The Other Side

A mysterious shadowy figure looked at me from down the hall, forcing my hand. I opened the door and went inside.

Kaos immediately got up from the table, “Where have you been?!”

I stared at him, then rushed over and cried in his chest.

He said, “Tell me what’s going on.”

“He’s gone! Rei’s gone!”

His disappointment grew, “Oh, Lily. What did you do?”

“We went to Iniko-“

“That place is deadly! Agh. I should have warned you though. I didn’t expect you’d get yourself all the way down there.”

“It’s all my fault!” I yelled.

“Relax. This stuff happens. It’s my fault too.”

“No.” After a pause, I freaked out, “I have no one to talk to! Nita knows about you. She doesn’t know about Aeons, but still. I’m scared she’ll die. She got mad today. She stormed off and told me to leave her alone. And I keep skipping classes. I’m scared. All of them are so mean! My parents! They did this to me! And I saw them in Iniko! Why?!”

“Okay. Slow down. If you need to talk to someone, you can talk to me. Be careful what you say to the humans. It won’t end well.”

“Nita!” I cried out.

“What did you tell her?” he asked, nervously.

With a hint of aggression, I replied, “I told her you murdered my parents.”

His hands slid down his face, “Oh my god.”

“I made her promise not to talk to anyone.”

“This is bad, Lily.”

“Are you going to kill her?!” I asked in a panic.

After a moment of silence, he said, “We’ll figure it out.”

Please. Please don’t,” I begged.

“We won’t. I said, we’ll figure it out. What about Rei?”

“Well… a monster appeared in Iniko. Rei was hurting me. Then, the monster… saved me.” I shuddered.

“A monster? There shouldn’t be anything out there. It puts animals into an endless sleep. I’m surprised you guys even got out.”

“Rei is gone,” I cried. “And… I… ate a Lamby!”

“You… ate a Lamby??”

“A kebab! I’m the wolf!” I screamed.

He burst into laughter.

“Stop!” I hit him.

He recovered from his laughter, “Sorry. You know, you can talk to me about all these things. I’m here to help you. To help you learn and grow. We’re in this together. I know we had a rough start, but I honestly think this is the only way forward now. For both of us. So, we might as well make it work.”

My eyes went Lamby again, as I stared into his. I pulled him down and stood on my toes, then our lips met. He tried to pull back, but I didn’t allow it. He got sucked in too. His arms wrapped around me. I could feel his body change. His blood moved. His face warmed.

But then, he pulled away again.

I said, “Don’t you like it? Don’t you like me??”

He rejected me, denied me, “This isn’t right. Not like this.”


He insisted, “You need to sleep. Tomorrow we’re meeting with Vaeda. She can answer your questions and she’ll likely explain her intentions too.”

So, I did. We parted ways, without further discussion. Another awkward ending. This day was as eventful as the day I lost my parents. But Rei didn’t matter as much. Once he betrayed me, he became worthless.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, onto the bed. I really was the wolf. But I could change.

The beast of the forest protected me. I had to show it thanks. It wasn’t human, but it was one of the better creatures I’d met yet. Iniko would become my home.

The night faded and the light of the day rose up.

-A new day-

On the kitchen counter, a cinnamon roll and the enhanced coffee were laid out. But the fridge was still on lockdown. Instead of anger, this time I felt kind of bad. Maybe I deserved it. Though, if he was still getting me cinnamon rolls, he couldn’t be that mad. I drank half the coffee and devoured the whole cinnamon roll. My head had a buzzy weird feeling to it.

A note was on the counter. I read it, “Meet back here at noon.”

The routine of the morning began to feel empty inside, as if I weren’t really living through it. Strangely, most of my life before being kidnapped was like that. It was cozy, but it wasn’t like being alive. At least not alive like I feel now. I never wanted this to fade again. The moment I returned to consciousness was at the bottom of the stairs. There, the auras of Aeons stalked around, in the buildings and the streets. They were everywhere.

I bolted for the school.

At this point, something was happening. My mind raced excitedly. Everything looked brighter. Amazing even.

I rushed to calculus. Hesitation pulled me back, but I had no choice now. I couldn’t skip after letting Nita down last night.

I entered the room and found my seat. All was well so far. No one messed with me.

A few minutes passed and Nita was nowhere to be found. It was all my fault. She was avoiding me now. She knew I was a wolf. I had to focus. These thoughts wouldn’t help me now.

I took in the fresh calculus. Nita’s absence circled my mind. After a while, I couldn’t take it. The thought of Nita’s hatred hurt too much. I pulled out a stick of Zaza and lit it up, inhaling deep and quick.

Some students giggled.

One said, “What’s she doing?!”

Another said, “Oh my god!”

My face went red. I must have fucked up again.

The professor exclaimed, “Lily?! What are you doing!?”

In a panic, I huffed more. Nearly hyperventilating.

The students laughed.

The professor commanded, “You must leave.”

After staring her down for a minute, I forced the desk over, “Ugh!”

All the students gasped.

The teacher’s face stretched in disgust, “And never come back again!”

“How am I supposed to help Nita then?!” I shouted.

“Who is Nita??”

“The absent girl! With the red cap!”

“There is no Nita in this class. No one is absent today. Now, leave.” She aggressively pointed at the door.

Petrified, I gazed into the void behind the walls. No Nita? What the hell?? What if the Aeons got to her?? I resisted those thoughts. It couldn’t be true. She was just mad at me.

The professor demanded I awake, “Lily!!”

I exited the class as commanded by these shitty power structures. Outside was a lone Axel.

I asked, “What are you doing here?” I sat beside him, against the wall.

His smiling face turned to me, “Just hanging. What about you? How was class?”

In shame, I dodged eye contact, “I got kicked out for doing Zaza.”

“What?!” He scoffed.

“Yeah, can you believe it?? The stuff is so good!”

His hand met his face with embarrassment, “Why’d you think that would go well??”

“I’m not good at people. I barely know them. This is all so confusing.”

“You have control. You might feel powerless now, but if you tune in, you’ll see them and then you’ll get what you want.”

“I don’t have control. Look at this. It’s their power, their order. That’s what… Nita said. She said I have to follow their order.” I tried not to cry.

“We are constantly controlling others whether we like it or not. Our actions lead others to reactions. We can choose how we want others to react by controlling our own choices.”

“Huh?” I probed. Out of everyone, Axel said the most interesting things.

“Instead, we fumble around in the dark, like we’ve just barely learned to crawl. We defer power to others by blaming them for the outcome.”

I flailed my arms, “It is their fault! Their choices!”

His eyes closed and his hand corrected his monocle, “There you go, deferring your power. It is both. We all have varying degrees of power.”

“We can only control our own actions!”

He looked into my eyes and his hand rested on my shoulder, “Our bodies are not us, not our true selves. They are simply a part of the environment that we can feel, a part that we are attached to. Our true selves are deep within our brains.”

He shook his head, “I could hold myself to that framework, but I don’t want to. Instead, I am both me and you. We are all connected. Our influence reaches beyond our form. Society is not a series of lone islands and individuals. No. Society is a Rube Goldberg machine, an immense contraption beyond comprehension, operating in the dark, at least for now, but we are certainly all connected.”

His gaze pierced my soul, “You just have to learn to see.”

For a moment, I only stared into his eyes in awe.

Then, he smiled and petted my head, “You’ll figure it out.”

“What time is it??” I asked.

He replied, “It’s about 11:30 AM. Have somewhere to be?”

“Yes! Thank you, Axel. One day, I’ll have power too.”

“Good luck, Lily!” he said, as I ran off.

I made my way past the creeping auras that guarded the streets. Home welcomed me back.

Kaos quickly asked, “Are you ready?”

I nodded. No need to waste more time telling him the bad news. We just went through that last night.

As we walked out to the drone, I asked, “Do you feel the auras? Are they hunting us?”

He laughed, “Chill. I’m sure we are good for now.”

The drone materialized before us. No one ever came to the area it spawned in. I asked, “Can they not see us?”

“They can’t. The pod isn’t invisible but this area is masked and people do not enter.” He pointed, showing the edge of the hidden space.

We sat in the float pod and took to the skies. This time, the daylight cast itself through the mazes of the cityscape. The shadows of buildings reached out like arms, holding each other’s hands. But I couldn’t take in the beauty this time.

I couldn’t hold it in. “There’s a problem Kaos…”


I began to cry, “Nita… she’s… gone!”

“Just wait a few days. She’s mad right?”

“The professor acted like she didn’t exist!” I yelled.

He just looked at me.

I cried harder.

He finally said, “Just wait. You don’t know yet.”

I wasn’t even sure how to take that. Yet, he said. Nita was innocent. I shouldn’t exist. It was my fault.

We landed on the docks of the glorious castle in the sky. That place where heaven and hell met. The clouds were still and peaceful. Yet, my heart raced. The both of us stepped onto the metal bridge and headed for the towering doorway.

Kaos commented, “Ready? You can ask her whatever you want now.”

“Yeah. Let’s hurry.” I began to run.

“Wait up!” He ran too.

The pretty cat princess awaited us inside. Her smile welcomed darkness. It welcomed me.

Vaeda waved, “Lily! Welcome back! I hope you’re feeling a bit better now.” She sat at her strange machine, working away.

My walk slowed. Weirdly, I wasn’t mad this time. I waved back, “Hi! What now?”

I shivered. Instead of anger, it was fear. Instead of fight, it was flight.

After distracting with her work, she finally responded, “Today, we have a lot to go over. Why don’t you choose where to start? Do you have questions?”

After a bit of thought, I asked, “Why are the Aeons evil? Why do they hunt me?”

She laughed at that. “No, sweety. Not evil. If you are ready for a story, I’ll tell you about the Aeons.”

At first, I only stared.

She budged my hypnosis, “Lily?”

“Yeah! I’m ready.”

She began her story, “The Aeons have been in conflict with humans for a long time. Though, in the most recent eras, this conflict is silent. The humans are unaware of the existence of the Aeons. Yet, the Aeons control the humans’ world from the shadows. In good faith too!”

“Good??” I asked, suspiciously.

She explained, “Aeons are not allowed to hurt humans, typically.”

“What about my parents?! And Nita is gone!!”

Her head tilted slightly, “Hm… Nita?”

I turned to the ground, “My friend. I told her about Kaos and now she’s not at school anymore.”

Stunned, she hesitated then replied, “You mustn’t tell anyone, Lily. I know that’s hard but trust me when I say it’s for the best.”

In tears, I said, “I understand.”

“While Aeons are technically forbidden to harm humans, there are exceptions. If a human poses a threat to humans on a larger scale, then that human can be eliminated if their elimination solves the problem.”

I stomped my foot. “Nita was innocent!!”

“It may seem so, but one problem is that the order of the Aeons is threatened when any human becomes aware of us. Dissolving that order would lead to human suffering. This is the key to the power that Aeons have. To reduce the pain of erasing people, the Aeons often wipe the memory of humans who knew of the missing person. It reduces loved ones’ pain but also any threat to the secret world of the Aeons.”

This proved it. Nita was gone. Erased from existence.

Her gaze grew piercing, “This is also why they hunt you.”

My eyes widened and I looked into hers, “Huh?”

“Do you know about Origin Code?”

“Kaos mentioned it but not really…”

“Origin Code is what makes you different, Lily.”

“How?” I asked.

“Your Code is modified. While Aeons are usually bound by ancient human laws, you are not. You are free. You are a threat to both human and Aeon society.”

Even amongst the Aeons, I was a freak. An Alien. I asked, “Why?! I just want to be normal!”

“You are special. That’s why I sought you out, to be honest. I do care about your feelings too, but I won’t conceal my motivations any further. You’ve had some time to adjust to the world outside.”

My voice didn’t allow me to hide my feelings, “Special? How?”

“The Origin Code you were spawned from was an alteration created by a human. It could only be such. Aeons have no ability to alter Origin Code, in part, because of those ancient human laws. A human gave you freedom. An act of defiance against the Aeons.”


“That human didn’t particularly like the order of the Aeons. This is another reason keeping Aeon society a secret has been important. Humans could disrupt everything. So, the jaded human freed your Code and your soul.”

“You think I’ll be useful to you?” I asked, softly.

Her smile gave me chills, “Yes.”

“What do you want from me? You want to tear down the Aeon control of Hedo?” Even though I hated how fated my role was, I still wanted the Aeons to pay. Maybe it was inevitable.

“Not quite.”

I flinched.

She explained, “Rather, you are alike an individual I believe to have become an Angel. Only one other Aeon seems to be free from the laws of humanity. She is known as Aeon Zero, or Evelyn.”

“Evelyn…” I muttered.

“Around a year ago, this Aeon plugged into a special machine known as the Psychonet. This machine grants access to all knowledge accrued by all species, human, Aeon, or otherwise. This is the machine I study.”

My hands went cold. “What do you want with me?!”

In an intimate and comforting tone, she said, “Calm yourself. Your life will be better in the end. It’s scary, I know. Even I am scared sometimes, but you get used to it…”

In an unsettling shift, she returned to her matter-of-fact tone, “To continue, Evelyn plugged herself into the Psychonet. At first, it was assumed that she was annihilated. This is the most common outcome of using the machine. But, after further investigation, I suspect that she still exists in this world, in a new form that I’ve called an Angel.”

“What is an Angel?”

Her eyes lit up, “An Angel is a being who has achieved Gnosis. This is a state of existing that one reaches after consuming a great amount of knowledge. That knowledge brings about a greater power. As I mentioned, the machine often obliterates users. But, with my efforts, such an outcome is of the past. No longer must we suffer or die. Now, we can acquire great power from the machine without its usual risks.”

“You want me to use the machine. To become… an Angel.”


“But why?”

She dodged, “Lily. What is your greatest desire?”

Tears came out again, “I… I want friends. Happiness. I just want to have fun. I don’t want any of this!!”

“What if I told you that all of that will come if you join me?”

“Liar!” I yelled.

“Lily, relax. I promise I’m not lying to you.”

“How would I get friends by joining you?! You want to use me!”

“When individuals use the Psychonet, they are not simply fed knowledge at random. Instead, they are shown a path through the gnostic realms guided by their personal interests and desires. If you want friends or connection to others, you’ll take a path that seeks answers to that puzzle. The outcome is based on your line of thinking, on your feelings. Each who has used the Psychonet has gained substantial power and influence over the domain of mind they most desire.”

“You think it’ll help me bond with others? Make friends?”

“I think you are the Aeon of Connection.”

“How can I trust you? You sent Kaos to murder my parents.”

“It is a difficult situation. Your parents had already fumbled the days before their deaths. Aeons discovered your presence. I sent Kaos to rescue you.” She paused for a moment, then continued, “If you do join me, I’ll reunite you with your sisters.”

“My sisters?! But how?!” If true, they’d be the ones most able to connect with me. Our lives were all messed up. I had to save them.

“Yes. So, what do you say?”

There were no apparent downsides, but Vaeda seemed sketchy. There was no one else to turn to. No Aeons, no humans. No one. If I refused, I was probably useless to her. Disposable. The choice was an illusion. She was feeding me this narrative for my own sake. To give me a sense of consent. Maybe even to give herself that sense too.

I didn’t want her to have that comfort. My arms crossed, “I have no choice.”

She smiled, “You are quite clever indeed. I promise that the grass is greener on the other side.” She stood up, “Follow me.”

She escorted me down black machine halls. They were endlessly tall, towering above all. Biological tones haunted the walls. It was a place souls wished to escape. Vaeda was the queen of destiny, of this castle in the sky. The commander of fate. She had more power than us all.

Kaos lagged behind.

As we walked, the pace of my heart raced. My thoughts spun, becoming unlaced. What had I been forced into? Who will I become? Was this the death of me?

Vaeda turned back to me in glee, presenting her ambitious machine.

There was no time to think. Everything around became crystal clear. Not my thoughts, but just my worried senses. The perceptual breakthrough only lasted so long. Again, I thought and I thought. How would my parents react? Would I have friends now? Would people love me? I wanted connection.

Vaeda broke through the storm, “Lily! It’s time!” Her hands presented the way to her creation.

I stepped forward, gazing into the metal abyss. It called to me.

“When you first step inside, you must clear your mind. Focus on what you want. That’ll guarantee this first session is valuable to you. You might be scared, but I think it’s better to seek positive desires. If that’s impossible, your fears will do too. Either way, your problems will be closer to solved the moment the session ends.”

“Hmm… All I do is step inside?”

“Correct. Whenever you are ready.”

I noticed text at the top of the entrance. It read, “Project Gnosis.”

My walk didn’t slow, but the feeling of it did. It felt like a dream. I couldn’t wake up. I never would again. This was the end. It didn’t matter even if so. The world didn’t need me. Really, it needed me gone. Whether I made it to the other side or not, the outcome would be good. Either I’d be improved and learn how to connect with others, or my burdening presence would be gone. For Nita, I had to.

I walked through. The first sign of change came to my senses. Everything was brighter, clearer, and unexpectedly, longer. Each second lasted longer than the one before. The cold floor hurt. In spirit, Lambies watched over me. They didn’t see, but I was the wolf. I didn’t want to be. Maybe I didn’t have to be. Fuck that noise. I wanted to be good. I wanted to connect with others. To help them. Vaeda even said it. I’m the Aeon of Connection.

My lone self unravelled. We are all connected. It’s like Axel said. Each of us is a bit of society. The giant machine of everyone. Our actions like dominoes, falling onto one another. What makes people different? How can I fit in? What are they like? What am I missing?

Suddenly, the feeling of falling washed over my body. My skin tingled and my hair stood. I was falling. Oh god. Everything faded and only darkness remained.


My eyes rushed open.

Vaeda’s looked at mine and a smile warmly welcomed me.

I could feel a faint sound. Like a dream tearing through reality. It was a happy sound. Hope. Triumph. It moved about like a scribbling mess. Traces of words bled through. The faintest hint of another sight blinked around. It was like a mirror, almost as if I could see myself.

“Huh?” My brain was damaged now. Great. Not quite dead but almost there.

Vaeda excitedly approached, “It’s wonderful! You’re recovering!”

I rubbed my eyes, “What’s that sound??”

The scribbling noises answered before she could, “What’s that? A sound she hears? What could it mean?”

Vaeda asked, “What sound?”

Then, I lied, installing a new glass wall to hide behind, “Oh… it’s gone. I must be confused still.”

The whirling speech rose again, “Would she deceive me? No. I’m sure it’s nothing. I wonder what power she has now.”


Suddenly, she looked stunned.

The noises scattered around, “Could it be? What if she’s-“

“Didn’t you say something about power from going in that thing?”

“Yes. Typically users who escape the Psychonet alive are left more powerful than before. Many users find some special ability or useful trick with Sige.”

“Do I have powers now?” I asked, feigning naivety.

“It is possible.”

“I feel sick!” I lied again. My hands wrapped around my stomach, “Ugh!!”

“Aww. Poor Lily. Let’s get you home so you can rest and get better. We’ll meet again in a few days or so.”

After goodbyes, Kaos escorted me to the bridge of the Aetherium.

Looking out to the distance, crystal landscape touched the horizon, reflecting rays of the sun in prismatic colors. I pointed, “What’s that??”

Kaos replied, “What?” Then, he saw. “Hmm… that’s concerning. I’m going to notify Vaeda real quick and then let’s get home.”

“It’s… beautiful…” I stared mesmerized by the refracting dances of light.

As I waited for Kaos, alone on the docks of the sky, my world was finally silent. What did it mean? This new sensation. Those sounds. This experience. What was it? Would I finally be able to connect with others? The loneliness hurt.

Had I finally made it to the other side?

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