I dared not look up, instead keeping my gaze down. Snow crunched under my boots as my headlamp revealed my short puffs of breath. If I accomplished one thing in my mundane life, it would be climbing this mountain. The wind whipped against me. Making me pause until it died down. I hated this stopping and starting. My muscles burned and were frozen at the same time. This was by far my most painful experience. But it would be worth it. Once I reached the summit.
A sigh of contentment escaped me as I ascended. It took me three days, but I made it. In time to see the Northern Lights. I dropped my pack. Turned off my headlamp. Ripping off my goggles, I exposed my eyes to the frigid night air. I breathed deep. This was why I sat in the same cubicle for ten years. It was this spectacle that had given me hope, given me life.
Greens, blues, even purples danced above me in silent song. Flickered in lazy waves. I held my breath as tears formed and froze. It was more magnificent than I imagined. More breathtaking than all the pictures combined. It sent me into meditative peace. My heartrate calmed. My aching muscles forgot about the trek I had made. Everything centered on the marvel I witnessed.
The colors suddenly shifted. Convulsed and swirled in an organic pattern. A tendril broke away from the rest. Floated towards me. I remained motionless until I couldn’t resist any longer. Hesitating, I reached out a gloved hand. My finger grazed the tendril. Pleasant warmth flooded me, driving away the cold. I jumped back. Not expecting to make contact.
As the tendril snaked away, the form of a woman took shape. She was made of the Northern Lights itself; her hair never left the Lights, and her feet never touched the ground. Her eyes snapped open. Revealing themselves to be twin stars. She turned her gaze upon me. Partially transparent form lambent.
I stumbled back into the snow, landing solidly on my butt. I blinked several times. Couldn’t fill my lungs with enough air. Which had been difficult to begin with in the thin atmosphere.
“Peace, warrior.” Her mellifluous voice kept time with the Lights. “I have waited 1,210 years for you.”
My gaze darted around. Me? I was no warrior. I wasn’t even a weekend warrior. Surely not me. I resided to pointing at myself.
She seemed to nod. “Yes, you. My name is Aurora Borealis.”
Knees shaking, I pushed myself to my feet. Found my voice in my dry mouth. “That’s what we call this. I mean, you, I suppose.”
“Yes. Because that is my name. I have known yours, for you are worthy. You see, I am from the past. I live in the future. Yet, I am aware of the present. I have experienced and waited for this moment for centuries.”
I rubbed my eyes. The Northern Lights had taken the form of a woman, spoke to me, and told me I was worthy? I must’ve passed out after I reached the summit. I checked over my shoulder. I wasn’t lying in the snow, so this wasn’t an out-of-body experience. My gaze returned to the ethereal woman before me. Yes, she was still there.
Her form wavered. “I am real. You will come to belief in time. You always have. However, you must understand. They have killed my brother, Aurora Australis. They seek to destroy me next. You must unravel the mystery that will rewrite history and save us, as well as humanity.”
“What,” I finally blurted. “You want me to be some sort of savior? I barely made it up this mountain. Who’s ‘they?’ How am I worthy of anything? I never even made Employee of the Month. Are you even going to answer any of my questions?”
“Everything will come to fruition. You shall see. Take one of my children as a guide.” She lowered an arm. A star descended, decreasing in size until she captured it in a lantern made of the Lights. She handed her precious child over. “I must go. My faith resides in you. You have always been brave. Do not forget my words.”
With a final pause of affirmation, she retreated back into the sky. The Northern Lights receded. Faded into nothingness. All that remained was darkness. Only for a few moments. The morning sun crept up from the east. Setting the mountains on fire with the reflecting snow.
I stood in dumbstruck silence. Too many questions for my brain to comprehend. I had only wanted to see the Northern Lights. That was the one exciting thing I wanted to do in my life. I didn’t want to be recognized for doing something great. I just wanted to see the phenomenon that had filled my dreams ever since I was a child.
Was that it, then? Had I really been chosen? I finally looked at the flickering lantern. The star twinkled with unknown secrets. My gaze returned to the scenery in front of me. What was I supposed to do?
Before I could think another thought, I was, indeed, transported to the past.
*Author’s Note: Short Story Saturday brings a somewhat short story. I tried sending this to a few online short story publications, and it got denied. I like it the way it is, so instead of changing it, I decided to publish it on my own blog. I just won’t get paid for it. Which is perfectly fine. I don’t write for payment; I write for my own enjoyment. Hopefully, others will enjoy it as well.