The world does not end on May 21st, 2011. Not even a little bit.
How do I know? We’ll, I’ve been there, and much further still. I still can’t believe it, but I have no other choice. Everything’s different now.
After what happened at Ai’s birthday on Sunday, I’ve been extra careful about my sanity. I spent a few hours looking through scores of mental health websites, but none of them had a category for time traveling twins and immortal girls who can fly.
For a while, I was convinced that Ai had hit me with some sort of hallucinogen, maybe with extra doses in my tea or birthday cake slice, and that everything that didn’t involve sitting on furniture at her house was an elaborate lie.
I did a pretty good job with this line of thinking, to the point that when I woke up around 10AM on Tuesday, I didn’t rush my morning routine at all. If anything, I simply savored the newly born summer, and was shocked when I heard a knock on the door, promptly at 11AM. Sekigai was in the living room, so she walked up to the spy hole and took a look.
“Ummm, Emily! There are some trick or treaters out here!” She peeked around the curtains, and then ran to get me in the bathroom, where I was brushing my teeth. I couldn’t quite comprehend what she was going on about, so I did a quick rinse and went to open the door.
My advice – never open the door, ever again.
“Smell my feet!” Two twin girls, probably 3rd or 4th graders, smiled-yelled at me in unison.
“Good… eats?” That one was dressed up as a Strike Witch, Yoshika I think, with tan, molded metal striker units covering her legs, a white sailor shirt with blue collar, and fox ears on her head.
“Ummm….. are you Emily? You sure are pretty!” She was made up as Mari Illustrious Makinami from the new Evangelion movies, with a pink vinyl plug suit and red granny glasses.
Oh God….. chibi Trouble Twins. I didn’t even know what to say.
“I’m Cassie!” The Strike Witch. “I’m a whole minute younger than my sister Hel!”
“Don’t you ever forget it!” Evangelion. “Is this the way you usually dress?” She was staring at my dark grey sweats and Die Database logo t-shirt, left over from the Street Team.
Before I could even answer, they reached out and grabbed my arms, and there was a particularly brutal folding, like falling off of your bike down 9 flights of stairs. When I gathered myself, I wished I was blind.
I’m not an Astronomy major, or a wannabe Physicist. So I can’t really describe to you with authority the things that happened next. I have to reference movies and anime and comic books, and even they don’t suffice. Please bear with me as I fully bring forth the crazy but true.
I was sitting on a couch. It was a nice, inexpensive light blue thing – Ikea, maybe. To my left was Cassandra – she had to keep her legs straight in front of her, since the metal slip-on engines weren’t made to bend. To my right was Helena, and she kept fussing with her glasses – they were too big for her face.
Below us, there were faint stars. To the right, more stars. Behind us was the bright moon, filling up most of the “sky” with craters. In front of us was the Earth – if you reached out your open hand, it almost covered it up.
We were floating on an Ikea couch that was slowly orbiting the Moon. A tiny dot sitting in endless space.
“Do you like it? Miranda is building us a club house.” Cassandra pushed herself away from the couch, and started to fly around – the striker units were apparently not for show.
“Right now it’s just a big bubble of warm air, but she promised!” Helena looked back towards the looming moon. “Wait…. here she comes!”
I turned around, and Miranda was quickly floating up to us, wearing the same blue jacket and black leggings that I saw her in at the Steel Bridge. In October 2011 – the future. Or the past? I really couldn’t keep up.
“Sorry about the other night.” She stepped onto the back of the couch, and then sat down in Cassandra’s spot. “I had to get everything ready for the big show.” Patted me on the thigh, and then smiled like a bald psychopath.
“What?” I could barely even bring forth a whisper. I kept staring at the smeared clouds, the brown and green bits of Africa and Australia I could make out. I was terrified. “Please. Home?”
“Don’t worry! Don’t you trust us?” Cassandra flew by holding pushing a small satellite with her hands. “OK. So the twins can be a handful, but they really mean well. They just get bored easily, and have grudges held since the very first variant.”
“Why so small?” I was starting to get my words back, by moving my gaze to my lap.
“I’m sorry.” She squeezed my clasped hands for a moment. “The first time the world ended, no one knew quite what to think, or why all of us could manipulate the Structure. So Ai and the Nameless reset everything as far back as they could, to try to figure out what had happened. We went back well past Point One, to when me and the girls were born in 1995. However, we forgot to reset one thing.”
“I’m tired of flying!” Cassandra hovered in front of us, holding a fist-sized meteor.
“When we were first born again, we remembered everything that had happened in our prior lives. Our parents didn’t know what to do with us – we were like teenagers trapped in baby bodies. We had amazing knowledge, but could barely speak. Our powers really didn’t kick in until we were in elementary school, and by then it was too late.”
“Have you ever destroyed the world? It’s so cool!” Helena pointed her finger like a gun at the Earth, and pulled the trigger.
“These are the Trouble Twins, from the first Variant. When they fully touched the Structure, at 7 years old, they suddenly existed in every point in time and space simultaneously. They saw the fatal flaws in existence, and reflexively tried to repair them with the equivalent of really big band aids and kisses.”
“We started our own secret club!” Cassandra was slowly spinning around like an ice skater, her arms poised above her fox ears. “Aurora joined right up, but Miranda got mad at us and wouldn’t help fix things.”
“Since Aurora controls energy, she could indirectly create and transmute matter, but not like Miranda. Her attempts to feed, clothe and shelter the world bathed the Earth in fatal radioactivity. It took months for everyone to die, but she spiraled out of control once her parents passed away.”
“She started to put out the galaxies and stars like candles, so we had to hide her away.” Helena looked far more anxious than usual.
“They still won’t tell us what happened to Variant 1. All we know is that they haunt each and every Variant that’s come after, independent of their older “sisters”. They never change, and never grow up.”
“Can I tell you a secret?” Helena whispered in my ear. “We know the way out. We’ll take you there sometime soon.”
“Alright – it’s time. Are you ready girls?” Helena quickly jumped up off the couch, floating towards Cassandra.
“Ready!” They joined hands, and started to fade in and out of view. The Earth started to shimmer and fold open like a flower, with Antartica as the edges of ocean petals. The stars around us twirled and fell down like water jumping off a collapsing umbrella.
“Even though Ai doesn’t want to admit it, I have to get out this time. My time play acting as the Demiurge is over.”
The twins remained in place, while the space around them started to fold away into nothingness. The moon seemed to loom larger behind us, all brightness and no land.
“We’re going to dismantle the Structure, one variant at a time, and clean up this mess once and for all.”
Have you ever destroyed the world?
“The Seventh Event is about to begin. Let me get you out of here before it’s too late.” Took my hands, and folded us away from the couch, and the Moon, and the sunrise of the last day. She didn’t need the twins to take me back home – I think at that point she was beyond them.
We arrived just before 11AM on Tuesday. This time, the Trouble Twins never showed up begging for candy, and Miranda walked me up the stairs to my apartment. Sekigai was fast asleep on the couch.
“I need you to pack your bag with a few essentials. On Friday at 8PM, I’ll come back for you, and you’ll be gone for quite a while.”
“Do I even have a choice?” I looked into Miranda’s eyes, but all that came back was an infinite blackness.
“Free will is the ultimate lie. What I’m offering is the truth you can’t get away from.”
The whole world felt colder. I’ve been hiding under my blankets all day, and the chill isn’t going away.
I don’t want the truth. I just want to be warm again.