Escapism: 3.14

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Hey, guys. So, yeah. I’ve been a little late with the updates these last two weeks. I apologize for that. I had a little of my time devoted to a short story guest submission for a literary friend of mine called Revfitz. If you’d like to see the story I wrote for him, then here’s the link: https://revfitz.com/everybody-dies-rainy-days/ Also, while you’re there, you might wanna check out his book. It’s pretty cool. Anyways. I intend to upload another chapter before the end of this week to make up for my tardiness. So I hope it’s all good. Anyways. On with the story!

James:

James wasn’t sure exactly when he had begun to cry. Whether it had happened when the lightning bolt struck him, when the bird tore the gash in his leg, or at any of a dozen points in between. He didn’t much care. The problem was that the tears made it hard for him to see where he was going as he flew, his eyelids only barely staying open to begin with.

He would have raised an arm to wipe his eyes clear, but his body refused to obey, the limb hanging limp by his side, his fingers occasionally twitching as the remnants of the shock sent spasms wracking through his form.

He was blind; blind and immobile, flying aimlessly through the night, just waiting to be spotted. To this, he did the one thing he could think to do. He went up. He may not have been able to see well enough to find a landmark to guide him, but he could at least tell well enough which way was up. A part of him wandered what might happen if he fell from such a height, and the answer he came up with did nothing to help him calm.

Everything felt wrong; the lines in his body failing to match what he knew in his head that they should be. Everything felt too… big; like his skin had somehow been stretched to cover a body the size of a football field. Had his nerves been thrown off by the shock?

For what felt like the hundredth time, he tried to force himself to calm down, to focus. It barely helped. He couldn’t move, couldn’t see. He wanted to pace, to yell, to punch something, just for some way to vent his state out into the world around him. He tried to scream, and once more heard, from somewhere high above, as the winds took up the call, echoing his voice in a shrill, distorted burst, more stormwind than shout.

Then there was that. He’d barely noticed it in the panic of the attack, but now, it was getting clearer by the moment. His body might not be moving, but his powers were, the wind echoing his every attempt to move without him even giving it conscious thought. He hadn’t even known he could make the winds shout for him, but he wasn’t pleased by the discovery; it wasn’t a nice sound. Just to confirm that it was what he thought it was, he tried willing his hand up towards his face in a gentle slap.

The effect was immediate. The wind caught him hard enough to nearly knock him out of the sky, sent him reeling. In a few moments, however, he caught himself, the fear slowly starting to fade in the knowledge that at least he was able to figure stuff out.

Okay. So his powers were doing a thing. That wasn’t great, but at least it gave him an idea.

Tentatively, he began reaching out into the wind with his power, trying to extend it out consciously in the hope that if he could expand his control around it, then maybe, just maybe, he’d be able to pull it back inside himself again. Maybe that’d be enough to let him move his limbs again. Even if it didn’t, it still felt better to be trying something.

James extended further, the hands beyond his hands reaching out further and further by the second. It was the strangest feeling, trying to stretch his senses to fill a shape. As he expanded, he felt the wind brush against fingers that weren’t even there; fingers that he knew, rationally, had to be dozens of feet away from him by now. Yet he could still feel them.

He was almost there when he encountered the barrier, his powers extended until they felt nearly as big as his body did. Then, just as he was about to reach it, he felt something press against his perception, like a wall in the air; immobile. He tried to swear, and heard the skies above give some ghoulish reinterpretation of the sound. Had he not been in such a state, he doubted he would have tried what he did next. At the least, he doubted he’d have tried it while floating what had to be at least a mile above the ground. As it was, though, he didn’t have the capacity left to care.

He pulled his power back a little, closing them towards himself by what felt like a foot or so, before sending them out again and slamming them against the wall as hard as he could. He had honestly expected it to do nothing, the attempt had been more an act of raw frustration than an effort to be constructive; but then he felt the wall give.

It was slight, minute, even, but it was there. He pushed harder, and it fell back another inch. The wind around him let out a furious cry, and he pushed harder.

When the wall finally gave way, a lot of things changed at once.

It was the changes to his vision that he noticed first, the world around him shifting from a tear blurred darkness to a perfect, almost crystalline clarity. The dark surrounding him fell away. In its place, his world was flooded with a trillion tiny lines of pure, faintly glowing light, like stars given breadth. Everywhere he looked, there were more of them, flowing and shifting around one another, cascading across the sides of the buildings far below and dancing through the clouds that hovered over the distant bay.

For a few moments, he just stared, in awe. Then, he found his mind brought back to earth as his clothes began to fall away, his body no longer solid enough to hold them in place around him. It was the strangest feeling, some tiny part of him thought, having something fall through him like that. He felt his torso give way under the weight of his hoodie, the scarf wrapped around his face sliding free and drifting off, seeming to pull his head apart in the process. It made him want to shudder.

He looked down, noticed his clothes sloughing off around him, and ignored them. He was far more concerned for the moment with his own apparent loss of solidity. As his hoodie finally fell free of him, he stared down at the nothing where his chest should be. Then, slowly, something began to form, no longer disturbed by the passage of his clothes. They hung about where his ribs should have been, a few faint, bluish orbs surrounded by a shimmering membrane of what seemed like mist, pulsing slightly every time he tried to breathe. In that one stunned moment, he honestly thought he’d become an amoeba.

… What?

For a few seconds, he quite simply failed to take it in. His body was gone. He no longer seemed to be paralyzed, perhaps, but his body was gone. He stared down at the faint, amorphous blob that seemed now to make up his form, and tried the hardest he ever had not to panic. The weirdest thing was that he could still feel his hands, even though he could see quite clearly that they no longer existed. More out of shock than anything else, he tried to clap them.

A few dozen feet away, there was a loud crack as two huge gusts struck one another, the shockwave of it sending the light lines into momentary chaos. As they slowly began to settle again, he gaped.

He hadn’t noticed it before. He’d been too busy focusing on the dazzling lights and the absence of his limbs. Now, though, as the lines began to settle themselves around it, he could see.

So that was where his body had gone.

It was definitely his body, he thought. He could tell that much from the shapes it made as the light lines drew contours across its face. But that didn’t explain why it seemed to be a hundred feet tall and made of nothing but air. He looked down, and saw his legs, carving invisibly through the flow of light. He looked up, and saw his head high above. As he watched, the titan opened its mouth, and let out a high, hysterical sounding giggle, so much more like his own voice than it had been before. He’d been worried that he couldn’t see his chest, because he was inside his chest.

He kept laughing for a long while. Then, the shock began to fade, giving way to dread. He was too tired for panic now. Too drained. Instead, he just felt hopeless and sad. It was too big. He could feel it beginning to overload him, like an ache inside his brain. He could feel the wind against his skin, all hundred or so feet of it. He could see the lights stretching out to every corner of the horizon, and they blinded him; overwhelmed. Perhaps, if he wasn’t so tired, he’d have coped; but as it was, he just wanted it all to go away. It was too new, every sensation like ice on an exposed nerve.

He tried to close his eyes to block out the light, but nothing changed, for his new form had no eyes. He let out a whine, pulling the titan’s arms and legs in towards his chest, hoping, at the very least, to block out a little of the breeze. Absently, he noticed his hoodie fluttering below, caught by a gust inside his larger form’s foot. In another frame of mind, it might have made him laugh.

He wanted to be small. He wanted the world to go away for awhile; needed rest. He tried to pull it all back in, and watched as the body around him began to deform, bits of it shifting oddly as they shrunk. It helped, though. He no longer felt the vastness of the wind against him. He kept pulling, and his exhausted mind was almost happy when he met the wall. The same wall he’d found when he started this failed adventure. It gave him hope. He pulled harder.

James wasn’t sure how long it took to come back to himself. He just knew that after a time, he could no longer see the lights all around him. The world was dark. His eyes were finally closed. He took a moment to enjoy that, before opening them once more to make sure that he was back.

He had skin again; real skin. He uncurled himself from his ball, and felt something slip free of his foot, then glanced down, and saw his hoodie tumbling away below him.

In that moment, he realized two things. Firstly: he was naked. Secondly: his hoodie still had his phone in it.

He dove.

It wasn’t a hard chase, really. James was a fast flier, and the hoodie barely eluded him beyond the first second or so before he caught it. First, he checked desperately in the pocket for his phone, then he let out a loud sigh of relief, and put it on.

It took him nearly ten minutes to find his way home, floating in through his bedroom window and collapsing on his bed, stopping only to close the window on the way. He felt himself fading to sleep before his head even hit the pillow.

As his thoughts faded to grey, he found himself thinking of Tasha. He got as far as hoping she was okay before drowsiness took its hold and he slept.

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