On July 7th, a mother woke up as the sunlight entered boldly through the window, kissed her wife on the forehead, and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She had finished all her paperwork from the insurance company she worked at to spend the day properly with her family. She called their teenage son to come downstairs, telling him that she made his favorite; PB&J sandwiches with hot chocolate milk. She had to call again and again, each time with a little more annoyance in her tone, until she screamed, and thought how such a nice morning had already been ruined.
On July 7th, a young man was dreaming. He was inside a house of mirrors on a circus, but none of the reflections were his. He woke up with cold sweat and a little saliva falling from the side of his lip. He tried to reach his partner, but the only thing there were the sheets where they fell asleep the night before.
That day, there was a sudden rise in missing persons all around the world. There were no letters left, no goodbyes said, and no clues as to what might have happened to them. They vanished overnight without a single warning and no trace to follow, almost as if they never even existed.
A quiet sound, that’s not quite a sound, resonates, saying ”Mamo”.
White turned to black. The sterile environment the young woman meticulously maintained vanished as ripples appeared in front of her face. Swaths of green painted themselves on the walls as the room fades. Terrified, the woman clasped her hands over her eyes and held her breath when scents of pine overtook her nostrils. The humidified air that had filled her lungs inside the house she had not left in years transformed. Suddenly, she was outside, planted on a hill in the verdant countryside. Her eyelids fought to open, but she could see enough to know that she was no longer safe inside. The infinite openness stretched on for miles.
Emilia: No! I can’t be outside! Oh god, the bugs. They’ll crawl into my mouth when I sleep. And the birds. Diseases everywhere! Where am I? I haven’t left my house in three years, two hours, and . . . clocks. Where are the clocks? I need to know the time! My sanctuary is gone! Where am I going to find filtered water with the correct pH balance out here in the . . . woods? It’s bright! The sun is so bright! Somebody help me!
A feeling like dew sprinkling the morning grass clouded itself in her mind. She could hardly see or stand, frozen in place when voices rised out across the rolling hills.
Emilia: There are other people here too? Should I ask them for . . . no, I can’t go near them. Look at them, the germs on that girls’ bike. And oh — the other one has a cat! Who lets a cat roam around outside like this? Who knows how many germs are sticking to its paws right now?
A noise tinkling softly behind the woman momentarily distracted her from her panic. Her head darted toward the sound, but her weak limbs felt as if she was trodding through brambles. In front of her lay a journal, petite and bound with brown leather. A pen rolled toward her. Trembling, she tenderly reached toward the book, hoping for a lifeline out of her nightmare. Only two words were inscribed on the first page: “Write everything.” There was no obvious escape. One option remained: Comply and pray for rescue.
Emilia’s Journal: I am lost, outside during daylight hours, but I am not alone. I can hear them. Voices of people. I have had so little contact with people, but they may hold clues that will give me a gateway out of . . . wherever here is. The young woman on the bike is begging for help while the hat-wearing lady appears disinterested. She’s reading a book instead. I wonder if she reads poetry. What I’d give to be back in bed, an Emily Dickinson collection of poems in my hands. Wait! She’s a witch! The blond cat lady is a witch! Where the hell am I? They’re arguing about the girl — I think her name is Jo — Jo’s town. Jo needs the witch’s help because . . . magic is running amok in a town called Haresden? Magic! If magic exists here, I can surely use it to my advantage. All the fantasy novels I’ve read show magic has a price, but I’ll pay any price to return to the confines of my sweet, clean home. Oh no, Jo said her mother is cursed with an ailment, an infestation, in her body. I think I’m going to be sick.
While she wrote, Jo started heading south with the witch and her black cat along the vast plains of the hills. Rays from the sun felt unfamiliar, searing her flesh like pinpricks from glass shards. She decided to covertly follow the two women. Unable to write and run at the same time, she commited the unimaginable events occurring to memory. Later, she received a moment to rest in a shaded area by Jo’s house front.
Emilia’s Journal: Write everything. Okay. I’m about to write everything. Apparently, the witch, Orla, had a grandmother — Mamo — who died recently. Magic is out of control, moving borders and causing sea turbulence because Mamo governed the nebulous relationship between the townsfolk and beings called the “fae.” I almost cried as I stalked Jo and Orla through the forest. Branches and god-knows-what poisonous leaves skimmed my skin on the way. I’m quite certain I won’t make it out of here alive. I almost gave away my position when Jo nearly fell victim to a faery trap. She thought a silver spoon lodged in the forest floor was the same spoon that belonged to her mother. Thank goodness Orla intervened and recognized the magic. Why anyone would pick up a disgusting item off the ground is beyond me. Orla has already proven herself as more knowledgeable than Jo. She’s the one I could ask for help if I had to. But I do empathize with Jo. Her mother is sick and possibly dying inside. If Orla can save Jo’s mother, I know she can save me.
Flashes of darkness billowed around the attic window from Jo’s house. The woman realized she was developing heightened senses and witnessed writhing shadows of a Mamo apparition contracting around Orla’s body.
Emilia’s Journal: I thought Orla said Mamo was dead. What is that Mamo ghost, and why is it trying to strangle her granddaughter? Orla’s magic powers have manifested now; yellow sparks flash from her fingers in concentric patterns. No! Orla can’t break that shadow demons’ grip! If only I could touch the doorknob and walk into the house. Wait! Jo managed to release the grip the creature had on Orla’s body. Magic shimmers in the air, casting the inky blackness in all directions. Why can I see this so far away? I’m so tired. Are these powers of my own? I want to sleep, but there’s so much dirt everywhere. Perhaps I’ll just lay down for a second. I haven’t died yet.
The sound that could be heard only by a few changed, and now it said ”Basilisk”.
A young man with tousled, dark blond hair sat slumped in a diner booth with his eyes closed. He sniffed the air; the smell of freshly grilled burgers stirred his sinuses. He opened his eyes, blinking.
Martin: Wh-what’s going on?
He looked down at the table in front of him. No food, no drink, just a small notepad, with a pen tucked into the rings. Picking it up, he flipped through it. Empty, except for a note on the first page.
Martin: Write everything, huh…
He was startled out of his reverie by the ding of the door opening up. A tall man with a thick beard came in. The man walked up to the table behind Martin. He stopped and started to talk. Martin flipped over the page of the notebook, took the cap off the pen. Somehow, he knew this conversation was worth recording.
Martin’s journal: These people seem to be part of some society. Three people total, now that the new man’s joined them. And they’re talking about… someone’s been captured. One of their friends, their partners. Someone named Regan. Even though they’ve tried to rescue her, it hasn’t been working. But, wait… Regan’s eyes killed her rescuers? How can you kill someone with your eyes? Either way, it seems like this Regan isn’t really cooperating with her friends. And they agree. One of them’s getting up, leaving. Saying something about being recognized. And wait…
Martin heard a sound from further behind him. Casting his eyes around the diner, he started to see everyone overcome with a form of madness. Some were choking up blood, while others had what appeared to be vines growing out of their nose. Everyone seemed to be overcome by violence, hurting themselves and those around them. Martin slides under the seat, breathing heavily, praying that he will be spared. He continues to write.
Martin’s journal: Everyone’s gone crazy, everyone except me. I don’t know why I’ve been spared. I don’t even know why I’m here in the first place. But everyone’s talking about… smells. And tastes. Maybe this has something to do with the senses? Is that it? Do they control the senses? That must be it. And they’re hurting everyone so that they can’t, well… do this. Tell anyone else what’s been going on.
Martin shrunk further into the seats, staying as quiet as possible.
Martin’s journal: I hope they don’t hear me, don’t notice me. I’m scared to even write, in case they hear the pen. That’s silly, though. It’s too loud here for them to hear it.
Martin winced at the chaos, the violence; though it was petering out, getting quieter.
Martin’s journal: It’s almost over, now, though. I’m not sure whether to be relieved… or horrified. Because that means almost everyone’s dead. I don’t want to breathe. They’re still there, right behind me. And I don’t know why they’re here, or I’m here, but I was put here with this notebook, and if they find it, destroy it, then I know I’ve screwed up. I think that’s it. They’re leaving now.
The bell dinged again, as the three people who had been talking in the seat behind Martin walked out of the diner. Martin extricated himself from under the booth, his legs shaky. He walked around the diner, taking notes as he went.
Martin’s journal: This has been hard to see, to look at. But I have to record the crimes. Everyone’s dead; Someone has a fork stuck up their nose. The fry cook dunked his face into the oil. It was still sizzling; I had to turn it off myself. I can’t believe these people, their cruelty, their callousness. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t look at this. I should go, in case the police or someone else comes.
Ducking out the back door of the kitchen, Martin stumbled into the woods, where he found a soft tree trunk. He sat down to keep writing.
Martin’s journal: I can’t get it out of my head. The deaths… I don’t think I’ve seen anyone die before. I don’t know, though. I don’t remember. I should get some rest. Maybe that’ll help.
Sighing, Martin laid himself down on the mossy forest floor and closed his eyes. He dreamt of burgers, of fries… and of eyes that killed.
The sound was no longer just not a sound, now it was also not colors. Non-colors that talked, and said ”New Day”.
A feeling of dark emptiness mixed with an unnerving sense of displacement and confusion crept into every fiber of her being. Suddenly, a warm light fell upon her. She thought to herself, “Am I dead?” When she seemed to have some semblance of consciousness, her first thought was simple: write everything down. When she comes to her senses in the void, she seemed to have found a single writing utensil, and a notepad seemed to be lovingly placed near her. What was it even placed on? There were no objects aside from these. They seemed to be onto something, but there was no discernable surface to be found in this void. Suddenly, something akin to a large viewscreen, almost like an IMAX theater screen, appeared before her.
Three men appeared before her in bright, almost fluorescent clothing. The shortest one was holding a trombone. She focused on the instrument and looked at it, puzzled. She then had a moment of clarity. “Is that…me…?”
Francesca did not seem to have a body, but she did feel as though she was a presence. A concept? Something unknown, but definitely…alive? Conscious? Not sure. She started writing, not sure how she was doing that as she didn’t see or feel any limbs per se. The view screen continued to roll footage of the three men.
Francesca watched the screen to see what felt like a familiar sight. Gazing upon these technicolor men in spandex brought a warm, calming sensation to Francesca. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods + Francesca) were fighting in a Tag Team match against The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins). They turned to what looked to be the beginning of an origin story. Francesca looked with confusion. “Where is this going, and where do I fit in?”
We saw a young Kofi Kingston watching wrestling with his friends. Francesca didn’t specifically recognize the teenager in front of her, but seeing him brought a sense of comfort that she couldn’t quite place. He delivered a heartfelt speech about how seeing a Black wrestler inspires him. It seemed as though at this moment, Kingston had decided his path in life led to professional wrestling. He waited outside of the venue to meet his idol, Faarooq, after a show. He offered to introduce the teen to a friend if he was serious about training and becoming a professional wrestler.
The screen quickly switched to a different view. Francesca was confused but delighted to see another face that felt oddly reassuring. Young Xavier Woods sat in front of a tv screen with a friend, choosing a video game character to play. Woods and the friend had a heated discussion on individual character stats. She was shown Woods excelling in all of his teenage pursuits: school, band, and high school wrestling. Francesca excitedly leaned closer to get a better look at the quick view of Woods’ trombone. “Is that me?” Francesca then deflated: it was not her, she surmised.
Just as quickly as it came, it was gone in a flash, and Francesca felt as though she recognized yet another young face: that of Big E. She didn’t understand why this young man’s visage made her happy and excited, so she stayed glued to the view of him. Another boy was being bullied only to have Big E come into the picture and help the bullied boy repel his harassers. It turned out that despite Big E’s large size, he opted to use his words to jab at the bullies, lest he was the one to receive punishment at the hands of the school administration. Big E ran into the bullies again outside of a barbershop and had a physical altercation with them. He won, but barely. The boys brought weapons like game consoles and books with them. The barber inside came out after he talked to a man on the phone during the duration of the fight. He mentioned to Big E that he has a friend, Joe, that could help train him to become a capable fighter.
The screen went blank for a moment, and Francesca got anxious. Just as she started to get seriously concerned, the screen showed a new scene. It moved forward quite a bit in time. Francesca was still mildly anxious but started to feel calm again once she saw Kofi Kingston’s face. She was then shown what seemed like a highlight reel of Kingston’s early career and struggles to find an identity, his gimmick. Kingston was a beloved figure in his wrestling scene, but he wanted more. Once WWE approached and signed Kingston, there was another leap forward in time.
Kofi Kingston was talking to Hunter Helmsley, otherwise known as the wrestler Triple H. Kingston feared he would be pushed into a stereotypical, humiliating gimmick. Francesca felt Kingston’s anxiety with him. “Where is this going?” she wondered. That meeting was the catalyst for The New Day. Kingston got paired with Big E, and they became a tag team. The pair tried to find their footing but seemed to be missing something. An X factor, perhaps?
Xavier Woods approached Big E and Kofi Kingston in an over-the-top clandestine meeting. He posited that the missing piece of their puzzle was simple: they needed him on their team. Kingston and Big E seemed apprehensive but agreed with Woods’ proposal. In their first fight as a trio, they felt more like themselves than ever before. Somehow, someway, that oddball formula clicked on that night. Francesca waited with anticipation to see where the story went from there but decided to rest before everything continued.
And the sound and the colors that were neither of those things now turned into something not quite like a shape, and it expressed the words ”Wynd”.
The howling of the wind intertwined with that of the owls during late-night, as a young person laid in the middle of a spacious room, with a tender but intimidating atmosphere, and started regaining consciousness while their eyes remained closed.
Aimée: What happened to me? My head is killing me, and my body feels like I’ve been underwater for a week. Did I get drunk?
They opened their eyes with fatigue like their eyelids were almost too heavy to control and continued to sit on the immaculate floor. The room gave a sense of clarity and calmness that contrasted with the feeling of their knees, which felt like rusty screws trying to function after years of abandonment.
Aimée: Wait, what kind of room is this? What am I doing here? It looks like a fucking castle, a very weird castle, and I don’t think I belong in a weird-looking castle. I must be dreaming or hallucinating or something.
While they talked, the invasive noise of a conversation slowly penetrated the room; strangers were about to enter, they needed a place to hide. For some reason, even though the circumstances were abysmally different, running away from people didn’t feel uncommon. Hiding was an instinct, a necessity. When they started running off, the sound of something hitting the ground broke the silence even more than the still distant conversation did. Aimée turned around, and there was a journal with a pen that had fallen from their jacket. They grabbed it and hid behind a kind of bed that looked like no other bed they could recognize. They proceeded to open the journal and realized it just had a note on the first page that said ‘’Write everything’’. They thought, if it was a dangerous situation, maybe writing everything was a good idea.
Aimée’s journal: I don’t know where I am, I only know it’s some kind of castle, but it doesn’t look normal. Someone’s coming, so I’m hiding under the bed. It feels like my insides are trying to escape my body through my throat, and even the floor feels like it’s a hundred feet away from me.
As they tried to keep their breathing as quiet as possible, four beings entered the room; two humanoid figures with bug-like features, carrying an unconscious winged kid, as a girl similar to the other two accompanied them. The kid was left to rest on another bed across the room and then got out of the room. With all of this on sight, Aimée’s breathing, just for a moment, became almost too heavy. Not much time passed until the winged kid woke up, disoriented but comfortable enough to talk with the girl.
Aimée’s journal: This cannot be real. She’s not human! She’s green, with pink eyes and wings. They both have wings, but different, and the boy looks more like a human. Is this even my world? I can’t even be sure of that right now, nothing’s making any sense. The boy’s name is Wynd, and his friends are being brought here by other guards, like the ones that brought him. It seems they don’t know each other, but they’re friendly, the girl is going to tell him a story! Maybe they’re not so bad, but I can’t take any chances. What should I even do if I asked for their help? Tell them I’m dreaming and need their help to wake up? Maybe I fell into another world? They’d think I’m crazy! Maybe I am.
As the girl told the story, Aimée wrote every single detail down. It was an old tale that belonged to their culture; the fairies. It explained how old gods called the Winds created everything present in the universe. Every flower, animal, river. They also created people, winged people, that walked the earth with them as their children. But two sisters escaped the paradise their people chose to live in, to explore the lands. They went in different directions, and thirty years later, when a reunion came to be, one was turned into the first Fairie, and the other one, the eldest, into the first Vampyre. The Vampyre wanted power and ignited a war that broke every good concept the Winds built for them. Disappointed, the Winds disappeared along with the winged people and were never seen again.
Aimée’s journal: There are vampyres, fucking vampyres. And apparently, they’re following Wynd and his friends? This couldn’t go any worse. I just want to be back to whatever house I live in, wake up in a comfortable bed. My world may be fucked up, but at least I’m used to that kind of fucked up.
After the story ended, a bell rang, catching Wynd off guard, and Aimée even more; for a moment, they thought that they were found, and the alert was because of them. The fear felt like they suddenly submerged in the coldest water imaginable. But it turned out it was just a sign that the boy’s friends had arrived.
Aimée’s journal: That was too close, I almost moved. I have to be more careful. They’re both leaving now, finally. But the girl looks worried, she says she’s going to have a meeting with something called the Council of the Elders to explain and get help. Sounds serious. But it doesn’t matter anymore, they’re gone. I’m safe.
As Aimée wrote that last word, they stood still for a moment, with the pen in their hand. The silence and sudden desertedness were calming, but it also made the fear more real. The inertia was gone. Now all that was left to focus on, was the fear of not understanding anything, not knowing what to do. It almost made them cry, but they decided to hold it back. Maybe it was all just a dream, and all they had to do was go to sleep. Even with all the fear, the limited space, and the cold, they managed to do it, and dreamed of infinite nothingness, with millions of colors they couldn’t even recognize.