Master’s of the Universe, Part Thirteen
Hari pushed his feet against the linoleum floor and edged his chair away from Ryol who seemed to be experiencing a fit of hysteria. Gerald withdrew into his chair, clinging to the armrests as if afraid of being bucked off, while his eyes transmitted a message of pure worry in a way that only Gerald’s eyes could. Hari studied the alien woman convulsing on the couch and wondered what the etiquette demanded in such a situation. From what he could tell, she seemed to be enjoying herself.
Ryol’s smile was a toothy pearled grin concealed intermittently by her hair that whipped across her face with every muscular contraction. A fierce spasm tore through her body and Hari feared she might break her spine. He was moving out of his chair to help her when she suddenly relaxed so deeply that she almost slid from the couch. Presently, she was strewn limply across the couch in a manner unbecoming of a creature with a vertebra. Hari wondered what sort of skeleton structure they would find if they were to dissect her. As if in response to the question of his mind, Ryol bolted upright, opened her mouth and let out a burst of laughter that spread in infectious waves to Gerald and Hari.
For his part, Hari didn’t know what was so funny, but he was unable to resist the laughter, nor at the moment did he want to. Every synapse sucked up the chemicals of pure pleasure his brain was releasing. Hari felt like a ray of sunshine floating on the breeze, which didn’t even make sense, but felt wonderful. Wrapping a foot around the leg of the chair he anchored himself to the ground, afraid he might fly away.
“What’s happening?” he said, finally coaxing his lips into action. “What did you put in the tea, Geri?”
Ryol abruptly stopped laughing. The happiness that had overwhelmed Hari’s senses disappeared leaving in its wake a feeling of loss that seemed to manifest itself in the shape of a black hole in his heart. Hari closed his eyes, afraid he might be sick.
“I’m sorry.” Ryol said. Her voice was a soothing balm to Hari’s pit of sadness, and his emotions began to equalize. “My people release chemicals when we are in an intense emotional state. I’m afraid it has an infectious result on those in close proximity. We guard ourselves very carefully against these emotional spikes, but it is not always avoidable. I’m sorry if I caused you distress.”
“No distress, we’re fine.” Hari said. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Gerald laying limp in his chair, his head lolled back, and Hari wondered for a moment if what he had just said were true. “Um… I assume that was happiness?””
“Was it something I said?”
“No, no, nothing of the sort.”
Hari said, “Then what?”
Ryol hesitated to respond, her eyes smoldering like a setting sun. “Your Dimension has a unique structure not dissimilar from my own. My people have spent centuries searching for something that would mean the survival of our world, and we’ve finally found it…here.”
Hari licked his lips with a parched tongue that did nothing of use and said, “Glad we could be of assistance, but what is this thing you’ve been searching for?”
The words had no sooner left his mouth when the door to the laboratory burst apart in a blue flamed explosion. The wooden door disintegrated into shards of toothpicks flying across the room like shrapnel. The concussion from the explosion knocked Hari back into his chair which teetered for an instant on two legs before toppling to the ground with a bone jarring thud. Millions of mosquitos buzzed in Hari’s ear. He tried to shake the sound away as he looked up at the white ceiling from the flat of his back, but his thoughts and senses abandoned him and he was left with the high pitched droning in his head. Hari raised a hand to his ears to muffle the sound and felt something wet. He swooned at the sight of the red liquid that coated his hand.
Hari propped himself up on an elbow and he took a deep breath.
The air tasted of charred ozone, and it burned on its journey down his throat and into his chest.
A thick smoke wafted in the air, burning Hari’s eyes as he looked around.
First he saw Gerald.
Then he saw Ryol.
Then he saw a nightmare come to life.