Why was he here?
The God had been pulled here, tugged by an unseen force.
But he could see it.
When he arrived, the God saw another standing in front of him. He radiated power. After a glance, the God recognized him. How could he not? He had seen him almost every night, giving advice, guarding him from his own.
If the God could know fear, he would have in that moment because of the boy's hard expression.
Alas, he could not. He had given up those things long ago. Only anger and determination existed in him now.
So he laughed. He chuckled and chortled, the entire world only existing for his dark amusement. Everything in the world amused him to a greater or lesser degree, and the things that did not...
Well, let's just say that they did not stay in the world for long.
But the boy's hard face remained, which confused him. Quietly, he inquired why.
The boy answered, in his own way.
He said, "You have been negligent in your role as king. And while I hate to do this, I cannot strip that role from you. But what I can do..."
And the God understood. He was to be cast out. But that wouldn't happen. He wouldn't let it.
The boy's face hardened more.
"You are not the king of me."
And with that he pushed gently with his hand, casting the God down from the sky, into the mortal world below.
As he fell, the God's appearance, one of Ink and Mist and Shadow, melted off of him. He felt his power draining, and he tried, desperately, to teleport away, turn into a raven or a crow or a million other things but he couldn't. His cane, a long stick of black iron with a ball of silver on top, fell with him, his symbol of power falling with the disgraced God.
As he fell, he felt warmth spreading from his chest to the rest of his body. You think you can't feel your blood's warmth, but trust me. You feel it when it's gone.
As he hit the ground, the rest of his power, but a shadow of a shadow of what he once was, exploded in violent force.
And the Earth rippled like water, and the God felt pain for the first time.
But did it?
He had lost touch with reality. It seemed like he had wings but did he really? He didn't know what was real because he knew, deep down, that none of it was.
And the former god, now just a man, fell into unconsciousness, into a world of comfortable darkness he had never experienced before.
At the end of her workday, Madelyn felt drained and exhausted. If asked why, she would blame it on her lack of sleep, because lately she had been suffering from insomnia. Though because she wasn’t the type to complain, she didn’t tell anyone the reason why.
Night after night, she’d been having the same recurring dream. She normally didn’t remember any of her dreams, but recurring dreams had a way of sticking to the mind. Either way, night after night she would dream that she was falling and before she’d hit the ground, she would wake in a cold sweat, and there would just be no going back to sleep, no matter how hard she tried.
In childhood her grandmother had told her that dreams were important, and that they could be the key to someone’s subconscious fears and desires. Thus at the end of her shift the memory of her grandmother influenced her to look up what falling in a dream meant. ‘Insecurities, instabilities, and anxieties?’ she thought and laughed humorlessly as she read the rest, ‘sense of failure and inferiority’. With that she closed out of the Internet and rolled her eyes with a groan. “Screw it,” she cursed under her breath as she grabbed her purse and clocked out for the night.
While the apparent meaning held some truth in her current situation she didn’t want to think about that right now. Because after all she’d learned at a young age that she should be thankful for what she does have rather than what she doesn’t, hence why she didn’t complain when she was tired. Well, at least she had the day off tomorrow.
On the walk home, Madelyn was always mindful about her surroundings. After all when you lived in the city, you really just needed to watch your back. As she walked home, at first there’d been nothing out of the ordinary… then suddenly she felt an odd burst of wind and then silence. Madelyn froze, and her brows furrowed from confusion, it had been an odd occurrence, which she was ready to brush aside and forget about.
However when her eyes scanned the area she’d spotted a shadow of a man sitting and slumped against a building under the flickering lamplight.
Cautiously she approached him and took a closer inspection, while simultaneously digging out her cellphone in case she needed to dial for emergency. It was possible he could just be a sleeping homeless person but just as possible for him to have been victim to a mugging. “Sir?” she spoke as she knelt down and looked him over, "Are you okay?" her hand touched his shoulder to gently shake him.
The man did not respond.
He was not okay.
His entire body hurt, stemming from between his shoulder blades, where he had landed.
bu he was unconscious - and judging by his REM and rapid breathing, he was dreaming.
Ironic - but here's what he dreamt.
He was in a hallway, with mirrors on every inch of the walls, about the size of his chest, but they varied in size.
He looked at one, and his reflection was there, a man, without face or eyes, black as midnight, wearing a trench coat and top hat, leaning on an extravagant cane. Not so much that he relied on it, he could stand up by himself, but leaning nevertheless.
He looked down at himself and he was tall, abnormally tall, but normal-looking. BUt out of the corner of his eye, he spied that the 'reflection' wasn't following him. It was staring at him just staring. Observing. Watching.
And for the first time, fear lanced his heart.
After determining him unresponsive she checked his heart and breathing (ensuring that his airway wasn’t cut off).
Even after inspecting him further, it was hard to determine what was the caused of his lack of consciousness. Perhaps it was an illness or he simply fainted and hit his head, really she could only guess. Regardless after no more than five minutes of unresponsiveness she called 911 and relayed her location and the patients condition and stayed on the line.
'What a bizarre night...' she thought to herself as she waited for the ambulance to arrive. Quickly she took off her coat and laid it over his chest. It was a chilly night and she needed to keep him warm. "Helps on the way," she assured him softly, "You're going to be okay."
He wasn't sure.
The Man in the Mirror smiled at him and walked towards him.
He stumbled back, panic seizing him, and he didn't know why. The man was in the mirror, he couldn't hurt him.
But illogical panic seized him, and he began to run, the Man chasing him.
But the man wasn't running, he was just walking faster than any reasonable person could be.
So he ran faster.
In his dream, he was still running.
Her voice echoed through the dream, and the world shivered at her word, her touch.
And the darkness was determined - It would not let go.
He ran faster, feeling the cold, the darkness behind him. The nothing. The blackness and darkness of the mind.
He saw the door - it was right open! - he could run through and escape this place!
Then, out of every mirror burst a cold, inky hand, peppering him with shards of glass.
He had to keep running, dodging the inky black hands that left smudges on his clothes.
An incessant beeping noise echoed from all around him - keeping tempo with his heart.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
It got faster.
And, just as he was about to reach the door, barely a step away, the floor fell out - and he woke up.
Lurching up and gasping for air, his eyes snapped open and he returned to this side of reality.
Trying to refocus his breath and recollect the shattered shards of his mind, he sat there for a while, breathing deeply.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a white raven fly off the windowsill.
The world, the nightmare, had shivered, almost collapsed at someone's voice - but it was not the Angel's... was it?
With him checked into a room, the patient's blood was drawn to check his blood pressure.
He'd also been connected to a heart monitor. Madelyn could finally relax a little with the sound of an even paced beeping... just hopefully he would wake up soon.
The nurse on the late night shift, had been trying to coax her friend to go home and get some rest. "Go home Madelyn... You look like you haven't slept for days. You've done what you needed to, you filled out paperwork I'll keep an eye on him and let you know when he wakes up."
"Okay... thanks Kari..." Madelyn nodded, "I'll call in and see if he's woken up tomorrow."
She was just about to listen to her friend and go home when beeping picked up in tempo, she stopped in her tracks and turned back to look at the unconscious man. Without missing a beat Kari was already checking him.
Her heart dropped as she feared he might flatline then suddenly he jerked up out of his bet and wheezed. Madelyn covered her mouth from the sock of it, then smiled as he seemed to recover. "Easy now..." she approached him and gently put her hand on his shoulder, "Why don't you lean back... and try to relax?"
Kari sighed as she knew her friend wasn't going home now.
"Sir?" She waited for him to relax a little while Kari went to find the doctor on duty, "Sir, you're in Saint Moors Hospital, can you tell me your name? Where you live?" she enquired gently, "Do you remember what happened to you?"
He had remembered what happened.
Of course, he remembered what happened.
He had been a god. The most powerful being on in this world and many others. He had been privy to the secrets of the universe, all the knowledge in the world.
And then, in the span of... minutes? Hours? Days? He had lost it all.
Do you even know how embarrassing, how infuriating this is?
Let me try to explain.
It's like being stripped naked and hosed down with a fire hose. Stuck in your pathetic meat sack of a body, you are limited more than you know. It's like transitioning from being the author of the book to only reading every third word. It's infuriating.
And then a hand touched his shoulder, and it grounded him.
Now, he usually didn't like people touching him. Physical contact was not his thing.
But it grounded him. Connected him to what was happening right then, what was real.
It was almost exactly the effect the Angel's touch had on people.
It took a moment for him to find his voice, because he had never really used vocal cords before. He had more just spoke... into the fabric of the universe. When he did find his voice, it was thin and wavery.
"Nullum. I... kind of remember...."
What was her name... Agh!
If he had been a god, he could've just found it - he would have known it instinctually. Without having to ask. But he thought he had heard it...
"And - and don't call me sir."
Madelyn watched him carefully, noting his mannerisms. He didn't appear very confused. Who was he?
Whatever monologue he had going on in his head, clearly she couldn't hear it. She simply watched him, waiting to see if he would respond.
She smiled as he relaxed with her touch, "That's it..."
It was what he said next that caused her expression to become perplexed, she'd never heard such a name... foreign? She couldn't place it. "Apologies... Now that I know your name I won't feel the need to..." she said as he told her not to call him sir,
"Mr. Nullum..." She stood and retrieved a chair for herself and sat next to him. "My name is Madelyn. I'm a nurse, the other nurse assigned to you is Kari." she took a moment to observe him then settled herself with his paperwork on her lap. Once ready to jot down some quick notes, she looked at him again.
"Quick questions, then we can see that you get some rest. Can I get your full name please?" she paused and tilted her head to peer at him, "Then, can you tell me what you do remember?"
The man shook his head. He hadn't meant for that to be his name, but he went along with it.
"Nullum is both my name and what I am."
He considered her second question for a moment, considering whether he should tell her the truth, when he stopped himself. Could he lie now? He didn't know, but he didn't care to find out. So, like always, he told the truth. Or at least part of it.
"...falling. I remember falling. And... not much else."
This was also a test. The Angel always knew when he was telling a half-truth. She saw it in him.
She seemed to have the same power, the power to ground and connect, to comfort. To balance.
He laid back down on the bed, sitting up having taken up a lot of energy.
That was another thing that was different. As a god, he was able to do things without taking up any energy. But now - it took so much energy to
"Tell me. Do - do humans - have powers in this world? things you would describe as... special?"
She blinked a few times as she heard what the man said, deeply confused. She simply nodded and wrote 'Nullum' down and spelled it out for him in question. She would search in the name had any possible origin or meaning later.
She looked at him as he'd mentioned falling, seemingly it meant something to her but she didn't say much for a while. She'd remembered her own dream of course, but it would be a common dream. Just coincidence she decided. She wrote down possible amnesia for the doctor in charge.
"Nothing else?" She asked with a gentle push, "Anything at all, or anything that comes back to you later could be helpful."
She couldn't have known he sensed a power in her, she most likely didn't even know she possessed it. He could possibly gather such by observing her as she observed him.
She smiled as he laid down by himself, nodding with approval to find him relaxing now.
His question took her aback, as peeked back to his face and looked concerned. Who had she stumbled upon? Was he an escaped psych patient? Talking as if he wasn't exactly human. "Powers" She echoed, "Well... I would say that sometimes people have gifts and talents that would be considered special" She shrugged as she thought about it, "I believe we all have something special about us."
She leaned toward him a little, "Does someone in your life have a special gift?" She was digging for any clues that could lead her to where this man came from. Certainly not from the sky, so her skeptical mind thought. There had to be a reasonable explanation for everything.
She just needed to gather clues to find his identity, "Any family members you can name?"
The man - Nullum, he was now called - his eyes squinted at her reaction of powers. He honestly thought it had been a question that was completely reasonable, but, judging from her expression, it was not.
Ah. A skeptic. He remembered a time when they were his favorite playthings, watching their minds break under the strain of the impossible. Does someone in your life have a special gift?
hmph. That's funny. Any family members you can name?
Nullum shook his head - he had no family.
He chucked slightly and said, "Tell me, Madalyn, are you the type of person who peeks at the presents before... christmas? Are you the person who skips to the back of the mystery book? Who pesters the magician to show you his tricks?"
He only shook his head to her question about family. "No family or you can't remember anyone important to you?" she couldn't help but ask for the clarification, as naturally she couldn't read is mind.
Then when he chuckled and asked the strangest question yet, she paused.
Was he interviewing her now? She simply shrugged and set aside the notes she'd been making. Considering some of those examples were childish temptations, she smiled a little, just a little amused. "Nope," she shook her head to all three,
"That would be too rude I think. To the person who wrapped the presents, wrote the book, or the magician with his party tricks." For one she didn't really have a childhood with presents on Christmas. For two, there was no fun in ruining the mystery in a book by reading the last page. and three... if there was a trick... she didn't really need to know how the trick was done. Or so she thought at the moment.
She leaned back in her seat, "What made you curious to ask me that?"
was he trying to get her to stop asking questions? By this point she was starting to suspect that this man wasn't telling the whole truth. Was he lying about not remembering much, or did he have something to hide? Her goal at the moment was to get enough answers to possibly identify him. If this wouldn't work, they could have his fingerprints taken to see if he had a criminal history to hide from.
He did have an uncanny ability to turn things on their head.
"The idea that things are not always as they seem. There is deception. Presents are hidden from your view. You do not know what's at the end of the book, you're not supposed to. Magicians ... it's not real magic, just the perception of it. A trick that makes your brain jump to the conclusion that is was magic."
He looked at her with a shine in his eyes.
"What do you worship?" It was a simple enough question, if not a little bit personal.
As he shook his head and laughed for the second time, she frowned a little, so neither?
Madelyn didn't really know where Nullum was going with his questions and talk of mysteries. Perhaps he was the sort that just liked to talk, when discovering that he had a voice to use. Trying to distract her from asking the questions that would lead her to finding exactly out who he was?
Asking her what she worshipped she smiled and shook her head, "I don't really worship anything, Nullum. Nor do I attend church for that matter." anymore.
She was starting to wonder if he belonged to a cult and was attempting to draw her into that sort of thing. She turned the question back to him, "Do you worship something?" She asked patiently, her eyes glanced to the door and she was wondering if Kari was having having trouble track down the doctor by this point.
She turned her attention back to the stranger, and smiled. She didn't mind him asking questions, if there was anything that she didn't want to answer she would simply say so. After a moment of quiet she tried once more to ask for some of his personal details.
"Can you tell me where you're from?"
(It would be helpful if you controlled the doctor. If you feel like the plot needs to be moved along or transitioned to the next day.)
Nullum shook his head.
"Everyone worships something, Madalyn."
He looked up at the sky, wishing he could see it.
Someday I wish upon a star
wake up where the clouds are far behind-
He heard footsteps outside the door, and his head snapped to attention, looking at the door.
The doctor came through.
"The patient needs to get some rest," The Doctor said, not unkindly, but not kindly either. "You can continue your interrogation tomorrow. "
He beckoned Madalyn over to him. My turn.
Not according to her... She simply watched him for a moment longer then looked up as the doctor finally showed up.
Her eye brow twitched at the word interrogation, but she said nothing. Picking up the clipboard walked over to Kari and gave her an apologetic look. Handing her the notes she peeked at the doctor because he'd beckoned her over. Before stepping out into the hall to talk to him, she would wave goodbye to the Nullum, "See you again soon. Rest well."
When she stepped out into the hall, she would answer any questions the doctor had, though there wasn't a whole lot to relay. Besides how she found him what she observed and the like. She sighed once that was over and looked at Keri, "I'll go home then,"
Kari gave her an annoyed look, as if to say. 'Bout time!' Madelyn laughed and almost felt bad about making her friend worry, "Have a good night you two."