Dr. Randolph took a deep breath. Today he was assisting in a surgery for one of his patients, a nine year old boy named, Mitchell. Not a surgeon, Dr. Randolph sometimes found it to be a trying task, the task of operating, and on a child nonetheless, made it that much more difficult for him to swallow. He mentally prepared himself for the lung transplant the best that he could. Dr. Randolph left the sink, opened the door with his elbow, and entered the O.R. The day ahead of him would be very long and demanding. Outside of the hospital, a heavy thunderstorm was bearing down over the entire area, it even stretched to the cemetery on the other side of town.
Loud cracks in the sky muffled the superficial noises surrounding Philip. He was consumed in his growing world of storm and vision. What was once black and gray was now mixing together and vividly becoming a glowing blue pulse. Like radar, his sight rang out and was sucked back in to map and identify his entire terrain. Perhaps it was synesthesia, perhaps it was insanity, but for Philip it was simply just about damn time. Too long has it been since the caves in Afghanistan, too long has he had to endure the burden of living in a world of darkness. He knew what was coming for him. Philip was prepared to fulfill his promise to the god of his dreams. His baptism had taken place in the lucid dreamworld of the Asundered Realm. Now, he was going to confirm his calling in his own reality.
The uniform droplets of sparkling rain hit Philip's skin in mangled waves.
It paints the cemetery in even more clear detail, giving Philip the gifts of depth and tone. He could practically see again. And what he saw was his grandfather's grave and an approaching tornado behind it. The clouds had twisted and turned and the conflicting fronts met in a dance of wicked winds. Philip knew this was no mere force of nature. It was something more. It was the Storm Harvester. The cyclone jumped and pivoted over the headstones, consciously, making sure not to desecrate or disrespect the dead. A dead give-away to Philip. Clue enough to know that a sentient being of immeasurable power was coming for him.
Dr. Fitzsimons crawled out of the back of his van, popping the collar on his black duster. The rain plastering his tinted sunglasses as he sneaked into the graveyard. The mad doctor had been tailing Philip since he left the hospital in hopes of finding some evidence to support his theory. When Dr. Fitzsimons passed through the spiked iron gates of the cemetery and caught sight of the raging tornado he stopped dead in his tracks. From the doctor's point of view, Philip, who was now standing up with open palms, was face to face with the towering storm. There was not one ounce of compassion for Philip's well-being in Dr. Fitzsimons' thoughts. There was only excitement and anticipation for what was next to come. Both hearts pounded fiercely and irregularly, almost painfully. One for what he was watching, and the other for what he was seeing.
The tornado was still, if that could be rightfully said about such a chaotic fury of winds. But it remained before Philip, unmoved. And Philip was confused. He had no idea what to do next. His instinct told him to step forward, enter the elemental doorway. Give himself, in his entirety, to the grace and mercy of the storm. But his reason and sensibility shouted doubt into his thought process and rejected the idea of entering a tornado. Finally, in one last ode to the past, Philip's inner anger spouted up at his reluctant logic. Fate had been pushing him around his entire life, now was the time to give up his petty resentment and embrace his life. He threw away all the pain and burden that he had been carrying on his shoulders for so long with one step forward. The tornado curled its breezy tips in as Philip stepped forward, and then tail-swept together behind him, turning whole once again. Philip was now inside.
With that one step the mighty winds blew back Philip's doubts, diseases, and deprivations all in one glorious gesture.
Dr. Fitzsimons gasped. To him Philip had just vanished. He stood, frozen in his irksome stance, scandalized. A tornado rampaging over a cemetery, had just eaten his patient. As still as stone, Fitzsimons was the only witness to the infinite glory of Philip Dresden. By the selected wisdom of the gods, he was to do their will on earth. And all Fitzsimons saw was a blind man disappear. The Storm's funnel seemed to dissipate, coming to a conclusion. Dr. Fitzsimons musters enough bravery to move forward and investigate where Philip was last standing. But still in the immediate atmosphere, realized Philip in his pure essence and waiting there was the Lord of Chaos, the Storm Harvester.
Philip looked around, he was stripped of all things material, and knelt amongst a plain of cotton-white smoke. Philip could see his reflection in the smoke. His scars were gone. His face was healed. He had forgotten his eyes. Never quite sure what color to call them, but all the more interested to behold. In fact, he could see his entire body, with no spot or blemish of anything on it. He felt cleansed. Reborn. He closed his eyes and felt the life coursing through him, when a booming presence invades the space and summons Philip to attention. He opens his eyes and succumbs to a most magnificent sight.
Standing there, harnessed in thunder, plated in cold, captured lightning, stretched and coiled, to light up an, otherwise intangible, being was the manifestation of divinity. The smoke circles and surrounds him, its sucks back into the forming figure. The white smoke brought it all together. Like a mighty titan wearing a pristine white cloak, the god was furious winds and tamed lightning held together by the flesh of powder-white smoke. His eyes gave away his chaotic core. Two small spheres of razor-fast winds, confined so close, the ever-present gray amongst their kind erupts as a beacon of their unnoticed impressions. The winds and smoke serve as a canvas for Philip's specifications. When he looks at the god's hair, shimmering smoke rolls over like a curtain onto his forehead. When Philip wonders what he would wear on his feet, the god's feet produce black smoke and retract into two black sandals. And when Philip, at last, wonders what the god's voice would sound like, the mighty lord of nature opens his lungs and speaks to him in a recognizable tone. A tone reminiscent of his dreams...
"Philip Dresden, are you ready to do my bidding?"
"What is it...my lord...that you wish me to do?"
"Find the Catalyst."
"How do I find him?"
"You must return to the Hindu Kush."
"Find solace in retracing your path, and you shall find what you are looking for..."
'What?' thought Philip, but he had far more pressing concerns on his mind, "Will I keep my sight once I leave this place?" His last question's echoes ring out unanswered. The Storm Harvester was gone. Philip stood back up, lost, naked, and now alone. The smoke that once occupied the absent plain vanished with the Asunder God in its concentrated state. Philip felt vulnerable under his current situation, but was ravishing in the fact that he was able to see it. Subtly, a low, intruding, ominous noise jousts at him. First sneaking up on him, but then quickly fading away. It falls into the airy past. And from out of nowhere, after a brief moment of total silence, the Storm Harvester comes charging back, diving at Philip's face, and rushing him to the floor.
By the time Dr. Fitzsimons got to where Philip was standing, right before his grandfather's grave, Philip had reappeared lying on top of the casket, in the graveyard hole, muddy and cold. With a flash of lightning the rains picked up and flooded the hole in the ground, raising Philip to the top. The surge threw his lifeless body onto the wet grassy floor. The tornado never came back, the thunder reeled in the rain, and the storm left for the south. The clouds cleared. Dr. Fitzsimons picked up Philip, covered him with his black duster, and tried to revive him. The sun stretched out over a bemused Philip being rescued by a convoluted Dr. Fitzsimons. They walked, one supported by the other, over to Fitzsimons' van and got in. Dr. Fitzsimons scrambled behind the wheel, desperately trying to record what he saw while he rushes Philip to the hospital. The van barrels down the streets recklessly.
Dr. Randolph stood outside the hospital, in the middle of a five minute break, after assisting in one of his pediatric patient's lung transplant. Going from enjoying the fresh air, to helping his unconscious former patient out of a van and back into the hospital, in little less than an instant, jolts Dr. Randolph into a hippocratic frenzy. He completely bypasses the nurses stations and rushes Philip straight to a room where he pulls out the crash-cart and begins to perform CPR. But before he has to use the crash-cart, Philip comes around and jerks his body frantically as he returns to consciousness. Dr. Fitzsimons wipes Philip's face clean of the raindrops and mud, and softly asks him, "Can you tell us what happened to you?" Philip moaned, but no concrete words came out of his mouth. Again, Dr. Fitzsimons asks him, "Can you remember!?"
"Hindu Kush. I..." Philip chokes for air, "must..." still struggling to get words out, "...go back." His mission now officially revealed.