Friday, October 9, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 33

< Chapter 32                                                                                                       Chapter 34 >
While psychically linked to Sadie, Matt shoots her between the eyes.

The compassionate part of my mind recoiled in horror as Sadie’s head disintegrated. The protective part of my mind smiled in grim satisfaction as I removed a serious threat against Michelle. Then the effect of Sadie’s death exploded through our psychic link, blasting through what few psychic defenses I could erect. I lost containment for the ball of psychic energy I’d drawn from Michelle’s mind and it joined in the backlash.

All light was driven from my mind. My eyesight failed and everything went dark—and not the darkness of everyday life. This was utter darkness, the complete absence of light, and all the more terrifying because I knew I was in a brightly-lit room. I felt as if I’d been sealed in a box and buried underground.

All sound was driven from my ears. Surrounded by dozens of people, some of whom had to be screaming or crying or retching in reaction to Sadie’s death, I heard nothing. I couldn’t even hear my own breathing or heart beating. Every sound of life was simply gone and beyond my ability to hear.

All feeling was driven from my body. I knew my hand was still wrapped around the blaster, but I couldn’t feel the grip pressing against my fingers. I knew I stood on a solid floor, but I couldn’t feel it beneath my feet. The heat generated from the packed mass of people inside the Psi Corps office was gone, as was the feel of the light breeze generated by the air scrubbers. I couldn’t even feel the clothes on my body.

I wasn’t just alone, I was completely cut off from everything and everyone. I was cast out of the universe and into a hell of absolute solitude. Words cannot express the desolation, the despair which overwhelmed me.

No man should ever face isolation so complete. No man could ever face isolation so complete. I had no defense against it. I tried hiding from it, but how can you hide from nothing? I tried running from it, but it engulfed me. I realized there was only one escape, one refuge from this horror. I must die.

Death would welcome me with open arms. Death would banish the nothingness. Death would save me. Death would take me away from everything. Death would take me away from…

From far, far away, something tried to catch my attention. Something. Not nothing. No, someone. Calling from beyond the nothingness. Calling to me. Interfering with my death, my sweet, longed-for release from the depths of despair. Who could be so cruel?

I felt I should know who. I felt they were familiar, near, even dear. I felt…something…for this person. Something. I felt something! And I felt it for…her.

Beyond the desolation, beyond the emptiness, she called to me. Somehow, I knew she shouted, but it came to me as a whisper. “Matt! Don’t do this! Don’t leave me! God, please, I can’t lose you!”

In the deep, dark distance something flashed. Something golden. Blonde hair! And, surrounded by the blonde hair, blue eyes which sparkled with love, flashed with anger, and spilled warm tears.

Warm. I felt something warm! I felt warmth splash on my face. I felt it roll down my cheek.

I concentrated on the voice, the vision, and the feeling. They were real. It was this isolation which wasn’t real. They were life and love and laughter and joy and passion and everything that made life worth living. They were Michelle.

With a supreme effort of will, I went toward the sensations. Going to them, I went to Michelle. Reaching them, I reached Michelle. Embracing them, I embraced Michelle.

Light burst into my life, driving away the desolation and despair. Bright, blue, terrified, red-rimmed eyes stared into mine, mere centimeters away. Tears flowed from them, drops of love and loss which splashed onto my face. Her voice keened and her body shook with sobs.

I wrapped my arms around Michelle and pulled her into a deep kiss. She stiffened in surprise, then her body softened and she returned my kiss with desperate fervor.

“He’s alive!” Gene proclaimed from somewhere nearby.

People cheered—far more people than the few we came to rescue. As those cheers rolled over us, Michelle’s kisses roamed over my face as if she was tasting me to make sure I was alive.

“I was afraid I’d lost you, Matt!” she said, sniffing. “I was so scared! Don’t you ever do anything like that again!”

“I’ll try, but can’t promise more than that, Michelle,” I said. “I will always willingly trade my life for yours.” I caught her head between my hands and looked deeply into those beautiful, blue eyes. “Always.”

“If there weren’t other considerations, I’d happily let the two of you enjoy your reunion,” Zav said, leaning over us. “But I suspect we don’t have time for that right now.”

Michelle and I climbed to our feet. I didn’t remember falling, but I wasn’t feeling anything for a while there and wouldn’t have noticed. “How long was I out?”

Michelle shuddered. “Too long—close to fifteen minutes.”

A pint-sized bundle of energy barreled into me and held onto me as if for dear life. “Th-thank you for not dying!”

“You didn’t know I was going to make it?” I asked Cassie. Her head shook back and forth, never pulling away from my chest. I tilted her head up and smiled at her. “How could I die? Michelle and I haven’t adopted you, yet!”

“Adopt?” It was John, the pain-in-the-ass office chief. “That girl belongs to Psi Corps—as do you!”

Voices erupted from all around us, shouting down the man. I turned a puzzled look to Michelle and asked, “Okay, what did I miss? Why are all of these people suddenly on our side?”

“Not everyone is,” she replied, a smile widening across her face. “The Psi Corps officers have been trying to take control ever since you shot Sadie, but the Psi Corps psychics aren’t having any of it.”

I looked at the faces arrayed before me. Perhaps a dozen of them wore sullen expressions.  Hopeful expressions shone from everyone else. “Let me guess, we’re rescuing all of the psychics?”

Michelle nodded. “Yep. We’re striking one hell of a blow against Psi Corps with this one, babe!”

“How many people have we got now, including us?” I asked, keeping my voice low.

“I don’t have an exact count, but it’s around thirty.”

“Then we’ve got a problem, Michelle,” I said, still talking quietly. “My uncle’s spaceship can’t carry that many people—the life support systems will be overwhelmed and fail before we reach another system.”

“We can’t just leave them to fall back into Psi Corps’ clutches, Matt!” Michelle replied.

“No, of course not!” I said, my tone just as adamant as Michelle’s. “Our timeline hasn’t changed any, but we’re going to need a bigger spaceship!”

Pulling her comm unit out, Michelle said, “Then I guess we’re about to find out just how good of a pirate your uncle really is!”

Can Matt’s uncle steal a bigger spaceship in the time it will take our heroes to lead their large band of escaping psychics to loading bay eighty-four? Find out in Chapter 34, coming Monday!