Fantasy Science Fiction Teens & Young Adult

The device arrived in a stunningly beautiful way. No matter where you stood on this rotating ball we call the earth, you couldn’t escape the mysterious, glitter-like substance that rained down from the sky over the course of a single day. The spectral shower floating in the air flittered to the ground, covering everything with a thin coating that caused the sunlight to scatter into colorful prismatic rays. The internet was filled with thousands of videos, showing events like the Statue of Liberty glittering proudly or the Great Pyramids of Giza reflecting rainbows – a viral TikTok of a drama llama doing its dance of outrage as it left a wake of glitter dust swirling in the air captured a million likes in minutes. It was impossible to ignore and breathtaking in its beauty, but mostly, it was terrifying by its very existence.

My name’s Mikaela and I was alone when it happened in the late afternoon at my neighborhood park. If I wasn’t at home or at school, you could usually find me here, my hiding spot, my sanctuary. As usual, my folks were at it again, and I couldn’t stand the yelling, so I came here to be alone.

No one ever came to the park because it was lame. All it had was a stupid swing set, a miniature curvy slide, and a monkey bar ladder that was only 5 feet off the wood-chip-covered ground. It was built at the same time as the small neighborhood of identical-looking townhomes. Real Estate agents sold every one, including my parents, on the future construction of a Disneyland-like Park that included a water feature, a skate park, and a basketball court, perfect for families with children who would move in and buy their first home. But, after the townhomes were sold, the builders cheaped out and plonked down this sorry excuse for a playground–the least expensive plastic diversion they could get away with.

Several years later, the kids, like me, were in their teens and had gotten bored with the baby toys. Consequently, the kids didn’t come around much. A new school had been constructed a couple blocks away, so they’d ride their bikes and skateboards to the school and hang out there instead, leaving the overgrown play yard empty. I didn’t mind this at all, and I came here all the time–I knew I’d have the place to myself. The crazy glitter shower was the first time I ever felt scared being alone at the park.

I held up my glitter-covered arms in front of me and inspected the shimmering coating in stunned silence. I rubbed at the skin on the back of my hand–the glitter disappeared. Using my finger, I wrote on my forearm, “WTH?” I stood up from the swing and walked around, cautiously inspecting the area where every surface was a glowing iridescence. I proceeded to put my handprints and graffiti on everything–Mikaela is COOOOOL! This was fun! I felt like I was Princess Neytiri walking through the forest on Pandora at night. Then I noticed I couldn’t hear anything. The air was creepily silent. No car sounds. No birds. No laughing kids riding bikes. It was as if everything had stopped.

Then, without warning, it was gone.

I gasped as the glitter vanished, blinking out as if someone or something had turned off a light switch. Freaked out, my arms were suddenly covered in goosebumps, and I took off running for home, the last place I wanted to be. My mind was a tangle of fear, and my senses felt like an unknown entity was controlling me, watching me from above. My mind was on autopilot, and I ran as fast as my legs could go.

“Mom!” I yelled as I shut the front door. “Mom! Did you see what just happened?” I searched the house, but no one was around. I stopped and listened, then ran to the back door. Standing outside on the small deck were Mom and Dad, both on their cellphones, madly texting away.

“Mikaela!” Mom grabbed me.

“Mom, did you see that? What was it?” I asked.

“I don’t know, sweetheart. I’m glad you came home,” she replied.

“Apparently, this happened all over the world, not just here,” said Dad.

We stood there in a group hug in our collective confusion. There was nothing we could do. Nowhere to go. We were all fine. From the sound of the internet, everyone was fine, just royally freaked out. News programs all over the world reported on the mysterious Glitter Blizzard that appeared out of nowhere. As you would expect, they exaggerated the event with apocalyptic CGI vids of aliens and spaceships, nerve agent bombs, and even planes with chemtrails streaking across the sky. I never understood the thought process behind scaring the hell out of the public just for likes and keeping eyes glued to their devices, but I guess that is the point.

The alarmed public demanded an explanation from officials. Marches were organized to find out who had caused this ecological catastrophe. Online campaigns were launched to discover who was trying to poison them. Sermons were written for the faithful to protect them from this mind-controlling airborne agent of Satan. The public was ripe for manipulation, and the greedy were doing all they could to cash in on the pandemonium.

In the end, it all fizzled out and evaporated like the glitter itself, being replaced by any number of other horrific, ridiculous events that those who controlled the governments and the media airwaves would concoct. No one ever figured out what it was. No trace of the substance was ever found, so it couldn’t be tested. No ill effect could be detected except for the collective fear humanity experienced. If anything, it gave economies a little boost, not unlike war-time financial gains. After a year, it all seemed to go back to the normal chaos and typical distraction of conspiracies, inequalities, and apathies of our divided human experience.

That is, until it started to grow.

On all continents, in all types of climes, in sand dunes, melting glacier ice, grassy fields, garbage dumps, and asphalt slabs, the most beautiful flower took root and sprouted. It announced its presence, thrusting thin tendril-like leaves that wriggled with life. The green base of the stems transitioned to a reddish salmon color with glistening, nectar-covered tips, like the arms of a giant Sundew plant. Bursting out of the middle of the waist-high, wriggling-armed plant was a glass-like stock that supported a crystal-like egg pod the size of a large man's palm. In the sun, the egg showered the ground with glorious spectral prisms. With every gust and breeze, the air was filled with the scent of sweet lilac, attracting all manner of flying insects that lavished on the nectar-covered fronds. In the nighttime, the plants glowed a pulsing blue-green; its presence, impossible to ignore, caused a nervous public to be riled again. The plant baffled everyone, but that didn’t stop botanists from naming it. Aenigmata Flagella Crystallinus Ovum–The Mysterious Flagellating Crystal Egg. Brutal. People just called it the Crystal Eggplant.

I found myself gloriously alone, sitting on my favorite swing. My hands were gripping the chains, and l was looking down at my feet, fluttering them back and forth ineffectively. The point was not to move the swing so much as to simply work out some frustration and think. Mom and Dad were at it again, arguing about money. I tried to intervene, telling them my opinion, but they wouldn’t listen, sending me to my room. I just walked out the front door instead. What good was having a trailer–and a four-wheeler–and a cabin–and a boat–that you never used–when there were hungry people in the world who didn’t have enough to eat? Does having these things bring us happiness? All I saw was fighting all the time. My parents were never happy with what they had. They just wanted more–and more–and more. Until one day, they couldn’t afford what they had, bringing down their house of cards. We should just be helping others who can’t afford the basics. A crackling, humming sound shook me out of my internal thoughts, and I lifted my head, looking at the ground in front of me to witness the miracle.

I don’t know why I didn’t run. I guess I was more curious than freaked out. On the pavement where the basketball court was supposed to go, a light started to shine, and a glitter shower burst upward out of the ground. It looked like, if you were standing in a dark room and turned on a flashlight, you could see the dust floating in the beam of light–that’s what it reminded me of, except out here, it was sparkling glitter. Then dozens of thin arms reached up out of the ground and started waving around. They look like colorful paintbrushes with clear paint on the ends. They dipped and raised and moved around in little circles, but they never bumped into each other. They looked like they were alive. Then they immediately went rigid, stopping their dance, and something really pretty slowly rose out of the center. It looked like a curved icicle with a crystal egg on top. It slowly tipped and swooned back and forth, looking like the Queen was waving her hand at her subjects. Once the middle stock stopped growing, the little arms started moving again.

The crystal was so pretty. It sparkled like sunlight off the surface of a pond, and then I could smell it. The air suddenly was full of sweet-smelling flower smells. It drew me like a moth to the flame, and I jumped off the swing and walked up to it. The wriggling red-green arms moved around the back of the main stock, creating a fan-like surrounding. The egg now looked like a beautiful bird with a Peacock tail. The egg stock, tipped forward to, I don’t know, present itself to me? I had the strange feeling it knew I was there and that I was supposed to touch it. So, that’s what I did. I reached out with both hands and gently grabbed the egg. I came away with the egg as if I was cradling a baby puppy in my hands. It squirmed a little as if it were a puppy, and I lifted it to my nose to sniff the beautiful, perfumey smell.

My sight suddenly went rainbow-colored as the egg opened and enveloped my nose and mouth, making me feel like I was wearing a COVID mask. I flinched, and then I relaxed as I felt a rush of energy, knowledge, and something else that I can only describe as–love. My whole body felt energized; all of my senses were abuzz with new inputs and new–understanding. I looked up and saw a world outlined in energy, beautifully edged with glowing lines, kind of like the view Neo had in The Matrix, except with real-world colors added. It was amazing.

I looked down where the plant had been and noticed the whole thing had disappeared. Then, I reached up to my face, and the egg mask was also gone. My senses were still on fire, so I knew I hadn’t imagined this, but I was disappointed and suddenly felt alone. I felt like the plant could have been a friend, but now, it was gone. “You are not alone.” A voice in my head said.

“Hello?” I asked as I looked around, but at the same time, knowing the voice was in my head.

“That’s right, We're with you. We're here to guide you,” the calming voice confirmed.

“Guide me? Guide me where?” I asked.

“You have responded to Stratos Experiri. Your connection with others is compatible. You feel with–understanding. We will test and guide your understanding and worthiness. If you are ready, you will be invited to participate.”

I didn’t really hear words in my mind; I saw visions and understood the meaning. The Stratos Experiri flower was a sort of portal that I had entered. I was able to enter because I was compatible, I guess. But I didn’t understand why I was being tested or for what reason. Gramma Gigi always said, if you don’t understand, then ask until you do, it’s up to you. “What am I supposed to participate in?” Might as well get straight to the point, I thought.

“As you know, as you feel, this world is dying. This dying is no longer avoidable. Your species has brought this on and exponentially accelerates its death. We have been called by your mother to heal her. We will harvest those who are worthy and reset those who need to learn. You show promise,” the voice explained.

Over what seemed like hours, the voice showed me vision after vision of how the human race was polluting Mother Earth. Images of people greedily hoarding, stealing, fighting, and killing each other, basically decimating life in general. There were images of those with stashes of riches and those who had nothing. Those who had nothing stole to survive–those who had something collected to feel important–those who had everything hoarded to maintain power. It was a vicious sickness, and it had a color that reminded me of a sludgy sewer–brackish brownish-green slime. Yuck!

All manner of life was crying. I could hear it now. This egg mask thing imbued me with the ability to hear the voices. As I walked on the grass, I could hear a hum from each stem as I crunched on them with every step. The voice calmed me, telling me my steps did no damage. It was the pollution from the sky that they cried about. I saw a spider consuming its prey and felt a pang of sorrow, but the voice told me that there was a necessary balance in the circle of life. It was the removal of natural prey that the bugs and the spiders feared. Deep in my gut, the bacterium faltered from the added chemicals we purposely put in our foods for profit and convenience. Everything we consumed was tainted in some way, and we were the culprits; we were the saboteurs.

“Humanity is so very naïve. We have underestimated its ability to understand its importance. In this Universe, from one end to the other, there is no other life form with the ability to reason and control one’s future. Unfortunately, a sickness of greed has taken over, and an inevitable end is coming,” the voice said.

“Why are you telling me this? If you know all of this, then can’t you do something? Can’t you just get rid of the bad people?” I said out of frustration. Seeing all of this negativity was horrible. It made me feel bad that I didn’t do more. Should I feed myself or give everything away so others may live? This was a lot for a 13-year-old to deal with.

“My child, there are no bad people, just misguided. There is an unnatural imbalance that has tipped the scales, bringing down the house of cards as you had previously pictured. As we said, your life force here is unique in the universe. We would not destroy this gem. It needs a reset, which we will perform. We will harvest those who are worthy and spread life elsewhere. It is the next step to expand universal consciousness. For those who do not move on, they will start over here and learn to join the celestial community.”

I started to fear for my parents. They fought over stuff. They did not do for others. They collected and collected and wanted more. “What about my parents? Do they show promise?”

“Of course, they show promise. Everyone does. But some need more time. Humans don’t comprehend time. From our point of view, time stands still, and it is malleable. We can move it forward, and we can move it back. For you, time flows like a river, and it only moves forward and at a certain speed. Those who ascend will see time the way we do, so your fear of being away from your parents for a long time will not feel that way,” the voice explained. “You can only understand what we’re saying if you experience it as we do. If you ascend, you will.”

“If I stay with my parents and do not ascend, what will we feel? Will it hurt?”

“No child, it will not hurt. It will heal. We will turn back time to a point in the past where there was no technology more advanced than stone and wood. All those who vanish will be reborn as time proceeds. All will have another chance to live, love, and learn. This time, we will imbue more natural empathy. Previously, we imbued the will to survive. That instinct supplanted the thoughtfulness of other life and has brought us to where we are today. We are hopeful that this reset will create the outcome we had hoped for,” explained the voice.

“Wait a minute, are you God?” I asked.

“We are the Universe. We are all things, all energy, all time. We are you. Your attempts to understand God are very naïve. But your minds are too small to comprehend. All you need to comprehend is empathy for life, and then you will begin to understand us. You will begin to understand you.”

All of these visual conversations flashed in my head, happening instantaneously, looking as if I was flying through the atomic structure at lightspeed, feeling a sense of calm, love, and awe. From the moment the mask attached itself to my face, less than a millisecond had passed. The swing slowly swung in the wind, the birdsong filled the air, and my footprints slowly disappeared from the ground.

I understood.

February 27, 2024 17:49

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Cynthia Hansford
02:12 Mar 07, 2024

This has such a fascinating premise with the sudden appearance of the glitter-like substance. I love the mystery and wonder this story brings.


David Winfield
04:59 Mar 07, 2024

I have been tossing around this idea for some time now, and it is finally starting to come to fruition. These prompts are very motivating for me to get ideas out on paper. Thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed your Laughing Rain story as well. Cheers!


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Jesse Smith
22:17 Mar 04, 2024

David - This is an extraordinarily well-written tale! As Stella mentioned, the descriptions are absolutely fantastic from start to finish. I didn't see the twist coming at all! A truly enjoyable read, and you definitely nailed the "Fabulism" aspect. Well done!!


David Winfield
02:47 Mar 05, 2024

Thanks so much for the kind words.


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Alexis Araneta
23:34 Feb 27, 2024

Very interesting story. I love the detail of this. Very rich imagery. I feel like during the reset. Everyone would rebel and it would end up as the status quo...with glitter snow. Perhaps, this is my twist ending liking self, but somehow, I thought this would end with other people finding the crystal eggs, taking them, then making sure they do not grow again. (And of course, Mikaela gets detained for stopping it). Hahahaha ! Great job !


David Winfield
03:39 Feb 28, 2024

Thank you. This is the beginning of a complex process of resetting, using time travel, and the rebirth of humanity. There will be rebellion and rejection of the egg pods by those who do not feel. They will not be called to action. It's a filter of sorts. I'll flesh this out into a bigger story in the near future.


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