Trial by Light Episode One

Annie

It was a dream. I knew it was a dream, but that didn’t change the horror of the destruction.

It was all around me, all through me – everything, never-ending.

I stood on the city street, my hands stretched out, light spilling out of me. It infected anything it touched. It dripped from my fingers, played down my wrists, trailed along my legs, then reached the pavement. As soon as it struck it, it burrowed right through as easily as molten metal driving through plastic.

The street around me started to bubble and crack. Great fissure lines tore their way down it. The cracks echoed through the air, getting louder as the infection spread. I could do nothing but stand there and tilt my head back as even the sky became afflicted with my light. It pushed away the clouds, burning them up never to return. The houses around me started to burst into flames, then the trees and cars. Finally, the people.

The destruction was complete. I tried to close my eyes, tried to shield myself from the horror, but I couldn’t move them. They were riveted open as more power spilled out of them and contaminated my environment.

I found myself taking a step forward, then another. Every jolting, staggering movement brought me closer to the center of town.

By now, the sky had turned this god-awful blood red that was struck through with lines of my light.

As I staggered forward, I caught sight of my bare arms and legs. All along them were blue symbols. They were not neat and ordered, but chaotic as if someone had grabbed a Scrabble board and thrown it over me. They glowed with every step. Pulses of light shimmered through them, illuminating some symbols only to bury others.

They could not distract me from what I was doing. As I took another step, I walked past the hospital. I could see the people inside, their faces consumed with horror. They didn’t get a chance to scream. My power flooded in, past the steel beams, past the thick concrete, past the reinforced doors.

All was burned up. For my light was merciless.

By now, so many tears rained down my cheeks, it felt like I was crying a river, but no matter what I did, nothing could quench the greedy light that spilled out of me.

Another step, then another.

I reached something, right in the middle of town. Something my objective mind – the part of me that knew I was dreaming – understood could not be here. It was a glowing crypt. Its outsides were dark, yet the door that led into it was as bright and inviting as a flare on a dark night.

Softly burning torches were arranged around it.

As I approached, those torch flames became chaotic. It looked as if someone had thrown kerosene on them.

The nearer I came to that crypt, the more my light spilled out of me.

I couldn’t see the rest of the city, if it even existed anymore. Either I’d burned it up completely and now it was nothing more than ash, or this crypt and its promise now consumed my attention forevermore.

One more step, and I arrived at the wrought-iron gate that led inward.

It wasn’t solid. I could see around it. This glow emanated from within – one that matched the symbols that perpetually danced down my skin.

There was a simple lock this side of the door. I reached for it. Just as my fingers settled on it and I went to slide the bolt to the left, something grabbed the bars of the door.

The whole door jolted forward, and I screamed, lurching back.

I watched as someone pressed their face against the gaps in the bars. I could only see their lips. They looked like mine, but the skin that surrounded them couldn’t possibly be from an ordinary human being. It was consumed by writing. It looked as if it was nothing more than a blank medium for some scripture to race across, as if my cheeks and arms were a canvas for someone else’s project.

“Go back,” the face hissed. The voice, just like the lips, were mine. “Go back.”

I shook my head and staggered.

“Keep hidden. In the shadows you must hide, because in the light, you will burn everything.” She reached a hand out.

I didn’t accept it. I didn’t have to. With one flick of her wrist, she ignited everything behind me. What remained of the city, what remained of the crypt – even the air. The whole world burst into flames.

Flames that came from within me.