All the urban legends came true at once.
Of course, I was six pages deep in a tax audit at the time. Chewing a pen when a rash of mothers with broken backs were rushed to the hospital, courteousy of uncareful feet smashing on cracks. Doctors, unsure at the time, blamed osteoporosis.
It was watched pots that remained cool. Or salt thrown over a shoulder that - for a second - showed a devil’s eye. Or it was the alligators. Don’t get me started on the alligators.
But something was the first whisper of what we’d woken up. Nobody wanted to say it out loud, because it sounded so ridiculous. It was a secret that swelled in our cheeks. Phrases we had always said that went silent.
All the hauntings came true. We had photograpic evidence of spirits. That’s probably what started the mass hysteria.
Some things took longer. Rubbing a statue for luck or breaking a mirror. Delayed response. One bad day turns into a bad month. Then you’re at the local witch place begging for a respite - seven years of bad luck?! - and she’s shaking her head. Nothing to be done.
Oh, the witches. The funny thing is that when people have always called you a witch, they’re surprisingly needy when you turn out to be one. When the world shifted, little towns who avoided one woman for her witchiness were now flocking to her because their legend had made her become one.
Pens mightier than swords. Avoiding groups of certain numbers. When a knife drops, we all hold our breath for the fight. A fork means company will show up, confused how they arrived.
It got better for a moment, for a breath, while we figured out the rules of it. What was a legend and what was myth. What kind of faith was big enough and what was too big. Some legends only effected certain areas. Some only certain people. We sunk money into infrastructure for once to clear up cracks. Stepped over salt in every building. Sold amulets like trinkets. For a second, we almost got our feet under us.
And then it got worse. Sometimes the company you invited was strange, unhuman. You had to wear iron. We had loved our cryptids until they came down from the mountains, worse than we could have predicted. Bowls of milk were on every window sill but most of them rotted.
In the books, we had all read about the end of the old ones. The unspeakable ones, who went off into the hills one day. Who we cannot say the name of. Who did not exist in the land of buses or planes. Who can steal you if they know your name, who can never lie but do a good job of it anyway.
We were not ready. The Folk showed up through the thin veil, and they were already laughing.
And they were just the beginning.