Pinpricks of luminescence as sharp as razors descended up her; a shapeless form of radiating pursued her. The memory scraped against her thoughts like a scalpel as she somersaulted into another universe. Reality no longer felt solid and unyielding: Reality was malleable. She tried to connect the words to form a coherent idea. Instead, the concept was two goalposts separated by a field spanning galaxies. She was both the midpoint, the untouched ball, and the two opposing teams. But, without an endpoint, she was marinating in a cesspool of endless directions.
Reality was malleable. There was no altering the fact. There was no changing another fact: Someone — or something — was hunting her. She escaped once, the fear of death a tornado unspooling inside her stomach. She had weighed her options in the chase. Prey versus predator: Who would prevail? Losing her father was inevitable, but she did not want to lose herself. Circumnavigating her own death helped her cling to an idea of escape from this threat. Then, she cannonballed toward another plane on the innumerable spectrum of realities. Sapphire steaks of light rained down from the stars. Comets, she gaped, before the cosmos swept her away and, she too, fell.
Emilia: There’s magic here…I can sense it.
She found her journal — her minute version of salvation. Writing in the notebook may have been a command from a silent entity before, but she had always loved the written word. The journal was a lifeline, a secure container to process her thoughts about worlds and people she had purposefully avoided before.
Emilia’s Journal: I see a woman with a dark complexion walking alone. Pillars with ancient symbols bisect the green earth. Everything here feels like a relic, but the woman seems unafraid of trespassing on its path. It’s even more important to stay hidden since something is trying to catch me. If I had built up any courage to possibly interact with another person for the first time…the strange light pursuing me has doused that flame.
A fair-skinned man wrapped in crackling, lightning bolts of water materialized next to the woman. No less than a breath later, a green-tinged woman taking on the striking appearance of a Gorgon takes her place beside the duo.
Emilia’s Journal: I have to be in a mystical realm. These three beings pulse with energy, magic suffusing their skin. I hear them address one another as Kaya, Ral, and Vraska. They know each other well and converse about separate adventures. It seems Ral traveled to an inn and blew up…werewolves? I must be inside a fantasy novel. This is why I prefer poetry. Reality over fiction. But this journey has made me question…what do I even know about reality? Have I been living in fear of other people, of the outside, of all these factors that make up human existence when reality is just a facade?
Each planeswalker spoke of their search for knowledge across multitudinous dimensions. Success in obtaining information was vital, for the planeswalkers lacked evidence. A man, Jace Beleren, went missing after a near-death psychic overdose. Targeted attacks in the resplendent realm of Ravnica mounted, endangering lives on every plane. A cult put plans in motion to summon an evil apparition — a god of old. So, the planeswalkers split. Locating an elder planeswalker woman possessing fire-casting abilities and counsel became pertinent. The trios’ individual might and resilience promised results — but they returned to one another near empty-handed.
Emilia’s Journal: Ral tells the group about Innistrad, a plane overrun by werewolves with an appetite for flesh. A full moon turned men into wolves during a nighttime sea voyage. Summoning a storm, Ral escaped without a scratch but no word on this mysterious fire-woman. Vraska, the gorgon-woman, sailed the high seas as well. Gossip from her former crew revealed nothing. She frightens me, but she speaks with a quick wit and amicable nature. Her power emanates from her alluring eyes. Their glow reminds me of that light…and now I am questioning my safety once again.
Kaya, an assassin who can pass over into the ghost realm, reported no confirmation of the elder planeswalker during her search in Amonkhet. Sand and death, skeletons and creatures trapped in a cyclical loop of misery, impeded Kaya. The hiding woman listened in astonishment. Kaya’s feats were extraordinary. As someone plagued with grief and death’s bondage herself, the woman pondered communication with the afterlife.
Emilia’s Journal: They walked for what felt like an eternity. Eternity — the concept no longer holds weight. Is my dead dad living in an eternal version of heaven somewhere? If these infinitesimal universes exist, maybe I’ll find him…I wish I could stay here. Magic feels safer than reality’s confines now. I would like to learn to harness magic to learn my purpose and defend myself from my haunting pursuant. These planeswalkers could teach me to live again.
She stopped writing when the trio found who they were searching for. Standing defiant in the rubble of cracked stones, a woman in a red cloak turned toward them. Lines ran like rivers across her face, giving the impression of a woman as old as the sediment beneath their feet. Jaya Ballard’s mouth dropped open when the planeswalkers uttered a name. The name, Marit Lage, belonged to a Kraken-like demigod — a primordial evil capable of sowing irreparable damage.
Emilia: I’m not safe here after all if a simple name can scare these magic wielders…I’m not safe from anything in any reality.
Devastated, she tried to throw the journal. Sadly, the unkind darkness came for her, as usual.
Martin bolted upright, looking around. He was sitting at a picnic table near a short, small, secluded building. He could hear cars rushing by; they must be near a highway. Then this was some sort of rest stop. He pulled out his notebook.
Martin’s journal: Didn’t think I’d get away. But I did, and I’m somewhere else. Somewhere that’s… hopefully… safer. Wish I had more goals beyond survival, but I can’t afford that. Not when I don’t know where I am, or where I’m going next. So I’ll keep running, and escaping when I need to. At least this time it’s somewhere with a working restroom.
Stretching, he got up and headed into the rest area for a much-needed bathroom break. After washing his hands, he made his way out of the restroom and headed for the door outside. But then… he froze. There was a ball of light waiting outside, similar to the one that had chased him previously. As a family made their way into the rest stop, unaware, the ball entered the rest stop with them. Panicking, he scrambled back into the rest stop, heading towards the entrance on the opposite side of the building. But he stumbled as he noticed something else, the light glinting off a familiar pair of sunglasses.
Veering off to the side, he made his way into a shop selling some t-shirts, some books, and a few other souvenirs. He pulled out his journal.
Martin’s journal: I can’t do this, I can’t face them again. The ones who almost killed me at that diner are back, them and the ball of light, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to avoid both. How did they both find me here? What even is this rest stop? I’m not sure, but I need to get out of here as quickly as I can.
Finding a changing room in the back of the store, he headed in and closed the door behind him.
Martin’s journal: Alright. I think I’m safe here. Now how long do I have to wait before it’s safe? How will I know when they’ve gone? I just want to actually find some time to figure things out. Like, who actually am I? And how do I get home?
Martin took a deep breath, closing his eyes. As he opened them, he heard police sirens.
Martin’s journal: I can’t face this. I’m staying here. Nobody’s going to look here. I’ll be safe. I have to believe that. After all, nothing all that bad has happened so far, right? Other than being chased by people who want to kill me and something that could want to do worse, as far as I know.
He stayed huddled in the changing room. He heard the whirr of a helicopter, then screams. More pointless death, he would’ve predicted that’s what those serial killers would end up doing. He hoped they’d end up in jail or dead, but with how the police were faring against them, that wasn’t likely. Then the ground shook with a deafening noise.
Martin’s journal: Maybe that’s the helicopter down, I’m not sure. Either way… I think everyone here’s dying again. And if I survive, I still have to escape that light ball too. It’s too much. Another day, another high likelihood of death.
Maybe when I die, I’ll wake up at home.
Eyes squeezed shut, he huddled on the floor, scared but exhausted. Slowly, softly, he fell asleep again.
They felt the cold and humid floor on their back, and their mind drove to late nights when they fell out of their bed and stayed asleep on the ground. The memories made them even more tired, and their mind struggled to reconcile the necessity to open their eyes for any dangers that awaited them in whatever place they found themselves in.
Aimée: This looks like the faerie castle. I never thought I’d see the same places more than once. Does this mean instead of infinite universes there are like four? I guess scientists missed the fucking mark on that one, huh.
Their black boots slid against the ground as they raised their knees to stand up. Taking the journal out of their old green jacket, they started writing and giving nonchalant steps guided to the room’s window. Nearby enough to hear the conversation, Aimée witnessed Wynd and his sister talking. It started fairly simple, but each word flowing out of their mouths felt more upset than the last one. Wynd wants to stay and help with the war, but his sister wants to go somewhere safe for both.
Aimée’s journal: I don’t think either is wrong; they’re both just scared in their own way.
It’ll be easier if he just flew away…Is it a good idea to leave alone like that? They were being chased by Vampyres.
In the structure front of where they were, Aimée distinguished something moving. It was a light, just like the one who chased them before. Somehow, they (or it?) knew Aimée was here. They dropped to the ground with their back to the wall, pressing the journal onto their chest.
Aimée’s journal: The shitty lights are looking for me again. Why in the world am I their objective? I can’t just wait around for them to catch me, and I have things to do
Wandering through the room, trying to avoid the lights and anyone else who may see them, they reached a room with one of Wynd’s friends on a table and unconscious. It startled them for a moment, but he was there just to be taken care of his wounds. Before they could move, the sound of Wynd and the faerie who helped them before entered Aimée’s ears; they were about to enter the room. They hid behind the door as rapidly and subtly as possible.
Aimée’s journal: Wynd seems awfully concerned about his friend, and I can’t blame him. Although he seems better, fortunately. He started telling the faerie Thorn is so important to him because he couldn’t go outside in the city, so he often climbed up a high point and watched people live their lives to feel less lonely. I kinda know how he feels. Despite all, this is a beautiful place. It saddens me that some people cannot even experience it, and then there’s the war too…
The lights vanished in a heartbeat, followed by distant, crumbling sounds. The floor shook, taking everyone out of equilibrium. If it wasn’t for all the noise rumbling at the same time, they would’ve noticed Aimée. They heard the words coming out of the faerie, ‘’The tree’s coming down!’’. It felt like a hit to the nose that stopped time for a second, and before being able to move or attach to anything, they were already in the air. Fleeting images raced against her eyes as their body hit everything in proximity without control as time was somehow slower and faster than usual. They questioned if they may have been dead when everything stopped but were gladly (And painfully) surprised to know that wasn’t the case. There was a piece of wood just on top of their ribs, but between grunts, Aimée was able to lift it.
Their hands were trembling too much because of the fall; they weren’t going to be able to write anything for some time. But they could try and watch, if barely. Standing up with help from the wreckage, they could discern Wynd, the prince, and the faerie, but…Thorn was below so much debris, and there was so much blood. The three weren’t even able to cry for their friend, as they were attacked by the Vampyres, who immobilize the faerie, captured the prince, and stabbed Wynd. They weren’t interested in anyone else; if the case were any other, Aimée would’ve been dead already.
Aimée: I have to…Do something. I have to help…
It only took a few steps for their body to waste the little energy it had, and like a puppet whose puppeteer suddenly dropped, Aimée fell to the ground unconscious.