“Reality Hits Hard”
Thunder. Lightning, followed by more thunder. The drums of the heavens beat down hard. White, blue, yellow, and even the occasional green flashes lighted up the black clouds for brief moments, causing more thunder to follow.
I must warn the others…
A figure moved too fast for any normal human to see. The swiftness of her steps caused the wind to shift behind her. The breeze disturbed the grass she so elegantly glided over. If one were to look for a trace of her presence, they would find nothing.
I don’t have much time. My friends are dead. My elemental avatar…she…if I live long enough, I’ll have to tell her sister of her sacrifice. I don’t have much time; my vision is already becoming human. Soon enough, I’ll be forced to slow down. When that happens, I don’t think I’ll be capable of speeding up again. Only my elemental strength is keeping me alive. I pray it is enough—that I can make it.
Liquid bombs pounded against her face. The droplets blinded her. She was running visionless, hoping not to collide with anything. Their coldness sting her. She was unused to feeling their cold; she was used to them being warm. It was yet another sign of her waning powers. She continued on, ignoring the pain. Her footsteps became heavier. Pain wracked her limbs. They were tired, beaten. Her legs had crimson covering them. While the color was light for what it represented, she knew it would darken with intensity. Staring back, she saw her footsteps—a sign of how heavy her legs were becoming.
Curses! I…won’t make it. Not in my condition. My body will be sustained on willpower alone. That won’t be enough. I’ve heard of some people being sustained for hours with nothing but their willpower when they have wounds worse than me…but I’m not like them. I don’t have their determination. Even though I carry a message of dire importance, part of me doubts whether it should be delivered. Because of that, I’ll die long before I reach them.
I must deliver the message. I can’t do this alone. Someone needs to deliver it. Someone who can evade detection—at least, for the moment—but will still understand. I need to find one with hidden powers. One in a thousand people have them; how hard could it be?
One last strike of lightning. The rain seemed to hone in on her position, focusing on her. She ran, despite the pain. She was almost to the end of a grassy field, to go back into the street. She could see the gray contrasting the green. Then, she stopped. Before she could reach another checkpoint, she tripped. She tried to get back up—only to be hit with pain ten times worse than when she was running. She fell to her knees again, defeated. She collapsed onto her left side, with very little time to live left.
No! I need…to…to…tell them…If not me, then someone else. But…who could I tell, now? Two of my kind in one place attracts too much attention. If a person were to come close to me, there’s only a one in a thousand chance that they’d possibly understand. Even then, I’d have to explain a few things to them to have them believe me. Do I have enough time left?
The sun pierced the clouds, shining golden rays onto her broken spirit. It showed of a brighter day, a day with less sorrow. It glistened with the rays of happiness that she had not seen for weeks.
Sun…hope…I suppose this means one of them is nearby. That’s natural sunlight coming through…an event which normally only occurs when people like me have one…last chance to accomplish our goal. Come here, whoever you are. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ‘known’ me forever or have never seen me.
I hate to do this, but…I’m going to rearrange everything you know about our world. You won’t live a normal life…but…it has to be done. For all you might care for…for everything…for the world… For it all…everything I know shall be transferred to you. I pray that all the suffering that I’m bound to cause…can be forgiven.
Things haven’t been quite right recently. Kari has been on edge and has distanced herself from others. I know she isn’t very close to anyone at school to start with, but it’s worse. And, today, she missed the architecture and history class. I know that’s her favorite; even when she misses every other class of the day, she attends that class.
I don’t actually know her that well. We are only in a class three times a day. I barely even remember her name; I only know it because the teacher often calls her up. She’s good at her schoolwork; her grades are always at the top of the classes we share. It is no wonder that she is called up often. It doesn’t matter…I really don’t know anything about her other than her name and her grades. She’s just too distant. I wonder what goes on in her mind, to have that kind of attitude. I get the impression she’s the type of person who really doesn’t care about much.
Even so, this is strange. She might not care for much, but missing that class…? It…is something I am not accustomed to. I really don’t know her, though; something could have come up. For all I know, she really does care about many things—just either none of the ones I see, or she hides it well.
But…this abnormal activity…I can’t help but feel worried for her. No matter how distant, how different, she is…she is still a classmate. If she was my enemy, my rival, if I hated her…I think I’d still feel a little worried.
Well, my parents don’t really care about when I get home that much; I am well-known for taking my time. I see nothing wrong with taking the scenic route home today. I get a nice view of the city. It’s worth a shot. Occasionally, I’ll see her around the city. It happens with all people; I’ve seen classmates, teachers, and such at special events, shops…everywhere. Maybe I’ll get lucky and spot her in a location that I have previously caught her at.
She’s not the only thing I’m bothered by, though. True, she’s occupying a good portion of my thought, at least, at the moment. But…recently, the weather around here has been…strange. Others have noticed it, but I seem to see it more often than they do. In fact, these odd weather phenomena seem to be somewhat occurring around me. Maybe I’m just being paranoid.
Strong, warm winds in this late time of the year. Powerful rains that are unusually warm. Electrical surges. Displaced and disproportionate shadows, as well as an abundance of bright light. I haven’t seen so much sun after a violent storm of rain in a long time. Blasts of heat, then cold. Unusual plant life seems to be forming in many areas I hang around for hours. I’ve even seen many bent, warped, or destroyed metals in some areas. Local earthquakes seem to be common. Some are only in one or two buildings! All near me, in this area. It’s probably just coincidence; I am probably just imagining it.
A beam of sunlight shined down into the nearby park. It illuminated the entire area, pushing away the rain. The young man having the scattered thoughts of his classmate shrugged at this.
And there it is again. Sun usually does not shine more than twice a week in this area; it is too covered by the clouds. But this one has neither warmth nor cold to it. That’s another unusual thing that I seem to notice that nobody else does—that these unusual patterns seemingly have life; they are warm or cold. Meaning that this could be natural. Then again, all of them could be natural and I’m just insane. But, again…the park? Where I intended to go, anyway? Now, it’s even more worth investigating.
A ring, then another. He ignored it for a second. A second set of rings pierced the eerie silence in the neighborhood, which would normally be buzzing with life. A third pair of rings and he realized that it was his cell phone. With seconds to spare before the answering would kick in, he frantically searched and retrieved the device from his right pocket. By instinct, he opened it.
“Lee, where are you?”
“Taking the scenic route.”
“Something happen at school?”
“No, really, mom; I just need the walk. Time to think and a little exercise.”
“Alright. When will you be home?”
“Within an hour or two. Sorry that I forgot to tell you.”
More accurately, I was in a rush. I was thinking about Kari. I suppose it’s within human nature to naturally worry about something unusual, no matter the circumstance. The thought of calling wasn’t even there.
Lee continued to walk. He could hear every splash his feet made when they contacted the wet ground. He pocketed his phone and kept his had in there. His left arm matched the right in its respective cavern. For another thirty seconds, he had a carefree attitude. He strolled along in his increasingly damp clothes, not caring about anything.
Then he spotted something which sent him nearly into a panic: there, clearly on the ground, was fresh blood. It is a sight that nobody can deny; every person in existence knows what blood looks like. A trail lead to his destination.
This…this is…is…it blood? It can’t be…it has to be something else. Maybe it’s paint. No…there’s a trail. But what if there was painting done in—that’s a stupid thought. Think, Lee, think! Don’t lose your calm. Breathe; keep your cool. Think it out.
Random crimson stains could be anything. It’s liquid, so the rain will have washed most of it away. As it is, it could be anything—but depending on how long ago this was, it could have been much larger before. There’s a trail. It leads to the park.
Could someone have died? I should leave; I could be in danger. No! Stop scatter-braining, Lee! Someone could be hurt. It…it could be anything; I don’t mind wasting time looking.
What am I still doing here?!? Am I having second thoughts? Do I really want to go? Of course I do…but am I sure of it? I’m obviously not. Part of me wants to push it away as nothing. Part of me wants to flee in terror. But curiosity and worrying demand I go on. I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t go…so… Body…legs…MOVE!
Lee broke out in a sprint. He quickened his pace with every footstep; he didn’t know he could go that fast. In less than a minute, he would arrive. Nothing else mattered; he would not turn back. He felt every droplet falling from the sky. He felt every step. He could feel his heavy clothing weighing him down due to dampness.
I must hurry…someone could be hurt. Worse…things are so strange here. I pray I am wrong. That this is nothing; that I am not walking into a world I don’t know. I hope the park is just an empty park. That this is all coincidence. Kari has been here; it could be her! In a strange way, it makes sense…
I want to be wrong. Oh, please…let me be wrong. Not matter what, though…I don’t care what happens. I don’t care if I’m late getting home, or even if I am killed. I’m not turning back. The park is just around this corn—
“Dear lord! T-T-t-this-this…this…this is…this is TERRIBLE!”
“Heh…you’re here. It’s…you.”
“Kari! W-W-what…what…WHAT HAPPENED?!?”
“Lee, if I told you now, you’d never believe me.”
“What do you mean? How’d this happen? You need to get to a hospital; you could—”
“Scatterbrained as always, I see. I imagine it’s worse now; you’re panicking, no?”
“How could I possibly not panic?!? Y—”
“Try not to. Don’t worry about me. I know that, even if you’d never seen me, you’d be worried. Very few people in the world would not be. But there’s something more important than my life. It’s related to why I’m like this. It…is something worse than anything else—something that I could die for. I need you to just do one thing for me…just listen. You may still not believe me…but…just try.”
“Don’t talk! Just listen.”
Him? Not talk? What am I asking? I don’t know him; he’s just a student who happens to be in some of the same classes as me. But, even then, I’ve learned a lot about him. Unlike me, he doesn’t have a mask. He’ll blabber on…but at least he’s silent for the moment. Where to start? I don’t exactly have a speech ready that will change his life.
Kari coughed up blood.
“I take it back—you can talk, BUT only when I ask you a question. Only then, and only answer that question. Alright?”
Lee stared into Kari’s eyes, expecting to see the slightly dull brown that matched her long hair. That brown that she always had when at the front of the classroom. Instead, he saw red eyes, glowing with her fierce determination.
Didn’t think he had it in him. I suppose even he can understand when something is this vital.
“Good. Now, tell me…have you ever thought there was…more than what you had?”
“I-I’m not so sure it counts…but…I once wished to see the world for what it really is…”
“Do you still?”
“I’m not sure. I…think I came to the conclusion it is impossible to do that…”
“And what if it were possible? What if it could be done? What would you do?”
“Without knowing in advance what the world is really like, all I can really say is that I’d try to make it a better place.”
“That’s…exactly what I needed to hear. You might call me crazy, but this will be the truth. But…one last question: for that cause, would you die?”
“I…I…I don’t think I could let got. I’ve got so much to live for. We ALL do.”
“What if all of what you cared for was about to be lost? We all have so much to live for; I admit I do not wish to die. But I hope my efforts will save lives. Could you do that?”
“I…I…I really…I really don’t know. I don’t think I could die. But…for my family, I…suppose I’d do…anything.”
Not really the answer I was hoping for, but close enough. He might be able to handle this; I think he has it in him. I wish I could just say what needs to be said, but he’d die before he could deliver the message without this info.
“Good. Then…you might be ready for what I have to say. The real world…it exists. It is nothing like the world you know. Things that know of this real world live it, knowing their life’s purpose. They have a strong will to live, but recognize when it’s time to die. Prey hunted by a lion, for example, wants to live. It struggles. But it knows that it will die and accepts that. There’s more; this is just the tip of a very large iceberg.
“There are many things normal humans cannot see. For that matter, about an equal number of things they can see…just not comprehend. Paranormal events are perfectly normal. Another difference is color perspective. Being in school long enough, I imagine you know a good portion of animals see only two of the base colors. Humans see three, though; we know there are that many. Do the animals know there’s a third base color? Possibly, but not very likely. Similarly, normal humans only see three, hence believe only three exist.
“That’s wrong, though. There are many more colors in this world, billions more. Of course, humans can already see billions of colors, but there are many more. Things that appear to be one color to a human…actually is a completely different color. Simply put, there are more than three base colors. Even leaping from just three to four, do you know how many possibilities that creates? Too many to count.
“There are just so many things we cannot comprehend. Those things are not explainable by our known science…but aren’t magic, either. They can be explained…just not as we know science. If all humans could see like this, if we all knew of these things, science would adopt to explain these things.
“I am sorry, but simply by telling you this information, I’m forcing you into our world. The real world is more hostile. It’s the reason behind a good portion of mysterious disappearances and weird deaths. I will soon be yet another of these. This land…is more evil than your world.
“But, then again, it is friendlier than anything you’ve known. It’s balanced finely. Try…when you fully accept this; you must be too…stunned…right now…try…try to find this good side, while watching for the bad.
“The good comes in the form of elementalists. These are real people, with their own culture, own history. They are just like us. The only difference is that they take one of ten elements on birth. They’re even partially visible—strange weather patterns to humans could just be them. Fire, Ice, Light, Darkness, Energy, Water, Wind, Earth, Nature, and Metal; these are the elements. People end up with one to all ten as companions. You can tell. Ever notice how the rooms I was in with you felt unusually warm?”
“P-personally, no. I can’t feel heat that well. But I heard others complain.”
He’s too shaken up. He still hasn’t recovered from seeing me like this; to tell him what the world is like…it is not good for a mind. But…I pray that he will live. I don’t want any others to be condemned because of me.
“That was my companion. My fire elementalist. She was just one; I was fortunate to have all ten. All people end up finding at least one. Generally, they hang out together even before the power is awoken and chat. You’ve already got ten somewhere out there who are willing to follow you. Lee…that’s the real world. The truth…but… But now—for your first question. To go on…I need to know this—do you believe what I’ve said?”
Like I don’t already know. But verbally speaking it will both put my mind to ease…and his. Verbally speaking can put ends to fears, to doubts, from the speaker as well.
“I…I…I’m too shocked. I WANT to think it’s not true. Yet, at the same time…I want to be part of it, to live it. I…want to stop living in a lie. To bring the truth forward.”
“Good. I’m…going to give you this power. It’s the only way you’ll live. Then you’ll know what I have said is true. But…this could kill me; I need to tell you the other half. I talked about the good—now for the evil. I was on my way to deliver this…vital…message.”
Kari’s voice began to fade. She coughed up more blood. Her body began to shut down; she could barely keep her eyes open.
So much for that! I can’t warn him of the danger he’s in…but I can give him the message. If he can find them…he’ll stand a chance.
“I can’t tell you more; I’ve got thirty seconds to live. Find my friends. Find the others. They will understand…my…message. Tell…them…that……the……mast—”
With that, her voice faded away and her speech became undecipherable. Lee tried to make out the rest of the message; he somewhat succeeded at creating a guess in his mind. The thought remained there. But the rest was just a wild guess; she had died before the message had been sent. He could feel her last thoughts, but not the message.
Sorry…everyone…but…I can’t. I won’t…live. Lee…I hope he can forgive me. He…could very well die. They’re all at risk, now. I…am sorry…that I have failed you all. Now…he will win. If he doesn’t, then someone will sacrifice their life to stop him. This is not what I wanted. I………am…………sorry…
Those thoughts were the last of her. The message she was speaking that Lee had made only a guess on was overruled by her last thoughts somehow pouring into him. He forgot nearly all of it, focusing on her last thoughts.
He felt extreme regret for Kari’s demise. He could have done more. But he had not; she departed the world with her purpose unfulfilled thanks to him. He couldn’t feel worse. In his remorse, he reached out to her. Touching her hand, Lee felt an explosion of energy. He watched Kari’s body go up in flames. With her, his world vanished. The rush of energy surged through his body; he collapsed, destined to never be the same again…