Author: Jessica Brook Johnson

I saw things in the night sky my neighbors did not. Glimmers of iridescent light against the backdrop of stars. I think it was because of what happened to me during the blackouts. Every time I blacked out, I woke up different somehow. A prosthetic arm that operated with the slow frustration of a claw crane in an arcade machine. Skin that clotted grey and shined silver in the light, or glowed blue in the dark. And now, this time, something must have happened to my vision.

I decided to follow these sky glimmers to see where they might lead. People said that the neighborhood was all that existed, and all that ever would exist. But if that were true, why was I changing? I needed answers before I woke up and I was no longer even me anymore.

As the sun set on my neighborhood, glimmers became visible in the darkening sky, like they did every night since my latest change. I followed the glimmers, watching them gather and thicken until I reached the edge of the neighborhood. Now the glimmers bunched together like the electrodes in a plasma orb when someone put their finger on the glass.

The only thing visible beyond this point to most people was endless sky. Or in my case, a crackling wall of rainbow-colored light. We had been told never to venture beyond this point because those who did never came back. And for most people, there was no need to go further. Everything they needed fell from the sky—food, toiletries, clothing, entertainment.

But I needed answers.

I continued staring at the flickering wall of light, when one of the glimmers disappeared, forming an opening. Taking a deep breath, I ignored the blood crashing to my eardrums and bolted through.

What I saw on the other side was unimaginable. Incomprehensible. I wrapped my arms around myself, shaking. Towering structures of a sinuous latticework rippled up from the ground, forming moiré patterns that arced across the sky. The latticework throbbed like a living being, glowing with a blue bioluminescence. Rivers of grey flowed through the air, guided by rainbow-colored swirls of light, curving around the lattices and branching into fractal formations that sparkled silver. Spherical machines flew overhead, filling the air with a pervasive mosquito hum. Some melted into the rivers and reshaped elsewhere.

Behind me, my neighborhood was now covered in a rainbow-colored dome of light. And hundreds of other domes like it dotted the landscape. No, thousands. Maybe hundreds of thousands. Maybe millions. All with an army of spherical machines flying above, dropping food and supplies from the sky.

A mass of grey liquid rose from one of the nearby rivers, coalescing into a faceless, androgynous humanoid. My fear turned to ice in my veins as this being began to walk toward me. But I kept my feet rooted in place, forcing myself not to run. This being might have answers for me about what I was becoming. Yet as I stared at the silver hues and blue bioluminescence around me, I got a sinking feeling in my gut that I already knew.