Jared Aragona


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A young American woman in her early twenties wakes to the smell of foreign laundry detergent on the hotel’s bed sheets.

    It reminds her of how far she’s traveled.

   But despite the soapy, chemical scent of the laundry each morning, she’s already established a connection with her new environment. The place where her journey recently ended in the tropical climes of Mexico has already acquired some qualities of a home for her, and her morning routine has become more natural in the two weeks since her arrival. Breakfast in the nearby bistro is now familiar, and she’s grown comfortable enough with the Spanish language to speak to the waiter in his native tongue.

   The young woman awoke with a plan, which was to go to her Spanish class at the nearby universidad. She had enrolled in the class on her second day in the small city of Xalapa, and she had yet to miss a class. However, money matters are on her mind on this particular morning. For the past three weeks, she had been able to live comfortably on the US dollars she saved before crossing into Mexico and beginning a series of bus rides southward, but mathematically the time is running near when she’ll have to find some new means to support herself, and this time in a foreign country.

   But she isn’t worried. For the past several years, whenever she needed work, she simply followed an indescribable inclination, a strange sense that came from the center of her mind, and it would lead her in given directions. By instinct, she would take actions she didn’t always know the immediate reasons for. But amazingly, the instinct always led her to safe and lucrative employment, and she would keep that employment for as long as the instinct told her to stay. That same instinct was what brought her into Mexico in the first place, and she found it was striking her yet again on that comfortable morning when she planned to go to her Spanish class.

   When she felt the familiar instinct, she left the bistro with her breakfast only half eaten, and she proceeded in a direction away from the universidad, across the bridge at Paseo de Los Lagos. The vegetation around the water put a syrupy smell in the air, and the smell continued up into the steep, exotic canyon streets, between the painted concrete buildings with rusty rebar poking out at their tops. She could still smell it as she climbed an urban stairway to enter Parque Benito Juarez, where vendors peddled food and other items from their carts.

Weaving past the vendors, the young woman moved to witness the park’s elevated view of the lush canyon into which the town of Xalapa is nestled. But far more astonishing than the view was something else that she could perceive, something she had noticed when she first arrived in the town. It was like a powerful, whirling illusion in the sky, something she was aware of but wasn’t sure if she was actually seeing.

   She didn’t know what the whirling spot was, but she hadn’t asked anyone about it either. Her life had been full of odd perceptions, and she had learned that it was best not to mention them to others. She did, however, find that if she focused on the whirling spot, it was as if an invisible spout would open in the fabric of the heavens, and she was drawn to the cascade of energy that exuded from it. The energy made her feel like she was in exactly the right place at the right time, and that same feeling overcame her once again on that morning in the Parque Benito Juarez.

   Sitting on a bench near the place she stopped to witness the whirling spot was an older American man who recognized her as being from the states, and he made friendly conversation with her in English before mentioning that he had a book that seemed to be written about just such a person as her.

   At this point you’ll stop reading and look at me, because you’ll realize that this story is more than just a startling similarity. It is about you, Luzciel.

   You’re feeling panic now. You’re shocked to see your name in print, in a book that was just handed to you by a stranger. This situation seems impossible and defies every notion you’ve ever had about the nature of reality, but from my bench I’ll ask you to please keep reading.

   But you’re not reading. Instead you’re demanding to know how these events are printed just as they happened this morning. But something inside you is telling you that this isn’t an attack. I’ll ask you again to keep reading, and here you are reading again.

   In your mind, you’re now thinking how this is “impossible to see the words appearing on the page just as I am thinking them,” and now you are closing the book entirely and handing it back to me.

   I’ll invite you to sit down, and you’ll need to, but you’ll realize that you don’t perceive me as a threat. Then I’ll say the following words to you:

   “Don’t be frightened, Luzciel. We were meant to meet right now. In fact, your presence has been a welcome part of my mind ever since I once again experienced sight through human eyes. Immediately, your energy was there for me to know, and I knew it was you, though at the time we were thousands of miles apart. I felt you coming toward me as our paths converged on this spot. I felt you crossing borders, coming to find that spot in the sky you see over the valley, the spot that beckons all of our kind. It was drawing you onward as the beacon in your destiny.”

   And you’ll say, “So you can see that thing in the sky too?”

   And I’ll say, “It appears differently to me at my stage of development, but yes, I can see it too. If you want to learn a little more about it, keep reading.”

   You will begin reading from where you stopped reading, and you’ve just gotten to this line of the page, stunned to see our exact words above. Am I right?

   You feel weak in the head and want to move away from me to another bench, though your curiosity is the strongest emotion. Go ahead, Luzciel. Take the book over to that bench you spotted by the overlook and read a few paragraphs.

   My hope is that the words that come from these pages will clarify truths to you. I’m not a person who is skilled in speech. I’m far better at putting my thoughts onto paper, and with the stories I must tell you, I will need to rely on your ability to read and consider all that follows so that you might more quickly and easily release yourself to the truth of your existence.

   Your life has greater purpose than you ever imagined, Luzciel, for you are a Caretaker, one of the primary shapers of creation, a calling that will become more and more apparent to you from this day onward for the rest of your life. Being a Caretaker is the reason for the unusual path your life has taken, and for all those unexplainable characteristics about yourself that you knew the other people around you were not experiencing.

   There is a great risk of me telling you too much too soon, but I cannot downplay the need for your haste in accepting the truth about yourself. Never before has our world, and all the worlds in the Great Circle, been in such dire risk of complete and irreversible destruction. Though you don’t know it, the forces that are working to derail you are stronger now than they have ever been before, more powerful than any previous generation of Caretakers has faced. You must become what you are meant to be quickly, because your power to greatly influence the future course of creation will come all too early in your apprenticeship, much sooner than you know.

   Now you’re feeling disbelief again, and you want to come back over to ask me what the rest of this book is about. Your point is that you’re not sure this is something you want to read, or should read. But inside yourself, you know it is right. Your Caretaker Instinct tells you it’s right. I’ll tell you the following information, and you’ll be glad to read it again tonight:

   The manuscript in your hands is what we call a Mindprint. It is the record of my experience as an Apprentice Caretaker. Certain Guiding Caretakers feel called to write Mindprints as tools for inducting a new apprentice, especially when the time for training is short. As my new Apprentice Caretaker, you are reading these pages as the most efficient route to you accepting your calling, which is a necessary first step and one that only you can make. The words you will read are the best way I can help you to become the Caretaker that you are and need to be. What follows is for you, Luzciel, most of all.

   But there will be other Luzciels after you; your name will become the name for future Near-Apprentices, and it will do for those Caretakers what many other Mindprints have done for me in Caretaker Shrines on other worlds in the Great Circle. Ancestral Caretakers came to me through their Mindprints to impart their wisdom and understanding and the solace of their common experience. My memories of these moments are the closest thing I have to a consistent identity, and it will likely be the same for you some day, Luzciel. With each new Mindprint, you’ll find that you are more comfortable with the challenges of having your mind’s eye jump from world to world; you will find that you’ve learned more and that your powers have increased.

   Your mind is fighting the truth now, Luzciel. Your Spanish class is suddenly a priority in your day. Go ahead, take the book. Read it later. You don’t even need to look back at me. You’ll find yourself spending most of the next eight days reading. In fact, this manuscript in your hand is very likely the exact portion of my story you’ll need to read before feeling an irrepressible urge to find me again, and at that point we can formally begin your training.

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Jared Aragona