“And there it is.”
Adam glanced across at his wife, her words still in the air, still distracting him. He looked out from his porch to the rest of his neighbourhood in complete darkness and eerie silence.
It was the same on every street. It was the same in every town and city. It was the same all over the planet.
Had it really only been yesterday that the news-channels had run the story? Fox, CNN, RT, BBC: all of them alerting the world of an imminent solar storm; the biggest since the Carrington event in 1859.
Back then, there hadn’t been the grid; there hadn’t been the internet; there hadn’t been anything-really, but there’d still been problems.
Back then, electrons from that solar flare had found telegraph wires and caused huge surges – in some cases electrocuting operators and setting fire to paper in their telegraph offices.
This time it wouldn’t only be telegraph lines that would burn.
This time it would be different.
This time it would be worse.
If any satellites survived, it would be a miracle. Only God knew what lay in store.
As far as possible, all infrastructure on the ground had been segmented or disconnected to try to offer some level of protection. For the first time in over a hundred years, The world was to be powered down.
Adam watched as street-lamps were extinguished like dominoes toppling, and, save for the few nominated medical centres around the world, everything was still.
Adam gently squeezed his wife with the arm that was already over her shoulder and felt the soft touch of Tasmin’s own arm round his waist squeezing back.
And there it was.
He took a sip of the coffee he’d made earlier and breathed in the stillness.
It wasn’t that they were in total darkness –many of his neighbours had flashlights or candles– it was more a sense of total peacefulness that not only washed him, but over everyone and everything.
Toby, their ever-frantic German shepherd, lay silently, uncharacteristic for him, and though a warm night, not even a single chirp of a cricket could be heard.
But the most wondrous part was not the silence, it was the sky.
For the first time ever, Adam looked to the night-sky and saw the whole universe stretch out beyond the horizon, saw the sides of the valley strike silhouettes against the canvas of the stars.
The strangest thing, however, was that it wasn’t dark, it was perfectly clear and the Milky Way’s blanket of colours shone out purples, blues and hues of gold.
It was not just beautiful, the scale was immense.
Adam looked up and he looked out. He gazed into the expanse and suddenly felt insignificantly tiny. He saw the earth against the infinite scale of creation, and in that transparent instant, he saw it all.
Jobbing supply-teacher, Adam Mynott, suddenly felt a mix of euphoria, disconnection and calm. Looking down, he saw himself in his front-yard arm-in-arm with his wife. He saw his neighbourhood and community far below him. He saw his country and he saw his world.
In his mind’s-eye he saw the earth, the galaxy and in an instant, he understood everything.
He could not put it into words, but it was as if a veil had been lifted from his eyes, as if he’d been given the key.
“Can you see it?” he asked his wife.
“The message,” he replied. “The message to the world.”
Tasmin furrowed her brow, looked sideways at her husband but said nothing.
He was always spouting that hippy-bullshit.
If Adam was aware of her disapproval, he did not show it. Instead he continued to stare out into the night and to withdraw further into himself.
Tasmin’s thoughts might be true, but he was elsewhere. He suddenly knew how it all worked.
All of it.
He saw the universe like he’d never seen it before. He saw the levers, the triggers and he saw the back doors. He saw the secrets of existence and all the inner workings of life itself.
He saw the cheat-code needed to manipulate reality – And saw everything, all at once.
He knew real magic.
Adam stretched out and flexed his mind. He felt an ancient-power resonate deep within him. It was like the backbone of the earth’s electrical infrastructure and its harsh artificial light had deadened the subtlety required to support magic.
It was as if, with all that the world had gained its technological advances, it had lost its way. The spectacular had become humdrum and humanity had become adrift from its true place in the universe.
It was only now, that the deafening silence and calm, allowed the old ways to resurface. Humanity, once again, contemplated its place amongst the stars, and billions of eyes turned to the sky to wonder at the face of God.
A collective wonder that could be harnessed.
Adam reached deep within himself and stretched his mind towards the stars. He saw the solar storm growing in intensity, bearing down upon the earth.
I can protect it,
Turning toward Tasmin, he looked straight through her, “There’s something I’ve got to do.”
As his wife looked on, he built an intention like never before. His fingers traced strange shapes, and under his breath he heard his voice whisper incantations in a hoarse unworldly-tongue.
The layer of protection that he cast infused and enveloped the world. It didn’t so much shield the earth from the incoming storm as make it immune to its effects.
The wavefront of solar flares washed in but rather than causing the destruction that had been predicted, it came and it went without event. It passed through the earth, the satellites, and everything else without effect.
Exhausted but finally satisfied, Adam leant back on the rail of his porch and drew deeply on the now cold coffee.
It was done.
Now that he knew the secret, nothing would ever be the same.
But for now he needed rest.
Adam awoke the next day to the sound of his radio alarm clock. He reached over to swipe it to snooze, but paused as he began to pick up parts of the conversation on the talk-radio station.”
“…complete waste of time…”
“…how did the scientists get it so wrong?”
“…I’m not complaining, but they said this was going to be a global disaster.”
“…yet more scaremongering.”
Adam Mynott came round and, recalling the events of the night before, reached out with his mind.
Where there had been magic and understanding. There was now the mundane reality that had always been there.
Had it all just been a dream?
He would have asked Tasmin, but she’d already left for work – and Toby still slept.
The radio in the background suddenly attracted his attention.
“…Yes it was very strange,” a NASA spokesman was heard to say. “The intensity of the flares should have been catastrophic, but as far as we can tell, they had no effect. At the minute we’re still analysing what this means, but this could change our whole understanding of science.”
“And the reason that you’re on the show today, is that you’re asking listeners to get in touch if they experienced anything during the storm; Is that right?”
“That’s right Fred. As you say, we want people to share with us their experiences of the storm so we can build up a picture of what happened…”
“Thanks for coming at such short notice, Adam – Please sit down.”
Since calling them an hour earlier, Adam had been surprised at just how rapidly they’d sent a car to fetch him; he hadn’t even finished talking on the phone when the car pulled up.
Not even enough time to call Tasmin.
He’d arrived at an unassuming office block with no signage and was shown into a windowless room where an engineer already sat.
Glasses, short-sleeved patterned shirt and a poorly chosen tie – apart from the absence of a pocket protector – what else could he be?
The room was bare, save for strip-lights, table and spartan metal chairs.
The engineer spoke but did not get up.
“Thanks for coming at such short notice, Adam – Please sit down.”
Uncomfortable, Adam nervously took the free seat.
“You said you stopped the storm?”
Adam was stunned by the directness of the question.
What had he even said earlier?
Much of last night now felt like a dream.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know what I believe any more,” he said. “Last night when the power went off was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
“It was like we’d all seen the face of God. and all I did was channel that feeling of wonder.”
Adam tried to explain that he’d been able to see everything in infinite clarity, that he’d been able to perform what he could only call magic, that he’d caused the storm to pass unhindered.
But that was last night.
Today it had gone.
Today, he was just an average Joe.
To what extent they took him seriously he didn’t know. They wrote it all down, thanked him for his time and then ushered him back to the car.
And just like that it was over.
In the nights that followed he’d sit on his porch and look at the stars, but instead of a blanket of wonder there were simply the constellations that everyone with a passing familiarity with the zodiac knew.
Life went on, of course, but it was never the same. He struggled to ride the subway or even venture out. The sight of thousands of humans glued to their smartphones depressed him too much.
If only they could, once again, collectively look to the stars.
Had it really happened? Did magic really exist? Had the rise of technology and an inability to gaze out into their universe replaced the magical with the mundane?
The world was full of spiritual beings but none of them knew it.
They could be so much more…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CM Angus grew up in the North East of England and now lives in Yorkshire with his wife and children. He is interested in all things creative & technological.
Overstrike, Volume 1 of Fixpoint, the debut novel by CM Angus, will be published by Elsewhen Press in early 2020
Copyright CM Angus
CM’s debut novel, Overstrike, Volume 1 of Fixpoint, will be published by Elsewhen Press in February 2020. Follow his blog to keep alerted to his new release!