writing chapter 1.6
The girl was alone, on top of a cloud swirling in the atmosphere, high above a large continent surrounded by ocean, traveling on a smallish planet somewhere in the universe. She took a picture with her phone. Then she stood around and wondered what she should do next. She began sinking slowly thru the cloud, then she was underneath the cloud, and then she was floating down toward the island.
There were more clouds, and for a long time nothing happened and she wondered whether she was between dreams, and maybe if she opened her eyes she would see the boy sleeping next to her on the roof. But if she were on the roof, it must be raining, because she was soaking wet, and cold, and water was running down her forehead and stinging her eyes.
She came out from under the clouds and saw a huge landscape that had everything – seas, islands, inviting shorelines, green valleys, mountains, deserts, vast forests, plains, tundra and glaciers. As she floated lower, she realized that there were no cities, no roads, no ships on the water. Happy animals waved at her as she dropped down to tree level, but there was no sign of people.
And no sign of the boy. There was no way to spot him in all that vastness, and she’d never find him if she searched on foot. So she pulled herself back up to a good height and tried to feel his presence, focusing her attention outward, searching for the imagined hint of his location. She picked a direction at random, closed her eyes and visualized him. He waved at her.
She felt her belly start to pull and tingle, and then her feet heated up and she felt her hair on the top of her head rising like static electricity. Then the tightness in her gut loosened up, she took a deep breath and relaxed, and heard a sort of internal click like popping a vertebra.
She opened her eyes, and found herself speeding thru the air, but slowed down immediately and began to sink the moment she realized what she was doing. She started flapping and kicking again, and when her flight had stabilized, looked around for the boy.
There he was, sitting on a couch in the middle of nowhere, a plasma screen set up in front of him, an array of videogame controllers and remotes on the ground around him.
She tried to land on the couch beside him, but crashed into the table he was resting his feet on, scattering equipment.
“So much for the impressively sophisticated landing, eh?”
“The angel told us to create worlds,” she said, settling down beside him. “where’d all this come from?”
“I made it, I guess,” he shrugged. “I wanted to play Grand Theft Auto, and here it was. But now I’d settle for lunch. And a doob.”
They concentrated and wished, even working up a little saliva, but all they got was stomach rumbles.
“Damn,” the boy remarked, “lunch was a really happy thought. What now?”
She put her hand out in front of her. “I’ve been feeling this tingling kind of itch, right in my palm.”
He laughed. “What’s that? You’re going to kiss a fool? Or is it you’re going to make some money?”
“Well, given our surroundings, I’d say the first one,” she replied, but ducked the kiss and grabbed his hand. “Maybe if we put our hands close,” she said, moving her hand about six inches away from his, “we can generate a field and manifest our lunch. Like using mana, only drawing it down thru your hands.”
It felt like there was an invisible plasma ball between their hands, and like they were both only a hair away from touching it. Their palms buzzed and itched.
“Ow, I don’t like this,” the boy said.
“Don’t stop yet,” she said. “How about we angle our hands and try to shoot some energy onto the table? Then I guess we should be thinking about what we want to eat while we’re doing it.
They closed their eyes, and squeezed their hands closer, and wished really hard for…lots of different things. They boy was pretty sure what he wanted, but the girl’s mind flitted over all sorts of choices. They felt the energy pressing really hard on the insides of their skin, and then ripping thru their hands and rolling over the table. When they opened their eyes, it was like a buffet restaurant.
“Okay,” the boy said, reaching for his bacon cheeseburger, “I don’t know about all this other stuff. Collards? Sweet and sour soup?”
The girl felt embarrassed. Who knew she was such a pig? She examined the bounty carefully and then picked a spinach salad.
After lunch they spent a lot of time exploring their godlike powers. They created a bunch of animals, mainly from memory. Then they did a bit of terraforming, pushing up the distant mountains, manifesting a plunge pool beyond the plasma screen, making some trees which shot up to shade height. They whipped up a nice fresh breeze, and parked a thunderstorm where they could watch it but not get rained on.
“The angel said to create some worlds,” she reminded the boy, so they worked up some energy between their hands and focused on all the things they’d want in a world, pouring their feverish imaginations into the field they were generating until it crackled and hummed. Then the cloud of almost visible energy between their hands solidified, suddenly. It was a little globe, about eight inches in diameter, spinning in the air between them.
The boy stuck his finger underneath and mugged while the girl took a picture with her phone. Then he flipped it up into the air and it stuck, growing in size until it took up half of the sky, turning, clouds beginning to form and curl.
“How?” the girl asked.
The boy looked nonchalant. “Just talented, of course.” He wiggled his fingers at it, and they watched cities form and boats ply the oceans. “We’ll just let it go on for awhile and see what happens,” he said, and turned to make a giraffe bird. “I want to try something.” He added a dragon’s head and a scorpion’s tail, and had the thing run around in circles trying to bite its own tail.
The girl sat there watching him. If he can do it, she thought. She looked at the remains of lunch and picked up half an avocado she hadn’t noticed. She held it in her hands and concentrated, and thought about what she wanted, and felt her stomach crunch down and twist, so she breathed a sigh and took a deep breath, and concentrated on releasing the tension in her gut. As the knot in her stomach relaxed, she felt energy pushing out of her hands, sticky and fluid, and she almost saw it surround the avocado, now a bit brown from being out in the air so long.
It grew a root as she watched. It didn’t even have a seed, and it was growing a nice white root, and then a nice pink shoot. The roots began wrapping around her wrist, so she untangled herself and tossed it away, a leaf already uncurling as it sailed thru the air.
They made a few more worlds, ordered in more food and drugs, messed with a few more animals, and then got bored. The boy went back to his video game, the girl wandered around making flowers grow.
The angel found them in a clearing of avocado trees in the middle of the Garden, watching a movie on the plasma screen. Hyenas fought over the leftovers a short distance away. He looked around. There were animals cowering in the cleft of a valley, being threatened by dinosaurs with ugly teeth. In the other direction, an elysian field burned and smoke fouled the sky. Several created worlds hung in the sky above the Garden, in various stages of decrepitude. There was trash on the ground.
The boy and girl passed a joint and ignored the angel, even when he stood in front of them and cleared his throat. The boy waved him out of the way with his remote, the girl leaned sideways on the couch to see around his wings. The angel fumed.
He took out his fiery sword and gestured toward the plasma screen. It crackled and blew up; the plastic emitting a gungy black cloud that drifted toward a world and began wrapping around it. The world’s inhabitants wailed, a squeaking sound, like millions of mice suddenly crying out in terror.
The angel threw a fit. “Look what you’ve…I turn my back for…I can’t believe you’d…” he sputtered. “Do you know what you’ve done? Do you realize what you’re doing?” He waved at the maimed animals and smoking ruins. “Don’t you know why I brought you here? Don’t you know what all this is for?”
The boy and the girl just looked at the angel. “Dude,” the boy said finally. “You brought us here.”
“We’re kind of waiting for you to tell us,” the girl explained.
The angel was stunned. Were they all this lazy and self-centered? And clueless? Maybe he just didn’t explain it well enough. Maybe he was just enabling them; maybe it was his fault they had no ambition. “I thought I told you to create worlds and learn to use your powers,” he began reasonably.
They waved at their half-hearted efforts. “We’ve been very busy,” the girl said brightly.
One of the worlds launched an interplanetary war against its neighbor. There were fireworks. “These are godlike powers I’ve given you,” he said. “And you’re showing the skill level – and maturity – of preschoolers.” He waved at the spider monkeys chattering in the avocado forest. “That’s not good enough,” he said. “It’s not an improvement on anything. The poor things can’t even eat properly.”
Words sprang to the angel’s mind – responsibility, compassion, giving a fuck – and possible solutions, like imposing schedules and routines, and requiring reports and benchmarks. But the boy and girl had turned to gaze at the place where their plasma screen had been and were idly passing the joint between them again.
He realized that they weren’t going to follow any rules he might set for them; that they would drag their feet and miss deadlines, and would only ever give lame excuses and out-of-proportion crises as reasons why not. Suddenly something snapped.
“God sent me to tell you that you have to pay for all this,” he said, waving his sword at all the destruction. Everything caught fire and disintegrated as the sword passed. That got their attention. “You owe him rent, too.”
The boy and girl started to protest, but the angel had suffered enough, and threw them out of the Garden. He used his fiery sword to raise up a barrier, then explained, greatly exasperated, that they weren’t getting back in until they’d finished their quest.
“Yeah, but you’ve never told us what the quest is,” the boy insisted.
The angel paused with his sword ready to prod them along. “Oh,” he said, dropping the sword point and scorching his hand as the flames crept up the guard. “Just answer a simple question,” he said, blowing on his burnt wrist. “What’s the point?”
“Don’t feel bad,” the girl said sympathetically. “Do you want me to kiss your booboo?”
“We all get frustrated,” the boy added.
“The point of the game,” he explained.
“Oh.” The boy and girl thought about it. “What game?”
The angel gestured to include everything.
“Oh.” They looked around. “Okay, it’s a world management game, right? So the point would be…”
“Points?” the girl asked.
“Winning,” the boy suggested.
“What is behind that curtain?” the angel clarified, feeling overwhelmed and distracted by the pain in his hand.
“You’ll figure it out,” the angel replied, and used his other hand to wave his sword at them, prodding them thru the fiery gates and out into the wilderness beyond.
The boy and girl stood outside the gates whining, while the angel, exhausted, quenched the sword in a boulder and collapsed on the couch, his head in his hands.
The boy and girl stared thru the gates at the scene. It started to rain on them.
“Let’s go, I guess,” the girl said, and started off in a random direction.
“No, wait,” the boy said. “I’m not leaving. He has no right to kick us out of there.”
“I’m hungry,” the girl said, wiping rain from her face.
The boy stood back and looked at the fiery wall. Then he took a running leap and flew over the wall. The girl followed him, almost singeing her feet as she sagged mid-flight. The landed by the rock that held the quenched sword. The boy pulled it out easily.
“Cool,” he whispered, looking over at the angel, still hunched over on the couch. “I wonder how to turn the flame back on.”
The girl spotted a feather from the angel’s wing nearby and picked it up. “We’d better leave before he notices,” she said.
“Let’s go,” he agreed, and they flew out of the Garden and out into the landscape.