Issue 1/2 Review

Midnight Nation 1/2 Synopsis

"Precious Objects"

Laurel and David Grey are lost. Laurel won't tell David if she's ever been lost before, and she won't even tell him how many times she's taken the long walk before.

They stand before a cottage that isn't supposed to be there. Laurel says it's never supposed to be at any particular place. David questions her cryptic answer and realizes that she is truly surprised to find this cottage.

Laurel opens the door and calls inside. The Caretaker responds that she doesn't have to shout because he isn't deaf. The Caretaker is a balding elderly man with a huge bushy grey beard. He is carrying a broom.

Laurel says that they are just passing buy. The Caretaker says that's how it always starts. Laurel points out that the cottage wasn't there when they looked down the road earlier. The Caretaker say it never is.

As usual, David's patience doesn't last long when faced with the Caretaker's mystical responses. He demands to know where he is and who the Caretaker is. They are obviously in a kind of warehouse. Boxes are overflowing with books and works of art.

David picks up a nearby volume, Ebeneezer: Being the Adventures of Ebeneezer Scrooge in America by Charles Dickens. David has read Dickens, and he knows that Dickens never wrote this book. David finds other oddities including a record named "Santa Monica Satin" by the Big Bopper, a Van Gogh painting named "Flowers and Farmers at Rest," and Kennedy's second inaugural speech.

The last item is one of the Caretaker's favorites. He quotes an inspiring passage from it. David is now even more confused, knowing that Kennedy could never have written that speech because he was assassinated in Dallas.

The Caretaker finally explains. It is said that every work of art exists outside the artist. The statue is already in the marble; the artist just needs to chip away enough stone to reveal it. This cottage is the repository for all the great works of art that were never finished because their creators died too soon. The Caretaker goes on to list several other works in his collection. They are the great unfinished works of hope.

David understands now, but he still asks why it is here. The Caretaker says it has to be somewhere, so it may as well be here. When David presses his question, the Caretaker continues to explain what little he actually knows.

Every few days, a box shows up with new stuff. The Caretaker catalogues it and finds a place to store it. Then he waits for the next box to arrive or for someone like David and Laurel to visit. There are always people who are out to destroy the places that keep hope alive. The cottage sees trouble occasionally, but before that happens someone is always sent to help the Caretaker protect the cottage. In the past he's had help from knights, gunfighters, and a Civil War battalion.

David accepts that an attack is coming, but when he asks who else is coming to help he is met with silence indicating that he and Laurel are the only help. The Caretaker offers them some tea before the attack. He reminds them that they might not be able to have any later since they'll be dead.

David asks Laurel's opinion. She is laughing at a Dorothy Parker novel. She loves Dorothy Parker, and she isn't going to let anything happen to her last novel.

As the Walkers race across the desert in their black vans David, Laurel, and the Caretaker drink their tea and plot their defense. David figures that it can't be worse than leading a tactical squad against a crack house, but Laurel points out that they are on the inside and are unarmed. She expects quite a few Walkers in the attacking force.

The Caretaker itemizes their resources for David. They have three people, lots of boxes, many works of art, and several varieties of tea. David concedes that they are dead. Laurel quotes a key to success from the Dorothy Parker book that she is still reading, but it isn't helpful to this situation.

David asks why the Walkers are so intent on destroying the cottage. The Caretaker says that our dreams, fears, and arts illuminate our hopes. Hope is our only means of survival. The walkers fear hope because they don't understand it and because it is the only thing that can destroy them.

As Laurel continues to quote proverbs from her book, David and the Caretaker come up with a plan. David asks if there are materials to seal up all the windows and secondary exits. The Caretaker says he has several panels of a material that would have been invented by a man named Ed Samuels. Not everyone lives long enough to earn recognition or do what he was supposed to accomplish in life.

David urges Laurel to help, and she responds that there is never time for living but plenty of time for dying. This quote is from herself, not Dorothy Parker.

The three defenders seal up all the windows and build a long, narrow tunnel leading away from the front door. They finish just in time.

David, Laurel, and the Caretaker wait in the front room. The Caretaker suggests that they close the door, but that is part of David's plan. He remembers what the Caretaker said about the Walkers not understanding hope. The only way for the Walkers to get though the door is to come down the narrow hall. Only one can fit down at a time. Eventually, hope will be the only think that can keep them coming. They line up to take turns fighting the Walkers.

The Walkers start traveling down the corridor one at a time. Each time one reaches the doorway, one of the defenders kills it. After a while David isn't sure how long they can last. The Walkers are stronger than he thought. Laurel says they always are.

The Walkers know that each time they try to get in, one of them dies. Their only option is to hope that the defenders can't kill them all, but they don't understand hope. All that is left for them is to say "Na-Shah," climb into their black vans, and leave.

The Caretaker muses about how the universe always knows when the cottage will be attacked and always sends the sort of help he needs. He's surprised that the universe has a sense of humor. David says he figured that out long ago. They bid each other farewell, and the two travelers set off again.

David asks Laurel who the stuff in the cottage is for. Laurel says that beauty and truth are constants. Everything in the cottage exists because it is there, and someone else will eventually discover everything that exists. Truth is never wasted.

As the Caretaker watches David and Laurel leave, John Lennon approaches with a box of songs. He recommends a few of his favorites, and the Caretaker promises to store them. John asks who the departing pair are. The Caretaker calls them friends of the truth. John says, "Aren't we all?" and begins singing a song about truth.