Penny was dreaming.
She was in the center of a large open space, and the stone beneath her bare feet was sharp, jagged, and uncomfortably hot. She stood on a platform, and from the unseen depths below it, orange light cast long shadows on the sheer walls of rock that surrounded her on all sides. When she looked up, she could see the stars above her through a circular opening far above her, like she was at the bottom of an enormous well.
When she looked down at her body, she saw that not only her feet were bare. She was completely naked, but strangely, she didn't feel exposed or ashamed at all. She understood that this was simply her natural form, and that her clothes were not part of it. They were not part of her. Only she was here, not her possessions.
"You have awoken," a voice said.
"No," she answered. "I'm dreaming."
"True, and also not. There is no longer such a thing as a simple thought for you."
Penny didn't understand.
"What do you mean?"
"Your thoughts have been saturated with my energy."
"Who are you?"
"I am no one. Not any longer. I had a form, but it was destroyed."
"But you are speaking."
"I am speaking only through you, Penny. Without you, there is only dark energy, diffuse, unfocused, spread out."
"Dark Energy? Are you... Negatron?"
"Not any longer. I am the elusive force that permeates the cosmos, pushing through this dimension perpendicularly, like water running through cloth. I am meaning. I am concepts and ideas given weight, made tangible. Negatron was my manifestation. Pure dark energy, taken shape. But it was destroyed. Now you are the conduit. You are the focus. I have the power to bend reality, and you are the one that wields me."
"What? How? Why?"
"When the rift and my physical body were destroyed, their energy diffused and permeated the underlying fabric of everything. The energy that allowed me to change reality with a thought – it is part of everything now, and you have become a lightning rod. You can control reality."
"The moment the dark energy entered your universe, the very nature of causality was changed irrevocably, rippling far into the past and the future. Ideas and concepts have become physical things. Information has become a natural constant. The universe now obeys not only the laws of physics, but the laws of stories. The story of reality itself is now written by the collective unconscious of humanity. Its inception happened long before this world existed, and its shape is engraved into the foundations of this universe. You might alter its course, but you can never change its conclusion. You must write the story because that itself is a necessary part of how the story must go. It is inevitable."
"But why me?"
"Chance. Fate. Necessity. It is a snake devouring its own tail. It is a waveform collapsing. An answer in search of a question. The story needed *you* to have this power in order for it to be written. Without you, there would be no story, and therefore no one to wonder why there must be a story."
"I don't understand."
"You don't have to. You only need to do what is in your nature to do. The story has already been written. You only need to tell it."
She woke up. It was still the middle of the night, yet she was wide awake. She felt her heart beating heavily in her chest from the nightmare she'd just had.
She flipped on the light with a groan and checked her phone. It was two a.m. She'd gone to bed at nine or ten. Unusually early. No wonder her rhythm was all fucked up now. She grabbed her phone from the night stand. She hadn't even plugged it into her charger.
Muscle memory opened the reddit app without even conscious thought. She scrolled down, checking for something interesting, and it wasn't long before she saw something that made her let out a tiny squeal of shock.
[TMZ] Elementa's air show: Disney, FAA to sue
Penny stared at the headline for what felt like a solid minute of utter disbelief, thoughts exploding through her head like a million misfiring fireworks.
*That can't be real. I just made that up! Did they read the story and think that it was actually – no, moron, that can't have happened. I was just lucky. Lucky guess. Impossibly lucky guess.*
Then, something deep in her chest tightened as she suddenly remembered the vague shapes and concepts of her nightmare, as if the memory was triggered by her thoughts. She had dreamed something about that. Something about stories coming true. Something terrible and enormous, something that she'd been caught up in without wanting to. Something she had to do.
She clicked her way through the link, and read the comments. One commenter linked another article, seemingly confirming rumors that Elementa had flown to the east coast, probably to the League.
Penny was just about to follow the link, when another curiosity came over her, and she checked the comments under her story.
Wow, that was quick, Penny98. But way less creative than your usual stuff. This is just what happened for real, no imagination. Hope the next chapter has some of your own ideas.
Elementa is hot maybe she would like to ride my roller coaster.
Maybe Elementa wanted to be weirder than the Fics on this site for once? Truth is truly stranger than fiction. Nice retelling, Penny98!
Penny swallowed. She had a lump in her throat, and it didn't seem to want to go away at all. There seemed to be a voice in the back of her mind, screaming insistently, and it was increasingly impossible to ignore the notion that was slowly maturing in her.
*I made this happen.*
It was ridiculous. At least, it should have been. But between the uncanny accuracy with which her story described the things that had actually happened and between the heavy gut-feeling that still seemed to linger from her nightmare, she was almost convinced of it.
*If this is true, I'm going to be in so much trouble,* was somehow the first thing she thought about. But... that wasn't really true either, was it? Even if it were, there was no one that knew about it, and—
She stopped herself. “No. Bullshit.” How could she possibly believe this? This was stupid. There was just no way at all for this to be actually happening.
Last week, trans-dimensional fireflies had infested Taipeh. The week before that, a mad engineer in Germany had frozen the Reichstag with a portable freeze ray. Two months ago, Australia had gone missing for three day, replaced with a tropical continent of English-Speaking alternative Humans that were descended from marsupials. In the year she'd graduated high school, there had been a whole other Sun. The meaning of ‘impossible’ wasn’t what it used to be.
Fuck. It's real, isn't it?
And then, with a feeling that was equal parts dread and excitement, she realized that there was a way to find out.
She opened her laptop.
Suddenly Elementa was surrounded by darkness. A few seconds passed, and then she found herself teleported to the apartment of Penny Taylor in Richmond, Virginia.
She held her breath and waited. Nothing happened.
She sighed. Of course, nothing had happened. What had she been thinking? She was so fucking stupid. How could she possibly have thought that this would work? She was about to close her laptop in frustration, but something stopped her. She felt like she wasn't done yet.
Maybe I'm just not strong enough to make something that drastic happen. Maybe I can just influence things that are already happening?
She didn't know where that idea had come from, but it somehow seemed plausible. She'd seen enough documentaries about superpowers to know that they didn't go from 0 to 60 in one night.
Her brain rebelled at the notion. Superpowers! Me?
Surely it was too awesome to be true. Penny was normal. She was unremarkable. But so were all meta-humans before the cosmic lottery gave them powers. To each of them, it would have felt just as out-of-the-blue as it did to her now.
She'd never considered it like that before. If this was real, it would still feel completely unreal. She tried hard not to get too excited at the idea. The chance that she would end up disappointed was about 99.99%.
Still, she had to make sure. If she had weak or specific powers and didn't test them out, she might never notice them.
She felt ridiculous, but she kept on writing, heart hammering in her chest.
Penny was writing on her laptop in her bed, when suddenly the light turned off by itself.
The light turned off.
"FUCK!!!" she screeched, and recoiled from the keyboard, pressing her hands against her mouth, breathing heavily through her nose with near-panic. The cold light of her screen illuminated her in the darkness of her bedroom as she tried not to faint from the prickling dizziness in her head. The world was spinning around her.
"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck," she said, and the sound of her voice was muffled by her hands.
After a minute, or maybe an hour, she had the composure to lean back forward, and make sure.
Then the light turned ba
She paused, hesitating. Did she need to write down her reaction? Did she have to describe everything? Would she start a time paradox if she skipped it? What if she wrote that she hadn't been scared at all? Would that change the past? Would she even remember if it did?
One thing at a time. First, she should make sure that she did’t break reality-
Penny realized that she had reality altering superpowers and she was very scared because of what she had done. For a while she didn’t know what to do. But after a while she went back to the laptop and started writing again. The light turned back on.
Sure enough, it did. The light turned back on. Holy fuck. This wasn't a coincidence. This was real.
Penny swallowed, forcing herself to take calm breaths.
“Okay. Cool. Cool. I have powers. Cool. Cool. Cool. What now?”
A stupid thought came to her, and she got out of bed and rummaged through her room and then the kitchen until she had finally found what she was looking for: A pencil and a piece of paper. She closed her laptop and laid on the back, writing on the paper:
Penny was writing on a piece of paper when the light turned off.
The room turned pitch black.
Okay, good. It's not my laptop that has the powers. That would have been disappointing.
"Penny was sitting in her dark bedroom, narrating her own situation, when the light turned back on."
The light turned back on. It worked even with just her voice.
She sighed with something like relief, even if her whole body was trembling with nervous energy. Things were, somehow, starting to feel like they were falling into place. She might actually be able to accept that this was really happening at some point in the not-to-distant future.
"The light was back on, and Penny found a hundred-dollar note beneath her pillow."
She lifted the pillow. There was nothing there. She frowned, and let the pillow fall on her mattress before letting herself sink into it with the back of her head.
She needed to think. Finding out what she could and couldn't do would take a long time. She couldn't make money appear – but maybe other things? She could make things happen. She knew that. What kind of things?
"As Penny lay in bed, she felt herself lifting into the air, floating," she said.
She remained firmly bound by gravity.
My superpower better not be turning off fucking lights! she thought.
Suddenly, she had an idea. If that idea worked, all of this would become much easier. She had a hunch that it might.
"As Penny lay in bed," she said "she suddenly understood her powers completely."
The world turned itself inside-out and outside-in again, and she understood. She understood everything. Suddenly she had to laugh.
Yes, of course I can do that. But how the fuck is that the first thing I think of?
She sighed. What the hell – sure. Why the fuck not?
"As Penny lay alone in bed," she said "she experienced the most mind-blowing orgasm of her entire life."
It came true.