I dreamt the end of the world last night. The webpapers all said it was common to dream about the end of the world now, but I'd never had one before. In usual dream fashion it didn't make any sense: I was in "Japan", for whatever reason, even though I've never been to Japan, in a strange tall building half-business-office and half-dormitory in that way dreams do where it makes perfect sense to leave your meeting and go down a floor to take a nap. There were people I knew - I know - but I didn't recognize any of them out of the dream. I was coming from some work meeting and for some reason tucking in a roomful of young boys going to bed - and it all happened. The nukes came down, crashing out of the sky, and even though none of them were even close to us, we could all still see the pillars of fire, the tidal wave of smoke, the scent of ashes...
And of course in the dream nothing rose up, and there was no Shattering: and we all felt something dark and hot and burning roll over us in waves. I guess that's how my dream-self was imitating radiation; not like we knew what it felt like. The children screamed, and I was running back through the building and screaming, my skin scorched like a sunburn, and when I got to my dorm room all of my friends were already black and burnt, scarred corpses tipped over or leaning against each other.
The thing is, you wake up from a dream like that and instantly know it isn't true. Your brain is already running through the litany of logic that you need: seven years ago mankind did in fact try to destroy itself, its homes, its planet, by launching nearly every nuclear warhead in existence in a round robin of angry men; but the earth decided it was sick of this shit - our shit - and stepped in. First the world froze time, trapping all of us in this weird viscoelastic stasis where our minds were aware but everything around us had been stopped. Then our planet took a deep breath, which we all heard and felt - and then it shattered what must have been a barrier between its - its power - and us.
No one knew the earth had been protecting us from her magic for so long, although the scientists say it makes sense in retrospect, considering the times magic has leaked through a crack and broken the known laws of physics. But that layer shattered like so much glass - the Shattering - and the power that rushed through vaporized every single explosive that had been fired, and all that hadn't, and just wiped from existence every known warhead and weapon that could damage her.
Then the earth - well, we still don't really know how or why, but the prevailing theory is that our planet needed to tell us something (tell us off, in my opinion; humanity is a gigantic gaping asshole) and it used the history it had: the power coalesced into archetypes of worship, ancient and modern, anything the earth thought mankind might revere and follow. It created the Incarnate, the avatars, the graced: gods and goddesses, angels and devils, from all creeds and all times. Those chosen became vessels for whatever archetypical power had chosen them, and thus began the only way the planet had for us to communicate with her: the best way she had to create protectors that could speak with her voice.
So now, even through apparently everyone had dreams about the end of the world, it hadn't really ended at all - shifted, irrevocably, the complacency with which humanity had lived shattered as well, but not the end. In seven years, I had never dreamed about it. I'd had my share of stupid dreams, sure, but my subconscious had been happy to leave well enough alone - until last night.
I sat up slowly, because even though my brain was doing a great job reciting the facts, I still had this odd feeling in the pit of my belly: almost nauseous, like a physical sense of doom. People said you were supposed to pay attention to your dreams now, with magic out and about, but whatever this had been I didn't really want to pay attention to it.
Coffee would help. I wrenched myself out of the covers and into the kitchen.
I was halfway through the mug and a game on my mobile when it rang. Unknown number, huh. I almost ignored it, but it looked somewhat familiar and that nagged at me. (I haven't memorized a phone number other than my own since I was a small child, so what?) Plus I was still feeling residual existential dread over my dream, and I was mad because I was out of bagels. So I picked it up. "H'lo?"
"Mor," Arston said breathlessly, "I need you to - you need to come over, okay?"
"Arston?" I asked, even though I recognized his voice, and from there remembered I hadn't added his new number to my phone. "Did something happen? Is May okay?" Arston was May's roommate; May was my best friend, had been for almost our entire lives, and had been fighting off a major flu for a while.
"It's May," he said, and my heart dropped - I heard him swallow, and then he continued in an incredibly small voice: "I think she's becoming Manifest?"
"Manifest?" I squeaked, suddenly feeling vertigo. "Incarnate?"
"I - I don't know, Mor, can you please just get over here?" He took in a deep breath, and then exhaled. "She said your name, asked for you."
Shit. Incarnate or not, May would be asking for me, because no one else in her shitty family was going to be any help with any of this. "Yeah, Arston, I'll be there as fast as I can..."
"Good." He hung up.
I realized I was shivering. The foreboding feeling of my dream had mixed with my panic over my friend and created a weirdly toxic adrenaline cocktail. I needed to get to their house - driving would take twenty minutes, biking about the same. If I could calm myself down, I could transport.
My magic wasn't that old - it showed up about five or six years ago, right after the Shattering, but it had taken until about two years ago for it to have solidified enough for me to make use of it. I sat down the coffee mug, checked on the cats' bowls - they would be fine, and took a deep breath. Clasped my hands before me, fingers extended along opposite wrists. Set my intention in my mind. Called up the magic, carefully, focusing only on the spell, trying to shove everything else off into the corners where it could wait. Then I pulled my hands apart, and before I could doubt myself, pushed myself head-first into the glimmering opening the movement had created.