Day 24

Day 24

While all of this was going on, while those lights came and destroyed a part of Liam’s mind and Perdita broke another rule of time that brought the attention of something a lot bigger, scarier, and more powerful that Perdita Prime. While there were uncountable things, good and evil happened, Ophelia dreamed.

Except it wasn’t any dream she had ever had in her short eight years. Normally there would be scenes and colors and feelings. This time when Amara had shoved the eye into her own skull, she started dreaming and dreamed a million dreams from then until she woke up, which she did wake up, and when she woke up it was perfect timing to Perdita, but to Ophelia, she woke up because she needed to wake up.

While she was dreaming, she stepped out of her own mind and drifted away from the line of existence that her body was in, drifted out in between all those white lines of vibrating light and into the void that seemed to go on forever. She could hear the broken music and how the lines were split, like branches from a massive tree. But they looked weak and dim. They made barely any noise and she could see them fade out after two to three thousand years in disaster and ruin.

She watched as there were things, beings that slipped out of the darkness and infected those lines. They would form and change to the rules of that reality and devour all the things that were living. Even though she was out in the void, she could watch Perdita Prime travel the multiple lines as she tortured Amara looking for her and her mother. She didn’t know the being, but she knew that she was evil, and the golden light was that of all the dead women that shared her genetic identity.

Instead of slipping in and out of realities or exploring the void, she did what no one had thought to do and started moving forward in time as fast as she could. There was something dark out there, she could feel its hunger coming for those broken lines to devour them, swallow them up, but it would come for her next, she knew that. And she wouldn’t die if it swallowed her, it would do something worse for eternity.

But she kept moving forward because she was drawn to something. Soon she saw a bright light that had all the colors that she knew and didn’t know flashing and pulsing out in a rhythm with all the lines that connected with it. This far up, there weren’t any split lines, and everything felt pure and clean.

Without knowing why, she knew the thing in the darkness, her mother, or Perdita Prime would never make it this far. When she got closer the light swallowed her up and she felt nothing but warmth and comfort that she would never feel for the rest of her life, which, she knew in the light, was less than a year. She knew what would happen when she died and that gave her comfort.

Then the light, the consciousness that was inside of it, turned its attention upon her and if she were anyone else, they would have been destroyed within seconds. Those that were versions of her in every other line would have died as well and there would be no memory of Ophelia. Her mother would forget her and stop doing what she did, Perdita Prime would stop doing what she was doing, and for a moment she wondered if that’s what she should do.

The light asked her if she wanted that to happen, it called her the most selfless thing that it had ever met. It had met, it told her, four people and none of them were as interesting as it had thought. When she asked who they were, it gave her a list.

1. Agnos Makalos the III, Godslayer and Master of the Known Universe

2. Willy Wonka

3. Neo

4. Jesus Christ

It told her none of them were worth its time and they had no real questions or ability to process what exactly everything was. That when they were informed what the true answer, which, it admitted, is a boring question, they would lose their minds and became extremists. But when they were sent back home, they didn’t act like they were supposed to and ended up dead one way or another. Except Willy Wonka, the thing said, he made some good candy.

Ophelia said she didn’t really know what the thing meant by the Truth but she wasn’t sure that she wanted to know because it sounded like something her mother would want to know, and then if she knew it, she’d use to keep them safe but it would hurt more people. And though she loved her mother, there were things that she knew her mother sometimes wasn’t a good person.

The light thought that she was very grown up and showed her the Truth of everything. Of why everything existed. Ophelia looked upon the Truth and smiled and laughed. It laughed and they both enjoyed a brief second of warmth before they stepped back into the void. It told her that no one would be able to handle the Truth but someone like her, or all the people like her. She admitted she thought it was being true.

So, it did something else that it had never done, this part, it didn’t even know what would happen, but it took out the rudimentary eye from her small skull and destroyed it. Instead, it gave her two eyes that saw the absolute truth of everything and how it worked. She knew the answer to everything she would ever want to know and the knowledge on how to stop or create anything she wanted. But all this knowledge as imparted to an eight-year-old mind, so until she was much older, she wouldn’t know much of anything. She would never be able to explain how she knew certain things or could do certain things, but she would be able to do them.

This, of course, was breaking a rule. This made her immortal and all-knowing and there were many people and things that claimed this, but they were just lucky or liars. There were now three things that were immortal. The thing that crawled through the strings looking to eat those broken lines and things that caused discord, the light, and the young girl Ophelia.

It told her to go back to her body and do what needed to be done before her mother died. The thing told her that her mother was a good woman, but she would never understand what she was or how to find the real answer to stop those that were coming after her. But she knew what she had to do and make for it to work. It then gave her something, a small part of itself in a necklace that was a half-moon around her neck.

There was, it said, the answer that her mother needed. Ophelia would know when she would need it and to be brave. Then she went back to her body, took in a deep breath, and opened her eyes.

She was in a concrete hotel room. She knew that this line was number 234,208,203,938 but that didn’t mean anything to her. She knew it was November 23, 2078 and there was something outside the door singing to Liam who had almost been lost and swallowed up to whatever was outside. She closed her eyes and could see that the yellow light was only surface yellow, that underneath it was a thin green that swirled black and orange.

“We’re going to have to go out there,” Liam whispered. “They’re asking for us.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Perdita said. “But there’s no way out.”

Ophelia stood up and pushed past her mother who gasped, pressed her hand on the back of his skull and he collapsed on the ground. The singing tore at her ears and she opened her mouth until her jaw unhinged and she sang the song of the center of it all. The things outside dimmed momentarily, wavered in the air, and then begin to shudder. There was a thin fleshy tube that ran from the lights, snaked around everything, and went deep into the woods where they traveled down into a tunnel where a massive bulbous created with jagged teeth, four tongues, and no eyes shuddered.

Ophelia sang louder and the lights went completely out revealing pink bulbs of flesh that swelled and exploded. Fourteen seconds later the thing in the mountain shuddered and vomited up its own brains before eating them. It chewed until it severed the brain from what some would have considered its spinal column. That’s when it stopped moving. Since it was ancient and old, it stayed paralyzed for four hundred more years until it finally succumbed to starvation.

In the room, Ophelia’s mouth closed, and she blinked once not knowing what happened and looked to her mother who ran and embraced her. Liam moaned and rolled on his side, and he threw up something round and black the size of a baseball. It rolled around on the ground until Perdita stomped on it, and it squealed and popped.

Ophelia and Perdita watched as Liam moaned but stood up rubbing his throat.

“You’re awake,” he said. “And you saved me.”

“I did,” Ophelia nodded. “But I don’t know how I did.”

“Your eyes are gold,” Perdita held her face in her hands. “They were blue.”

“They’re gold now,” Ophelia said. “We have to go.”

“Can you go?” Perdita looked to Liam.

“I’m ready to get the hell out of here,” he said.

“Take off those things,” Ophelia said.

“We need them,” Perdita said. “To shift.”

Ophelia stepped up and put her hand on her mother’s stomach. She started changing and shifting things in the smallest of ways. Her mitochondria and cellular build began to shift. Within fourteen seconds she was completely different but the same. She no longer had a golden light, but a white, and one only Ophelia could see.

She did this to Liam as well and both adults looked to one another confused. Because they only felt a slight tingling sensation that afterward, they felt very sleepy. Then they could feel time and reality around them. They could, if they tried, could see what they needed to do to leave them. But that was all Ophelia had given them, was the ability to keep moving. For they would continue to make mistakes and Perdita Prime and the larger thing would find them if they stayed too long anywhere.

There was a moment of sadness and she wondered if she could stop her mother. So she blinked out of existence and moved down in time as well. She followed her mother’s path and found a place where she had been but hadn’t been yet. She wrote her a note and did the things to ensure that if she had wanted, she could have lived forever protected in that reality.

She watched and knew that her mother would not listen.

All of this took milliseconds. So no one knew she had left or came back.

“What did you do to us,” Perdita asked as she and Liam took off the machine.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I made you better.”

“Better than a normal human,” Liam said.

And then they left.

Day 25

They followed Ophelia through the lines and deep into the void where there was a line that sounded just like the other lines before. She appeared in a house that was very familiar to one of the three of them. Perdita appeared beside her standing on a sidewalk in the early morning sun with the dew glistening atop thick grass. There was a two-story house in the center of the lot with a SUV parked in the sun-bleached drive.

“Why are we here,” Perdita asked.

She started to step into the yard, but Ophelia stopped her.

“Don’t walk on the grass,” she said.

“Why,” Perdita asked.

“Don’t walk on dew covered grass ever again,” she said.

“Why are we here,” Liam asked stepping forward to the walk.

“Because this is where we are supposed to go from here,” he said.

“This is my house,” Liam said.

“It is,” Ophelia nodded. “Three minutes after you left to do this.”

“But it’s not mine,” he said. “My girls are gone. The reality has been broken.”

“I think I know what we can do,” Perdita said.

They go inside his house, and he sees things that are his house but not his house and he want to run. But he shows them his lab and Perdita goes to work and reading what happened and what the world that this was did. She took note of everything and then disappeared leaving Liam and Ophelia standing in the basement staring at one another.

“Your mother is a smart woman,” he said.

“She is,” Ophelia nodded.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” he said.

“It’s going to be okay,” she said.

There was a loud crack in the sky, there’s a massive groan as if gears had been ripped from their places and wound back. Ophelia watched as Liam was yanked back and sideways through reality. She watched as he landed in a basement just like this one, but it didn’t have her in it. She watched as he ran through the house and found everything where it was supposed to be. He then pulled the syringe from his pocket and got in his car and drove to the hospital.

“You doomed uncountable people,” Ophelia said when her mother appeared.

“In four thousand years the line will cease to exist,” she said.

“But you shouldn’t have done that,” Ophelia said.

“It doesn’t matter if I should or shouldn’t have,” Perdita nodded. “Liam is home, and he didn’t need to be doing this. This is about us.”

“This is about you and her,” Ophelia said. “I’ve seen her.”

“Where?” Perdita asked.

“While dreaming,” Ophelia replied.

They left the basement and walked down the street. Ophelia made sure to stay close to the grass so her mother wouldn’t step on it. Every time her mother asked why she did this, Ophelia would shake her head and tell her mother not to worry about it. That it wasn’t anything that she could control or needed to know. That it was part of her dreams.

“When I die,” Perdita asked. “Will you tell me then?”

“Yes,” Ophelia swallowed knowing when her mother died. “I will.”

They walked down the sidewalk until they found a local coffee shop. They stepped into a shop with four tables, two of them were occupied by one old woman writing a letter to a man she left forty years ago at the altar, and another was a young man writing about Athena. If he were to look up when they entered, which he didn’t, he would have believed that Perdita was Athena. But instead, he continued to write a story that would never be published because he would kill himself in three days.

Perdita ordered herself a black coffee and Ophelia ordered an orange juice. They sat at a table while some soft guitar music played and drank their drinks watching people come in, order, and leave. The old woman finished her letter, the man deleted everything he had typed, closed his laptop, and left.

“None of this matters anymore,” Perdita said holding up the coffee.

“Because there’s so much more?” Ophelia asked.

“I don’t know if there is,” Perdita said. “I can’t care about any of the realities.”

“Because there are so many,” she Ophelia said.

“Yes,” she said. “All I want is her gone, and then I don’t know what I’m going to do after.”

“There’s a way to make it all go away,” Ophelia said. “You could forget.”

“I don’t want to forget,” Perdita said. “To be put in one of these and limited.”

“You’re never going to have enough,” Ophelia said. “You’re never going to stop moving.”

“No,” Perdita sighed. “Not until I stop her from ruining things.”

“She’s hungry,” Ophelia nodded. “And evil.”

They both took a drink. Ophelia staring at the rising sun. Perdita staring at the dark horizon to the west that was losing the battle. A plane sailed high across the sky catching the reflection of the sun. She wished she could stop thinking about the lines and lines and lines that that were vibrating in the void. It was messy and she didn’t like knowing that so many things existed beside one another.

“There has to be answer,” she whispered. “To all of this.”

Ophelia didn’t say anything. She knew her mother would want the answer if she knew that Ophelia had it. But she couldn’t handle it. The old woman couldn’t handle it and she would have died immediately. The man who had been writing about Athena would realize a small portion of the answer and that’s why he would kill himself.

“For now,” Perdita said. “We got to stop her.”

“I know where to go and what to do,” Ophelia said. “But it isn’t a good answer.”

“I don’t care what kind of answer you know,” Perdita said. “We have to stop her for you.”

“Me?” Ophelia asked. “She wants you.”

“No,” Perdita said. “You don’t understand because you’re not a mother. She wants you and only you. It’s why I’m breaking all the rules, it’s why we’re sitting here drinking in a coffee shop. Every moment I’m with you justifies everything I have and will do.”

Ophelia had been given the answers to everything. Except of why her mother and those like her did what they did. And now, she knew that it was out love that her mother did all those things that doomed so many. That Perdita Prime had lost her own daughter and it had driven her to the thing that she was scouring all the existences destroying, eating, and rewriting. It was love. Something that washed over her and overwhelmed her emotions.

It was better than the light she had bathed in, to be loved so recklessly.

She slid her cup away from herself, put her head in her arms and wept.

Perdita scooted beside her knowing that her daughter had felt something or realized something that was deeper than any word in any reality could ever use. An answer that she knew her daughter wasn’t expecting. But she put her arm around her daughter and pulled her into a hug. Ophelia pulled her mother close to her and wept harder while those in the coffee shop watched in confusion and admiration.

There wasn’t enough. There weren’t enough tears or hugs that Ophelia could have that would ever come close to measuring what she felt. She wanted to be close to her mother, be her mother so that she would never have to leave her again. The idea of what was about to happen ruined her, made her want to break all the rules and then she knew what her mother was and why she did it.

It was flawed.

It was pure.

It was love.

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