writing chapter 1.5
When they opened their eyes, the second star on the right was looming in front of them. It was too bright to look at, definitely a sun. They flew straight toward it, curious.
When they could resolve the details, they realized it wasn’t a sun, but a planet. Maybe a gas giant, the clouds indistinct but glowing brightly, like they were smoldering. But there was no heat coming from it, so it wasn’t a sun.
Closer, and they understood that must be a moon, and the vagueness of the surface had to be ice. But it didn’t shine like ice.
They kept flying in toward it, and as they got closer they saw that it was really a large island, because all of a sudden they noticed that it was surrounded by an ocean. But they didn’t stop to question it: they’d ceased paying attention to the void while they still had their eyes closed.
Now it looked more like an islet, in a big lake. But as they got closer, they thought it looked more like a little high spot in a pond. And then it looked more like a float in a pool.
“We’re getting too close,” the girl said, as the thing in front of them resolved into a dark blue dinner plate with a lump of mashed potatoes in the middle. They tried to stop suddenly but couldn’t, so they tried harder, and began to slow down. Now the second star on the right looked more like the kind of bubble kids blow with soap and a wand. The girl could see themselves reflected in its surface. And they were still headed straight at it at millions of miles an hour.
The star was now apparently the size of a cell, and they could see cilia waving on the fringes. Then it was more like a molecule, and the void began to have stars in it again. “It’s like the Incredible Shrinking Man,” the boy whispered. “We’re going into another universe.”
The girl nodded. “It’s an atom now. We’ve got to get out of here.”
They pushed back with all their might, and the second star on the right began to get bigger. Well, not really. The object stayed the same size relative to the boy and girl, who were now backpedalling. But whatever the object actually was seemed to get larger, going from atom to molecule to cell to soap bubble. They joined hands and stopped trying to flee, and came slowly to a stop as the object resolved into a large white continent surrounded by a dark blue ocean. They spent several moments arguing whether it was really a planet sized object, or a large blue marble, but in the end they saw clouds swirl over the horizon and settled on planet.
They flew down to the cloud level and landed on top of a large fluffy one, which continued swirling and sweeping across the continent below. The boy danced around, kicking up trails of cloud, while the girl had trouble staying on the top, and had to ask the boy for a hand.
They never noticed the stranger flying in until he landed on the cloud next to them and arranged his robes neatly. They gawked. The stranger allowed it for a moment, but waved off a photograph when the girl grabbed her phone.
The boy gave a thumbs up. “That’s a great costume, man,” he said.
The stranger had expected to see shock, followed by reverence. He drew himself up. “I’m an angel,” he explained, drawing his fiery sword to intimidate them.
But they didn’t fall to their knees and hide their eyes. He was astonished. They came up and actually tried to touch it. “It’s going to burn you,” he warned, moving it out of their way.
“Where’s the switch, under the guard?” The boy tried to take it from the angel, who twitched the sword away. “Can you control the flame? Does it have extra features? What’s it cost? I want one.”
The angel backed off the edge of the cloud and stood out over the continent. “Wait a minute. I didn’t come here for you to covet my stuff. You can have your own stuff if you want.”
The boy pointed down to the continent. “What’s all this, anyway?”
The angel sheathed his sword and came back on to the cloud. “Okay. Just listen. That’s the Garden.”
“More like a frozen waste, but okay,” the girl observed.
The angel ignored her. “I”m supposed to give you your birthright in the form of mighty gifts and burdensome duties.” They looked blankly at him. “Your birthright comes with the Garden, here.” They didn’t understand. “There’s a quest,” he explained.
“Okay,” the boy said brightly, looking at the girl, who nodded. “What do we do?”
“Just wait. There are things I”m supposed to tell you.”
The girl interrupted again. “Are you an NPC?”
“What?” the angel snapped.
“Never mind,” she said.
The angel cleared his throat. “I’ve taught you to fly,” he continued.
“You did not!” The girl snorted. “I could have died.”
“That was you? The finger?” the boy asked.
The girl looked at the angel’s hand. “Yep, same ragged fingernails.”
The angel slid his hands into his sleeves. “The power of flight. That’s part of your birthright.”
The boy looked hopeful. “There’s more?”
“Yes. You will control the earth and the skies and the waters. You will rule over the Garden. Your powers are such that you will but think and it shall be so, and you will but desire to go and you shall be there. You will take any form and accomplish any goal, and nothing can overcome the exercise of your will. You will be like the gods.”
“Okay, that’s unlimited agility, strength, vitality and defense, infinite intelligence, with magic, luck and charisma. Am I leaving anything out?” he asked the girl.
“Flight, teleportation, energy manipulation, shapeshifting,” she ticked off, “manifestation, weather manipulation, healing, regeneration, power amplification and negation.” She looked up. “Didn’t you say something about heavy burdens?”
The angel sneered at them and fluffed out his robes. “No doubt you will discover the limitations of all your newfound powers, and will come to feel the burden of all you create, and understand the chain of events that spring from each wish you make, and the loneliness of power.”
“No, that’s cool,” the boy said. “We already understand all that, and we’ll be just fine. Now, about that quest…”
“We’ll get to that later,” the angel replied. “First I want you to go down and inhabit your dominion, learn about your powers, and start creating. Since you know so much already, I will prepare to be surprised and amazed by what you come up with.”
“Damn straight,” the boy agreed. “I’ve already got some ideas.”
The girl was silent. Nothing occurred to her. Maybe she could create something to eat. She turned to ask the boy if he was hungry, but he had already plunged off the edge of the cloud and was on his way to the surface. She turned to the angel instead. “Everything’s going to be okay, tho, right?” she asked.
The angel made a face. “Maybe,” he said. “You two aren’t exactly the godlike beings I was expecting, but maybe you can pull it out of your ass before I get back.”
“You’re going?” she asked, panicky. “What are we supposed to do down there?”
He shrugged and began preening his wings. “Create. Make worlds. Use your powers to make it all wonderful.” He frowned and nudged a feather back into place. “There was one proviso, tho, let me think.”
“Don’t eat from the apple tree?” she offered helpfully.
He snorted. “They’re heritage apples with no pesticides and no GMOs. You can eat all you want. No, the prohibition was about wasting time.” He walked to the edge and hiked up the bottom of his robe, glancing at her before launching into the air. “Don’t waste my time,” he said with a frown, and dropped below the cloud.