Seventeen weeks ago, I fell into a mirror and a being whose name has letters extending off into dimensions I still can’t begin to comprehend told me a story. It was a story of birth and growth, of failure and impotence, of power and motivation unmatched by ability, of death and hope. In the story the skies turned to lights, growing brighter and brighter. The ground turned to holes, growing deeper and deeper. The rocks spoke fire, and the people spoke death. Then it was cut off. Trapped in a vast darkness. Trapped in a space of its own. Its space without space or time or dimensionality or warmth. A vacuum. A void. What could it do? Nothing. It waited. It felt for a weakness and waited for a chance. Actually, though, none of that is quite right. It’s like how electrons are shown orbiting a nucleus. Or like how evolution is a tree that branches off into many directions. All that it told me wasn’t actually how it was, I only absorbed what could be mapped onto my mind.. How I could see a fraction of what it wanted to convey to me. How do you explain integrals to an ant?
Sixteen weeks ago, I woke up in a hospital. The tubes in my arm pumping a liquid into me. The beeps in the periphery and the chatter in the distance kept it from being too quiet. Why was I there? Was any of that stuff real? I blinked and time passed. I surfed in and out of consciousness. I saw more visions, but I never saw anyone visiting me. I never saw any doctors checking on me. Was I even in a hospital?
Fifteen weeks ago, I felt smothered. It wasn’t an intense smothering or an immediate suffocation. It was gradual. It was hot. Not the kind of hot you can get rid of with a breeze. A heat that took residence in my skin. A film over my entire body pressing the heat into me. The suffocating film spread over my skin and eventually reached my mouth. The oppressing heat pressed inside. The walls of my throat coated with its inescapable warmth. I wanted to cough. I wanted to retch. I wanted to do anything to stop the creeping of that slow choking as it reached into my airways and lungs and clung to the deepest parts of me. Every mucousy crevice became filled with it, trapped by it. But, I couldn’t cough or vomit, or even move to stop it. I was powerless. All I could do was feel the feeling wash over me. Feel the outline of something cling to my own. I was trapped inside whatever it was with no way out.
Fourteen weeks ago, I woke up in the air. I still had my eyes closed, but I could tell everything was different. No longer those beeps or the din of the background, but instead the sound of air rushing past me. I felt cooler too. The hair on my arms standing on their ends. I was actually cold. Then, I opened my eyes and saw the city before me. I saw it getting closer and realized what was happening. My eyes went from open to wide. The hairs on my arm shifted from detecting cold to displaying fear.
It would take a miracle to survive the fall, but still I tried spreading my body as flat as I could against the falling wind. Extending my arms and legs and trying to orient parallel to the ground. I guess I thought maybe I could slow myself just enough for that miracle to happen. Then it did.
The air stopped. I felt gravity be negated and then turn back on again, and then oscillate back and forth until it stopped all together. I opened my eyes. I was looking down on the city but no longer falling. I looked up at my arms. Vines wrapped around my wrists and extended to the sides of the buildings nearby. I looked down my body. Vines wrapped around my ankles. Did I make them, or did it reach out and save me?
Thirteen weeks ago, I swung through the city on vines. I felt myself unshackled from the mortal experience in which I had been trapped. So much more freeing than jumping from rooftop to rooftop. This was true power. Power that didn’t fade. Power without a time limit. I knew what all the rest of them felt like finally. Before I was just playing at superhero, but, now, I could finally be one now.
I started kicking around ideas in my head. Something with the vines? Something Ivy? What would I do for a costume? What were the limits of these vines? I had a lot of testing and research to do on the whole thing.
Twelve weeks ago, I woke up underwater. I opened my eyes and saw the ceiling undulate and ripple before realizing I had fallen asleep in my tub. A place I came to get rid of the itching that seemed to have infected my whole body. Remembering the itching, I stayed beneath the water. I wasn’t drowning, though I wasn’t breathing water or anything. It was more that I didn’t need to breathe at all. It had to do with how my powers worked. I wouldn’t really know the whole nature of them until later, but reality was overlapping and I existed as both one of the tree race and a human still. With my lungs overlapped with the tree lungs I was able to endlessly cycle between oxygen and carbon dioxide. A nice little-closed system.
Eleven weeks ago, they named me The Green Knight. Turns out the itching was my skin trying to coexist with the new bark coming in. I got used to it after awhile. I thought it looked like a set of wooden armor, so I went out and got a wooden helmet and a wooden sword. Nice little knight theme. I was hoping they’d call me Sir ArBors, honestly. I even started a social media push for it, but The Green Knight won out.
Ten weeks ago, I fought The Russian on Oak street again. We ended up doing just as much damage to the street as last time, but I guess I looked the part now, because when Northwest Sentinel showed up he shook my hand and thanked me.
Nine weeks ago, it spoke to me.
My avatar. I scratch at the fabric and you are the ripples my fingernail creates. I breath and you are a fraction of the exhalate condensed. You are a skin cell fallen from my scalp. The seeds you ate are a lightning rod for my power. I was weakened. Nearly destroyed. My essence spread so thin across your universe. The only survivors those away from home. You are to save them. You are to deliver them. You are to take them home.
You have failed in everything you have set your hands to so far in your short life. But now that I am with you, inside you. You will never fail again. I am in your heart, and all your actions will be an extension of my will. Make choice and do not be afraid. They will never be the wrong ones ever again. You are divine. You are chosen. You are mine.
Eight weeks ago, we met with Spruce. He didn’t recognize me from before what with my skin being covered in wood, but He did recognize me as the hero that had been making a name for himself. I told him I needed to get in touch with everyone. I was on a mission now. I had to gather all of the species. I had a plan to be their shepherd. To take them to the chosen land. I don’t know how I knew what I had to do. I just kind of followed what was in my heart, and somewhere deep inside I knew it couldn’t mislead me. He didn’t want to help at first. But then I put my hand forward and held open my palm. A flower sprouted from the cracks in the bark. It grew upward, leaves sprouting from the stem as the bud continued. Then reaching an endpoint, the bud spouted into deep red petals with a light at its center. The flower turned around to face Spruce and his eyes lit up with that same light. He sniffed and nodded. My first disciple.
Seven weeks ago, we gathered most of the treelings on Earth in one place. The ones that were heads of gangs, the ones that ruled sections of the now-defunct distribution network. The elders we would need to convince. Those that acted as heroes on this world and those that acted as villains. Though on opposite ends of the room as we couldn’t have pesky things like morality getting in the way of the future of their entire race.
Spruce gave a speech first. He attested to my vision. He argued for my place at the head of their table. He did his best, really. But words weren’t enough for this. I had to do something to sway them all. I got up to the podium. The din of the crowd died down, slowly at first, but I waited it out until I had their complete attention.
I pulled off my helmet. My face beneath was a smoother wood than the bark that made up the rest of my armor. I put my hands to my face, fingertips resting on the openings. Pointer at the eyes. Middle fingers in the nostrils. Pinky and ring in my mouth. Then with the thumb as the pivot point, I pulled. I ripped the wood from my face. It hurt. I didn’t scream, but it was one of those situations that warranted one. The cracking of the wood splitting apart was almost deafening. I’m not sure if that was because of how close it was, or if it was loud enough to be heard at the back of the crowd too. Splinters flew off in chaotic directions as I kept pulling. When I think back I wonder how I knew this would work. How I knew that pulling my face apart would—one—be possible, and—two—reveal my human face beneath. I stood there exposed before them. My wooden face, a mask parted. My actual face, a divinity exposed.
Six weeks ago, we finalized the plans. We were going to build an arc. A ship to take us from this place and to the stars. To a new soil in which to put our roots. A place to let them flourish and grow and not be impeded by this crowded filthy refuge they was forced to take. The plan would take some time to fully enact, but with all of their help we were sure to see the fruits of our plan come to pass soon.
Five weeks ago, we gathered the materials.
Four weeks ago, we started building.
Three weeks ago, we were attacked. It was those damn conspiracy nuts again. This time they didn’t burn everything down. This time we took care of them real good. Last time I took pity on Eugene. This time, I bet Eugene wishes I hadn’t.
Two weeks ago, we regrouped. We recovered. They hurt us. They delayed us. But then, what is a delay in the face of eternity?
One week ago, we reached completion. It didn’t look like a spaceship, but what did I know of alien engineering. Besides, it felt right in my heart when I looked at whatever we built, and knew that it was pleased. I had completed it. My purpose was fulfilled. Soon, I would be able to reap the rewards of my service. Soon I would be happy.
Now, if you go to where the Lucky Car Wash was on Fourth Street, you can’t order the deluxe package. That place is torn down. If you go a few miles west of there, and a mile south, you’d see a warehouse. The warehouse we built it all. I was sure it was a way off this planet. If you ask me for a genesis of that thought, I’m not sure I could give it to you, but I was so sure. So so sure. I still don’t know exactly what it is we built. I don’t know it’s purpose. I just know that it pleases whatever gave me my purpose. And I know that I was the last piece. Slotted right in the middle. So I went to the middle of the whole thing and surrendered. The outline that surrounded me, subsumed me. That reality took over. Roots sprouted. Dug through the concrete. Connected with everything we built. I was apart of it now. This is where I’ll say for I don’t know how long. Eternity? That’s what I was promised at least. I can’t complain though, and I don’t mean that just literally. I can’t complain because now I know I’m making a difference. I know I’m helping. I know I’m succeeding. I’m not a failure anymore. I’m not alone anymore. I’m not an outline waiting to be filled. I’m happy.