challenges him to have the courage. When he responds, it tells him what to do.

It says, "As man is a slave to gravity, you must take this land, this planet. For it is yours and belongs to no other. As I am formless and cannot move others through their ideas; you must be my might and move them."

The Canaan he wants is called Chicago.

In a sealed lead container he holds two pounds of milled, atomized plutonium 238, any two micrograms of which will kill its ingestor in a foam of carcinoma. He holds millions upon millions of micrograms, the golden fire in his head tells him.

He will pour the gray powder into the aqueduct.

"Welcome to my hell," he says to himself, but also to she who follows.

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She has it and she's willing to die for it. She showed it to everyone the moment she knew it was inside her. Her success made everyone proud. The brighter it got, the harder it was to keep inside. The more she showed it, the brighter it got.

To suffer for it is to appreciate it. It has to be set on fire and swallowed with acid, and it hurts so much on the way down she worries it will kill her. Only the brave will survive the trial. The weak would die under its flames if she didn't protect them, and she knows the weak can hold jewels in their shaking grasp. Evil invades weak hearts and turns them sour. The brightness in her sees the good there before evil can take hold. And the strong distinguish themselves by nurturing the weak.

When evil is gone there will be no need for strength. Everything will be better.

This is how she made it: books. She opened the books and her mind rose from its moorings to float on the waves of ideas. First she read Plutarch and Tacticus. Kant and Aristotle. Hegel and Marx. With them devoured she moved to Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Then Augustine in the tower explained god to her.

When the philosophers and historians left her mind wet and sticky, the building was done by the novelists. Within their stories she found secrets written in code to sleepers throughout the human race. Vonnegut explained individuality was the treasure of the human race. Pynchon told her the quest could be life. Helprin explained the true history of New York that had been suppressed by all other chroniclers. Swordsmen and magic horses. Entire communities that appeared when the time was right.

Light bridges to heaven could be built in the mind. Creation was at hand.

It is alive now, having assembled itself from components long dormant on bookshelves. It challenges her to have the courage. When she responds, it tells her what to do.

It says, "As man is a slave to gravity, you must take this land, this planet. For it is yours as it belongs to all of you. As I am formless and cannot move others through their ideas; you must be my might and move them."

The Canaan she wants is called Chicago.

She carries a weapon she pretends isn't necessary. She's been studying his history and prays he's not thinking what she's derived from his habits and movements. The brilliant man stole two pounds of plutonium from where he worked at the Argonne National Laboratory. Enough to kill the city.

She knows he'll be at the train station on Michigan Avenue and when, because what he's thinking lives inside her as well.

She sees him and the package isolated from the crowd. She draws her weapon.

He sees her; fingers the latch on the case.

"Welcome to my hell," he says to her, the tension in his thumb rising. He knows the good he will perpetrate through his action will save them.

"Our world together," she says, the tension in her index finger just below tripping the trigger. She knows the evil she must commit will save them.

Two thousand miles away a mother puts a child to rest. Birds sing in oak trees. Farmers collect eggs. Cars idle in traffic jams.

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