unworldly exordium

Outside the black netting of an adolescent boy’s canopy, he could perceive the glow of a few silver transport rockets coming back into his planet’s atmosphere. Humans often immigrated to the planet of Zorphia due to the wild diversity, but it was rarely at night when the city wasn’t nearly as pleasant or as lively.  He was supposed to be sleeping as the inverted day-and-night cycle wouldn’t last for long, but the commotion below his hammock threatened to prevent anything resembling sleep.

“Calum? Are you okay?” He crossed his arms over his chest as a girl his age wearing the blandest clothes he could think of opened the window next to his makeshift bed and tossed another blanket to him. “I know work’s been tough on you, but camping out on the side of a building isn’t going to help the sleep issues.”

“I wanted to see the sky, Ophelia.” The hammock in itself was big enough to prevent him from falling to his death, but if he had somehow rolled off, he’d just disintegrate into smoke and float back up to his bed before returning to human form. “Besides, tomorrow’s my day off. I can do whatever I want.”

“Either way, you shouldn’t compromise your one day of rest.” Ophelia shut the window and retreated to her own peaceful room in the apartment, leaving Calum to close his eyes and drag his own way into sleep. The steady hum of both the hover and ground vehicles traveling below him blended into each other, and he’d just barely drifted off into a light slumber before his shoulder was tapped.

“What now, Ophelia?” He dragged himself into a sitting position and glanced around him, but nobody was in sight, let alone the darkish girl who had pestered him a few minutes before. “Figures.”

“Calum…”

He twisted around, coming face-to-face with the stoic figure carved out of smoke who had hissed his name at him, hovering just inside of his canopy bubble. The shock jolted his legs upright, sending him careening off of the hammock before his right foot got caught in the knots and twirled him upside down. “What Mithrae be you seeking an innocent soul in the middle of the night?”

“Calm down, young one,” the figure hissed, helping him back up onto his bed. A few of his blankets had come down with him and were now resting on the lower end of the canopy bubble. “I came here to bring you good news, but I can’t do that if your mortal body is dead before I can deliver them!”

“Wouldn’t I just go back to Gehenna if I died here?” Calum crossed his legs and brushed himself off where the figure of smoke had touched him and left behind ashy residue. “With the assumption that I have a soul.”

“No, Calum, our studies-”

“You study me? Do you have a gigantic celestial telescope that you watch me under? Is Zorphia just one big petri dish and every sentient soul is a germ?”

Our studies are led by your father, Calum, so I would pay attention to what I have to say.” The figure sat himself on the other edge of Calum’s hammock, his translucence betraying the orange street lights behind him. “And a hundred-feet-fall, it seems, is more than enough to destroy your puny human vessel- so calm yourself before I carry out my orders.”

If Calum were any other human being, he’d be streaking through the halls in search for a Bible and a crucifix to dispel the demon in ethereal form across from him, but he leaned forward and crossed his legs tighter, pressing down on his ankles in anticipation. “Spill all.”

“After countless hours spent studying all the old manuscripts that the Mithrals have so graciously lent to us, three things have come to our attention. The first is that you are far from the only Mithrae stuck in this world- there are six more, and we need every single one of you. The second is that we-” he laid both of his hands on Calum’s shoulders, and he could feel the temperature of his skin rising a tiny bit from the touch- “have found a way to bring every single one of you home and to restore the proper owner of the bodies back to their normal homes and presences.”

How?” Calum’s pupils shrunk, and he clenched the one blanket that had remained on his bed in his hands as his chest tightened. “It’s been, what, four months? Five? And just now I’m allowed to catch hope that I might be able to live a normal life again?”

“Patience, Calum. I will reveal the process when it is time for you to return to Gehenna for your briefing. The third is that the true destroyer of worlds has been located and is about to stomp on the first domino in the line to the destruction of the human race you seem to have joined.” The figure’s voice spat over his shoulder on the last line, although the saliva just vaporized into thin air and didn’t stain anything. “To be honest, I would have thought that you would have seeked a return to your hole realm with more zeal than this, Calum. Mithrae are naturally superior, and any human would trip over themselves and then kill to receive our power.”

“I’m going to forget you said that. And destroyer of worlds?…” Calum let go of the blankets and rubbed his eyes. “I’m sorry, I haven’t revisited anything pertaining to the Judeo-Christian mythology course at school since I got pulled here. What exactly is going on?”

“Humanity is never supposed to achieve immortality, Calum, but it’s at the brink of doing so. Immortality releases beings from answering to Death and frees their actions to have far greater consequences. Wickedness is about to wed Innocence on Earth and produce a bastard of a child, who will be mercilessly sacrificed to bring about the end times.”

“Yeah, about that…” Calum reached below the hammocks and dragged the fallen blankets back up, curling up on the bed and closing his eyes. “You sound completely insane. I should have remembered to close my demon gate before going to bed.”

“You’re going to help us, Calum, if you ever want to see your family again.” The Mithrae disappeared into thin air, leaving behind the words ringing in Calum’s head, “I’ll be back… He wishes to destroy you as well…”

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