It was starting to come back to her. The late night at the office. Paperwork had been piling up. The deadline was this weekend and she’d been so hungry…
The vending machine. The candybar had gotten stuck and then…
I tried to shake it.
That had been a big mistake. Just a couple of firm-but-useless shoves was all it took to force her to get more serious. She’d really wanted that candy bar…
She’d tipped the machine forward and then it slipped.
She’d had no way of knowing that she would have died that way. Or that an entire bag of kimchi-flavored chips had been in the bottom drawer of her desk, and the whole situation could have been avoided if she’d just simply looked. It was, all-in-all, poetic, perhaps, even if all she knew was the end.
A beginning. In complete darkness.
Jeez, that’s really depressing. I just started my day and now it’s ruined.Where is my body at?
She realized she couldn’t see or feel anything. In fact, it were as though she were a ghost, as there was definitely no physical form she could divine.
Suddenly, a light sputtered in front of her. An orb appeared, glimmering in the darkness of her surroundings. But, unfortunately for the bit of sparkle--it had startled her.
She didn’t know how, but suddenly, the light fizzled out with a puff of what appeared to be vapor and a whimper.
Did I just kill some creature? Oh no! That poor thing!
I think this makes me a murderer as well! Well that's just wonderful... I’m just popping into being and now suddenly I’m going to jail!
Unless I run…
Yes. I’ll run far away. Adopt a new name!
I don’t even remember my real name, but that won’t matter, cuz now I’m Falcon. Falcon Ginblossom! All the townsfolk will know me as that “kind and helpful Falcon from up the road.” But they won’t know I have a dark secret... I’m on the lam.
She let out a frustrated sigh.
Oh, but then I’m a fugitive!
I guess I could let them catch me? That would be the lawful thing to do. Then I’ll have to figure out how to navigate the complex nuances of prison life.
What if I get asked to join a gang? What if I get asked to join TWO gangs? Oh man, what if those gangs are rivals and they’re both at the same “under the sea” themed poker night and I have to involve myself in an elaborate plan to attend as a guest to both of them without either ever finding out? What if—
Suddenly, another light flickered into existence, and began dancing around in the dark space. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she could hear a little hum emanating from the glittering object.
Oh thank God! That’s a load off of my mind. But… what are you doing, little guy?
The light continued to dance, and the hum grew louder. Then it began zipping around in a manner that she might have described as… happy? It zoomed about before coming to a stop right in front of her, pulsating from a white to a pleasant and warm rosy color. Back and forth it changed. She found that it was a captivating sight, and brought her a sense of peace and calm. While the orb still hummed at her, she heard a tiny whistle as if to get her attention, and suddenly she could see another glittering item in the distance wink to life. It was a pale green color, but seemed to be some sort of actual object, as opposed to an orb of light. She found the whole experience very strange indeed.
The rosy orb zipped forward again, heading off in the direction of the new object but only made it a few feet before it stopped and made --somehow what she recognized as-- a frustrated sound, then returned to her. It pulsated a deeper red as if it were adorably annoyed.
Are you trying to reach that little shiny bauble? Aww.
She focused on the green glitter in the distance and felt something click into place. It was an odd sensation, but it almost seemed as though she knew what it felt like. As if her mind could connect with it and grasp its smooth edges.
Am I able to interact with this thing?
The orb before her returned to pulsating and alternating between white and pink light. It flitted around a little impatiently, and she began to think of the hum it emitted as more of a friendly buzzing. Like a fat, lazy insect. It zipped out toward the green light again, and then returned, then zipped out, and returned. It whistled once.
Here. Maybe I can help?
She reached out with her mind again, and felt the edges of the green object before focusing on pulling it toward herself. The object moved! With a little further experimentation, she managed to mentally drag it across the infinite void. She released it once it was within a few feet of her, and the green object slowed to a stop.
The rosy orb continued its zip and began buzzing in circles around her, whistling merrily the whole while. Then it accidentally crashed into the green object and rebounded, suddenly glowing red while a low, angry whistle peeped out of it.
Success! Mama didn’t raise no fool. Well, this guy’s mama must have. That is a VERY foolish way to behave. What are you even trying to accomplish?
She focused on the green object now and could somewhat discern its features. It looked like a shiny leaf from a tree.
How odd! I'm in a shapeless void, but here’s a leaf from... somewhere, appearing without any ado. A suspicious leaf. I don’t trust it. A bush or branch is missing its leaf, and it's suddenly here with me. This has “set up” written all over it. I’m going to be branded a thief. A leaf thief! Nah, no thank you. I’m not going to fall for the ole “disem-branched petal” trick. I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night!
I was born just a second ago…
Suddenly, the leaf began to move on its own. Its light flickered, and then it began to grow, becoming quite a very large leaf indeed. It expanded, stretching out until it was the size of a big screen TV and then shoom, its center radiated a soft light, and words began to appear on its surface.
CHOOSE YOUR FIRST FORM
Several shapes bubbled into view. A triangle. A rectangle. A circle. A blob.
My first form? What is this? I don’t understand. Is that blob a direct shot at me because I got smashed into goo underneath the vending machine? I mean, probably. I don’t know for sure. It could have turned me into a powder. Is that how physiology works? Listen to me! Rambling to myself like a crazy person. I don’t want the blob though, it's too… blobby. No, I’ll go for something more normal.
She focused on the triangle, and poof!
She suddenly had a form. She was pointy and tri-cornered. She could still see, but now she could also feel her body. The points of her frame felt like both feet and fingers. How that was possible, she couldn’t have begun to put into words. But still, she tried.
She found that she floated still. Well, that was hardly surprising considering she was in a featureless abyss. She could be falling at a great speed but she’d never know because it was absolutely pitch in this joint.
But she had one accomplishment under her belt, and as the first screen faded away, she saw that another message had appeared.
CHOOSE YOUR REALM COLOR
She considered for a moment, and then focused on SKY BLUE. It selected, and then instantly, the world around her transformed into a lovely blue. She was no longer in the dark abyss, it was as though she was floating in a cloudless, atmosphereless, earthless sky.
Wow, I don’t know what it is I’m doing, but I’m REALLY good at it.
The screen shifted again, and new words populated the space on the giant leaf.
WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
Ooh. This is a big one. I better choose carefully and consider this seriously. I don’t want to end up with something dumb. All this choosing is giving me decision fatigue. I wonder if this triangle body knows how to sleep? I really want to snooze.
What the…? Ah, fiddlesticks. This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen! Can I get a do-over?
A new message populated.
She didn’t know what else to say, so she just said, DICK BEANS!
The rosy orb whistled at her, as if to say watch your language.
Sorry, Snooze said.
Once more, the screen before Snooze changed, and now it filled up with text, and with a chipper and newfound focus, she engaged in reading its content.
THIS IS YOUR BOOK OF LEAF.
IN IT YOU WILL FIND THE MANUAL TO ALL THE YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE YOUR ENDS HERE IN YOUR REALM. YOU HAVE BEEN REBORN INTO A NEW BODY AND A NEW CALLING: GODHOOD.
Godhood? Oh, brother. Whoever decided this has made a huge mistake. Snooze lamented. She read on.
YOU ARE CURRENTLY A LEVEL 1 GOD, AND IF YOU WISH TO GROW (AND YOU SHOULD) YOU WILL NEED TO GAIN EXPERIENCE BY PERFORMING GODLY ACTS. ONLY THEN CAN YOU RAISE YOUR LEVEL AND ASCEND TO TRULY GREAT HEIGHTS. THE BOOK OF LEAF EXISTS AS YOUR WAY OF INTERACTING WITH THIS REALM, AND EVENTUALLY, OTHER REALMS.
YOU MUST PERFORM YOUR TASKS TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY. TO ENSURE THAT YOU RETAIN YOUR SANITY AND DO NOT DESPAIR FROM LONELINESS, YOU HAVE BEEN PROVIDED YOUR FIRST ARCHANGEL.
The rosy orb whistled happily and turned a deep pink.
YOU MAY OBTAIN MORE ARCHANGELS AS YOU LEVEL. YOUR TASKS TO BEGIN WILL BE SIMPLE, AS YOU MUST LEARN THE PHYSICS OF THE GOD REALM. ONCE YOU MASTER THE BASICS, YOU WILL GAIN ACCESS TO FURTHER ABILITIES AND SKILLS.
BUT BE CAREFUL, WHILE THERE ARE MANY THINGS YOU WILL BE ABLE TO CHANGE, SOME CHANGES WILL BE PERMANENT. DO NOT MAKE DECISIONS WITHOUT CONSIDERING THEIR CONSEQUENCES.
Jeeze, said Snooze, this is taking forever. How much time do I have left?
Suddenly, the text shifted right where she had been reading, and a new line of words appeared.
YOU ARE A GOD, AND THEREFORE: INFINITE TIME BEFALLS YOU. YOU ARE IMMORTAL. YOU WILL DWELL HERE FOREVER.
There was a peculiar sound that escaped from Snooze, something like a blood vessel bursting in her temple, but of course, she was a triangle. A god as well, but a triangle nonetheless, and as such, did not have a vascular system. But still, the sound persisted, and Snooze was frozen in existential dread for quite some time, before finally relaxing, her triangle footers expanding.
Alright, I will be here forever. That’s fine. I sort of expected to live forever anyways, and this just proves I was right. Well, I suppose I TECHNICALLY died first, but who am I to get technical? I was crushed by a machine with a picture of a pineapple soda on it.
Actually, a pineapple soda sounds wonderful right now. At least, I think it does. Can triangles drink soda? Can they drink anything? Oh boy, I’m spiraling.
She decided it was best to focus on the text again, to calm her nerves.
AS YOU LEVEL, YOU MAY CHOOSE MORE SOPHISTICATED FORMS WITH WHICH TO NAVIGATE THE REALM WITH. NOW: YOUR FIRST TASK.
Suddenly, a light appeared again in front of Snooze.
Another light?! This is getting tedious. Throw me something else. Like ANYTHING.
Snooze realized very quickly that as the light faded, she was staring at something akin to a stone tablet. On its face was carved a detailed depiction of a beautiful weeping willow.