World matrices and a labyrinth of unexplored realities merged. Dark spirits transported the woman in their palms, passing her along until quantum dimensions synthesized. The bodiless forces quavered momentarily, reticent. Nevertheless, she somersaulted into a universe where spirits crawled from the galaxy’s outer reaches onto quiet grasslands. But something changed. She was sent here before, she recognized, hiding in an attic behind wooden boxes and a long-forgotten childhood basketball. Reality-jumping came full circle, like a snake consuming its tail.
Emilia: Orla. Jo. It’s them again…
Already, her fingers meshed with the quantum-strained pages of her leatherbound journal. The witch, Orla, and the girl with the sick mother, Jo, climbed down the creaking attic stairs before the woman could slither out to follow them.
Emilia’s Journal: Somehow, I am back. Fate has returned me, and I watched Jo and Orla capture Mamo’s insidious, viscous-appearing spirit inside a taut coin sack. No time has passed here since I left them. How is it possible? Is magic key to returning home? Do I want to return home? At least I landed inside Jo’s house this time. I entered a cabinet, the slats providing me enough light to watch them from afar. But I am finding darkness and isolation…not as comforting as I used to.
As Orla sewed luminous threads of magic into the sack containing her grandmother’s restless spirit, the woman wrote everything. Their existence was the antithesis to the woman’s own secluded life. Orla prepared an altar at the hearth and set it aflame. A coal-colored spirit resembling a lizard extracted a bone, Mamo’s bone, from beneath the hearth’s ashes.
Emilia’s Journal: Orla and Jo are leaving the house now, so I’m writing as quickly as I can. Orla, with her magic and knowledge, released the hearth spirit building a nest out of Mamo’s bones. The bone, no smaller than the length of my Orla’s finger, was radiating untapped power. Jo’s mom should get better from her sickness now that the girls extricated the bone. Mamo didn’t receive a burial after death, Jo explained. Instead, her energy was redistributed…and they need to locate Mamo’s bones to conduct a proper burial. Death…I am so familiar with death. I can’t help but hold out hope that maybe…maybe Mamo isn’t dead?
Orla and Jo traversed the sweeping countryside, burying the bone at Haresden’s border. The woman trailed them, emotions rolling through her like the ebb and flow of the hills surrounding them. She noted a tangible connection growing between Jo and Orla. For the first time, after watching Orla describe how the anchoring talisman Jo wore on her neck was a protective witch power source, a longing for human gnaws at the woman’s broken heart.
Emilia’s Journal: Mamo’s unburied bones have been scattered across countryside gravesites. Jo doesn’t hesitate when Orla announces the necessity of visiting each gravesite and fixing the berserk magic plaguing Haresden. Although they barely know one another, and Orla remains somewhat closed off, they have a deep-rooted understanding. The symbiotic borders of Haresden need to be maintained. Jo will do anything to quiet the restless fae and swelling waves threatening her town, even without magical abilities. I remember that desire…a burning flame of loyalty toward my father throughout our limited time together. Orla and Jo… are showing me that death does not have to be an endpoint. Through death, an ember can spark, leading to new relationships. Have I been wrong to close myself off from the outside — from everyone — my entire life?
She followed them, listening to conversations multiplying her grief while Orla dined with Jo’s inviting family. She followed them as they mapped their journey on paper, identifying a pattern in Haresden’s borders coinciding with Mamo’s power as a hedge witch. Talk of patterns was paramount. A spell was required to reinstate the deceased witch’s power. If only spells could restore the woman’s life so easily, she yearned.
They traveled to Haresden’s docks, where a humble fisherman and an old fishwife pointed them toward vexed fae in the rockpools. Diminutive rock trolls ambushed Orla and Jo on their escapade. Mankind intervened in magical beings’ natural order, and Mamo’s death meant an inability to protect the finite balance between structure and chaos.
Emilia’s Journal: I’m exhausted. After a few days here, I’m beginning to wonder if I will have to leave. Haresden is beautiful, and Orla is bringing peace back to the unsettled land. When Jo speaks about her love toward Haresden, I want to experience that same joy and commitment somewhere. I don’t love the solitary existence I meticulously created for myself back home…I want a home again. Traveling is new after years locked inside a self-made prison, yet it also brings me a feeling of…catharsis? Orla and Jo rebuild the cairn townsfolk had destroyed to widen the road. They appease the trolls, but Orla’s demeanor is downcast. She explains how magic is a resource meant to be harnessed, and how constant traveling brought her a similar sensation of magic. Magic holds potential, but corkscrews and flourishes in different places for each person who wields it. Orla left Mamo because she could not thrive with her grandmother. My father left me through death, and I could not thrive without him. Could Mamo and I be harboring similar resentments?
Ruminations on life, family, death, and magic spilled into her mind like a gurgling water pitcher until the dark maelstrom seeps inside. Her thoughts cracked into a million shards as magic whisked her away to another world.
Francesca was suddenly awoken once more. When did she fall asleep? Was she knocked unconscious? If she had a body she could readily discern, it would be aching. She felt pangs of discomfort and soreness, despite not really being in a corporeal form. What was going on?
She looked at the screen again to see Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E once more. The pain she was feeling seemed irrelevant when she saw these three men before her. The trio was in Triple H’s office after their successful first outing as a tag team. They were introduced to awkward dudes who seemed to be doing the same song and dance she had seen earlier with Kofi, trying on different gimmicks and corresponding costumes, only to feel like none of them felt right. Francesca started to feel a deep sense of sadness, “Why am I so attached to these people? Why do they feel so familiar?”
Big E, Kofi, and Xavier finally settled on an evangelist gimmick that they didn’t entirely love but were asked to stick with at the behest of Xavier Woods. They agreed they love the name The New Day but felt like the preacher angle is mildly offensive at best. Francesca looked on with anxiety, “I know this is incorrect, but I can’t figure out why exactly I know this. Why does this feel so wrong and still so…gah, why does everything HURT?” She muttered to herself.
As Francesca continued to watch these men struggle to find their place amongst their WWE peers, the men finally seemed to come to some kind of impasse. They separated, only for Xavier Woods to hope that once their break was over, they’d all come back as the New Day to fight in the ring again. Francesca’s anxiety built as she witnessed each member go back to their respective homes and lives outside wrestling. They discussed with their loved ones how they couldn’t seem to find the right footing yet, and whether or not they should bother continuing on their current trajectory. She was suddenly drawn closer to the screen as she saw Xavier Woods gently caressing his locker as he cooed: “The time isn’t right. Not yet, old friend. We have to wait” Francesca could hear this echoing in her mind and started to feel dizzy. Was this a déjà vu?
After several disappointing losses left both the New Day and Francesca feeling pretty deflated, Xavier Woods, like the lovable rapscallion he is, decided the best course of action to get their star on the rise was to simply…be themselves.
As the New Day was asked to use their power of positivity to boast about potatoes in the great state of Idaho, they did exactly what WWE creative generally didn’t want from their performers; they improvised. Francesca cringed the entire promo as they haphazardly tried to talk up the special spud but started to feel a rush of prideful adrenaline when the improvisation began. Xavier, Kofi, and Big E started bad-mouthing the potatoes given to them for the spot. This pivotal moment was where the future of the New Day really became clear.
Francesca watched as the light in Xavier Woods’ eyes glimmered. He showed Kofi and Big E the internet’s reactions: they were being talked about. ”Hey, any heat is better than none, right?” She thought. The New Day then found themselves in a feud with The Shield over the differing opinions regarding their formerly slighted tuber. The Shield had challenged them to a pancake fight in Philadelphia. She felt the infectious energy of the men’s excitement built on this absolutely ridiculous angle.
The three men were lost in thought, stunned by the chance they had always wanted but unable to process how overwhelming that opportunity was. They are then pulled back by a young girl who notes she is a fan of theirs and wants a selfie with them. The New Day knew at that moment how they were going to proceed with this huge opportunity they had been given.
The pancake fight with The Shield was underway and Francesca felt unease creeping through her. Half out of excitement from seeing The New Day looked so in sync with one another, moving effortlessly like they were three parts of one greater being. The other half being fear of the outcome of this match. Could they win? If they do, where would they go from here? Too many questions to even begin to answer, and they all made her feel sick with worry. Then suddenly, she saw it. The moment she was unaware she was waiting for: Xavier Woods jumped into the squared circle and started shouting, “NEW…DAY ROCKS…NEW…DAY ROCKS!” She started to feel and hear the echoing in her mind again and winced. Once she looked back at the screen, she saw it. Xavier Woods, proudly playing his beloved trombone in the ring for the first time with the New Day. She heard Kofi’s innermost thoughts, “I was so caught up in it, I almost forgot to pin him. Until I heard Francesca.”
Everything comes flooding back to her in this moment of clarity. She was Francesca. Francesca I, Xavier Woods’ beloved ringside companion, met her demise at the hands of Chris Jericho. Her memorial was on the January 18th, 2016 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. This is her story.
This time they couldn’t remember what they dreamt. An all-black panorama tainted with white spots was the only image that would pop out in their minds if they tried to remember. Everything was incinerated by the white spots, as Aimée opened their eyes to intolerable pain. To their misfortune, their back was serving as a blanket to all kinds of scraps.
Lifting their upper body, they were met with a devastating view. The buildings that were still up looked like relics, ruins from a past time that left nobody to be remembered by. It felt like every frightening thought lurking in a kid’s mind at night crossed to reality at the same time. What struck them the most, however, was the silence, the emptiness. There was no one around.
Aimée: This…Looks like my world. What if it is?
The sound of people not sufficiently far away startled them. Hiding amongst all the junk with velocity, they saw two young people relaxing on the roof of a deserted house. Aimée checked if the journal was still in the pocket and hadn’t fallen out and combined with all the trash to a pleasant confirmation. The two people could’ve been confused as the same person if it wasn’t for their age difference; one of them a kid, and the other a teen. However, there was someone else, apart from anyone else as they were, who Aimée was unaware of.
Emilia: Eve and her…sister……they’re together. They’re safe!
The pen returned to her hand. She eavesdropped and wrote because listening and writing had shielded her from harm thus far.
Emilia’s Journal: I am happy to report the older version of Eve acting as younger Eve’s guardian. I remember the fearlessness in Eve from the last time I visited this world. Although, Eve’s clone exhibits Eve’s tenacity amplified! They are a united front in the face of a hopeless world, which gives me hope for my own situation. Wexler, that evil bear I saw massacre the other orphans last time, was taken down by older Eve! Yet, I hear them talk about Wexler’s ability to rebuild — he is hunting them again. I wonder if I am being hunted by that inexplicable light source still? We are all running from evil as it adopts different forms.
Keeping up with the two adolescent girls became an arduous task for the woman. She ran, nimbly and quickly, feeling emboldened by the freewheeling affection the girls displayed.
Emilia’s Journal: These two don’t stop moving! They have a mission to find a vault — one sunken underwater into the hollow recesses of the ocean. Their determination forces me to evaluate myself, humbling me. Overcoming impossible odds seems plausible with someone by your side. If I ever get home, I need to seek out companionship. Living life alone, I am betraying an instinct for friendship. The older Eve just told young Eve how Wexler betrayed them both. The son of a bitch bear murdered their father! Oh god, they lost their father at such a young age. At least I had nearly twenty years before my dad died…they are so young, yet so resilient.
The elder version of Eve told the younger Eve her survival methods. Her words revealed a barbaric truth undercut by irony as the two gorged themselves on a feast.
Emilia’s Journal: I slipped into a boarded-up room while the Eves ate. What I discovered…worries me. Older Eve related how she forced herself to eat a minimal amount of food to stay alive. At first, I felt horror at this planet, forcing a mere child into starvation.
As night blanketed the girls in shadows, the woman listened to a tale with enough terror to fracture her worldview.
Aimée: What if this is my world? How the fuck can I be sure that’s not the case? All those people, just gone. All the time I spent alone, avoiding everything. Guess I don’t have to make that much of an effort now…Shit, what am I talking about? I don’t know if it’s that what hurts me or the fact that it doesn’t hurt me as much as it should.
Emilia’s Journal: Out of every dimension I have visited, I can’t help but question the creation of a place so beset with horrors. The older Eve is a clone — and not a clone of the younger Eve. No, they are two out of six clones of an original, human Eve. I must be lost within the withering pages of a science-fiction novel. They were born and grown in labs, learning about a world lost to mankind’s environmental mayhem. The Eves were meant to be saviors. And the cruelty of this world continues…only these two Eves survived. I can only rely on a former instinct telling me that I will survive too.
Morning came again, and the woman soaked in daylight like a sponge.
Emilia’s Journal: As they eat breakfast, I listen intently and am determined to record every word of their encounter. Apparently, restricting calories was necessary. By hindering pubescence, the older Eve has been forcefully preventing herself from reaching adulthood. She has every reason to fear adulthood. Here, adults turn into monsters. Adulthood has its challenges in any world, but adults cannot thrive as people here. I feel my stomach churning, thinking about how much these children have endured.
They ventured outside and began to rummage through a towering junk heap on the docks. The woman tentatively followed them, overwhelmed with a chill. Somewhere, another presence lurked.
Emilia’s Journal: I waited inside the red stone building instead of following the Eves. I can see them from the slats in the wall. The older insisted on Eve taking a boat out to search for the underwater vault while the older Eve clone waits behind. As I watch the younger Eve float out toward the sea, a figure caught my eye. I am looking now, straining to look across these mountainous trash piles cluttering the land. Could it be? Another person? Another traveler? It’s definitely a human…but I can sense their impermanence in this world. They are like me. I…I am not the only one.
Aimée’s journal: I saw someone moving beyond the girls. At first, I thought she was going to attack the girls, but…She’s just writing, like me. What could this possibly mean? Maybe I’m not the only one going through all of this. Should I reach out? Why would I?
Sadly, accurate conclusions coalesced in her thoughts too slowly. The robot bear clanked loudly, distracting the woman from the person writing in an exact replica of her journal. Wexler, the robot, spoke calmly to the elder Eve, igniting a reunion much like a parent returning to their abandoned child. Humanity’s continued existence depended on Eve, the bear said. Although, a suggestion floated in the air; dandelion seeds catching the wind before replanting in fertile soil.
Emilia: Humans could be…wiped out? This planet is devastated though..maybe it could regrow without humans for a while.
Her worldview splintered, and sleep came easily.