Graphic novels made a lot of sense to Zain, in all the ways the world and people around him could never. For one thing, not a single thought popped into the minds or passed through the lips of his favourite fictional characters without them being spelled out in bold, unmistakable black and white. Unlike people, who required a compass, map, and a whole lot of patience to navigate through their dizzying maze of sarcasm and social cues. Even their facial expressions were a headache. Often indecipherable and forever changing, before Zain could scramble to work out what one of them meant another would steal its place in a flash. While in novels the faces were immortalised, allowing him to spend a lifetime going over each one.   

Out of the thousands of novels that Zain had read, one, in particular, left his nights sleepless and kept thoughts spinning all around his head: The Sapphire Chronicles. While it was spellbinding and intelligent, it was not for everyone. Almost infinite in its denseness and bleakness, each turn of its pages was like being dragged deeper and deeper, and deeper into the depths of a black hole. It was for these exact reasons that Zain was so drawn to the novel; it was honest about true the darkness inside the human condition. Darkness that shocked and terrified him.

The Sapphire Chronicles followed an old-school, methodical detective named Chase Miller, as he tried to solve gruesome crimes in a crumbling, dystopian metropolis, that was host to two-tiers of humans: the genetically or mechanically enhanced and those on the verge of extinction. In truth, the novel was a none-stop math problem, too. Most of the murderers in the novel, either used mathematical equations and formulas to stylise their killings or to taunt and confuse law enforcement trying to solve them. But not Chase Miller, and not Zain either. Almost from birth, Zain had a symbiotic relationship with numbers. All he needed was a bowl of blueberries and a blank wall to project his thoughts onto, and he could solve anything. Well, almost.

As soon as he read the first word of The Sapphire Chronicles, Zain was desperate to meet and speak to the great genius who authored it: Jinn Rogers. However, what he had hoped would have been a simple Google search, turned out to be long, argues months of internet diving and trips to multiple libraries to come to one conclusion – the man did not exist. Even the imprint the novel was published under, Morpho, had no paper trail of its own. At the end, tired of hitting brick walls, Zain decided to return to the novel itself, suspecting that all the answers he sought could be found between the lines, or maybe, in the numbers themselves.

Part 1 of 2…

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