Written by Gwendolyn Lopez
Art by Matheus Bertelli
It began with those shards of glass, that empty space, and the feeling that you could do anything.
That’s what it felt like to you, anyway. But in reality, there were many beginnings—each one overlapping the other, convoluted into a maze with no end. The void, the stardust, the bubblegum going sour in your mouth. To this day, they are all one and the same.
Perhaps, the very beginning—that’s where you should start. When the universe exploded itself into existence in a fraction of a second, when nothingness gained meaning and both hell and heaven burned. A wasteland—that’s what the universe was as it tried to piece itself into something greater. You think that you’re the same, in a way. Blowing up from nothing, expanding infinitely. Never quite being satisfied.
Then, your death. Or at least, one of your deaths—the death that came before your new life. You were a pioneer setting off beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. One of the first to venture into the black, empty claws of space. It was supposed to be successful—you were supposed to come back battered and bruised but alive, glorious. Your name was supposed to be whispered among the upper circles of power; your portrait was supposed to hang on space stations around the galaxy.
Instead, a disaster. You weren’t sure who was to blame. Was it a miscalculated effort? The wrath of some higher power? The cruelty of space? Whatever the case, you and your fellow voyagers died in metal and void. A soundless explosion, then the thievery of air from your lungs, then the freezing heat spreading over your body. You became a corpse, destined to drift with this cosmic wreckage, dead from an explosion that might’ve brought a universe to life in another world.
It was clear, then—people weren’t meant to be brought into space. But maybe, space could, in some way, be brought to the people.
And by some miracle, you were reborn—brought back by the very thing that had killed you. You were reborn, and your death was reborn in you, even if you didn’t quite know it yet.
You were chewing bubblegum the day it all became clear. It was something you did often. Chewing and chewing until the gum became more rubber than sugar. The sensation of chewing distracted you from other things. School, the dreary walk home, the girl who bullied you relentlessly. They all sound trivial now, with the power of the universe at your fingertips, but back then, nothing was more real.
You were angry. So incredibly angry. It radiated off of you in waves, so hot and intense that you felt like the sun. You were angry at that girl, the one who stepped all over you and laughed about it. You wanted to hurt her—you wanted to hurt someone, something, anything.
They found her the next day, with her entire body frozen to the core and her mouth open in a silent scream. Glass shards were scattered everywhere. But the strangest thing wasn’t the bizarre cause of death, or the mysterious glass, or the frozen corpse in the dead of summer. It was the way the space around the girl curved. It curved in a way that made everything inside empty and kept everything else out. And later, you would learn that you made it curve this way.
And so, as police and paramedics alike screamed and gaped and argued, you fiddled around with this new gift of yours. In future years, they’d come up with all sorts of names to describe you. Crazy, deranged, evil. Unstoppable.
You felt like you could touch the stars.