Bathing beneath starlight. That’s where I was, alone.
In honesty, though, that’s a complete lie; for we’re never alone, are we?
The Companion hovered close by, waiting. Its cylindrical shape was almost invisible in the darkness yet, though utterly silent, I could feel its presence, alien. Even so, I forgot it; put it off my mind, like we always did, as I concentrated on what lay before me. For a moment, I lost myself to the Void, this endless blanket of starlight spreading before me; enjoying the cold breeze and unnatural quiet found on this magical place. However, it didn’t last long. The Companion shone red, its light bathing the scenery, imposing, warning of the coming of the next cycle as it hovered closer by. Still, my gaze remained steady. The companion flew closer by as I observed the way the light reflected off of the trees until, tiredly, grudgingly, I stood up, stretching my body as I did, irritated by knowing that maybe I could have risked staying a bit longer before having to rush home. Still, there is no defying the Companion.
This was my solace, this place that people had long forgotten about and I found one day in what one might call fate or destiny; this was my escape off the “real” world whenever it got too fake for my taste. People, it seemed to me, had forgotten. In this place there were no expectations, no judgments, no constant pressure to perform or act; it was freedom, in the purest of sense. Well, if not for the Companion. I ran towards my rolloBike, dodging trees and the uneven ground until I saw a couple of ways away a mount with handles, sitting atop a great gelatinous mass. I’d left the rolloBike close to the main road knowing that I always stayed longer than I should, always having to have to rush home soon after. I quickly mounted the bike, catching a glimpse of the City as I jumped onto it. Sitting on the seat, I snapped my legs unto the material; its shape molding around my legs, securing me as the Companion logged on, placing itself unto the mass that lay in between the rolloBike’s handles and signaling the success with a slight beeping sound.
The mass surrounding the Companion changed its visor into the bike’s interface, a map signaling the most efficient route home quickly filling the screen. I dismissed it, that route wanted me to go through the City and, at this time of night, I would much rather enjoy the quiet of the mountain road than the disgusting, gagging sounds of the hustling, bustling, Golden City. I quickly charted my desired route into the interface before the Companion began beeping, three consecutive beeps then a pause, a warning. I read the interface; it informed me that I was taking an inefficient route towards my destination and that the current time of arrival might not coincide with the recommended start of the next cycle. I quickly pressed the button, agreeing to the terms of usage, before the bike turned on. It was already an automatic response, I never even bothered reading.
The mass then began to shift and change, most of it surrounding the mount and my lower body before hardening its exterior, the current rolloBike design now visible on screen as the rest of the mass merged into the wheels. The whole thing solidified, the wheels changing to have a greater grip on the road as I turned the smart wheels on, the change occurring almost instantly, soundlessly. As I prepared to speed away I noticed an incoming light traveling down the road, it seemed to come from atop the mountain so I paused for a moment, waiting for whatever vehicle it was to pass the curve in front of me before heading off, yet it never did. The Light got closer but its trajectory didn’t change, it didn’t take long to realize that it was coming straight for me! I quickly revved the bike, managing to dart a ways to the side before the Light blazed by behind me. It wasn’t a vehicle, it was soundless! The way it passed through the trees meant that it must have been something small, like a bird, yet it was so fast that I couldn’t even distinguish anything about it, nothing besides its warmth.
My heart was racing, yet I managed to turn my head quick enough to see the Light’s impact. It crashed with a thud, bouncing back comically yet shining bright all the same; it was hard to turn my gaze away. I stared at it, trying to make out what it was from a distance yet its light was too bright, it wouldn’t allow it, until, finally, my curiosity got the better of me. I took my hands off the handles, kicking my legs so the material surrounding them would give way for my dismount. The Companion quickly logging off as I stepped away, hovering close behind me, silently, yet blinking red all the same. The whole view was pervertedly magical, the way the moon’s shine, the Companion’s red warning and the Light’s own glow intermingled upon the trees was something unlike anything I’d ever seen. Beautiful.
My heart raced faster with each step I took, I was unsure whether it was due to fright or excitement. Still, I kept on. Besides me the Companion’s light began to blink faster, its flight now followed with a continuous beeping sound, not too loud yet present. I had to get on home, I couldn’t risk getting late or else I would be reprimanded, the Companion reminded me of this, yet I could not just turn away. Not from this. The light pulled me in, enchanting. From it I could hear something, a song, something of a melody from far away, cutting through the night air. I was haunted.
It was as if the Light was physically pulling me close, I wondered if I was truly walking on my own accord but every step took me closer, my heart beat so fast that I could feel it pushing upon my chest, reaching for the Light. It rested upon the ground beneath a great tree, its radiance lighting each branch, and myself. It was there that I saw it. I reached down, my body fully on automatic; the Companion’s warning a million worlds away. My hand reached for the Crystal, grabbing its pointed shape as its light began to dissipate, dimming. I felt a strange warmth coming from the place where my skin touched the crystal, the feeling pleasant in this chilly air yet little by little I could feel it growing, in reach and intensity, soon overpowering the entirety of my arm.
I began to panic, trying to let go but my hand would not follow, it gripped the Crystal tightly as the fire consumed more and more from within. I could feel it, crawling around like an insect, reaching around my skin yet there was nothing. My skin remained the same but from inside I could feel a pain unlike anything I’d ever experience and, for a second, I even wished for death. I looked around for help yet I knew I’d find none, the Companion simply shone red, its gaze staring straight and cold, unflinching, accusingly. I should have listened to the warnings, I know that now.
Soon, the warmth overtook my lungs; it was then that it grew hard to breath. I never even noticed when I fell but now I lay again on the ground, looking up towards the Void, appreciating it even more so now that everything seemed so sour. I lost myself then, lost myself to the stars, wishing it all to stop until, finally, the warmth reached my heart. It was then I lost consciousness.