Everyone in this world has a story.
No two are exactly the same. Life is full of struggle and triumph, anger and joy, fear and love. Each experience, each circumstance, is the product of a million little things that are as unique as the individual living them.
These were wise words from my grandfather to me, when I was a little boy.
He used to tell me I would be famous one day. Successful and accomplished, the world would be at my feet. You've got the right mind and the right heart, my lad, he would say, and you will go far. Never doubt it. I don't.
I didn't either, though I was still young enough that the future he had described was a dream, a distant goal to work towards. Undefined, it was just a thing that I would shape and one day achieve. Still, of all the futures he might have imagined for me, what happened instead was ... something very different.
You see, other people can introduce the story of their life with a few basic facts, and I guess I can do that too. I'm sixteen years old. I live with my mother and go to high school. I enjoy soccer, fantasy novels, online RPGs and have taken up archery as a hobby. I don't have any living grandparents, and I'm not fond of my father; a man who I have not seen in years. I only have a couple of close friends, and the closest is a girl.
Yet ... that's not real. It is accurate if you consider facts, but in the end? It's just background noise that's not telling you anything important. If you want the true introduction to what has -- and is -- defining my life in a meaningful way, then it's short and simple, and goes exactly like this:
My name is Torsten and right now, I am witnessing the beginning of the end of the world.
This is not an exaggeration.
I should explain what I mean, because there is a lot to explain. For that, you'd need to know my story from the start.
For me, it all began with a really strange dream.
Since I was barely older than a toddler, I have had an active imagination. Dreams were part of that package, and I had plenty of them. Dreams about the latest book I had read, the latest TV show I had watched, about people from my life in situations that made no sense at all. There was the occasional nightmare too, which was basically inevitable. My dreams were sometimes strange, sometimes scary, sometimes just plain nonsense and stupidity.
All in all, it was pretty normal.
That changed one day, months ago, when I had a dream that was different.
From the second it began, I knew. I didn't have to wait until I was awake to understand what was going on and reflect on it in the light of day. I was fully aware of what was happening as if I was conscious, even though I was still fast asleep. I had heard of lucid dreaming, but this was beyond that. I had stepped onto another level where there was perfect clarity.
Asleep, but awake.
I was standing on a hillside at night, with darkness all around. Above, the sky was cloudless and dim, and not a single star visible. In front and below where I was standing, there was the faint outline of buildings, streets and an urban sprawl. It was a town or a city, only barely detectable; as lightless as the sky and my surroundings. All of it had an aura of expectation, a scene held in suspense until the cameras could roll and the sound and light would begin. There was potential.
Then, behind me, there came a presence.
I didn't know what it was, or where it came from.
I simply knew it had arrived.
I could tell in the same way you can feel when a storm is approaching. The taste is on the breeze, the pressure shifting, skin prickling and sky murky. There are signs that are small but significant.
This was the same.
A wind rose and fell in erratic bursts in the space trailing, before it evened into a steady gust; the leftover currents off a hurricane's fringe. The air swirled, the eddies dying away with the final moments of arrival, the hints of a magnificent force coming to calm, and then, I heard a sigh of exhaled breath.
I was no longer alone.
That moment, even within a dream, I knew beyond doubt that this presence was there. It wasn't a phantom, it wasn't imagination, it wasn't something dredged up from my brain's subconscious. Asleep, in my mind, that didn't matter.
It was real.
I stepped back from the darkened hillside, and began to turn around. Afraid of what I might find, I moved slowly. So very slowly, not knowing what kind of horror to expect and what I would see.
But ... there was nothing. Just a wall of black, the same featureless dimness; space with no starlight.
Even so, there was still something there, right in front of me.
It spoke, a voice rising out of the dusky silence.
It was no more than a whisper, but it seemed to echo and reverberate around me in stereo. Deeper and with more dimension than the heaviest bass of a movie supervillain, it was neither menacing nor friendly. There was no readable tone and no possible way to tell its intention. Enigmatic, it gave nothing away, except for a strange sense of restraint, a desire that was only just held back.
Dear child, I waited too long for this time. Ages came and ages went. I watched the empires of man rise and fall. Each season of war and peace has come and gone, but now, it exhaled again in heady anticipation, savouring the moment, no longer. The waiting and watching is done, for here you are.
"Wh- ... who are you?" I could reply, though barely. "What are you?"
It did not address my words, and continued as if I had remained silent, the question ignored or unheard.
You. A warm mist brushed my face, almost a reverent touch, a gentle caress. You are the only one. None are as faithful. None are as pure. It is you, dear child, that will set right the broken world. It inhaled, then exhaled yet again, revelling in it. It is close now, so close to real. No more silence and solitude. No more the realm of haunted shadow.
"What do y-you mean?" I stammered, staring crazed up at the enormous formless thing that was right there, the proximity undeniable, but still ... not. "What is this? What's going on?!"
The voice chuckled, a rich throaty laugh of inexplicable amusement. Soon, dear child, you will know. The misty warmth began to wane and with it went the feeling of vicinity, the voice fading in tandem. Soon, it sighed, the time comes.
"Wait!" I called, desperate to know anything. "Just- ... just tell me who you are, if nothing else! Please!"
Light. It fell to a hum, the atmosphere dispersing with it. Truth. No more than a dying murmur, it gave me only a single final word, in the most hushed undertone, before it was gone and I was once again alone.
Then, I woke up.
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