Three days ago, this reality was hit by a massive flare, sending ripples deep through the voids.

I ran a large-scale scan of the currents in the surrounding Miasma, and the results came back puzzling: There existed, besides me, two more entities from the beyonds in here, their traces still lingering at their points of entry from thirty years before. Few entities from the beyonds could pierce the veil to this reality, much less exist in it for periods of time.

Thus, I went to find the entry point of the flare. I glanced up at it, hidden in a room near the top of an old tower in the middle of a town. Signals went in and out, and I reared my larger self to intercept and decrypt them.

ZapPie: you kissed a girl you just met?

Dema: I also moved in with her

ZapPie: yeah, right

Dema: I’m serious!! she gave me a key and a toothbrush and clothes and she said I can use the key if I wanna go out while she’s gone. she thinks I live here now!


These messages were of no import, so I cancelled the read-out. Cars raced by on the street, and I tried my best not to hit them. The traffic lights helped keep them safe, leaving way for me to pass in-between. It was a common correlation to be found in this world — human-typed Shadows would wait out red lights that appeared in their viewport.

The entry door to the tower was locked. This world’s high verisimilitude complicates tampering, so I was forced to ring the bell.

A Shadow said, “Yeah? That you, Theora? Back already?”

I said, “No. Please give way.”

The Shadow gave way by activating an electric circuit to release the lock built into the door. I climbed the stairs how they were built to be climbed. They were straining my fickle body, so I arrived at the top heaving breaths.

The Shadow stood inside the topmost door frame, curiously staring at me. It was with high confidence that I could assert they were not meant to be in this world; I had not seen many human appearances here adorned with this type of bonemade head protrusions.


I had found my first fellow Traveller, it seemed. Were they the cause of the surge? Its recipient? Energy that entered from the beyonds needed to be contained lest it fester, and its cause be understood.

I squeezed myself past them, and they yelped.

“You a friend of Theora?” they asked. “I’m Dema, by the way. I think I moved in with her.”

I stared at Dema, attempting to decode the social cues I gave to prompt these words. Dema gulped, and, more forcefully, added, “I swear I’m allowed to be here! She had to leave for work this morning, but she gave me a spare key! We also watched her favourite movie together yesterday, so it’s not like I’m a total stranger.”

Meanwhile, I looked around. This place exceeded the entropy-average I was used to in this reality. I climbed over things knocked over in the kitchen.

“Sorry about that,” Dema said. “I wanted to prepare dinner for later, so I wanted to tidy up first, but that cupboard up there just jumped everything out when I opened it…” Dema looked shy.The narrative has been taken without permission. Report any sightings.


Finally, at the end of the small apartment, I found it. Residue energy readings were spilling all over the place, but most of them had been absorbed.

I stared down at the bed. The sheets were messed up. It was unmade. I murmured, “So this is where it happened.”

“Wha—!” Dema’s eyes widened. “Nothing’s happened, I swear! We just cuddled all night, that’s all!”

It had been a few days since the flare, but considering how little residue was left, and how this Dema kept talking about another Shadow whose place this was, it was left to assume that either this Theora had invited someone else in their bed a few days ago, or had themself absorbed the energy, and was carrying it around with them.

If so, Theora had to be incredibly large.

Perhaps comparable in size to my self that projected this Shadow.

I let my eyes gather information about the surroundings. On second thought, if it was true that Theora lived here and cuddled with Dema in a small bed such as this, it meant Theora had to be sized within common boundaries of human-type Shadows.

If so, Theora had to be incredibly dense. But, at the same time, light.

It defied reason.

“But damn, she is a cuddler,” Dema rambled on, with their gaze on the bed. “Actually, if you’re here for Theora, she said she’d be back by five, or so? I’d say you could stay but I gotta leave for the hospital soon.”

I continued gathering information, until my gaze fell upon Dema. Dema was mustering me. They said, “Actually, have we met? You look kinda familiar!”

“May I run an intrusive analysis on you?”

Dema giggled. Their voice was smoky. They shrugged. “I guess? Sure? If you’re curious.”

I re-established connection to my larger self, pointing the bulk of it at Dema. Flashes of Dema’s being resounded in my tiny head, and my tiny head felt pain.

I followed the trails of Dema’s path through the beyonds, saw the swirls in her wake through the Miasma.

I saw Dema spend aeons confined in a boundless zone. Saw her laugh squeezing blood from stone after stone. A life spent yearning for what she’d already attained.

I saw Theora. Even viewed through the lens of another’s experience, it appeared clear to me that I was lucky. Had I, in some turn of fate, met Theora first, and attempted a thorough analysis, I would have failed the purpose of my stay by disconnect.

Last, I saw the problems. In their extrapolation, I saw Dema die.

The storm finally faded. A target larger than I had assumed, and this fickle Shadow was paying the price. I spent a moment in recovery. Dema had given me a handkerchief to catch the blood from my nose.

“You appear to be incomplete,” I said. “Your whole is a mountain, your now is a grain. Did you not carry all of yourself here?” I compared her hash with the ones in my library. “However, we have not met before.” I added the hash.

“Really? Damn!”

It appeared that this Shadow was unaware. Perhaps it had to be this way. Perhaps this world’s verisimilitude made it incompatible with a being such as her former self. I myself needed a projection, though my approach appeared more sophisticated and trained, in comparison. It may have been their first attempt. Or second.

That sated my curiosity. Whatever these beings were doing here, they’d compartmentalised. I decided against interfering with their travels any further. Perhaps they’d decided to retire.

Seeing me left in thought, Dema asked, “Everything alright?”

I answered: “Be aware. If left unchecked, flares can cause damage to the underlying fabric. Even access to the building blocks of reality cannot occlude such a wound.”

However, this surge had been well-contained and handled with competence. It was a controlled injection. And, even as a grain, Dema appeared capable enough to rely on.

I deemed no further interference necessary.

“Goodbye,” I said, turning to leave.

“Wait!” Dema let out, flicking out of the confusion my words had caused her. “Not gonna tell me your name?”

I blinked. I raised one of my hands a little, to stare at it. Light skin, slender fingers. But it was a large hand, in comparison. I was taller than Dema. I realised that I had not prepared a name for this Shadow. Or rather, I hadn’t looked it up. I further did not have a translation of my true name ready for the language of the Shadows, and hashes would be useless to them.

“If you need a name for me…” I hesitated. I remembered my earlier analysis of the entity of Dema — Dema enjoyed the process of giving names. So, I said, “Invent one.”

“Alright.” Dema gave a warm smile. “Hope you come visit again, Invent One.”