Nadia: journey to school

Her parents had finally calmed down, but her brother had never recovered from the weekend’s incident. Nobody said what had provoked such a sudden panic attack, yet things had gone back to the usual routine. Or they more or less had. Nadia’s parents had insisted on staying at home for the weekend, and had not taken her brother to hospital until Sunday evening. 

On Monday, Nadia was supposed to go back to school. Her neighbourhood looked almost the same as usual, though slightly dishevelled. It was as if everyone in that whole area had aged a little bit more than they should have during that weekend. One of the first symptoms of this sudden transformation was the couple who lived opposite of Nadia’s family. They were, as usual, each getting into their car, getting ready to drive out to their respective jobs. Yet, this time, the wife seemed careless in her driving, as she almost ran over the tiny dog of Mr Johnson, the widower who lived at the end of the street.

Nadia had been a little startled to see the little dog almost get killed, but understood that tiredness could be the cause of such behaviour. Her parents had also been a bit careless in the morning, and she thought that it was understandable that not everyone had good days. It was probably the same thing with the old woman who usually went to mass and to do some grocery shopping around that time of the day, who, as Nadia saw when she passed next to her kitchen window, had stayed home that morning.

But Nadia had an ominous feeling when she crossed to the other side of Finley Avenue. The people there looked similar to everyone in her nieghbourhood, as they always had, but Nadia couldn’t shake the feeling that something was different about them. The ones who noticed her, stopped to stare at her. Their eyes opened wider than Nadia thought was normal, they stood there, unblinking, as if they were processing something. 

When she got to the bus stop, she looked around: while the people she had left behind were not looking at her anymore, they all seemed to face the ones on the other side of Finley Avenue. When she looked at the side of the street she had come from, she noticed similar behaviour. What was going on? Before she could receive an answer, the bus arrived. Before anyone could get onto the bus, the driver got off, inspected everyone, and then pointed at Nadia.

“You can get on” he then looked at the others. “I’m afraid the rest of you will have to wait for the next bus”.

Nadia followed the bus driver into the bus, and when the door closed behind her, she took the courage to ask him. “Why did you only let me onto the bus?”

“Because you’re not like them. You are like me. We’re different. We’ve been awakened, you and I” the driver responded, as he carefully drove through the street.

The answer had confused her even more. “What? Awakened? I don’t understand”.

“When the president was assassinated, it all clicked back into place. Some of us have awakened. Like you and me. There are a few others out there” he continued in his frenzy.

“The president was assassinated?”

She received no response. They had reached an intersection, and the bus stopped. Groups of people had gathered on every side, and they were looking at each other. Nadia was more and more confused at everyone’s attitude, and wished this was all just a bad dream. When the light became green, the bus driver started the engine again, and slowly continued his way.

“We need to act in a way that they will find predictable…” he mumbled, trying to look normal.

As the bus passed, Nadia was startled by a loud bang. Someone had hit the bus on the side. She saw the people running against each other, against the bus, and attacking the people from other groups. As they left that horrible scene behind, she tried to keeping looking forward.

“Why… What’s going on?” she asked, more to herself than to the bus driver.

“I don’t know. But there are factions out there. There’s something in their minds. You need to keep acting normally to hide from them” he stopped the bus and opened the door. “Your stop. You need to go to school”.

“Wait! What made you think I was different? Why did you pick me up?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know, I just knew. Anyway, you need to get off now. And remember, act normal and predictable. They won’t notice you if you do that”.
Nadia was left with more questions than answers.

The battle of the End of Days

Dear Vera,

I’m fine.

Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you about what happened with the Behemoth and the Leviathan (as you might remember, both of them were fighting the battle of the End of Days in some universe when I summoned them, and continued it in The Hidden District, this apparently created a lot of confusion both in The Hidden District and the universe that was going Apocalyptic).

Well, when the building was destroyed, even though the two beasts managed to leave the site pretty easily, I needed some time to escape. In that time, the fight had moved a few blocks away (actually, had moved through a few blocks, and away), and I had to run to catch up with the beasts, who were, at the time of my arrival, tearing a giant building of the shape of a golden orb-weaver down.

The robots in the District did not seem too aware of my presence at the time, which allowed me to advance pretty quickly. They seemed pretty distressed by the fight between the two creatures, and all headed towards the building, too. Thousands of robots were fighting to keep the building’s structure stable, but, in the end, it was all in vain, for the sheer power of the Behemoth and the Leviathan crushed the  large spider of cement and steel (and probably some reparation and maintenance nanobots, but I’m not very sure) to the ground.

Suddenly, the golden orb that had been stuck to the spider-building’s back disappeared. For an instant, there was a golden web that connected all of the robots together with the fading orb, and when it disappeared, every single robot in The Hidden District fell to the floor. I don’t know what this stunt was all about, but it sure made advancing towards the Leviathan and the Behemoth quite a hard operation, since I had to avoid the armies of robots that were piled in the middle of the street.

However, before I could get to the beasts, a sudden bolt of energy hit me, and I found myself on the floor, with energy shackles on my hands and feet. Several humans advanced towards me, one of them with a gun, and they yelled at me furiously. I had finally found the Freemasons! I explained to them that I was part of the Illuminati, and that I wanted to reach a deal with them, because I thought that our main objectives were complementary. I was quite disappointed to find out that the Freemasons were not very willing to negotiate with me.

When they put me upright, and were going to take me to the organic disposal chamber (I wonder what that is? My knowledge of renewable technologies is so lacking that I should feel ashamed), an electric blue circle opened up in the sky: someone was opening a portal into The Hidden District. A giant crossed through the portal, and asked what the heck was going on, because there was an Apocalypse that really should’ve ended by five pm, and that he was going to be late to the final celebration of the gods if we didn’t send the Behemoth and the Leviathan back.

While the Freemasons tried to explain that it hadn’t been them that had summoned the Behemoth, or the Leviathan, hundreds of humans started to jump out of the portal and into The Hidden District, and the giant (I think a deity of some sort?) crouched to collect them, and started to put them back through the portal. However, the size difference was quite considerable, so humans were managing to sneak around, and more humans were crossing the portal towards The Hidden District than the other way around. The giant asked the Freemasons for some assistance, and, seeing their territory being invaded by strange forces of other universes, they started to fight whatever humans they met. But wihtout the robot army, the Freemason forces were no match for the hundreds of thousands that were coming in, escaping from the end of their world.

In an instant, everything went black. Only whatever lights people were carrying with them were available in an otherwise complete darkness. I looked up, and distinguished a large bird-like creature covering the sky. I was grabbed by a bird-like creature significantly larger than myself, yet significantly smaller than whatever was covering the sky. The flaming bird that was carrying me flew over the Behemoth and the Leviathan, made a sharp descent towards the floor, and then, at the last second, turned vertically towards the giant bird-like thing.

And the bird and I were the fire. We ascended like a rocket, and burnt through the enormous creature’s feathers, rising to the very ceiling of the sky, and soaring high, well over the white tower that I had climbed just a couple of days ago. The wind was strong, but this flaming bird was stable, up in the air, as the Battle of the End of Days happened in The Hidden District.

I am sending you this from the bird’s back (after a few minutes it has agreed to carry me on its back), free from the energetic shackles of the Freemasons. When the Battle of the End of Days finally comes to an end in The Hidden District, we will get down to inspect the region.

Give mom and dad my regards!

Jan

Killing a president

“Hey, it’s been nice getting to know you a bit better” Robert commented, as they approached their target.

Alissa smiled. “Yes, it has”.

“Anyway, the president has already started to give his press conference. Maybe it’s time to get things going” Robert pointed out.

“Yes, we should. Also, we need to think of a way to increase the shock factor”.

“Mmm. Maybe we can torture the president in front of millions, just before killing him?” Robert proposed.

“Uh, I know what we can do. I can snap everyone’s necks and force them to stay in place” Alissa said.

“That sounds like the kind of thing a supervillain would do” he said. “OK, let’s go!”

The two of them descended over the White House. This time, Robert went down as quick as a dart, and concentrated his power. Alissa saw him glowing bright, much brighter than his hair had before. When he touched the rooftop, the energy blasted a large hole into the building. Before anyone could hit the alarm, Alissa immobilized everyone in the building. Robert and her walked to the press conference room, and went all the way next to the president. Everyone could see them. The cameras were on, and the world was watching them at that same moment.

Alissa looked at the cameras that were facing them, and started to talk. “You might be wondering, who are these people? Why are they up there, next to the president? Why has nobody done anything to stop them? Well, the truth is pretty simple. We are supervillains. We are superhuman beings that have the mission of taking over this rotten world of stupid peace that you have created. And there is nothing that any of you can do”.

She paused, and looked at the president. “Do you think you can burn his face?” she asked Robert.

“Sure thing”.

He concentrated a bit of energy into his index finger, and started to pass it over the president’s cheek. Alissa could smell the burning skin of the president, and decided to let him move his head and scream. The expressions of the people gathered in there were changing. They were not completely stoic anymore. They were disgusted, and panicking. Alissa decided it was time to continue her speech.

“We are going to kill the president of the United States here and now. Just because we can. Yes, we can murder the allegedly most powerful man on the world, and nobody can stop us. And there are thousands out there, many of them as powerful as we are”.

Robert had poked a hole in the president’s face, and his teeth were showing through it. Alissa moved him around the room, showing everyone the horrible view of the president’s face. The people of the front row were foaming in their mouth, and their eyes had gone blank. They were managing something.

“We are among you, and you cannot make a difference between us and you. You are stuck in this pool with us, and we are the largest predator out there. Get ready for the hunt, because you are our victims. Now enjoy the show”.

She broke some people’s necks, choosing randomly. The rest, she freed from her grip, and let them scream for the cameras. Meanwhile, Robert pierced the president’s chest, and extracted a piece of lung, which he immediately threw towards the public that had gethered for the press conference, splashing them with blood. The smell of burning meat had permeated the entire room, and it was even making Alissa’s stomach revolt. But they needed to do it. The heads of a few, clearly visible people were crushed by her power, at view by everyone in the world. Meanwhile, Robert was keeping the president alive, while still going on a slasher show.

“Come on, let’s give them some more shock” she said, ripping the president’s heart out of his body. It was still beating, and full of blood, which was going everywhere. Alisa knew that she would need way more than a shower after that, but she needed to do it. She crushed the heart and made it look as if she was devouring it.

The operation had been a complete success.

Imprisonment

Dear Vera,

I am still at The Hidden District, but, boy, how the situation has changed. I’m now trying to find and stop the Behemoth , and the Leviathan, who have gone on a rampage and are wreaking havoc. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Let’s rewind to my situation when I wrote the last letter to you guys. At the time, I had been imprisoned by a hive of robots controlled by an incredibly advanced Artificial Intelligence (Scynet? I don’t remember well, but it was something like that). From what my robot guard explained to me, when war was declared on the Illuminati, the humans retreated to the core of the Hidden District, and the robots were ordered to arrest any humans that they saw while the Freemasons decided on their war strategy.

I demanded a fair trial, and a lawyer that would defend me (those are my rights as an American citizen!), but my petition was denied. They explained that The Hidden District, as well as the Plains of Angst and Sorrow and all of the surrounding regions (including The Occult Neighbourhood) do not actually belong to the United States, and are actually not eve a part of that dimension. Apparently, the territory’s ownership is being contested by several races, including the reptilian overlords who rule Russia. It is the reason why the Plains of Angst and Sorrow are uncolonized. The reason why everyone is so interested in the Plains is that it can be a source of power. Legend claims that whoever conquers the summit of the White Mountain and survives, will obtain all of the Plain’s immense power for their people.

Among the humans, it’s the Freemasons and the Illuminati who claim this land, and for some reason, they know that, whichever faction gets the power will obliterate the other one. And that will mean World Domination for whoever wins. So the tension between the two factions was already quite intense, even before the war declaration. This, the large forest that now covers the Plains, and some nuclear test that an unidentified power has carried out on the Plains of Angst and Sorrow near Illuminati territory have taken the tension to the next level, and complicated Interdimensional Diplomacy (yes, that was an extremely informative Interdimensional Geopolitics I received from my robot guard!).

Anyway, after a few days of listening to the whole history of all of the worlds and nations (I learned a lot! Like how the Alien powers who ruled over Egypt were enemies with Gradrgfbni, the Lord of all Martians (who actually moved out of Mars before Gradrgfbni became their Lord), and how they fought the war that ended all wars, and all other wars after that have just been a figment of our imaginations), I was getting quite tired, and lonely, so I decided to summon the Behemoth. I had met the Beast while at university, and had become quite good friends with it.

Anyway, it would seem that the Apocalypse was going on at whatever dimension the Behemoth had been at the time. It was fighting the Leviathan in a battle that was going to end the world, and they had both been in a lock position at the time of my summoning. As a result, both of them appeared through the portal, in their Titanic forms, which took the size of an entire block. Needless to say, the prison building blasted out as the two monsters appeared inside of it.

Now the two are fighting the battle to end the world in The Hidden District, without realizing that they have been transported to some other dimension. I need to stop them and send them back to where they came from if I want to ensure peace with the Freemasons.

I’ll write again as soon as I manage to control this situation.

Regards!

Jan

Nadia: a reaction

Elizabeth had always been involved in politics. She would go to rallies, volonteer for the campaigns of her chosen candidates, and had always participated in the debates surrounding any topic that was related to or tangential with politics. Even before the Enlightenment Event, she had seeked to be informed about politics on a daily basis. Therefore, it was not a surprise that she was in front of the television that evening.

On the other hand, Joseph had never been interested in politics. In that sense, he had been the opposite of his wife: though he shared common values and political ideas with her, the apathy he felt and the general sensation that no candidate would ever solve the problems of the country prevented him from being an active member of his community – he hadn’t even voted in the last few elections!

Yet, there he was, watching a public television commentary before the president of the United States gave a press of conference for everyone in the world to see. There was no real debate on any of the issues that the president was going to comment on: all public appearances had become extremely neutral and measured. However, audiences had started to love the debates as they became more and more mellow.

Nadia wondered what had happened with her parents in the last few months for them to silently watch those programs. Her mom had not uttered any sort of complaint in months, and her father had suddenly started to get interested in the affairs of the country, and the world. Maybe there were changes like that in old age?

Even her brother, who was just barely 18, was watching the television with them, silently concentrating on every single word that was said in those television programmes. His change had been the most shocking for Nadia: he had gone from super-aggressive to pretty considerate from the morning to the evening. Nadia could see him sitting on the sofa, between her parents.

“Am I a weirdo, for not being interested in these things?” she had wondered, once and again.

She had also noticed similar changes at school. It was all so weird and structured. However, although she didn’t understand these changes, she had not said a thing about it, and had accustomed herself with the new ways of her family and society.

Yet that evening was going to disrupt the social order around her. She first heard a scream from the living room. When she got there, Nadia saw her parents panicking, while her brother’s body was contorting on the floor. Foam was falling from his open mouth, and his eyes had gone white.

Nadia could not approach them to help them calm down, because her parents were moving extremely violently. With the swing of his left arm, her father kicked the television, which fell to the floor and broke. However, that didn’t calm them down. Seeing that she could do nothing, Nadia called 911. There was no response.

She got out of the house, and ran to the neighbours’ house. She rang the doorbell and waited, but the people inside were screaming, and she could hear loud bangs. She surrounded the house from the side, and looked at the living room from a window. The neighbours had also been affected by whatever her family had been affected by.

In fact, almost everyone had.

The last hours of Washington

Alissa jumped out of the platform, into the void. She had grown really comfortable with her powers in the last few months, and would now take any chance she had to use them. She felt the wind against her body, as she dropped at high speed from the Cloud Palace. Robert followed her swiftly, but he used an energy shield to reduce his speed of descent.

Alissa slowed down in the last few hundred metres, and landed softly on the top of a building. Robert jumped out of his energy shield, just behind her. He adjusted his coat and looked around.

“So, should we go look for the president?” he asked.

“No, we know where he’ll be” Alissa responded. “Also, I guess that killing the president in front of the cameras should have a greater effect than just murdering him while he’s having lunch” she explained, looking at her phone to check the time.

“In that case, we have a lot of free time until 18:30” Robert pointed out. “Should we do some tourism? I’ve never been to this city, and considering the destruction that we are probably going to cause, it’s unlikely I’ll see it the way it is now”.

“Sure, why not. We could grab something to eat, and then check some sites. But you’ll have to do something about your hair, because it’s a shining beacon right now” she pointed at the top of his head.

He looked up, almost as if he could see his hair through his skull. “Oh, of course. Let me adjust that…” He closed his eyes, and in a few seconds, his hair transitioned to a light brown tone.

“So you’re not blonde, then?” Alissa observed.

“No, I’m not. That’s just my energy seeping into my hair” Robert explained.

“Not an aesthetic choice, then?”

“No, not at all. It can be inconvenient at times, because it makes me an easy target”.

“I’m sure speleology must be great with you” she laughed.

It took him a couple of seconds to realize what she meant. “Come on!” he complained a bit, but then laughed with her. “My girlfriend used to say the same kinds of things”.

Alissa noticed the change in his expression. She wished she had Jane with her to know what was going through his brain. “Are you OK?”

Robert took a few seconds to get back to normal. “Yes, yes… It’s just… I still hope we can get her back”.

Alissa understood. Those unaffected by the Enlightenment, like herself, had lost many loved ones. Alissa’s sister had turned against her, and her friends reported her to the authorities (who had also been brainwashed). It had happened gradually, yet it would seem that nobody had been spared. Robert’s girlfriend had probably been another victim to the Enlightenment.

“Yes, I hope so, too” she said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “That’s why we need to do our best today”.

Robert’s hair lit up once more, just for a few seconds, and then he controlled it again. They headed towards the rooftop access, as that was the only way down the building tht would not call anyone’s attention. Alissa manipulated the lock of the door, which seemed quite complex for what she was used to.

“That’s quite the lock these people have in here!” she commented. “What is this building, anyway?” she continued, as she flung the door open and punched the security guard that had been waiting for them hard in the face. The man fell unconscious due to the pressure of her strike.

“Have you killed him?” Robert asked.

“I haven’t. But I don’t know if we should”. She thought about it for a few seconds. “I mean, what if he alarms everyone and the president’s press conference gets cancelled?”

“Wouldn’t that be perceived as weakness? Maybe this can be a source of even more stress to the network” Robert suggested. “Like, the security will be high, and we will still kill the president”.

“True” she agreed. Then, looking back at the conscious man on the floor, she said. “Seems like it’s been your lucky day. Please go alarm as many people as you can”.

“Anyway, this seems to be some sort of security house of the capital. Maybe we should not fight our way out of here” Robert proposed.

“Let’s not”.

They looked around the building, and found an alleyway that led to the main street. They carefully went down, and walked to the main road. From there, they headed towards the main tourist attractions. Those would be the last few hours of Washington.

The Hidden District

Dear Vera,

Last week (maybe not that long for you? I don’t know, considering how malleable time has been recently. Tying the shape of time to the exchange rate of GBP to EUR was probably not a great solution to the time travel problem that the Illuminati were facing, but well, at least it works when needed, and doesn’t fail that much) I reached The Hidden District, the place where the Freemason headquarters are located.

Many people say that this place is very similar to The Occult Neighbourhood, where the Illuminati headquarters is located. And, you know, sure, both places have grown around two superlarge secret organizations that are fighting a war to control the world in all times and spaces, across dimensions of possible and impossible realities. But that’s where the similarities end. The rest of it is all so different.

So, when we talk about Freemasons, we usually expect some secret satanic cult that has mystic hidden rituals (pretty much like the Illuminati). Yet, apparently, that only applies to the English branch of the Freemasons, as the rest are based on rational principles of science and engineering. Everything is mechanic in The Hidden District, automatized to the maximum, to a level unimaginable by current technology in the world.

And that has been, in part, one of my problems. When I walked into the nearest cafeteria for a drink (after weeks in The Plains of Angst and Sorrow I needed to get something!), I ordered a caffè latte and a piece of cake to the server in the counter. She pulled a weird face, and stared at me with large, unblinking eyes. In fact, the whole cafeteria stopped doing whatever they were doing, and stared at me.

“Unidentified meat-man” the lady in the counter pronounced. “Activate arrest protocol”. Before I knew it, the mechanical hive had captured me. Apparently, I had gone into a robot-only area of The Hidden District (that was the reason why the cafeteria looked so weird to me!) and, because they had not recognized my face, the robots in there used their hive-mind capabilities to perfectly coordinate a quick arrest.

Now I am waiting inside Freemason cell for my captors to come talk to me. I think this might take a while, because, apparently, due to the war declaration, the Freemasons have grown quite paranoid. Oh, well. I really hope I can work my way through this.

Regards,

Jan