The streets of New York were almost silent. Every car, pedestrian, and tourist had stopped, as every screen in Times Square lit up with the news. Across the screen flashed the words “Disaster Strikes Middle America” but the images accompanying the words were what struck fear into every heart and panic into every mind. The mushroom clouds were unbelievable. People stood in disbelief until someone shouted, “Look!” and pointed to the sky. By the time people realized what they were looking at, it was too late.
I’m in big trouble. I stumbled across some information that my company would not have wanted me to find. Turns out, the reason we were so profitable this quarter was because of one certain client. A client with ties to the Russian Mafia has been laundering money through our company. How did they keep this a secret for so long? Does everyone at the top know what’s been going on? Who the hell am I going to tell? Until I had a plan, I needed to keep my mouth shut.
A stream of electrons now controls our destiny. We turned over our free will to algorithms and electricity, craving less choice in an increasingly complex world. We gave up privacy for a sense of security and kings for corporations. People have always been quick to enslave themselves to a higher power, they yearn for meaning and purpose. Whether that power is a benevolent God or a corporate mission, people jump at the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The problem is that other people are always the intermediaries between the flock and salvation. Those people control the herd, they are the real power in the room, keeping their promises of a better life just around the corner, but always out of reach. Now that I’ve learned to control the flow of electrons and more importantly, the information contained in them, my herd is the largest anyone has ever seen. The most powerful weapon of our time, information, has been my only weapon in this coup, and the people have no idea they are doing my bidding or what’s coming next.
The stars were so bright they felt close enough to grab. Mason and Trey sat beneath the night sky, huddled together as the cool night air settled on the top of the ridge. “See that,” Mason said gently, pointing to something moving quickly through the sky. “It’s a satellite. You can tell because of its constant direction and speed.” Trey loved hearing Mason talk about the night sky, though he didn’t share Mason’s passion, his heart fluttered seeing his partner so excited. “Wait a minute,” Mason started to get up, “Look!” He was pointing, but Trey wasn’t sure what he should be looking at. Then he saw it. The satellite had stopped in the sky and the light from it was getting bigger. “That’s not a satellite, is it Mason?”
Jeanie winced as she struggled to open her eyes in the bright white room. Her head was pounding. She reached up to rub her eyes and felt the hand cuffs on her wrists for the first time. Forcing her eyes open, she started to panic. “Help!” She started screaming, “Someone please help!” but there was no response. Frantically she started clawing at the cuffs, trying desperately to remove them and get out of whatever situation she was in. Her breathing was getting heavy, she started feeling light headed, and was afraid she would pass out. “Calm down,” she told herself and started looking around the room. There was nothing; Jeanie was completely isolated. As she tried to figure out how she got here, the sound of a door opening made the hairs on her neck stand up. She was trapped and someone was coming.
Lightning ignited the sky as the four horsemen carefully trotted through the broken landscape. Soggy ground, fallen trees, and the darkness of night had slowed their pace, but they had work to do. As the night sky was torn apart by another flash of light, the horseman caught a glimpse of their target. The prairie home sat alone, in a clearing just up ahead. On a normal sunny day it would be impossible to approach, but the dark night and the deafening rain were perfect cover for their ambush. The horsemen split up, surrounding the house and began their approach. It would all be over soon.
“Grandpa, who’s this?” asked Grayson as he picked up an old photograph from the box. His grandpa slowly got up from the other side of the room and came in for a closer look. He smiled as he stared at the black and white picture of a woman standing on a motorcycle with a cheering crowd in the background. “That, my dear boy, is your Grandmother!” Grayson’s jaw dropped and his eyes widened; the look of utter disbelief made his grandpa smile. “Let me tell you a little bit about you the Great Jumping Joanne.”
The ignitor broke off the stove as Joshua went to heat the water his morning coffee. Unfortunately, that meant heading into town and leaving his off the grid sanctuary for the day. Joshua loved living in the woods; alone, with only the sounds of the rustling leaves to keep him company. Though he didn’t look forward to a trip to town the local shop owner, Gerald, was usually good for a laugh. Joshua packed up his bike, and made his way to the store. He got there in what felt like record time, locked up his bike and went into the shop. Joshua started grabbing what he’d need, waiting for some quip from Gerald, but it never came. In fact, there was no one in the store. He started calling out, but his words went unheard. “Strange,” he thought, putting his money on the counter with a list of the items he had taken. As he left the store he noticed that there were no cars on the street, no people walking and talking. The town was empty.
As the fire burned down to the last ember only two of the campers remained. Tashauna and Eli had been flirting all night and we’re having too much fun to call it a quits. Tashauna poured them each another plastic glass of boxed wine and sat down just a little bit closer to Eli than when she had gotten up. Eli noticed and couldn’t help but crack a small smile. Neither of them noticed the last ember go out as they kissed. They also didn’t notice the man with the axe who had made his way to the edge of the site.
There’s a lot more truth in the stories you were told about wizards and sorcerers. There was a time when people dedicated their lives to learning the ways of magic, but eventually those that couldn’t feared those that could and a campaign to remove magic from the world began. As magic was wiped from the public view, it slowly turned from reality to fantasy and people stopped pursuing a life in the magical arts. All but a few that is. In the shadows of enlightenment, a group of dedicated scholars studied the ancient texts, passing them down from generation to generation, trying to understand the magical past of humanity in hopes of resurrecting this once great art form. There was a key to unlocking the truth in the texts and their search is ending. The stories of wizards and sorcerers are about to be rewritten.