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My eyes snapped open, and I stared up at the white fluffiness above me. It was indistinct and misty, much like the clouds I had fallen from. I rubbed my eyes and sat up. My body didn’t hurt at all; I supposed that was a good thing. I glanced around the room and frowned. The white fluffy cloud-like material seemed to encapsulate the entire room.

The room was massive, a hexagonal shaped room with a marble floor. Most of the area was taken up by a massive statue sitting in the middle of the room. I glanced up at it and my mouth dropped. It wasn’t a statue at all; it was some kind of creature, easily a hundred feet high. Its head barely cleared the ceiling. It moved giant claw-like fingers, which clicked across a series of control panels that were situated around it. I continued to stare at it, but my mind didn’t seem to accept what it was looking at.”  

The massive creature was made entirely of metal, like some kind of robot. Steam occasionally escaped from crevices at its joints rose to join the mist-like ceiling. It had a massive head, but it looked more like a mask attached to a neck. Its eyes shone green through a pair of inset sockets as it stared intently at a massive monitor screen.

I remained dumbfounded, watching the odd creature as it continued to work. It looked like what it was doing was working at least. The creature appeared to be quite busy in fact. The eyes flickered from monitor to control panel in the back as it rapidly typed. Then those eyes flickered to me and I gasped. While the facial expression of the creature didn’t change, I felt like it was smiling at me. A sense of calm came over me, and I didn’t feel afraid or worried. Where was this? I certainly wasn’t in heaven anymore.

“Hello, Jane.” A voice rumbled forth from the massive creature. “I suppose you might have some questions you want to ask?”

“Um… where am I?”

“You are here. This is my machine.” He stated, his voice drawling as if he had an eternity to say what needed to be said.

“And who are you?”

“I have gone by many names across the ages. However, you may call me Deus.”

“Your name is Deus?” I asked, watching the creature nod in affirmation, “And we’re in a machine?”

Deus nodded again, and I stared around the room once again. I supposed it did have somewhat of a mechanical feel about it.

“Why do I get the sense that this is all just some bad joke,” I grimaced to myself.

The giant creature chuckled a soft, soothing laugh, “It may seem like your story is just a series of random encounters, but believe me when I say that you have always been heading for this place.”

I shook my head, “Am I dead?”

“Yes,” Deus nodded; his eyes didn’t change, but I got a sense of sympathy from them.

“Then, is it over?”

“What is over?”

“I don’t know… my story I guess. My tragic tale… If I was always bound to die, then is this life’s ironic twist?”

“Perhaps… then again, perhaps not.”

“You’re not giving me a straight answer. Are you even really there, or are you just in my head.”

Deus thought about it for a second, then returned my gaze, “Yes.”

It took me a moment to realize that was his answer. My dad did something very similar. I didn’t know Deus was adept at Dad jokes.

“Well played, Deus, well played.” I mumbled; Deus let out another chuckle, “So what are you here for then?”

“This is the part in your story where a wizened old man comes and explains all the key plot points to you. I get tired of playing that part, so I decided to use my true form. If that bothers you, I could look like an old man with a beard. No? How about your father? I could look like your father.”

“No, no thanks.”

“Hmm… you know looking like Morgan Freeman is a popular request these days.”

I thought about it for a second and then shook my head, “No thanks, I’m good.”

“Very well, Jane. Then I suppose it should be evident to you by now that I plan to resurrect you.”

“I thought as much. This isn’t one of those ‘Necromancer undead zombie’ things, is it?”

“No, my powers go beyond the grave itself. You will be you, just as you were before you were injured.”

“So what’s the catch?” I demanded.

“There is no catch. I am not done with you yet. The world is not done with you yet. There are things you must do, places you must be. You were not ready to die, so I will correct it.”

“That sounds like a catch to me.”

“Possibly, but which would you rather have, death or a life with responsibilities.”

“No, no, you already have me convinced,” I smiled “So let’s get this over with. I’m in a hurry, the world ending and all. I need to stop it.”

“I’m afraid it is already too late.” Deus’ voice responded sadly.

“What do you mean too late?” I asked I bit of panic in my voice.

“It has been three days since you died. The zombies were freed, the war began. The Earth is already falling into ruin.”

“Three days? Why did you wait three days to resurrect me?”

“It’s the standard respawn time. I’m sorry, those are the rules.”

Respawn time? What a load of crap! What was the point of going back if the world was going to be in ruin? My friends, he might have already killed them, turned them into his own little dissected lab rats. The world was destroyed? What about my mom? What about Samantha? What about everything? Was that it? Did I fail? I’d go back to Earth and just rebuild from the ashes, just like the Necromancer wanted?

That wasn’t right. That wasn’t the way things were supposed to go. I had already seen my future. Then again, Daltom has said that this was a period of flux. Was my future already destroyed? Did that mean Daltom didn’t exist anymore either? If it was a period of flux, didn’t that mean I could do something about it? What could I do?

As these thoughts spiraled through my head, Dues merely watched me. His eyes held no scorn or malice. The world was being destroyed as we speak, and he was at peace.

“I- I need to go back. I don’t know what I can do, but I have to be there. If there is even a chance I can save my friends…”

Deus gave a nod, “Very well. I will do what you ask. I also have a gift that I must give you.”

The giant monster reached down, and its massive metallic claws circled me. I didn’t even think to be afraid as it picked me up off the ground. With its second hand, it lowered a single claw, tapping me once on the top of the head. I winced; it kind of hurt a bit.

“What did you just do?” I demanded.

Deus lowered me back down to the ground, unfurling his claws. “I uncapped your potential. It won’t make you stronger, or better, and faster than you already are. However, potential will grow exponentially from here on out.”

“My potential for what?”

“That, Jane, is the question you must answer for yourself.”

I frowned at him. I didn’t understand what he was getting at. There were just too many things happening at once around me. I needed to focus on what was important. I had to get back to heaven, and I had to save my friends. That was what really mattered.

“Alright, I’m ready, send me!”

“Wait, before you go, let me explain to you what has been going on.”

“No, I figured it all out already, just send me.”

“Really? I mean, I could just sum everything up for you so anyone can understand.”

“No, it’s fine?”

“How about the moral of the story? Would you like me to state the moral?”

“I’m sure it’s something about the inner spirit and knowing oneself. Doesn’t matter.”

“I could tell you the meaning of life if you wanted?”

“It’s 42. Are you going to send me or not?”

Deus mumbled to himself, and then looked down at me, giving off the impression of humor, “Well played, Jane, Well played.”

Deus brought his claws down towards me, then rubbed them together, causing a resounding snap. My eyes opened, and this time I was sore all over. I groaned, rolling over to my stomach and then forcing myself up to my knees. I glanced around, realizing I was in a small crater. It was abnormally dark out. Then must just be setting.

I looked down at myself. There was a massive tear in the middle of my shirt, exposing most of my midriff. I supposed that was where I had been stabbed. My jeans also had numerous tears and rips all up and down the side. I felt at the leather trench coat that I was still wearing. It was the one the Demon King had given me, and it was still remarkably in one piece. I guess they make good products in hell.

I looked upward and gasped. I had been wrong about the sun. It wasn’t setting, it was actually high in the sky, about noontime. However, it was completely eclipsed. I waited a minute and realized that whatever massive object was in front of the sun wasn’t moving. Who had blocked out the sun? Was it the demons or the angels? I shook my head, it didn’t matter. I had to remain focused. All I could do now was save my friends.

I moved out of the crater. I vaguely recognized where I was. It was the area where the Necromancer had been camping. The tents were all knocked down, and it was obvious that the area had been cleared out. It was as Deus had explained. The zombies had already been released, and it was too late. Perhaps Treena and the werewolves would be enough to stop the army. I just needed to stop the war and save my friends. Yeah, real simple.

I moved in the direction I remembered the rode was on, finding Mr. Xavier’s abandoned car. I pulled off the tape keeping the windows closed, unlocked, and pulled open the door. I checked the visor and laughed as the key fell out. Thank god Mr. Xavier was old fashioned and lazy. Fortunately, I did have my driver’s license and wasn’t that bad at it either. He’d have to forgive me for taking his car.

As I drove back down the dirt road, turning back on to a highway, I didn’t see any other cars on the road. I needed some supplies from my house. If I was going to mount a rescue, I needed all the help I could get. The land to either side of the highway looked darkened and scarred. It was kind of odd, I remembered it being green before. When I saw it, I slammed on my breaks.

I opened the door and looked out. This part of the highway overlooked a small down. The entire city was on fire. Smoke billowed out into the sky. I finally started to take a look at the world. There was smoke billowing into the sky in the distance. There were many fires in the distance. The eclipsed sun above had obscured my vision before, but the sky was smothered in darkened ash.

The weight of the situation came crashing down on me, bringing me down to my knees. The world really had ended. For some reason, in the back of my head, I had imagined that the war wouldn’t really touch the earth. I thought it’d happen on some other plane of existence or at the very least, it wouldn’t escalate this quickly. However, the surrounding ground was burnt with massive gashes made in the earth. Now that I looked, everywhere was damaged.

An explosion caused me to look up. Bright objects were flying around, looking like insects because they were so far above me. Light and explosions flared as they flew around each other. It was some kind of battle between an angel and a demon. I just knew it. There was no going back from this. The world was already gone.

What difference did it make? I wouldn’t be able to save my friends, and even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to undo the damage. My family, my school, my friends, everything was either gone or soon to be gone. There was no point in continuing onward. I was out of options. I pulled the Demon King’s coat around me as a cold gust breezed by, bringing the smell of a fire in the distance.

My hands knocked into something hard in my pocket. I frowned, reaching in and pulling it out. It was the box that Daltom had given to me. It was the one I had confused for a ring box, although it really was a bit bigger than a ring box. Now Daltom probably didn’t exist anymore. I began to wonder if that caused some kind of continuity problem. If Tom didn’t exist, then how did the box he gave me exist?

“Don’t open it unless you have no other option.”

Those were Daltom’s words. I looked the box over one more time, frowning again. There was nothing that Daltom could give me that could change things now. The world was gone, and I had failed to save it. Maybe if he had some magic spell that could bring everyone back and fix everything. Like some kind of device that could just turn back time and-

Suddenly, I felt like the biggest idiot in the world. I ripped open the box and glanced at the contents inside. Then I began to laugh. Damn it, Daltom, I could kiss you. In a strictly platonic, sisterly way of course.

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