Star. Spider.

Greg hopped out of his bed as soon as he opened his eyes. He heard wild screaming outside his house and ran to the window. He spotted the few neighbors that spent their weekend mornings outside rushing indoors. All of them were screaming, a few of them were flailing at the snow that was falling.

“It wasn’t supposed to snow today…,” Greg mumbled to himself. His mind latched on to that fact to help him process why everyone was so scared of it. It wasn’t until several of the snowflakes landed on his window, and began crawling up the glass, that he realized something odd was happening. He immediately thought of his daughter and bolted out of the bedroom; he grabbed his robe on the way.

“ASTRA!!!!” he shouted as he barreled down the stairs. He knew she would be outside in the backyard. He opened the sliding door and paused. He realized he wasn’t wearing any shoes and didn’t want to step onto the spider-filled ground if he didn’t have to. As he paused, he saw his daughter laying on the lush green grass, leaning against a large white wolf.

She and the pet wolf she got 10 years ago appeared to be napping together. Somehow the spiders falling from the sky all chose to miss their yard. Greg felt calmer knowing she was safe. He eased the glass door open and padded out in socks.

“Astra, Ben,” she said addressing his daughter and her pet. “What’s going on?” he asked. The girl’s eyes popped open and she grinned at Greg.

“Hey dad!” she said excitedly. Ben opened his eyes too, but just long enough to let Greg know he was paying attention too. Then, he closed his eyes again. “We learned something cool!” Astra said.

Greg nodded in patient understanding.

“Did you have to terrorize the neighbors to do it?” he asked.

“Ohhh,” Astra’s eyes clouded a bit. “Didn’t think about that, sorry dad,” she said.

“You and Ben put the spiders away, then you can come inside and tell me about your new trick, okay?” he said. Astra nodded and Ben opened his eyes again. It took Greg the better part of the decade to get used to Ben having such a human-like personality. Although, admittedly, Ben didn’t even make himself visible for Greg for the first two years, so he didn’t count those.

Greg returned inside and to his room to put on some actual clothes. After taking a few minutes to wash up and dress, he returned to the kitchen to find Astra and Ben sitting at the table. Ben sat on his haunches on a chair next to Astra. The giant wolf towered over her, even more, when they were seated.

“Alright, what’s this new trick exactly? How did you get it to rain spiders?” Greg asked. He sat down across from them. Ben towered above him too.

“We can put our powers together!” Astra said. She reached up and put her right hand on Ben. She raised her left hand and wiggled it at the table. A small, saucer-sized black portal opened over the table. Immediately, a half-dozen spiders fell out of the portal and onto the table. There were different varieties in a rainbow of colors. Greg didn’t recognize any of them. It always surprised him how he was still seeing new types of spiders after 10 years. The spiders crawled across the table to another portal and disappeared into it.

“Whooa!” Greg chuckled in awe and surprise. 10 years ago Mundo, the owner of the pet shelter, explained what Astra’s and Ben’s abilities were. She also took time to explain the amazing abilities of all Unique Souls. Some were powerful enough to mind control an entire Earth, some strong enough to shatter an Earth. She also took time to explain about the multiverse at large and that Astra could get to any of them at any time. “That’s pretty awesome!” he said.

“Buuuut,” he tilted his head. “You can obviously do it, why make them fall from the sky?” he asked. Astra’s eyes immediately looked at the table between them; her bronze cheeks took on a faint blush.

“It was a test to see what it looks like,” she apologized to the table. “In case it doesn’t snow on Christmas.”