The night was cold and dark. The moon shone brightly, gently singing her graceful hymn. The light didn’t shine very far, however. A thick wall of sinister clouds prevented any escape of the beautiful song below.
Instead, a deafening clamor raged beyond the barrier. The storm seethed, his commands traveling through his neurons in brilliant flashes. Fearlessly, his troops hurtled themselves from their launchpads, pulled by gravity to reign terror below. At these heights, the soldiers transformed into tiny bullets, sprinkling speckles of white on the black canvas. He cackled, delighting in his rule, as his minions conquered the masses below and forced lone travelers to abdicate to the side. It was as it has always been. His icy grip was absolute.
Suddenly, a lone, hooded rider shot through a blocked off section, sending soldiers flying with her force of impact. An aura of light poured out in a dazzling circle around her and shoved the suffocating darkness off. The storm howled in fury, shaking the land and streaming signals to concentrate forces on the new nuisance.
Thump… Thump-Thump… Thump-Boom-Thump… The booming rhythm of the drums ringing from the barracks of the sky accelerated to a feverish pitch, driving the troops into a frenzy. They swooped down, following mapped out aerial highways, transformed to reinforcement supply routes. Charging towards the challenger in their signature formation, each man spun and lunged erratically but together, created a uniform whirlwind of icy needles. Although their fighting style emphasized chaos at the individual level, those elements of mayhem worked together to cancel out each other’s irregularities, composing a bewitching symphony.
Meanwhile, the rider galloped through the winding roads, a shimmering set of lines crisscrossing in every direction in front of her. The soldiers were no match. Her dual jians zinged through the air, faster than the human eye can track, and left the air reverberating with a slight humーscattered sound particles representing the sole witnesses to the fallen’s dying breaths, a fading record of history.
Her cloak, black like the void of darkness seeking to consume her, fluttered madly in the wake of her brilliant dance. Her silhouette, set against the splash of bright white and yellow cast by her bouncing lantern, combined with her glittering path to form a shooting star navigating the empty galaxy. An icon of hope in a place where it had been extinguished before. The star’s arc carved out a path like a lighthouse in a raging sea, rallying the downtrodden travelers behind her. An explosive message of defiance to the storm’s enduring reign.
In a few blinks of his infinite life, there was no trace left of the annoying newcomer or her followers; his soldiers had made sure of that, restoring the trampled land. Once more, it was as it has always been. The storm chuckledーof course nothing could defeat me. But, underneath the layers of what has always been, there was now something new. The path carved by a courageous rider. A permanent mark of a stranger’s deeds. And below lay centuries of the same kind, of chaotic strokes of watercolor snaking through the white fresco. All predecessors who dared to cross the uncrossable, to fight the unfightable, to dream the undreamable. All who left behind crinkles in the otherwise uniform sheet of what has always been. On the surface, nothing had changed. And yet, each insurgent act created a world that has never been.
This story was based on a recent ski trip to Tahoe when we had to drive back to our place through a bit of an unexpected snowstorm. I was struck by the beauty and terror of the falling snow as it overwhelmed our windshields and pushed cars to the shoulders.