Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse! Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!
Abigail looked down and found that she didn’t recognize herself. She was sixteen and dressed head to toe in red spandex. Her muscles ached, her right hand throbbed, and emblazoned across her chest were the letters “RR”. She looked around but saw no one. She felt so tired, so weak, she just wanted to sit down. It was hard to breathe, she was panting. She was alone, endless sky stretching out before her, empty ground at her feet.
A young man suddenly stood in front of her. His back was to her, his face hidden. He turned and wrapped Abigail in a tight embrace. His voice whispered in her ear, “Trust me.” Looking over his shoulder, she saw a missile hurtling toward them. Before she could think, it struck but she felt nothing. A flash of light, terrible noises, rubble everywhere. Abigail looked at her feet and the young man was lying there. She knew he was dead without even having to check. She bent to look at his face but it was covered in blood. Tears sprang to her eyes and a pained moan escaped her. The loss was acute, like the blade of a knife sliding in between her ribs. It stopped her breath and caught her heart.
Abigail straightened and she was older, she was herself again. Looking back, she saw the young man had aged as well, now appearing to be in his late thirties or early forties. She reached out to touch him when suddenly someone grabbed her from behind and pulled her underwater.
She was falling, falling endlessly. She couldn’t scream or move, could do nothing to stop herself. It was like someone was holding her arms behind her back as they submerged her in ice water. Sinking below the surface, she looked up and saw a man raging to the sky, his fists raised as he roared. Then she was rocketing up and out. She landed on her feet in time to feel an immense, searing pain like something was being ripped out of her chest. She opened her mouth to scream and light came pouring out instead. It blinded her and for a moment she thought it would burn her alive. Then it stopped.
Abigail fell to her knees. She felt like she was dying. She barely had the strength to lift her head, let alone move. She heard each beat of her heart as it slowed, felt each rise of her chest as the breath caught and hung. She looked up in time to see a giant rock block out the sun.
She was standing again. There was nothing around her now, no sky, no ground. She was alone, except she wasn’t. Abigail knew he was there without turning. She felt his arms wrap around her shoulders as she was hugged from behind. A gentle kiss on the cheek, a voice by her ear.
She smiled and turned toward him but he was gone. A different man stood before her. He flickered slightly, moving from middle aged to white hair and back again. He smiled at her and Abigail felt her heart stop beating. She wanted to run, as far and as fast as she could. She wanted to scream. She wanted to fight. Anything to get away from that broken smile. He pointed a finger toward her and she froze. The finger began to stretch and lengthen, to push its way toward her forehead. Another smile. The finger bored through her skull and into her brain. The pain was immense. She felt her mind being ripped open and pulled apart. With a final push the man said, “Be happy.”
Abigail woke up screaming. She lurched out of bed and stumbled toward the bathroom. She didn’t even bother to turn on the light. She fell to her knees next to the toilet and threw up. After a few minutes the dry heaves subsided and she was able to sit back against the wall, panting and clammy. She tried to slow her breathing as the knot that had been in her stomach for the past two weeks took up residence again. Her head ached and she found herself nervously feeling her forehead, looking for the hole that wasn’t there. She rested her head back and tried to calm down.
When she felt settled enough, she padded out into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water from the tap. Leaning against the counter, Abigail regarded the clock skeptically. It was nearly 4 AM, she’d managed three hours of sleep tonight. That was better, definitely better than last week. Of course the nightmare wasn’t ideal…
She sat down at the kitchen table and sipped her water. She was awake now, awake and in her apartment. There was no dead man on her floor, no hole in her head, no strange red spandex outfit in her closet. So why couldn’t she stop feeling like it was real? She was used to bad dreams, who wasn’t? But they had always faded away after waking up, floating out of her mind like mist being replaced with solid facts and reality. Why was this different?
Abigail stood up and was surprised to find that she was shaking. She walked toward her bedroom but couldn’t bring herself to go inside. She was so tired but she didn’t want to go back to sleep. She didn’t want to watch him die again. She still felt it in her chest, a little catch every time she breathed.
She’d felt like she’d known him even without seeing his face.
She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t go back to sleep but she was so tired she could barely function any more. Her days were spent trying to avoid people now. There was so much pain and anger and fear in other people. They tried to hide it but she always knew. It was so much, every time. Going outside felt like jumping into a frozen lake and she was starting to drown.
Standing alone in her darkened apartment, Abigail began to cry. It started as a few stray tears but before long she was sobbing. She slid down the wall into a seated position and cried until she thought she would break in half. She cried for the loneliness she felt every single day of her life, the acuteness of her otherness a constant reminder that no one wanted her around. She cried for the awful, violated feeling that still lingered in the back of her mind, the echoes of that terrible finger and the command “be happy” causing her to recoil internally. She cried for the loss she felt, the loss of a best friend she didn’t even know she had. She cried for the utter hopelessness she felt, the complete inability to change anything at all.
She wasn’t happy. She hadn’t been for a while now. She tried to remember the last time she had felt like herself, felt happy, felt seen.
French fries in a crappy diner…whispers and stares…”See you around Butch.”
That was the last day she had felt content as she was, content with the mundane life she lead. That was the day it had all changed. That day in the diner with Butch Baker.
Something in her mind stirred and tried to wake up.
What sort of person walks up to a complete stranger in a diner and tells them their life story? What sort of person calls a complete stranger and leaves a message on their machine telling them things that no one else knows? What sort of person does that? Why had she done that? Why had she done that with Butch?
Abigail pushed forward in her mind, trying to pry open the locked door. But even as she did so it floated away, vanishing from her grasp like the remnants of a dream.
Her tears were gone, replaced with an exhausted and hollow feeling. Abigail stood up and slowly made her way back to bed. She didn’t expect to sleep but it would be better than sitting on the floor until the sun came up. Again.
She pulled the covers up and turned onto her side. She closed her eyes and tried to forget the dream. There was still one thing that bothered her, though.
No one in her entire life had ever called her Abbi. Had they?