Alli decided to walk through the park, with the statue of Farragut on his horse, although she remained afraid of bums. The tiny local square stood still, peaceful under the roiling orange clouds. No bums were asleep on the benches or under little tents of newspapers in the grass. As Alli passed Farragut on his prancing, green copper horse, a spear of lightning rent the sky from east to west. Then the bolt of lightning winked out; it was dark and there was nothing.
The rain fell on Alli’s face. She stopped looking upward and continued through the square toward the dry cleaners with its winking sign on 6th Street.
Alli descended the dim street, with rainwater rushing along the sidewalk. The leaves swirled in little whirlpools over the gutters. She passed through the gate, past the trash cans and the garden, to her door. Entering the hallway, she mounted the steps to her flat. Alli entered her apartment, flicking on the lights to the kitchenette.
The rain ran down in rivulets splayed against the cold bay window of the breakfast nook. The apartment upstairs had a balcony that let down a waterfall.
Eventually, Alli got up, turned off the TV and walked across the carpet toward the bathroom, to brush her teeth and shower before going to bed.
She lay down under the cold covers. The room was dark, the apartment outside the bedroom door darker still. A peal of thunder grumbled in the distance. She shut her eyelids and fell asleep. The lightning cut the sky again and the thunder answered. Rain poured down.
Æon walked through the Temple of the Sky. Grey marble columns rose up along the main path through the edifice, and other carpeted halls branched off, full of fountains and shafts of light coming from small windows on the upper levels. She passed a pool made of obsidian, filled by a jet of water cascading down from the ceiling.
The sound of falling water mingled with the distant sounds of the city below, which floated up the white, dusty hill covered in tufts of dark green grass. The city fanned out from all sides of the temple – avatars rushed about their daily lives below. A white tree, eighty feet tall and with viridian leaves on its branches, stood in the east. At night, the world tree would glow blue with concentrated avatar energy.
PEACE AND SERENITY ARE GRANTED TO THE AVA’TARA, THE FIRST ASCENDED NATION
The inscriptions lay underneath a relief of white stone, which depicted a naked human woman reclining along the lower left corner, holding a fiery sword aloft by the middle of the blade. Æon knew she was the first Sky Avatar.
Looming above her was a crowd of men and women, also naked, clambering over each other to get at the shining sword. Their faces were bestial and ugly, frozen in grimaces, howls and scowls. They were the first anti-avatars.
Around the woman’s head, on the relief, was a circle of gold, the halo of an avatar. Æon shook her head and thought Time to get on with it.
Æon proceeded up the stone steps of the dais to her seat. On its high base, facing the steps, carved in avatar hieroglyphics read,
PEOPLE OF THE SKY
PEOPLE OF THE WINDS
PEOPLE OF THE WATERS
FROM THE DESERT OF ICE
The hum of avatars, in white robes, conversing on the temple patio, came in through the entrance way. The city chattered below.
While her avatar body sat in the Temple of the Sky, Æon opened her eyes in her Inner Space. All avatars and anti-avatars have an Inner Space, but this Inner Space was special. The Inner Space of the Sky Avatar connected her to the second spiritual world, where only she, in her role as the Iridescent One, could reset the universe.
Only her Inner Space housed an intricate clock, of concentric, spinning rings made of red light. Each of the red rings measured the milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, centuries, and light-years until the next time the universe would reboot.
But Æon was not in her Inner Space to restart the universe. Æon sat at the desk and opened the computer. She keyed in the code for Alli’s Headspace using the numerical signature of the energy of Alli’s aura.
Alli was dreaming that she stood in darkness, wearing ancient white robes. Her eyes adjusted, and she saw she was in a desert. Pale light poked over the mountains on the horizon. In front of her, someone was lying face down on the ground. The figure was covered in rough-looking blankets and Alli assumed he or she was sleeping.
The bundle glowed and a woman shining with blue light stood up from the ground. She grew larger as she got to her feet until she was ten times as tall as Alli and her head scraped the black, cloudy sky. Her blue glow lit up the desert: the colossal human figure was on fire – blue flames leapt from her clothes and her hair into the sky, but she did not burn – it was an aura.
The figure looked down at Alli. The gold in her eyes shimmered and swam like oil rainbows on puddles. The figure knelt on one knee, to get a better look at her quarry. Alli looked back at the figure as those gold-flecked eyes and the blue face came closer and the fiery head came down from the clouds. Alli backed away terrified. She tripped over a rock and fell on the ground.
“Do you know who I am?” the woman asked.
“Æon,” Alli said. She trembled.
“Do you know why I am here?” Æon asked.
“To tell me that I am an avatar?” Alli said. And she shook even more.
“No,” Æon said.
Alli blanched; her skin turned almost gray.
“No, I am here to tell you that you are the next Sky Avatar,” Æon said.
Alli grew even paler and then the dream, or rather, the Headspace communication, ended.
Inside her Inner Space, Æon closed the laptop.