My earliest memory of my power is from eleven years ago. I was five years old, walking hand in hand with my mother at the grocery store, when something bright caught my eye. I didn't understand it at first, different as it was from anything I had ever seen before. It seemed to be a column of light, glimmering softly. I found no light source that could have produced an effect like it. Being five, I had no idea that it was anything out of the ordinary, exactly; I just knew that it was interesting.
"Mom!" I yelped, tugging on my mother's sleeve.
"What?" she asked, looking away from the box of granola she'd been scrutinizing.
"Look! There's a weird light thing!" I pointed, eagerly awaiting her response.
"Don't be silly. There's nothing there," she told me, playfully mussing my hair.
"You don't see it? It's so bright," I insisted, gesturing frantically.
"Nothing, you funny little girl. Come on."
That was when I knew something was wrong. Somehow, I could see the light coming from the sign, but my mother couldn't. She didn't even believe me. Left with no choice, I grudgingly took my mother's hand and allowed her to lead me away from the mysterious light.
After that day, I kept spotting more of them. The most conveniently placed one was in a corner of our backyard, tucked away in the small space between a bush and the fence. I learned before long to keep my mouth shut since no one else was aware of their existence.
For four years after that, I never dared touch them, even though something about their eldritch glow beckoned me. I finally decided to work up the nerve to solve the mystery once and for all on the morning of my ninth birthday. The light seemed almost as if it were staring me down, daring me to approach. My heart fluttered in my chest like a trapped bird as I took one terrified step after the other. Finally, I was close enough to touch it. It's now or never, I remember telling myself.
So I reached out my hand. The brightness of the light flared to that of a supernova, and I froze. When I blinked, I found that text had been imprinted onto my vision like an afterimage.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2022
"Saved"? What was that supposed to mean?
I rubbed my eyes bewilderedly. The strange text disappeared as suddenly as it had come, leaving me with more questions than I had started with.
I still don't understand the purpose of those pillars of light, even though I'm sixteen and it's been seven years. I don't know how they got there, I don't know why I can see them, I don't even know what they're supposed to be other than a somewhat convoluted way to check the time.
The streets are nearly pitch dark under the moonless sky, our way ahead only slightly illuminated by the feeble light of a dying streetlamp a few yards away. Shadows loom yet darker just beyond my peripheral vision. I clutch my sister Aria's hand roughly as we walk and quietly seethe at her. She's the one who insisted we go to the party that turned out to be longer than anyone expected, frolicking with her friends until I persuaded her we had to go home. All of a sudden, Aria stops.
"What is it?" I demand breathlessly, convinced something is going to jump out at us. I've always been paranoid walking home at night–one of the reasons why I'm so irritated with Aria for staying over at her friend's place for so long.
I look where she's pointing and immediately shake my head. "Aria, are you insane? It's a dark path off a dark street in the middle of the night. No, we're not going there."
"Well, I think it'd be faster," she says stubbornly. The glint in her green eyes betrays her refusal to back down, and I realize that this is to spite me. I know Aria well enough to pinpoint what she's getting at, and it makes me grind my teeth until I hear ringing in my ears. She seems to get a kick out of it, contradicting me. Not listening to me. Doing anything contrary to what I tell her.
"Fine," I spit before I have time to process what I'm doing. Fury at my sister crowds out all my rational thought as I round on her. "Do what you want and see if I care. I'm not the one who wanted to go to your idiotic party in the first place."
"Right, then." With that, Aria spins around and marches away with her nose high in the air. Immediately feeling sorry, I long to call for her, but her name dies on my lips. Stupid sister. Besides, what more could I do? When Aria's got her mind set, there's nothing in the world that can sway her, especially when she's mad at me. Forget that walking off the main path in the dark of night is plainly a bad idea. At least it's a secure neighborhood. In retrospect, I might've realized how stupid I was being for assuming that'd assure her safety.
When I'm already several dozen meters away, a scream pierces the still night air before cutting off abruptly. I feel it like a punch in the stomach.
"Aria!" I yell at the top of my lungs. "I'm coming!" Adrenaline pulses through my veins, lending me speed I never knew I had as I positively fly back the way I came. My heart is in my throat.
Aria lies on the ground motionless with blood pooled around her, a heavily clothed figure standing over her with a knife in hand. I can't tell their age or gender. They blend silently back into the shadows before I can decide whether or not to give chase.
The longer I look at Aria, the lower my heart sinks. The green of her eyes is concealed by her closed eyelids, unmoving on her pale face. Her beautiful chestnut hair forms a soft halo around her head that gives an almost ethereal look to her despite the blood that stains her clothes and skin.
"Aria…" I rasp, my words catching in my throat on their way out as tears rush in a torrent down my cheeks. "I'm so sorry… I shouldn't have…"
I make out a white piece of paper lying beside Aria and rush to pick it up. I know what you can do, it reads. Maybe, if I were thinking about anything but my sister, I would be spooked by it. But right now all I feel is an overwhelming urge to go back. Turn back the clock to before this all happened. A tremendous sensation I've never experienced before swells in my chest. I feel it filling me with a strange kind of warmth as my vision goes white. Suddenly and without warning, everything blurs. I sense shapes twisting, morphing, melding together and splitting apart again, but I can see and hear them no clearly than if I were underwater. When the dizzying frenzy of motion stops, I find myself needing to put my hands on my knees for a moment to steady myself.
"Wha–?" I stammer, disoriented. I have to blink several times before the world around me comes into focus and sounds rise in a soft crescendo. The sun, just beginning its course through the sky, casts its warm light on me from the east. My entire body is surrounded by the ethereal radiance of the mysterious light beam. Stepping out and feeling a strange lurch in my gut, I realize that my point of view is much lower than I'm used to, as if I myself have suddenly gotten shorter.
Could it be…?
A dizzying rush of exhilaration surges through me as I realize what must have happened, defying all laws of science. What I did.
Only one way to find out.
With quivering legs, I pick my way through the yard towards the house and push through the back door. The clock tells me it's 7:34 AM. My mother, standing behind the counter, turns when she hears me enter.
"Happy birthday, Alcina!"
Behind her, I glimpse the date on the wall calendar.
September 17, 2022.
This is the short version of the full story. I'm marking it as "complete" for now, although there may be a later section added as another chapter.
If you liked this story, please don't hesitate to leave a favorite! Reviews would also be much appreciated, whether they're praise or constructive criticism. (But please, if you have criticism, please do not be rude. It's not helping anybody become a better writer.)
Yes, I do play Undertale, but no, the idea for this story wasn't from it, although I do realize how similar it is. Just to clarify.