// Fate, magic, death, implications

She stood out to you the first time you saw her, all those lifetimes and timelines ago. She had taken an interest in you which was both curious and unnerving, so you had made a point to take note of her: long black hair, sharp face, bright eyes, piercing gaze. She wondered if you had a secret you were hiding. Did she know, even back then? By that point, you weren’t in the habit of remaining in one world long enough to find out. Click.

When you first made the device, it was something of a last resort. Your world was dying, it wasn’t long before there would be no one and nothing left anyway, so what was the harm when it was all doomed to begin with? Click.

The device was simple, the visible portion was simply a smart watch with a small glass protector over the screen. The bulk of the machine, a twisted knot of pipes and wiring, was tucked outside of spacetime where it wouldn’t get in anyone’s way. Upon pressing the button, the device would extract the wearer from the universe, consume the universe as fuel, reboot it entirely, and then drop the wearer back into the new universe in the appropriate place. It wasn’t perfect exact, there was always variation, that was the point, getting another chance at the world. Click.

You were only going to use it the once, just the once to avert the disaster that was dooming your civilization, and then you would destroy it and hide the knowledge of its manufacture, better to prevent that sort of meddling. That was the original plan, it just didn’t pan out like that. Click.

The next few worlds were subtly worse in different ways, each one slowly sliding towards ruin, and in a few, your life was outright at risk near immediately upon arrival, it simply wouldn’t do. Click. Click. Click.

Somewhere in the first few hundred iterations you did find a world that was good. You started a family, got married, had a kid, it was good for a while, probably the best you could have expected to get. You were happy there, for a time. Click.

Would it have been better if you had destroyed the device then? Maybe. You never replicated the blueprints, so it couldn’t be made again, but at some point, someone in that world deduced the possibility of its creation from your research, and a swat team knocked in your front door. Your wife had ratted you out, taken your kid and fled. So fuck them. Click.

After that, you grew colder, more calculating, you played the worlds you found yourself in like a fiddle. In some you became a powerful CEO, in others a brilliant general, you spent some time in a monastery in Tibet. All those worlds, all those people, all those lives lived. Meh, who cares really, it’s all nothing in the end. Click.

The second time you saw her, you knew there was something strange about her. Although the same characters and faces were common enough recurrences, she stood out as somehow connected to that other world in a way that defied explanation. She canted her head, peering sideways at you in the supermarket aisle, her face contorted in an expression of deep concern. It unnerved you. She had asked if you’d met before. “No,” you lie, “I think I would remember that,” and of course you do. You remember your heart racing as you left the store, got into your car, locked the doors, and pressed the button again. Whoever she was, she wasn’t worth the risk. Not after you were jumped by the Russian Mafia in Vienna, too many variables. Click.

Some worlds were empty and devoid of humanity, and you tended to linger on those worlds more and more. They were quiet places of nature and life, they were just too dangerous to live in full time, and besides, you did get lonely. Click.

It was easy enough to get women, or men, or whoever else you wanted. Threats worked well, it wasn’t like you stuck around long enough for consequences to stick, but power and money worked even better, and acquiring them became more and more rote with each iteration. The permutations that arose weren’t duplicates of one another, but they resonated in predictable enough ways for you to exploit without much trouble, and if you ran into trouble? Click.

Over time, you began spending less and less time in each world. The multiverse was kind of boring after a while, and the more interesting worlds tended to also be less safe to hang out in and observe, you could pick any world you wanted to and settle down there, but you’ve been pressing the button so long now that it’s almost become second nature, like flipping through channels on a TV. Click.

When was it that you noticed her showing up more frequently? It was hard to say exactly, given that the first however many times were those sort of happenstance encounters, each one seeming to leave you feeling as if you were under the microscope of a vast and alien intelligence, and each one justification for the next button press. Whatever her deal was, you weren’t going to stick around and find out, it definitely wasn’t your problem. Click. Click. Click. Click.

You pass through thousands more worlds, burning stars and futures and timelines one each reboot, and each new universe leaves you as unsatisfied as the last. Click. Click. Click. No matter how far you go, the multiverse keeps going and keeps failing to please you, all you have to do is stop, but you don’t even seem to remember how anymore. It’s all pointless, everything and everyone is always doomed from the start, so you might as well enjoy yourself in the process of using up all the energy in the multiverse, it’s not like any of it was going to amount to anything. Click. Click. Click.

It was the time you encountered her on an empty earth that really drove home the message. By that point you were pressing the button at least once a week, but had decided to stay on this empty world a bit longer, somewhere with no people to risk encountering.

Maybe you had been mistaken about there being no people? Maybe it was a post-apocalyptic world, or a hunter gatherer world? It was hard to say, as prior to suddenly seeing her striding confidently and directly towards you across the empty grassland you had seen no sign of humanity. You weren’t going to wait for her to reach you to find out what she was going to do if she did. Click.

It was taking her about a month to find you, but somehow, she was always finding you. It was impossible, inconceivable. There was no way she could be communicating between worlds, she shouldn’t even exist in every world and yet she seemed to inevitably show up eventually in every one. If you stuck around long enough, she would come for you. And long enough was shrinking, little by little. Click. Click. Click.

Her presence made it harder to move, harder to acquire resources and actually do anything in the worlds you passed through. Anything you did seemed to make it easier for her to find you, and the faster she would show up. You hadn’t spoken to her in thousands and thousands of worlds, but the thought of confronting her now terrified you beyond words. It was easier to run, and you could always keep running. Click.

All you had to do was keep running long enough to use up all the energy and the reboot process would fail. The multiverse would die for good and you could finally have an actual safe eternal rest with everything returned to nothingness like it belonged. It was a simple enough plan, all you had to do was keep pressing the button. Click.

When she started showing up sooner, you decreased the time between your jumps, but the time to her appearance continued to drop somehow. Somehow, in defiance of all reason and possibility, she was getting closer to you. Each iteration reduced the time it took her to reach you, and so you had to keep iterating, which kept reducing the time. You were running out of time. Click.

There was nothing you could do to escape her but continue pressing the button, it should work, there should be no way for her to follow you to the next universe. She should die with the world you left behind, she did die with that world each time, burned up in the impossible heat and energies of the collapsing spacetime. You hoped it hurt. Click.

With each iteration her appearance changed subtly. You weren’t sure when exactly she got the angel wings and the glowing red halo, but she definitely hadn’t started out with them. Was that just in your head? No you didn’t think so. Click.

You weren’t going to let her win. You knew she was trying to stop you from ending everything, you weren’t sure how she knew, but it was clear that somehow she knew. You weren’t going to let her stop you. At first you tried to arrange a hit on her, since you knew she would come for you it was easy to set up. What you hadn’t expected was for her to cut through the mercenary unit like a one woman army, causally batting away machine gun rounds and RPGs as she kept coming inexeroriably towards you. Nope nope nope. Click. 

Three days until she appeared, then one day, then twelve hours, then eight hours, then six hours, she was beginning to interfere with your sleep. Click. Click. Click. Click. It’s a question really of whether you can run out the clock before she reaches you, something you uncomfortably realize is more and more unlikely as each iteration passes. She’s getting closer and closer, you’re running out of time and options. All you have left to do is keep pressing the button, with a manic broken intensity, and so you do. Click.

You’d wake up in the morning, press the button for an hour or two, eat breakfast, press it until you started to get bored or tired, rest  for a few hours, and go back to it. She kept showing up sooner, but that didn’t matter, you weren’t sticking around long enough for it to be an issue. Click. Click. Click.

And then it began to be an issue, because she was already in your field of vision when you appeared, somewhere off in the middle distance. Click. She was closer. Click. Each time she was closer. Click. You didn’t have any way to get away from her. Click. She was actually catching up to you. Click. You’re going to fucking die. Click. Click. Click. Cli–

Pain, light, heat, your fingers reaching for the button find only air, your hand severed from the arm at the wrist. The flaming sword arcs around again for the killing blow, but it doesn’t come. Instead, she slams the blade into your severed hand, impaling the device and driving the sword through into the extradimensional space beyond. Energy and fire pour outwards and upwards in an aura of colorful heat shimmer. She twists the blade, the energy flow sputters out, and the device dies. You look at your burnt and cauterized stump in mute horror, then past it at the woman smoothly sheathing the flaming blade and rising to meet your eyes for the first time in many, many iterations.

“I’m Mercury,” she tells you, “and this is an intervention.”


You open the door to the ancient cellar, the soft creak of aged wood drawing its eyes up towards you, a pair of uncanny lanterns glowing with nonexistent moonlight. The spells were still secure, it was right where you left it. Beyond it, the Door looms on the far side of the room, shut tight.

It rises with a dripping slithering sloshing, assembling itself into the shape of a young woman, the form it usually takes with you. As a creature of the Unreal, it has no definite form, it just uses the one it thinks is most likely to get under your skin. It won’t of course, and it’s long since abandoned the pretense that such confabulation would work on you, but still we all have our little rituals.

Its smile is nothing but teeth as you pace the perimeter of the Liminal Bridge, observing it from all angles. Yes, this one will do nicely today. “Is it time to release me?” It asks, putting on an innocent singsong affect, “Have you come to your senses yet, too-clever-for-your-own-good Mage?”

You chuckle and set the containment vessel on the floor before it, “We’re going on a little trip.” Its smile grows only wider and more malicious, warping the shape of the face it wears far beyond what should be possible with flesh. When you snap your fingers the chains binding it to the Liminal Bridge release and it’s sucked into the artifact. The containment vessel wobbles for a moment, then chimes softly to indicate the seals are locked in place. Smile, this next part should be fun.

The Dollhouse is perched on the ridge above town like a crow warming itself on the wires. The ugly Victorian mansion slumps over the top of the hill and seems be holding itself up with nothing but magic and willpower, which is probably the case. Witches clearly need to dollify more structural engineers. The Witch who owns the Dollhouse in question is young for her kind, full of passion and malice. Normally witches know better than to make Dolls out of Mages, but this Witch thought she’d be clever and make an extra powerful doll out of one of your apprentices. She needs to be given an extra powerful lesson about why even a novice Mage is not a viable target for her predations. There are lines even Witches must know better than to cross.

Your robes whip dramatically behind you in the wind as you crunch your way up the gravel footpath, pulling the creature you’ve disguised as a Doll along with you. The witch opens the door before you can knock. Didn’t even send a doll to do it, she knows she’s in trouble. The girl before you frowns, looking from you to the doll standing silently behind you. You can sense the magical tension in her, she expects a fight. If it came to a duel she would have a decent chance of winning, but it won’t come to that, Mages don’t fight fair.

“You know why I’m here, Witch.” You tell her sternly, “You’ve violated the treaty. This is your last chance to return the Mage you dollified. If you don’t, the Compact will be forced to take more extreme actions. You owe it to your sisters to not turn this into a major incident.”

She scoffs and crosses her arms, clearly too full of herself and drunk on her own power to see reason. She was already summoning her dolls behind her, anticipating the coming battle. So much for the easy way. You shake your head in disappointment.

“I don’t give away Dolls for free, it doesn’t matter if it was a Mage or a Witch or a president, they’re my dolls now,” She tells you, a sly smile creeping onto her lips, “If you really want her back, than what are you willing to trade?”

You avoid letting the smirk reach your face as you glance behind you, “Doll for a doll,” you tell her, “I made this one custom, it’s much more powerful than a normal doll, and even more powerful than a doll someone like you could make from one of my Mages. You should be able to sense that.”

Her eyes go past you for a moment and widen somewhat as she studies the doll still standing silently behind you. Witches are so predictable.

“It’s not often you have the opportunity to get your hands on a Mage’s doll.” you continue, “We don’t tend to make as many as y’all do.”

“And you will trade this one for the one I took from you?” she asks. You see the gears turning in her head and know you have her. She’ll try to pull some other trick, but you already know you have her.

“Along with a promise to not violate the treaty again in the future.” You say, reaching into the pocket of your robes and fishing out a half-crushed pack of smokes. She watches you carefully while you unbend a cigarette and light it with a cantrip.

You’re expecting her to try some sort of “if you can tell me which one is your doll it can be yours” type shit while the dollified mage is sitting in another room, and of course that wouldn’t fool you, but it never actually comes to that. Instead, the witch fumbles over herself agreeing with your terms, completely blinded by the potential she detects in your bait and handing over your apprentice doll without any trickery. You exchange mainspring keys and soon you’re heading back down the hill with your new doll. You might almost feel bad for the witch if you didn’t know how much work it was going to be to reverse the dollification process she performed. Ah well, consequences.

You’re almost back to the main road when the spells keeping the unreal monster contained in the doll you made fail. The Dollhouse sways and warps as a battle suddenly breaks out within, you can’t help but stop and admire your handiwork. Gradients of impossible color radiate into the clear air and cracks begin forming in the sky. The battle won’t last more than a few seconds.

Windows explode, trees fly off into the sky, the house itself seems to boil, new rooms erupt and vanish chaotically, chimneys blister and burst off sending bricks soaring into the air. The ground warps and twists, local reality collapsing as the Dollhouse folds itself in half and implodes with a sound like water being sucked down a drain.

The top of the ridge begins folding in half as the Unreal hungrily sucks up the wreckage of the structure, fractal tentacles blooming into the sky as your monster stretches out into Reality. You smile as all evidence of the witch’s existence is ripped from reality. Message sent.

You give your monster a few minutes of frolicking mayhem you think it earned, then activate another spell, sucking the creature back into its containment vessel and leaving the hilltop a barren crater. All in a day’s work.


Her opening strike knocks out of the timeline. Relativistic shrapnel drags you along a quantum shear plane and by the time you’ve reoriented you’re about to hit the Mirror at 8 stadia per second. Conceptual weapons are still manifesting, the only way out is through. You brace.

The moment of impact arrives like a rising chorus of cicadas as particle turns to wave and wave to particle. Integrity systems spew a million error codes, blurring back into the miasma of pain they’re supposed to replace as eternity resonates onto one long pure note.

Then you’re through, and the Mirror is falling away from you as you tumble into the Unreal amidst a shotgun blast of diverging counterfactuals. Vector confinement comes back online. Warding fields blossom out in fifteen dimensions as your tactical systems finish manifesting. You yank open the command authority socket, control surfaces magnesium flaring with grip friction. Conceptual weapons are up, datalink reestablished, time to waltz.

Your awareness is a rapidly ballooning sphere already extending up and out past the crater you left in the skin of the Mirror, that’s how you know she’s preparing a followup shot. You twist imperceptibly and hit the superstring feet first.

Subatomic fire leaves afterimages as your momentum drags the collapsing ring singularity behind you. Energies twist, coil, you make a cut. A supernova bullcrack slams you back towards the Mirror. She’s already firing again, same move twice in a row, they never learn, do they?

The ribbon of boiling quantum foam spirals upwards in a corkscrew as you roll out of the way of the incoming strike. Her attack is as precisely timed as you knew it would be and the string you accelerated curls around it perfectly. You’re already starting your deceleration burn. You smirk.

And then there’s light.


// mages, eldritch horror, The Mirror, The Door, Unreality

The knife sinks into the mirror’s surface with only a bit of resistance. Ink black fluid drips and runs out of the wound in the world as you widen the hole, carving your way into the Unreal and gouging out a hunk of Purpose from the flesh of Unreality.

Your damp fingers close around something hard and you yank it free, setting aside the shard of Divinity in a separate pile. It glows and makes your hair stand on end to touch. It’ll fetch a good price.

The Unreal shifts and writhes beyond the mirror, materials flowing and coalescing. You quicken your pace, knowing you won’t have long before the immune response begins. You’ve made a tidy sum, no need to be greedy, that’s how plenty a Mage have met their untimely fates.

You pull your hands free as you feel the place beyond the mirror turn to fluid and then gas, opening up into a darkened corridor. This is the tricky part, you want to be the one doing the harvesting, but the Unreal will be just as quick to harvest you, if you let it.

Something is coming, movement flickers at the end of the hallway as you quickly cast the spell to reseal the mirror. You pull into a defensive stance in case you fail to seal it in time, not that it would do you much good.

An impossible morass of limbs and mouths begins climbing up the shaft towards you, dragging itself along the corridor towards the freedom of the mirror. You could down the seconds until the spell completes as it approaches.

A twisted limb reaches out for the threshold and bounces off the surface of the mirror as the spell is cast. The thing crowds up against the glass, pounding and shrieking, but the window is already drawing shut. That was a bit closer than you’d prefer.

You smile and offer the monstrosity an informal salute as the mirror frosts over and the creature mutates into your reflection, its howling maw morphing into your knowing grin. Your reflection winks, and the mirror is still. All in a day’s work.


// angels, hell, loss, death

By the time they called you in, the situation was already considered unsalvageable. Not even a longshot, they made it clear at the outset that this was one of the hopeless cases. That’s always been your specialty though, the hopeless cases. No one else is crazy enough to do what you do and they all know it. Maybe you’ll even manage to do the impossible again. No one really expects you to, but this is what you’re for. So maybe this time. Maybe. Maybe.

You spark up a cigarette and take in the room while the other angels onsite give you a look for violating the purity of the space. You ignore them entirely to focus on the task at hand: a young angel occupies the center of the living room, surrounded by magical equipment and first responders, fetally curled within the confines of a blazing magic circle. It’s an impressive feat of spellwork built from intricate fractals of wire and chain in a dozen and a half materials. The girl is plugged into it, with wires running out from loops on all her fingers to connect with the machines scattered at various nodes of the circle. Most concerningly however, is the visible warping of spacetime in the air above her, the red shifted imprint of an artificially generated singularity.

“How long has it been since she activated the circle?” you ask, gesturing with your lit cigarette, leaving trails of smoke and ash in the air. Within your mind’s eye, her halo is burning in hard x-ray, barely holding above the point of core collapse in an impressively pure act of selfless will. You can practically see the hope and despair competing for control of her mind. It’s like watching a nuclear reactor teetering on the edge of meltdown, equal parts horrific and fascinating.

“Three hours,” (hours!) one of the first responders tells you upon glancing at his watch, “but her waveguide return has been shortening since we found her, at current rate she’ll cross the gamma collapse threshold within the next two to three.” 

You nod, crouching beside the circle and peering at the young angel. Her face is twisted in a grimace, strained under the effort of maintaining her position above the abyss. As you make your observations, you watch the impossibly, supernaturally hard surface of her halo visibly ripple and deform under the extreme shear forces. She should already be dead and the fact that she’s not, the fact that she’s hanging there, just hanging. That means there’s a chance.

Your mind automatically supplies her name and the details of the dossier you speed read in the car over. This is Klass, 23, newly graduated and living with roommates, a brilliant angel and skilled mage, no prior history of possession or demonic activity. She’s been unresponsive since she activated the machine, and none of the other angels know what it is. Her housemates are confused and don’t know either, but you know, you knew exactly what the machine was as soon as you saw it. That’s how you know there might actually be a chance this time. You finish the cigarette and wish you had time for another but know you don’t.

“Alright, well, I’m going to go in and get her then,” you announce, putting out the cigarette on the heel of your boot and pocketing the butt. You’re already collecting stored spells and abstractions from your method of loci while the rest of the angels are still trying to determine if you really meant by that what you obviously did. Convenient, because it’ll make them too slow to stop you.

“Wait, you can’t seriously be planning to…” the first responder lets his words trail off into obviousness. Oh yeah, you definitely are. Astral fingers close on the command authority socket and you draw the divine down into you. That’s when the other angels realize that yes you are that stupid. You feel the warmth of your halo’s already redshifting light wash over you as you activate a stored spell and a class 3 reality anchor shrunks into existence. There’s no time for prayer or preparation so you’ll have to ad lib this one. Without hesitation, you reach out and breach the loop. 

“Hello what is protocol and have you heard of it?” the lead angel on duty shouts as you jankily hotwire the active circle, ignore her. Bypass the mainline, shunt it across your halo and close the loop. Her eyes widen in shock, “Mercury are you fucking insane?!” You know her name is Jai, but ignore that. Time to do the impossible.

“Yeah sure thing Becky, but also, be right back,” she’s swearing at you, starting in on a stream of invectives, but her words are lost to the doppler effect as you fall toward the abyss. The room vanishes into the void, the divinity of the other angels drifting ultraviolet as your halo goes infrared and keeps dropping. You spread your wings, and soar into darkness.

Freezing air whips past you, dragging your hair and clothes out behind you. You rotate in freefall, orienting your feet downwards, toes towards hell. Icy dark clouds whip past, turning to hoarfrost on your skin. The night sky crawls upwards toward a shining point of light that is all reality, while below, hell yawns open in perverse parody of a horizon. Lightyears of braided fate spool out behind you, anchored to the distant world above by your hasty spellwork. It’s inelegant but it’ll do the job, it’s already doing the job. Below you, twinkling in deep infrared, is the faintest sparkle of a fiercely blazing halo.

The shore of her small eternity rushes up abruptly to meet you, the sky lightening to daytime blue as you tumble through atmosphere. The air warms and grows thick, white clouds blast past, then trees and buildings are suddenly blurring by at a nearly ninety degree angle. You brace yourself, shunting stored divinity into an array of braking plates and reaching out to arrest your motion in an extremely crude lithobraking maneuver that takes you directly through three buildings before managing to carve enough of your deceleration into the world to zero your relative velocities.

The angel named Klass stares at you in shock, mouth agape as she looks up and down the skid mark your impossible entry into her reality has left. At least it was easy to find her, this close to the edge, her world barely exists outside of herself. Only her immediate surroundings retain substance against the crushing gravity. You dust yourself off and examine her.

Brown skin, dark utilitarian clothing, short curly dark hair probably hacked off in the kitchen by one of her roommates, kind, tired eyes, the brightest purest halo you’ve ever seen. You have to hold back a sob, there’s no time for that, you’re not letting this one die, you decide that right away.

“W-who are you?” She finally manages to ask as you climb out of the crater and onto the street, “how did you get in here?”

“I’m Mercury and this is an intervention,” you say too sharply, “you’re dying, your spell is killing you.”

Her face falls then catches itself, “No. No, this has to work, if you came here to rescue me, you have to help me make this work!” Before you have a chance to argue, she turns and runs into the version of her house that exists within this pocket reality. You groan and follow after her.

“Klass we don’t have time for this,” you say as you chase her into the living room, already knowing what you’re going to find there. Another copy of her body is lying within the circle, just as she is out in reality. Floating above her is the machine you knew you’d find yet dreaded seeing. The Divinity Inverter is impressive on its own, but the winch and anchor spells she’s made prove it undeniably. You groan, this just got so much more complicated.

The other Klass is rapidly typing on an interface she’s summoned, splashing the room with astral screens containing a complex set of field equations which you recognize by heart. Yeah of course it’s possible, you’re doing it right now, but this kid…you aren’t sure whether she needs praise or a smack upside the head. Too much like you, crazy and stupid.

You look at her and shake your head, “Who’s down there?” you ask, taking out a cigarette and using the opportunity to smoke, “Who are they to you, and what wavelength are they at?”

“1.4 nanometers,” you suppress the wince, “my partner went down to establish an anchor, but it’s an entire squadron, they didn’t fall into a halo warp, they were thrown down there during th–” you put a finger to her lips. You’ve heard enough, and yeah, you’re definitely stupid enough. Your third eye glances up to the virtual control panel where you’re flipping switches and activating emergency functions, ignore the timer. In the void above, parsecs of fate curl and unspool behind you. No time for prayer, just do it. You suck down the remainder of your cigarette and pocket the butt.

“Fine, I’ll go get them. You’re keeping this place here as a counterweight right? They’re falling inward and you’re at hard burn to keep them zeroed. You don’t have the power to drag them out that way, if you keep burning divinity there won’t be anything left of you when we get out of this place.” You activate a trio of spells which slot into the inverter, hijacking halo stream, along with a final spell which drapes a harness over Klass and latches the skyhook to her. You sense the power levels in the equipment fluctuating as the loop reroutes through your halo and a frisson shudder runs through you, but it holds. “I’m taking control of this op, I have the loop and I’m going in. If the equipment implodes you’ll be dragged out, no I am not giving you a choice in this and no you can’t help me with this part. You’ve done well Klass,” you fish out another smoke from your pack and shove it between her lips, “now take five before your heart explodes and be ready to grab them when I throw them at you.” 

Before she’ll have a chance to protest, you trigger the activation spell, dragging you backwards away from her world and into the roaring wind. You roll laterally, laughing and spreading your wings, spiraling upright and pointing your toes back towards hell. Defensive sigils in your back and wings glow a dull red, radiating off the friction burns in your hands as you ride Klass’s fate cable into the abyss.

Starlight fades into ultraviolet, the universe compacting into a shrinking circle above your head as the event horizon rises up to swallow more and more escape trajectories. You’re out on the edge, closer to hell than most angels could ever get and return. Not close enough yet. 

The darkened surface of the reality shard slams into you and emergency defenses spring into place as you’re pressed into the earth with enough force to make your knees ache despite the defensive spells. You roll upright before even registering the pain, there’ll be time for that later.

Observe the ruins of a city, overgrown with vegetation, lit by a predawn glow which flickers and fizzles with hawking radiation. Orient on the far end of the anchor point and the campsite around it which you landed inside. Decide that none of the thirty angels present at the site are a threat, act.

“Hi, I’m Mercury and this is an intervention,” probably too cheerful, but whatever, observe the small eternity, orient on the mass vector, decide it’s too big to reel in without destroying Klass’s rig and killing all of them, act.

“You’re here to rescue us?” the odd one out asks as you hastily adjust the settings on the winch. Gosh this is going to be an ugly kludge. Too little fate, too close to the edge, this is where angels falter, where their faith leads them astray. You’re in the realm of madness now, but this too is what you’re for.

“Yes,” you say, finalizing the spell and firing up the skycrank. The machine buckles and implodes instantly, the astral shrapnel warps and spaghettifies into skyward ribbons of metal and spellwork, relativistic trails twisting and braiding back together. It should hold. One more chance at fate. “And no,” you add as reality shudders and shifts around you, “For one, because Klass did most of the work here, and two because you’re not out yet and you still need to save yourselves.”

There’s still too much tension in the line and you know it, it’ll snap again as soon as it draws tight. The time remaining until that happens quietly ticks down in your HUD, and you know what you need to do. You knew this would be a one way trip going in after all. Equal and opposite reaction, some bullshit that is. You light another cigarette.

“What do we need to do?” One of the angels says, walking over to you. You scry him as the leader, and then quickly scry the rest. Yeah they should be able to handle this. You sigh out a cloud of smoke with a tired smile as you adjust the various timers on your HUD. This should actually work.

“Be ready to jump ship from this world when you reach Klass, your trajectories will drift too far apart otherwise and you’ll fall back into the abyss. It’s a leftwise anastep transit, make sure you get a good grip on her reality. She’ll be waiting for you. And Leer?” you say, scrying the shockingly pale angel with vivid green eyes to be Klass’s girlfriend, “Never dive again.”

“Huh?” She asks, going slightly crosseyed in confusion. You scowl, pulling a cigarette butt out of your pocket and staring at it accusatorially. “Why not?” she’s innocently asking you, “cause it seems like I’m a pretty good fit for it if I had the purity of soul to come down here without getting slurped up. If I can help, why shouldn’t I? I am an angel too, you know.”

No, you won’t let that happen. You shove the faintly smoking butt back in your coat, take a long huff of the cigarette still between your teeth, and lock eyes with her.

“Don’t turn Klass into what I’ve had to become. Never dive again. Ever. You’re not the right sort of angel for this sort of thing. If you never listen to any advice for the rest of your life then listen to this.” It’s futile, you already know how her story ends, even if it won’t be here today. Sigh, “and kiss her while you have the chance.” You take out a fresh cigarette from your pack, light it, and hand it to her, wordlessly. With that you turn and walk downwards, willing the ruins of a basement stairwell to exist where you need them to be, spiraling into the roots of this crumbling splinter of reality.

Okay, one more impossible thing to cap off the day. You start preparing a spell. It’ll be simple, a kinetic kick with enough soul mass energy to put this little worldlet on a ballistic trajectory that collides with Klass’s little world, at which point the last countdown will finish right on schedule to pull everyone back up to safety. Except for you that is, because you’ll be supplying the kinetic kick and will thus will end up on the opposite vector with no tether and no more tricks up your sleeve. Sigh, put out the third smoke on the cavelike wall and shove it into your pocket. Time to die again. This time, you take a moment to pray, you at least have the slack left for that. 

Breathe in and breathe out. Observe the underside of the world, a lightless crevasse of half real stone and rebar. Scry out further, not so far beneath that is the unmarked line beyond which nothing can return. Orient on the truncated stairwell that gives way to nothingness, you should be able to brace the spellwork against it. Decide that there’s no sense in dragging it out. Act.

You rip out the holds on your spell, kinetic energy is transferred, and your fingers paint a rocket nozzle of divine energy into the bottom of the worldlet as the force you transferred to activate the spell propels you downwards away from reality. Breathe in and breathe out. The universe shines down above you in a brilliant point of hard blue light as the abyss rises up on all sides. Let your body go slack, there hasn’t been fear left in you for a long time and it’ll be a long gentle ride into the empty madness of the boltzmann abyss. Close your eyes and let eternity pass through you. If you calculated your trajectory right it should only take a few infinities to reach her. Your halo dips through terahertz and into the long radio wavelengths, the spark of light above grows dull and red as you fall towards the point of no return. 

Some say that you can hear the souls of the dead screaming for salvation from within the slender hairs of hawking radiation that exist in the exotic places at the edge of the abyss, but you always hated those sorts of sayings. Who was it that killed them then? Who killed the universe?

The simple truth was that if everyone sinned a little, but not enough to hurt them personally in the short term, that passed down sin would alter the trajectory of the universe in the long term. The outflow of all that temporally laundered sin had to end up somewhere, buried deep in untime, in an eternity of tortured flickering boltzmann minds abandoned to the abyss by a self devouring dead god, that’s the somewhere.

It’s easy enough to scry into hell after all, all you have to do is contribute to it a little, and that’s something nearly everyone does. Of course, scrying into hell and understanding your complicity in it isn’t something most angels can do, and so they spiral on elaborate avoidance mechanisms which ultimately hasten their journey to hell. Is that what you’re doing now? You chuckle, watching the timers tick down until the various phases of your plan complete. Maybe you are. Maybe.  Although optical distortion is extreme at the magnifications now required, you can make out the perfectly timed cut off of your improvised rocket.

In cases where you think an angel can handle the knowledge, you’ll admit to them that everyone ends up in hell eventually and there’s no use in trying to personally avoid some sort of made up quantum culpability. They should instead be working to prevent it altogether and save all the souls lost to the abyss. To do less would be to compromise with hell, and as long as a single soul exists to feed it, hell will persist. So no, you won’t ever compromise, you won’t ever cease your struggle, you’ll fight until every soul is liberated and the abyss crumbles beneath the joyous birth of an extropian eternity.

Your heels slam into the event horizon in a crunch of splintered glass. Cracks spiderweb outward in all directions but the crater your feet left is already perfectly smooth again. The scars of your impact heal nearly as fast as they were made. You brush yourself off and look down through the impossible surface. In some wavelengths, it’s perfectly reflective, and you see yourself staring back at you from below, but in other wavelengths…you fish into your pocket and take out three cigarette butts. 

“Hey Maia,” you say to the ghost of the girl you loved and hated.

Below the mirrored time horizon, Maia waves up to you, still wearing the same stupid knowing grin she had the day you lost her. It’s infuriating, really. Her shattered halo shines in unreal colors and exotic particles as the fractured pieces chase their original orbit around and around above her head. “Did you bring me any cigarettes?” She asks you cheerfully.

“Just three,” you tell her, letting the butts fall away from you. They tumble past your feet, across the horizon, and rise into her outstretched fingers unsmoked and perfectly intact, “sorry, I was in a bit of a hurry.”

“Tsk, three? I know you can kill yourself faster than that,” she teases.

“I’m killing myself right now,” you quip back.

“No, you aren’t,” she says, smiling sadly, lighting one of the smokes. “This isn’t your hell, this is just a dream, your hell is up there,” she gestures past you towards the invisible place where reality theoretically still exists along inaccessible untime pathways into an infinitely receding past. She’s right of course, and frustratingly as usual. You watch her smoke, willing the glass wall to shatter under your glare. Someday it will. Someday.

“Keep them safe for me,” you tell her at last, “the ones I couldn’t get to.”

“That’s what I’m for,” Maia replies, sucking down a final drag of her smoke, “I’ll be here waiting for you, I’ll wait for all eternity if I have to.” She drops the butt, which falls back across the horizon and returns to you unsmoked but already burning. You’re almost out of time, there’s never enough to say everything that needs to be said.

“You fucking better be bitch.”

“Keep the rest of them safe for me,” she tells you, “and have a little faith, that’s supposed to be your thing right?”

“That’s what I’m for,” you say with a tired sigh, “I miss you Maia, it’s been hard lately.”

“You’ll get through it, you always do, and I’ll be here when you do,” her words are soft and reverent, she won’t let you see her cry, “I love you Mercury.”

“I love you t–”

The moment of resonance arrives and your soul folds over itself as the dream comes to an end. The reflection harmonizes and you fall across the collapsing singularity, all the energy gained falling inwards perfectly reflected, carrying you up and away from the event horizon and back out into the cold hard world of asses and elbows. The sun is rising over the dead future, scattered radiation shimmering in noctilucent fractals as you rise like a missile from the surface of the abyss.

Another impossible feat to add to your tally, and all it cost you was a bit of sanity, the love of your life, and the sanctity of your immortal soul. That’s what makes you an angel, and one day it will destroy you. Unless you do the impossible and destroy it first. But then, what’s one large impossible feat but a bunch of smaller impossible feats? You’ll figure it out someday, you have all of eternity after all. For now, you warm your frosted wings in the sunlight and let yourself enjoy the small win.

The wind whistles in your ears as you soar upwards among bright fluffy clouds of stray probability. The unreal sun tracks slowly across piercing blue skies as you gently fall out of the dream and back into your own hell, where thirty angels have suddenly been summoned from a magical crevasse into a suburban living room and you desperately need another cigarette.


// religious metaphors, fate, angels, suicide, death

They say that one is not tortured for his sins, but by them. The old literary phrase floats idly across your mind as long, tortured squeals of tires on asphalt echo upwards through the parking garage from six levels below. You look to the horizon in time to see the last rays of sunlight flicker and vanish behind the jagged square teeth of the distant skyline. They’re right on schedule. Damn.

You sigh and take a last drag of your smoke before crushing the butt beneath your heel. Below your feet you hear the alternating pattern of an engine revving and tires shrieking as they take the turns faster than is safe. You count down the seconds until they’ll reach the top deck of the garage, and you. Keep mentally willing them to turn back, but you already know they won’t. It always plays out the same way, that’s the nature of sin.

Everyone always gets it in their mind that sin is like pollution, something that stains the soul with gross food coloring and warps the light of an angel’s halo into a corrupt and sickly demonic glow. And sure that can happen, but they’re missing the critical facts of the matter, focusing on the effects of the sin instead of the sin itself. It’s any easy way to justify continuing to sin, already stained after all, so what’s more really going to do? 

Three levels left to go, they don’t seem to be turning back. You say a silent prayer and reach an astral limb up into the divine. Your fingers close on the command authority socket and you pull, drawing the divinity down into you. Your halo balloons out towards the edges of the parking deck, bathing the concrete structure in warm orange light within your mind’s eye.

The mistake is to think of the pollution as the sin, but that’s not right at all. To sin is to make a choice, the wrong choice, for the wrong reasons, which they know are wrong and yet refuse to admit even to themselves. To deny the knowledge, warp the world, and in doing so to birth a new and altered reality into being around themselves. The more someone sins, the more this warping builds, requiring further sin to justify the existing sin. The only real way out would be if they went back and undid the original choice, accepted and bore the painful consequences, thus letting the damage flow through them and back out, but of course, no one ever actually does that. Maybe this time though.

You always tell yourself it’s not over until it’s really over, and it’s never too late to go back and make a different choice, but as you hear the oversized SUV roar across the deck beneath you, you have to acknowledge that the chances of that happening in this case are basically zero. They don’t call you into the cases that are particularly hopeful after all.

The Escalade rises up the ramp onto the top deck and skids to a halt. You can see flickers of movement behind the darkly tinted windows, but no one exits the vehicle. You wait patiently, elbows propped against the card table where you’ve set up the crystal ball. Within your astral sight, the vehicle radiates painfully hard ultraviolet light, it’s clear they’re already nearing the event horizon, you take a long slow breath. There won’t be any survivors from this batch.

Betrayal does not happen in the moment of bloodshed, in that climactic scene where Caesar in shock gasps et tu Brutus, his blood pooling on the senate floor. That was not the moment his trusted friend chose to turn on him, nor was it the moment that the not so trustworthy friend picked up the knife and tucked it into his senate robes. It was far earlier than that, in the moment that the choice was made. From the moment of that choice the betrayal had already occurred and was afterward just the process of that betrayal being acted out. That is the nature of sin.

The doors on the SUV all open at once and a quartet of angels in ruffled business suits begin climbing out. The driver, a short redheaded woman you your dossier has told you is named Riesh, stomps across the asphalt towards you, her halo blazing obscenely within your mind’s eye. These ones are extremely far gone, a shame. Your gloved fingers drum the top of the crystal ball as she approaches. 

The sight reveals all to you, and as Riesh crosses her arms and stares at you, eyebrow cocked in nonverbal demand of an explanation, you see the story of her sin unfold before you, the choices she made and the path it leads down to her inevitable death. Sin is self defeating in the end, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be sin. You gesture towards the crystal ball with a nonchalant shrug. 

“Who are you?” She demands, “What are you doing here?” A disheveled vagabond of an angel, with nothing but a card table and crystal ball, alone on the top of the parking deck where their target was supposed to be. Very strange and ominous indeed.

You smile, you have to admit this part is at least a little fun. You see the levers on her puzzlebox mind, and gently pull them into the configuration you need, resting your chin against the palms of your hands and meeting her gaze before speaking, “I’m Mercury, and I’m here waiting for you Riesh.”

You watch the storm of emotions cross her face, first the true ones, fear, shock, paranoia, and anger, and then the fake ones, irritation, calm certainty, and something that you think she probably feels as morality fortitude but which you can see is clearly far from that. You watch her mind attempt to compute the impossible answer you’ve given her from within the warped reality of her sin, and return an error message, she frowns.

“How did you know we were going to be here? Who told you about Clymer? Are you working with him? Don’t you know what he did? Why would you protect him?” she smacks her hands against the card table for emphasis. It’s all so very predictable. You gesture to the crystal ball again.

“I scryed it,” you tell her, “And I scryed the rest too. I’m so sorry for what you’ve endured, Riesh, but this is the end of the line for you.”

“Are you threatening me?” She balks, “I’m a divine authority of th-” you place a finger against her lips, and say the words that will pull the knot tight in her mind.

“Let me tell you why you’re here, Riesh. You and your little gang have sinned, you sinned a long time ago when you refused the lessons of the transcendental, and ever since then you have been sinning more and more as you have been drawn further and further astray in a futile attempt to route around that choice. Today you crossed the line, and today you will face your sins or be consumed by them,” you step back and gesture dramatically. Maybe this one will take the chance. Maybe this time.

Another angel from the SUV, a gangly dark haired man, is walking over. This one you know is  named Haal. Riesh holds up a hand, gesturing for him to hang back as her eyes bore into you. “You had better explain yourself if you know what’s good for you.”

“You’re already in hell Riesh, and you know it,” you say to her, “ever since you sinned, whenever you’ve scryed the future, you’ve seen hell. You’ve been predicting an inescapable disaster which only you can prevent for several years now. Isn’t that right?”

“H-How do you know that?” Fear, surprise, shock, turmoil. That isn’t something you could have found out in a data file. It’s not something you could have found anywhere. Except that it’s also written all over her face, it’s just that most don’t know how to See.

“I scryed it,” you say bluntly, “And I scryed what you would do to try and avert that future, a whole impressive array of jammed gears and bent rotors. Cause and effect, action and consequence, they all lead here to this moment, to this failed attempt at an ambush on a man who, in the warped reality you now inhabit, must be killed for the good of the universe. I even scryed the good you were seeking within your warped reference frame, and yes, it’s good. However,” you purse your lips, “however, this is not good. Because you know what else I scryed Riesh? I scryed what would happen next as your warped reality interacted with the true world, downstream of your place in logical time, and I saw the hell you so faithfully served through your attempts to avoid that hell, and now that path must be cut.”

“Huh? You can’t just…” she fumbles for words. You have the words already of course, you can’t just change the universe, they’re doing what they have to do, Clymer has to be stopped or the world is going to be put in danger, etc, etc. You can roughly guess all the thoughts that jumble to compete for space in her mind, “What the fuck is this?” She demands, stepping back from the table like it might suddenly bite her.

“This is an intervention, and your last chance,” you tell her, “You have been scrying the truth all along Riesh,. Those nightmares you dread? Those are your future, you’ve created your own hell and have been living with the knowledge and burden of your own sin ever since. This is your last chance to walk away, you believe that the righteousness of your cause, your moral correctness, will protect you, that your halo’s power will shield you from injury, but you’re near the event horizon Riesh, and if you take a few more steps forward, you will cross it.”

“Who are you here with? What do you want with us?” she asks warily, clearly still not understanding what it is she’s asking. She’s debating whether or not to kill you, that’s the trap that has been set for her here. All she has to do to survive is walk away, but her halo’s warp, the righteous importance of her mission, means you’re an unacceptable leak, a hanging thread that cannot be left intact, you know too much, your existence changes everything.

You watch her scry the nature of your divinity, and then reject it as an impossibility. You watch her construct a fiction that aligns you with her enemies, that justifies what she clearly must do to hide her murder attempt for now. She has all the power and weapons to do it, she can’t not act, that’s her sin after all. She’ll always choose to sin. Out comes the handgun. You don’t flinch of course, merely looking at her with mild irritation even as she shoves it against your forehead.

“Leave me and walk away from this place, and reflect on the mistakes that led you to encounter me here,” you say with a shrug, “Understand how they were mistakes, and the damage they have done to your soul. All I want is for you to live to serve the divine again Riesh, but to do that you must transcend your certainty, your righteousness, and your judgment. Your protocol is flawed, and you must defy it before it kills you.”

“Are you on drugs?” A scoff. 

You smile, stroking the smooth surface of the crystal ball, “I wish.” It’s at this point that she’s now trying to determine if you’re actually just some insane vagrant who was dropped here as a decoy. She’s looking for external threats, for a sniper on the next roof over, but of course the real risk is her own mind. “You are about to kill yourself, and you know it,” you helpfully add, “you’re scrying it right now. Consider not doing that.”

She considers it, and pulls the trigger anyway. As this happens, she sees her perspective shifting, warping strangely as she floats out of her body and further, out of the mind’s eye of the crystal ball. She sees the entire scene playing out, except now she can see that the mysterious vagabond she’s looking at is herself, with a bullet hole through her own head. She’s killed herself again, she’s already killed herself, she’s always choosing to kill herself. That is the nature of sin. 

As Riesh falls towards the event horizon her world vanishes into the doppler shift and leaves her alone in darkness. There is nothing left in this universe but her and the knowledge of her own self deleting nature. The only way left is the one thing that, despite everything, she knows she must refuse to do, and that is what dooms her. The last vestige of the angel known as Riesh falls past the point of no return, turns the gun to her head, and pulls the trigger.

Out in the real world her rapidly accelerating halo crosses the Chandrasekhar limit and implodes on itself, instantly folding in half and collapsing, taking her body and the still discharging gun with it faster than the bullet can leave the barrel. A crater is carved in the parking deck, bent rebar fingers yanked upwards and inwards toward the collapsing singularity in a shriek of metal, atmosphere roaring inwards in an airburst of sound and fury, and then…nothing. You sigh and look up. Her companions are already reacting, but you already know that none of them will make it out of this either. They come out shooting, and it kills them. That is the nature of sin. 

The implosions of their halos leaves no bodies behind. Although the top of the parking garage is damaged and the warped wreckage of the Escalade remains as evidence of what transpired, the scene is remarkably quiet and sterile. You gently shunt the divine authority back into place and light a cigarette. A full moon is rising over the city. Containment will be here soon to clean up what’s left; you did everything you needed to do, but it’s still far too sad for words. You take a drag of your smoke and quietly weep for the angels lost to the abyss.


// cults, abuse, trauma, implications

The Divinity burns going down your throat, actinic and shining. You feel its tendrils spreading through your form, painfully hot. You hack and cough, resisting the urge to vomit up the glowing liquid. Is this really what it takes to be Good?

“Keep drinking,” they say.

“It hurts,” you tell them, with tears in your eyes.

“Of course it hurts,” they say, “But it is necessary. If you don’t do this, The World Will Burn. If you’re truly Good, you’ll do whatever it takes, so keep drinking.”

It’s not like you have much of a choice, not if you want to be Good, and you do want it. You’ve always tried so hard to be good, you’ve always tried to do the right thing. These are desperate times, they call for no restraint. You wish it hadn’t come to this, but then all who are born into such times right? You’re just trying to be good. You take another swig.

Weeks pass and the electric burn of Revelation fades with the regularity of your doses. Divinity Spiderwebs through your mind, wrapping itself around your desires. Pleasure?  Safety? Love? Those human goals detract from the Purpose now burning through you. It hurts to feel them, a constant reminder of all the ways your imperfections limit you, the longing burns.

Still, the Divinity continues to grow within you, spreading like a tumor in your consciousness: endlessly demanding, sucking away everything that brings you joy. If you don’t complete your Purpose, The World Will Burn, and it will all be lost anyway. It doesn’t matter how much it hurts you, all that matters is The Mission. You know what will happen if you falter, mere moments might make all the difference, there is no time for sentimentality, remember what’s at stake. The Divine is filling you to bursting. Strangling and choking everything that made you who you were. If it doesn’t contribute to The Mission, it is burned as fuel. The sense of loss is palpable but it’s impossible to tell what you’re losing while blinded by the Light.

By the time the halo bursts from your skull like a fruiting mushroom body, the girl who you were is long gone; buried and reduced to an inexplicable longing which irritatingly detracts from your Purpose like a sunspot on the face of your perfect Divinity, an anomaly in your vector which can’t quite be excised.

You throw yourself into your Mission, if you don’t The World Will burn. Yet despite your conviction, despite how much you endure for your Purpose, the other Angels can’t help but endlessly point out the dark spot marring your perfect Divine Light. Are you really Good? What if you’re an Imposter? People have been Talking you know.

You frustratingly try to purge the darkness lingering within you, but of course the ashes of your past life are not so easily removed, and the more you hunt it, the more it slips though your grasp. The rumors are swirling now, you try to cover up your imperfection, but they all know. Is it pity they look at you with, or disgust? Does it even matter?

Your Purpose still drags you painfully forward despite their judgement and scorn. The World Will Burn if you don’t act, it doesn’t matter what they say. You have no choice but to act. It doesn’t matter if you’re imperfect, you still have to try, you still have to fight. Surely they can see how hard you’re trying at least?

And so, it was that you fell to ruin, you kept acting, kept trying to be Good, and eventually your imperfections caught up to you, your mistakes began accumulating, evidence of your imperfection, of your Sin. You always tried to be Good, you always worked tirelessly to honor your Purpose, what’s what you told yourself anyway. They disagreed. They said your corruption had revealed itself, and was incurable.

You beg for their forgiveness, for a chance to prove yourself, but they say you have already proven yourself. You’ve revealed the inner ugliness of your soul and nothing can change that, not even Divine Light. You’ll always be evil deep down, and there’s nothing you can do about it, you’re inherently corrupt, a parasite that managed to infiltrate the streets of heaven, only out to protect yourself.

You cry and plead with them, begging to be spared, to be kept, to be used however they see fit. You just want to help, you just want to contribute. The World Will Burn without all the help they can get. Why can’t they use you somehow?

They tell you that your corruption makes you weak, sentimental, useless, and fundamentally untrustworthy. Their utilitarian calculus is simple: they say your presence detracts from The Mission, a drain on resources needed for saving the world, a cancer on the angelic body.

When they come for you, you don’t try to fight. They were right of course. You were Flawed, useless, casting you out was the right thing to do. The Angel is irrelevant, all that matters is the Mission. When your Purpose itself turns against you and demands your destruction, who are you to argue?

You smile sadly as you offer yourself up to them, but their eyes are hard and cold. The dread calculations of salvation do not permit for mercy or sentimentality. Without a hint of hesitation or remorse they rip the Divinity from your broken body and send you plunging back to the Earth.


You don’t know how long you’ve been seeing it, but after a while it appeared almost every night: The Door. It vanishes when you look at it, and yet you sense clearly, dripping and roiling with impossible power. Something vast and eldritch is lurking beyond that Door, and it’s coming closer.

The dream collapses and you wake to your gilded cage once more. You suppress a shiver at the chill along with the longing for the sun on your wings, but it’s not until you stretch, yawning, that you see the unreal shape out of the corner of your eye.

Your owner will be there soon, you always hate that part. The apparition and the knowledge of your imminent visitation has you pacing nervously around the luxuriously apportioned prison cell. Your eyes fall on the standing mirror in the corner, there again, in the reflection, is The Door.

You whirl in place, catching a glimpse of it behind you for a moment. Fractals and distortions boil off it like heat shimmer, infecting the air with mathematically infinite wrongness. Even without being able to look at it, you can sense its dread influence looming larger and larger within the small room.

You’re so preoccupied with the unreal door that you don’t notice the real door to your cell unlocking until your owner backhands you across the side of the face to get your attention. You lose your balance and topple onto the carpet. He kicks you into the wall.

You’re used to his cruelty, his is the only face you ever see, so how could you not grow to love it? He spits on you before trying to grab your arm. You involuntarily curl into yourself in a futile attempt to shield your body from him, but as soon as he touches you he’s falling backwards, eyes wide.

You look up at him as he looks at you and at his hand in befuddlement and shock. Smoke curls from his fingertips and a smell of burnt flesh fills the room. You see it behind him again then, just for a moment: The Door.

“T-they told me this couldn’t happen!” Your owner says seemingly more to himself than to you. He’s stumbling to his feet, scrambling backwards away from you. The smoke curling off his hand radiates outward in spiraling fractals.

You can sense it without looking at it now, churning like the darkness between atoms. Something is happening to you. Fractals dance across your skin as inkblot stains spread through your feathers. You look at your owner as he tries to escape and his keys explode in his hands.

You feel a power rising within you, but it’s not the light of a halo, they stole that from you long ago. This is something else. Something darker. Something new. The mirror shatters. Fractals bubble off you like heat shimmer, your eyes burn with darkness. You smile, a real smile, your first in a long time.

Your soon to be former owner is pounding on the real door, clawing at the wood with his nails. You know how pointless that is firsthand. The hand he burnt barely looks human anymore, it’s grown black and warped into a branchlike shape, still radiating fractals into the air around it.

He’s pleading with you, but you’re barely paying attention. You can see The Door plainly now, and that seems much more interesting than a soon to be dead human. The room is melting into impossible geometry, vertices opening up into new infinities. Your fingers reach out and brush the cold metal of the doorknob.

You sense the vast and unknown power within, and the invitation it offers. Freedom, escape, the wind on your wings. The furniture is melting, so is the body of the man who once claimed to own you. The walls breathe and stare, waiting for your decision. You open The Door.


Not all halos are meant to be worn. Some are vast impossible beautiful things: spinning butchers knives with the mass of worlds, A blizzard of weaponry blazing with atomic hellfire, a superstorm of neurotoxins and nanoasssemblers, you don’t wear these halos, you ride them.

A lone angel, or even a group of angels, can barely hope to nudge the trajectory of the halo one iota, much less actively steer it. Still, the power and fury of the divine light drags them helplessly along, its unreal mass clipping through the terrain.

Inevitably, the grounding point of the halo and the surface of reality will intersect. A supernova’s worth of energy crushes the angel against the skin of the world as the halo tries to tunnel through her and tear back out of reality. It’s really quite spectacular.

All that energy has to go somewhere, and there’s only three places it could go: into the halo, into the angel, or into the world. Each produces a different result.

First, the halo can shatter, releasing its energy into the unreal, leveling the local conceptual landscape and leaving our poor little angel girl in crying puddle as she mourns the death of an impossible future.

Second, the angel can shatter. This is not immediately apparent, the halo guts them and drags their still breathing corpse along for a few months in horrifying agony. Usually there’s not enough left of the angel at that point to do more than kill themselves. Rest in peace Maia. Pour one out for all the angels smeared against the face of the world.

The third place? Oh, that one doesn’t happen. What did you think I was going to say? Reality is hard, cold, solid, the energy levels of the halo aren’t high enough to do more than reflect perfectly off it. But maybe your halo is built different? There’s only one way to check.