Fiction: Sa Na

After seeing sa na on the list, Hlau is no closer to finding out what these two syllables mean.

Hlau parked his car close to Toshan Circle and headed to the Sanaya Café to meet Midori, the agent assigned to the case. After seeing sa na on the list, the syllables jumped out at him, especially with the furigana, or the small Phonic syllables above the Universal characters on the sign. However, sa na was also present on several other signs within sight – Hisanaya Bank, Losana Books, Bosanada restaurant. Something told him that sa na had to be something else other than a business, but he could not know for sure. Living in Shusa, he never really paid much attention to the signs attached to buildings, like most people, he only saw them on a cursory level and read the signs he needed to get to. Now he couldn’t help notice the neon tubes bent into complex characters, which was popular a season ago with newer ones made for nostalgic purposes, letters attached to building facades, illuminated at night, banners, old hanging signs with archaic typefaces, and fluorescent light backed hard plastic signs in all colors and fonts. Two commonly used syllables now jumped out at him from everywhere.

Once inside the Café, Hlau got his coffee from the barista and found Midori’s, who was sitting at a table with a newspaper. She had dark blond hair and pleasant blue eyes. Hlau smiled as set his coffee down and seated himself across from her. He took the calligramme paper from his briefcase and put it on the table. Midori looked at it and asked him, “Making crossword puzzles?”

“It’s a calligramme,” Hlau answered and then he looked at his paper. He had arranged the words horizontally and vertically, intersecting here and there. He even put small numbers by each word so he could easily list their clues and meanings as he found them. “I see what you mean. The Evek’s having me do this.”

“Is this part of your spiritual counseling?” Midori asked.

“Sort of. However, he mentioned these terms are related to the investigation at hand. At least that’s what he feels. The words are from a piece of paper I had with me when I left the Agency.”

“Just words? You don’t know what they mean?”

“Unfortunately not. I have a good idea that some are names, some are places, but there’s no context for them. And some things seem extremely random. These were things I apparently thought were important as I was losing my memory.” It was the first time since he met Midori that he mentioned the memory loss. He had known her in his previous life, worked with her at the Agency, but he had no recollections at all. After establishing in their first meeting why Hlau didn’t know who she was, Midori avoided mentioning the loss. She didn’t want to appear overly concerned or patronizing.

Hlau took another paper out of his briefcase and showed it to Midori. It was the list in its original form and Midori’s eyes showed some recognition when she read it. “This is your handwriting. But I don’t know the names. The locations jump out at me a bit, just one or two, but I don’t recognize most of them. But what is sa na?”

“I don’t know. I never wrote it down in Universal, so sa na could be anything. Right before I got here, it jumped out at me in all the signs around the Circle. Even Sanaya.”

“Somehow, I don’t think coffee has anything with you losing your memory, unless you think the CEO is in on it,” Midori said with a sly smile.

“I think we can rule that out or any other business. But, I definitely think we should look for a who or where.” Hlau penciled a mark on the list next to the roughly scrawled syllabled and slowly ran his finger to the mentions of the Demiurge and the Reckoning. His hand then shook over the words.

“Are you alright?” Midori asked, putting her cup of coffee down. Hlau pointed to the troubling items and Midori said, “I’m not sure what to think of the Demiurge, but the Reckoning of the Lord is spooky.”

“I know what it means on a theological level. This life forward, I’ve studied a great deal about religions – you can’t go through any kind of training at the School of Wisdom without it. I know all about the monotheistic Apocalypse cults, but I don’t know why this line about the Reckoning affects me personally.” Hlau took a quick breath, picked up his coffee, and sipped. Midori then offered, “Right now, my theory is that the perpetrator or whoever was responsible for what happened to you back then was a member of one of these cults. What were you doing in the time leading up to this?”

Hlau remembered how he wasn’t able to get access to a portion of his Agency file. “I wish I knew.”

“All I remember about you at the time was you went on some assigment you couldn’t discuss, but you implied that there was something very elite about it. You were so cocky then.”

“And I’m not now?”

“Absolutely not. Ever since I’ve seen you again on this case, you didn’t act like the politician’s kid like you did then. Oh, I hate political brats, present company excluded.”

“I’m glad you’ve made an exception for me. As for how I was back then, I don’t remember.” Hlau then looked down at the papers, the list and the calligramme. “Getting back to this, the Evek thinks that if I engage in this creative exercise with the list, we should get very close to finding this hacker.”

“I’m not sure if I follow.”

“I’m only here as a consultant because the crime is of a psychic nature. I was the victim of a telepathic demolition ten decades ago. Think of it as a hack of the brain.”

“Ah, I see,” Midori acknowledged. Hlau’s phone vibrated in his pocket. He took it out and there was a text message from his computer expert saying to meet him and another priest at the Temple of the Muse. He packed his briefcase, told Midori to come with them, and they were soon driving to the Mall.

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