Through a Lens
That distorted voice still called out to her in her fitful sleep, the voice of fundamental wrongness, a living error in the Universe. She was there once again, inside the Devil Machine, surrounded by her comrades, battle-weary, their minds and bodies almost broken. Her psychic powers were useless, it was all she could do to reserve her mental energy for healing, to stay on the defensive.
The worst moment had been when her prayers were met by darkness.
Darkness. Absolute darkness, the darkness between space, the space between worlds. No light, life, or hope, no thoughts, nothing but the madness of eternal isolation. She couldn't remember the way back. Paula wondered if she would go insane here instead of at the hands of the Universal Cosmic Destroyer, trapped between worlds, unable even to return to the side of her fallen friends. Or maybe she had already gone mad, and this was only a manifestation of his loneliness. Friends... he ranted as he struck at them with unseen powers. Maybe all of this was only the psychic projection of an all-powerful entity gone horribly insane.
No, there was no way back, and nothing for her but death, if Giygas had the mercy of granting them death, if she returned.
She had to press forward.
She had to carry on praying, praying to anyone and anything that there was somewhere left to go...
A name, faintly whispered into her mind, so that she could only catch fragments at first. An image, caught in the corner of her eye. A mind, a thought, the faintest of connections.
A youth, only a little older than herself, in front of some kind of machine, holding a control device, with a look of rapt concentration in his eyes. His face betrayed fear, a fear that he could not surrender to or he would not be able to finish his task.
She sensed power. Not battle prowess or psychic ability, but some kind of weird power she could no more comprehend than Giygas, a kind of authority that outranked any God in her world. It was just a boy, but at the same time, it was as if this person controlled their fates, like they were cogs in the strange machine that he seemed so intent on operating.
With the last of her flagging willpower, she hurled her mind at this stranger's. She met a... it was like a large glass screen, as vast as the entire world. She strained at the barrier. He closed his eyes. His will pushed through the screen. She felt it rippling like water. Their minds met...
Giygas' scream was a high-pitched static screech as he dematerialised, his image becoming more and more consumed by white noise, maybe the calm of a mind at peace as its confusion was shattered by some kind of sudden moment of cosmic lucidity.
Paula woke up. She was relieved to find herself in her own bedroom, watched over by her big plush teddy bear, and inside her own body, flesh and blood, not robotic.
The voice was still in her head. It wasn't a memory. Someone was calling her.
Her first instinct was to form a shield around her mind and prepare a counter-attack. Then she realised that the voice was nothing like Giygas' demented ramblings. Of course it wasn't Giygas; the Universal Cosmic Destroyer was dead, the fight was over, and now there were more mundane, if equally important, things for her to worry about, like caring for preschool children and trying to go on a date with a boy who only had one set of clothes and insisted on taking a baseball bat with him everywhere. The signal was very weak and barely audible... a desperate plea from a long way away... she took down her mental defenses and concentrated all her power into strengthening the signal.
She hit darkness. Cold dark water that tried to drag her down, drain her life force. She resisted the urge to panic. This wasn't her. It was someone else's thoughts. If she fought it, she might damage the already fading connection.
Paula, help me, I'm going to die...
Where are you? Try and visualise where you are in your mind. I promise I'll do my best to help you.
Below her, an image, blurred and rippling. A face, obscured by wires and a mask, lying on a hospital bed. He was pale and gaunt, not how she remembered him, and she could see his life force was almost gone and still dropping. Still, his mind had considerable strength left in it. She felt the same intense concentration that he had shown when he was operating the machine, on that day. It was his will that was the only thing keeping him alive now, some last desperate hope, a belief in something that the Universe said was impossible. She reached out for him with her mind, projecting healing waves, and hit the glass wall again. It crackled with static, a tearing noise that told her what she was doing was very close to being forbidden by the laws of the Universe.
Moor Ecivres, you have to go up closer to the screen. Its very difficult for me to send things through.
She felt the signal project itself closer. It was breaking up even faster now, the strain too great. She wouldn't have more than one chance.
PK Life-up Omega!
"Moor Ecivres! Mr. Ecivres? Mr. Ecivres!"
He blinked and looked up. Sharp bright lights made his head hurt. Despite the fuzzy aura around everything and the fact that he was being stared at by a man who looked like exactly like Dr. Andonuts and was swirling around like the Unused Bosses, he was no longer scared. The machine that had been keeping him alive was now mostly just interfering with his breathing and irritating his nasal passages. He felt weak and hungry and confused, but not scared. He was not going to die.
"Paula?" he asked.
"You're awake!" said the doctor, "Thank goodness! Its a miracle! You've shown no signs of recovery for several months now. To be honest, we were about to pull the plug on you!"
"We're phoning her now. Do you remember what happened at all?"
"Reconstructed?" he guessed.
"Er... well, it was a car accident, but close enough." said the doctor, "Who's this Paula you keep talking about? Is she someone special to you? I don't think we've had any Paula come to visit you."
Moor Ecivres smiled. There was no way this man could understand. He was not part of the link, not connected to the other world, did not share the bond stronger than life itself.
Thank you, Paula...
Paula sat up from her bedroom floor. The school bell was ringing and it had woken her up. She had spent more time than she realised in meditation, or maybe had fallen asleep from exhaustion. All her psychic energy was spent. Still, it was a good feeling, like a debt repaid.