Disclaimer: All characters are copyright Marvel Comics.

Author's Note: This story assumes that The Fantastic Four have been around for ten years (Marvel time), with the chapters being spaced two years apart. This may disagree wildly with your own ideas, and if this is the case then feel free to assume a different amount of time between chapters – after all, despite what The Watcher's about to tell you, it's only a story.


Prologue – Dreaming

Hello, allow me to introduce myself. My name's Uatu, but you can call me The Watcher, and this is the start of the prologue.

Now, let's begin by talking about parallel Universes. There are an uncountable number of these - some very similar, and some very different, to your own. On some of these, such as your own, you're currently reading this story (or a variation thereof), on others you'll never read it, on others you've finished reading it, and, then again, and perhaps most worrying of all, on others you wrote it. Of course, you're unaware of all these parallel versions of you that, along with your good self, comprise your hyper-dimensional identity. But I'm not. My many parallel versions think as one, and through them I can see all the possible Universes, all the What Ifs.

You'll be glad to know that this story has nothing to do with parallel Universes, although at first, and second, glance it may seem like it does.

This is a story about the real Universe (no, not yours, don't be so conceited - I'm talking about the Marvel Universe). This is not a "What If?" but a "What Was". It's a story I've seen in my dreams.

I dream about the original Fantastic Four. The incredible powers they wielded and the tragedies those powers led to. I wish I could forget the dreams, but, since I am awake while I dream (I never sleep - I don't need to and, besides, it would interfere with my watching), I remember them in every detail.

So, here are my dreams. Dreams of the original Marvel Universe (a Universe some of you may have already observed). I realize that it will all be a bit confusing at first but persevere and things will eventually start to make sense.

This is the end of the prologue. You may now proceed to Chapter 1.

And remember ... I'll be watching you.