You might wonder who am I, where do I come from, what do I do for a living, but these are all irrelevant. What matters is that I met Mithlach. He told me the story within the covers of this book.
Once upon a holiday, after roaming the streets of San Francisco all day long, I went to a bar in the Marina District, not far from the motel I stayed in.
Not long after I got my pint, a weird looking fellow sat down next to me. I was walking all day long, way too tired to make a conversation, but I could clearly see something was troubling him. Sometimes, he trembled and looked around suspiciously with fear in his eyes, as if he could expect monsters coming from every corner of the pub.
That lasted until the radio started to play Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond. All of the sudden, he stood up and ran close to the speaker. He listened the music mesmerised and some heavenly calm seemed to spread throughout his body. The scene made me smile. I've always believed that the appropriate music can ease the pain of any wound. Also, it can build bridges between people. That smirk of mine encouraged him to engage in a conversation. It didn't begin as I expected:
"This planet has amazing songs," he said, not particularly to anyone, just to the thin air.
"I beg your pardon," I asked back. I thought I heard something wrong in his opening line.
"The music of your planet is amazing," he said directly to me this time. Guess, I heard it well the first time. Then he held out his hand. "Hi, I'm Mithlach!"
"Hi!" I shook his hand and quickly continued, forgetting to introduce myself. "What do you mean 'your planet'?"
In a minute, we were at a table having a beer. Mithlach claimed he came from a planet called Gallidor, a world where half of the population is able to use magic. Mentioning an alien planet wouldn't be enough, he had to throw in magic as well. I felt confused listening to him talking about the life on his planet. I still don't know why (sure as hell, I didn't ask many questions), but he was keen on speaking about little details. He told me about the food, the music, the districts of the capital, the traffic infrastructure, the university parties, going to the market and lots of other stuff as if he was trying to sell me a holiday.
These small things were that baffled me. I couldn't decide if he was putting on an act or was simply delusional. I didn't consider for a second that he was actually from another planet. All he said could as well be true for another country of which I know nothing. Being from such a country would also explain his weird accent, which sounded like a blend of various English dialects. But, what the hell, I decided to play along.
"What brought you to Earth?" I popped up the question.
"That would be Eugene Jones. He was born here, but he has been living on Gallidor for quite a long time."
"I guess he ran home, while you still had a beef with him."
"No, no, no. No beef. We get along quite well. He is also a regular in the university pub, like me. He and his friends, in fact, saved my planet at least three times. So, I'm quite grateful to him. I'm rather worried about the rest of you earthlings."
"What?!" I shouted.
That hit me in the face. Then Mithlach became louder.
"Yes. You can be pretty ruthless, you know. When there are just enough of you and go somewhere, you act like you own the place. And the locals... Well, who cares about what they think, how they are affected. The last time your people came to my planet it nearly ended up..."
The suddenly sparked raged burned out here for a moment. 'Definitely, from another country,' I said to myself. Then he carried on without finishing his previous sentence.
"And you know what? I do have a beef with Eugene. After the crisis was averted, he just went down to the pub to get wasted with his gang. This is supposed to be his job."
"Coming here and warning you."
"Warning me about what?"
I became more and more confused, while he was less and less talkative.
"Your future. Your grim, terrifying future. This is a pivot point in your history. Your past is pretty messed up, but your future could be even darker if you don't act now. This era, these few decades, although it has its nasty conflicts, it is a quite calm period, compared to what passed and what's to come. So, here it is." He grabbed his backpack and pulled a battered bundle of papers with the size of a codex. "I asked Eugene to tell me about his adventures and I took notes." He pushed the bundle in front of me. "Please, read it and warn them."
I looked at it for a few moments dazed. As soon as I touched the first page, Mithlach stood up and was about to leave. I quickly turned back to him.
"Hey! What's this about? Warn who exactly?"
"Anyone you can." With that, he left.
For a half-pint time, I stayed and stared at the bundle, trying to decide what to make of this. Then I started to read. I had one more beer for the first few chapters, then I took the writings to my motel and I kept reading all night long.
The next morning, at the dawn of the first really rainy day in San Francisco in a decade (so, I was told), I was standing in the West Bluff Picnic Area with a cigar in my hand and looking at the Golden Gate with bloodshot eyes, feeling more confused than ever in my life. I didn't know if I had just met a lunatic, or someone with very paranoid (or maybe even valid) thoughts of the human race, or an actual alien. I had to admit, the picture he drew about the future of us scared me. If they are true I could only hope it's not too late to turn back the tide. So, I decided I put his story out there. One bit at a time.
I smoked the cigar and went to the airport. When I got home, I took his drafts, my laptop, and I started typing.