Brandon E. Muddles didn’t believe in normal. No matter how hard his parents tried, they could not make him act quite right. When he was three, he told the lady at the grocery store he knew she was happy and he was happy for her. Startled, his mother just hustled him away. When he was five, while the other kids played ball in the street, he tied his blankets together and pretended to rock climb up his bed. So vivid was his imagination, in his mind mountains came to life around him; he woke up in his mother’s arms. He proceeded to go on “missions” at age seven with the dog around the house. With the babysitter’s assistance, Brandon helped to save the lives of four goldfish.

    When he was seven and three-quarters of a year old, he wrote down all those memories for a classroom assignment in vivid detail, right down to the color shoes he was wearing on each day. When the teacher accused him of making it up, all he could say was, “I swear it! I’m not lying.” And he wasn’t lying. Brandon Muddles was always honest. He had really remembered every detail because Brandon Muddles does not forget a thing.

    That’s why he remembers so distinctly on October eleventh, on his eighth birthday, when the knock on the door came. It was a pounding knock, an urgent knock. It was early and he could hear his mother singing Happy Birthday in the kitchen. His lanky body slid out of bed and landed with a thud, a wide grin appearing on his face. The smile seemed to reach his crystal blue eyes, his golden hair falling down around them. He ran out of his room and slid down the hallway, dragging his white socks on the wood floor while somehow keeping them sparklingly clean. He landed in his mother’s arms and she swept him into a wide hug. The knock became more urgent. 

    “Oh for heaven’s sake!” She said, “I’ll be right back buttercup. Do not touch the cake.” 

    She scolded him with a look as Brandon moved toward the chocolate masterpiece. He had swiped a lick of frosting before she had reached the first step and paid no mind to her until a deep voice that was not his father’s rang through the house. As the door opened Brandon turned his head and caught a glimpse of a black suit and a man whose face was covered by dark glasses and jet black hair. Brandon who had until that moment not forgotten a thing would carefully forget everything from that day except for one detail; that that was the day they recruited him.