Sydni could not sleep. She sat upright on her bed, covers drawn over her knees. She didn’t lack comfort. Her pajama bottoms were soft. The blue tank top she wore fit well enough. Even her blankets and pillows seemed welcoming.
Yet whenever she tried to let them take her, she was denied. Sydni was left to watch the minutes on her clock blink on by. She felt like a waking dream. Her mind was sluggish as it tried to lull her into sleep. But her body rebelled. Everything was fighting against itself and it left Sydni a weak, dizzy mess.
There was one way she was able to sleep. Talking with her Friend always helped. It wasn’t because Friend was boring; nothing like that at all. But Friend had a special talent, and that was to make Sydni’s dreams come true. More often than not, that dream was simply to sleep.
The problem was that Friend never really showed up “on time”. Friend just showed up whenever it wanted to. That made things difficult for Sydni, but some sleep was better than no sleep, she would tell herself.
It was because of Friend that she left her window open at all times. And finally with a wisp of smoke and a snake’s rattle, Friend appeared before Sydni.
“Hello, Sydni.” Friend said, smiling at her. An eye blinked at her. Friend’s cream-colored fur curled back into black waves as it floated in front her.
“Hello, Friend.” Sydni said, swaying side to side lazily. She reached out and pet Friend’s “nose”. They’d been together almost all her life, but even after seventeen years she didn’t know its name. She kept being told she wouldn’t be able to pronounce it. She eventually gave up.
“What are you doing?” Friend asked, lips curling at the attention.
“Same thing I always do, silly. Waiting for you.” The answer seemed pretty obvious to Sydni, after all they’ve done this plenty of times before.
“Why do you wait for me?” Friend seemed genuinely curious.
Sydni righted herself and raised an eyebrow over half closed eyes. “You know why. So I can sleep finally.”
“Don’t you dream of more than sleep?” Something in Friend’s voice was different tonight.
“What’s wrong Friend? You don’t seem like yourself today.” Sydni was concerned. More for herself or Friend she was unsure.
“There are forces at work, Sydni. The people I work for. They are…” Friend paused, debating how to phrase the next few words.
“Yes?” Sydni prompted.
“They are powerful.”
“So they are politicians?” The word seemed so big for a time so late.
Friend chuckled. “Nothing quite so small my dear. They are gods. They are the crafters of worlds.”
Sydni rubbed her eyes.
“I think it’s time you met them, Sydni.”
“Why? What good would that do?” All Sydni wanted was sleep. Why wouldn’t Friend give her that?
“Even though your mind is too tired to realize it, you are special, Sydni.”
Sydni sighed. “If I meet them, will you let me sleep tonight? I’d like to at least be more awake than I am now when I see them.”
Friend grinned. “I would be happy to.”
And with that Sydni lay on her pillow. Her eyes closed and she felt a soft breeze over her. Within moment sleep took her, and Sydni dreamed a wonderful new dream.
She floated above the earth, supported by nothing more than her own will. Her pajamas were gone, replaced by a midnight blue dress.
The planets seemed small and that made Sydni smile. The sun was warm and the air cool. Everything felt perfect.
Friend floated beside her. “Are you ready?”
Sydni turned and grinned. “I think I am.”
Friend returned her smile. “Come with me then.”
Friend took her hand and Sydni felt time and space bend around her. She likened it to being pulled through a black hole, the way they described being stretched into oblivion. She felt no pain though and within moments they were somewhere else. A place of darkness and endless space.
“Where are we, Friend?”
“This is where I am from.”
Sydni blinked in awe. Before was a great Obelisk. It was the color of the stars, the most beautiful thing Sydni had ever seen. The Obelisk seemed to hang completely still, unaffected by anything surrounding it.
Despite its beauty, Sydni couldn’t help but feel uneasy looking at it.
“I have spoken to my brethren. They are looking forward to meeting you.”
“It’s safe in there?” Sydni asked. She wasn’t nervous about meeting these new people, but the Obelisk didn’t seem to like her, and that did worry her.
“Do not worry. Everything has been set; you will encounter no issues here.” It felt like Friend was inside her head.
Sydni followed Friend towards the Obelisk. A small arch opened as they approached and swallowed them in seconds.
The interior of the Obelisk was scarcely lit. Tiny lights glowed throughout, like fireflies in the night sky. The walls rippled like the reflections of water. A summer’s breeze blew about the place.
It was perfect.
And it was a dream. At least, that’s the only way Sydni’s mind could process such resplendent manifestation.
“Where are we?” Her voice reflected the awe she felt inside her.
“We are home.” Friend answered as her feet touched the ground.
Walking seemed foreign to Sydni. Her body had become used to the sensations of the flights and floating. She missed it already. The ground looked like a long metal slab, though it wasn’t cold to the touch like she expected.
They continued through what she could only think of as the entrance hall. They ascended through the stairs and into the most elegant ballroom. The jewels that hung from the walls twinkled as they oscillated back and forth. The chandeliers were suspended gracefully on what appeared to be nothing at all. The floor was clear, glass she assumed. Her body didn’t respond with vertigo or any such dizziness. She assumed if she were to fall, she would simply fly.
Sydni smiled, “Where are we?”
“This is where the meeting will be held.” Friend’s voice no longer seemed soft.
Sydni turned back to take in the entirety of the ballroom. It seemed to go on without end. But in the distance she heard noise. It sounded like doors opening.
“They’re here” Friend told her.
“Who is here?”
“The Fallen,” is all Friend said, lips curling into a smile.
Forms moved closer towards them. They were difficult to make out, as if they were being blurred out. It was as if they were fading in and out of existence.
Sydni blinked. When her eyes opened she took a step back in shock. The forms were upon her. They all wore hooded robes that looked like they anchored them to the ground. Sydni felt uneasy around them. Her stomach turned, and suddenly she didn’t feel so happy.
The forms bowed to her. “Welcome, Sydni of Earth Prime,” they all said in unison. “We are the Fallen.”
Unsure of what exactly to do, she fumbled her feet around, eventually bowing in return.
The Fallen rose together. “We are glad you could join us.”
Sydni bit her lip. “If you don’t mind my asking… What is this about?”
One stepped forward from the group. “You have gifts, Sydni of Earth Prime. And we have need of those gifts.”
Sydni didn’t understand. She looked at Friend, hoping for some explanation, or even reassurance. Friend’s face was blank. She couldn’t read him anymore.
“Allow us to explain.” The one closest to her said in a comforting, female voice. The hood fell back, revealing a young woman with short white hair. Her eyes were a pale blue. From within the robes Sydni could see pipes and tubes protruding. They fed into the back of their skulls.
Sydni reached a hand out towards the woman. It was gloved, but the fingers were long and sharp. They were inhuman in sight, yet Sydni felt no malice from them. They exuded a calming nature, a sudden change from what Sydni felt before. She didn’t have time to wonder if that was on purpose or not. The hand wrapped around her shoulder and guided her towards the other members.
“Please, close your eyes.” They asked in unison. She did as she was told and felt a cold, leathery hand on her forehead.
In her mind’s eye she saw the stars. They were floating in space again. Behind her was the Obelisk and beside her was the female Fallen. Friend was nowhere to be seen. Before her was the planet earth.
Only that wasn’t entirely true. When she leaned her head left or right, she could see other planets. Like pages in a flipbook, they were all layered against each other with the faintest edge sticking out.
“What is this?” She asked.
The Fallen woman gracefully swept her hand across. The planets spread out side by side each other. “This one here, was your home.” She pointed to the planet in the center. “The rest could be similar to home you knew, or so far from what you knew you’d never recognize it.”
“What do you want from me?”
The woman took a deep breath before responding. “For the longest time the Builders governed these earths, keeping tabs on their evolution. And while for the most part they were to be left to their own devices… sometimes…” She motioned with her hand again, flipping through the planets like they were files in a cabinet. She stopped on one that to Sydni looked no different than what they were looking at before. “Sometimes they get a little too big. They expand beyond their destined reach.”
“But Friend referred to you as Fallen? What does that mean? Is there a difference?”
The woman shrugged. “To some. We simply believe that our purpose has evolved, just like these worlds sometimes do. With a new purpose should come a new name.”
“And what do you need from me?”
“I want you to focus on this planet. Imagine it spinning or tumbling through space. Whatever you think is proper.”
Sydni blinked. “Why would I do that?”
“Because this is your talent, dear Sydni. Your Friend has been training you for some time. I’m sure you’ve felt it, even if you had chosen to ignore it at first.”
Sydni inhaled. She knew she was trapped. Exhale. There wasn’t anything to do except do what she was told. She closed her eyes and held out her hand. She imagined the planet reversing its rotation. She felt resistance in her mind, like she was pushing a weight. She struggled against it, forcing the object to listen to her commands. Slowly, Sydni could feel its strength lessening. She smiled and pushed harder. Finally the structure gave way, and she could manipulate it as she chose.
“Excellent,” she could hear the woman saying. “Now consume this world. Let its energies feed you and grow your power.”
Sydni understood. The moral quandary didn’t even cross her mind. She was too focused on her newfound ability. The power it gave it. It tickled some part of her brain she hadn’t realized existed until now. To have the lives of an entire world in the palm of her hand. It felt… godlike. Sydni stuck out her other hand, pantomiming a grab. She closed her hands… and pulled.
Within seconds she not only heard, but felt the screams and energies of everyone who was on that world. They entered her mind, filling her with memories, sounds, scents, tastes, and words… touches. All of this flooded her consciousness. She grabbed her head in pain and felt herself floating aimlessly.
“It will pass my dear and soon you won’t feel anything at all. Let us return to the ballroom.”
Sydni felt a hand grab her own and when she opened her eyes they were back in the circle of Fallen. The chandeliers sparkled above her, twinkling like stars.
“I think she’s had enough for one day.” The woman said to her brethren.
“Is she ready?” they asked in return.
“She will be soon. There was no hesitation.”
They all nodded in approval. Sydni simply lay on the ground, her head felt light. She smiled despite the pain.
“Take her back.”
The last thing Sydni saw was Friend approaching her. Then the stars burnt out and her vision went black.
Sydni awoke back in her bed. The sun shone through the curtains. She yawned and stretched out her arms. She felt like she had the weirdest dream last night. Her mind was blank though so she decided to forget it.
She left her bed to get ready for breakfast when she realized she wasn’t hungry at all.
In fact she felt rather full.