The Aftermath Academy - CH23 (Olivia)

“I’m bored,” I say to the air, not for the first time these past few hours. I really hope this isn’t one of those situations where a minute in the real world is perceived as an eternity here or something crazy like that.

“You’re dead,” rumbles a deep voice. “What did you expect?” I look up from the grass I’m sitting on and see a man about Krieg’s age, though unlike Krieg he looks it. Whereas Krieg’s nanites keep him looking closer to my age than his own, this man has grey in his full, otherwise brown beard and wrinkles around his eyes.

“Mr. Fisher! It’s about time,” I proclaim with excitement. His eyes widen in surprise at my recognition. “Where have you been?”

“You know who I am?” he says, totally ignoring my question. I consider pressing the point about his tardiness, but I guess it is a big world with lots of people dying in it. I shouldn’t assume Mr. Fisher would turn up to hang out the instant I died just because I’m cooler than all those other dead people.

“Of course I know who you are. You were the subject of a research paper Krieg’s grandfather wrote about quantum communication after you got a message to The Butler about Exponent’s emergence. If Jared hadn’t run away from his fight with Rampage after he regenerated back to consciousness to go kill Exponent then most of the Eastern hemisphere would have been obliterated. You saved the world!”

Mr. Fisher blushes slightly. “I didn’t know he’d told people about that…”

“Guess he felt the need to justify to the survivors of Rampage’s attack why he totally abandoned them all to die. They were all pissy about their dead friends and family,” I say. “Some people just have no sense of priorities! Anyways, it’s very nice to meet you Mr. Fisher.”

“Please, call me Bobby,” Mr. Fisher says. “So…if I may ask, how in the hell are you just sitting here?” He waves a hand towards the open door a half dozen feet from us in the meadow. It sits there, white light shining through.

“What do you mean?” I ask. “What else would I do?”

He coughs, uncertain how to ask his question. “It’s just… I’ve never seen someone hang around an open door. Come back through, a couple of times. Fight against its pull until it closes, quite often. But you’re just sitting here as if it’s already closed. I’ve never seen someone do that before.”

I shrug, “My boyfriend’s going to put me back together. Taking his goddamn time about it, and embarrassing that it’s necessary. But I assume the door isn’t pulling me because his methodology of resurrection is sufficiently related to normal quantum physics that this realm’s future state knows I won’t be dead soon and can relate the information back to this time given its own unique quantum properties.”

“Say what?” Mr. Fisher says, confusion smeared across his features. Oops. I forgot he was a child when his powers trapped him here. Probably not much educational background in science. And I might be explaining it wrong, this is more Krieg’s sort of thing.

“God knows that I’m not done yet,” I say with a grin, rising from my spot. It’s a strange sensation to move here. I don’t have my powers, so I can’t float. But there’s also no sense of physical exertion. “Now what is there around here to do for entertainment? I don’t know how long I’ll be stuck here perceptually. Does time flow here at the same rate as the real world?”

“Inconsistent time flow, best I can tell from talking to passerby. Usually a little faster but not significantly. And my entertainment is usually talking to people and changing the landscape.” He flicks a wrist and a mountain in the distance disintegrates and is replaced by a tower that makes Hope’s looks like a matchstick. Then he snaps his fingers and we’re floating over the scenery. “Huh, never been able to do that for someone with an open door before. And I’ve tried to a lot.”

A look of sadness crosses his face. Awkward. I look over the landscape beneath us. There are ranges of mountains with valleys and rivers crisscrossing the surface of the land. I’m not sure, what do you think? Is that Lilith’s name carved into the world using geographic features? That doesn’t make any sense though, Mr. Fisher’s never met Lilith. Unless… oh, never mind, I figured it out. Wow, that’s sad. This guy seriously needs to wake up from the coma and meet some new people who aren’t totally dead and not coming back...again.

“Nice work,” I say. “Guess you’re kind of the God of limbo, huh? That’s a cool gig. It’s like the A.I. Albion and his virtual world only without the people. Is there a limit to what you can do?”

He gestures a bit and a giant castle the size of a city appears in front of us with winding paths built into its sides. A second later crystalline trees sprout of the walls and rainbows flow through glistening needles. “Not really,” he says. I look at him with a new perspective.

Can you do living things? Like, can you make a puppy?? I would really like to play with a puppy while I’m powered down like this. Last time I tried to play with a puppy it ended in tears and sadness for everyone that was alive.”

“What the hell kind of power did you have?” he asked, looking at me funny. He waves his hand though and I am immediately distracted from answering by the cutest little fluff ball I’ve ever seen. Why is this world not just drowning in cute puppies? I instantly run my hands through its soft fur as it pouts up at me.

“Oh my god it’s so adorable. Too cute! And its head is so much less detachable than the last one’s. Thank you, this is definitely a good way to spend my time while dead.”

“Detachable…? Uh, how did you say you know Jared again?” Mr. Fisher asks.

“I don’t. My boyfriend designed a pain chip when he was like six and put it in Jared’s head when he was ten so the Redarctican army could enslave Jared and use him for dumb military things. They’re totally mostly past all that though. Now he’s almost an Untouchable who regularly does contract work for the Consolidated Empire’s military.” It’s kind of fun getting to call Krieg my boyfriend over and over. It’s still a term he’s a bit uncomfortable with even though he totally is. But he’s not here to argue the point since his slow ass is taking its sweet time resurrecting me.

“Your boyfriend is Krieg Mirkov? Isn’t he a little old for you?” Mr. Fisher asks. Great, being judged by an uneducated demi-God in a coma who cannot possibly have had sufficient meaningful experience at relationships to understand that matching on an intellectual and emotional level is more important than chronological age. Especially when one of the members of the relationship has rendered himself effectively immortal. Admittedly, Krieg is the smartest living man on Earth so we’re not completely balanced, but I am TOTALLY MORE MATURE. Definitely. Definitely a true statement.

“Doesn’t look it,” is all I say, sticking my tongue out at Mr. Fisher. “Anyways, if you do see Jared can you ask him to pretty please not kill Olivia and all of her friends. I swear, whatever it ends up looking like, our hearts are totally in the right place. This time.” The right place being a penthouse. Physically speaking. “And Krieg promises he won’t accidentally irradiate a large section of a country this time,” I add more quietly.

Though Hope’s city is technically a sovereign state, so I keep arguing he shouldn’t make promises he might not be able to keep. But figure I should pass on his assurances while I still can. The light darkens momentarily. I can tell Mr. Fisher is somewhat torn now by meeting me. It’s a common reaction I think. He’s distracted by whatever just happened though, looking off in the distance.

“Looks like you’ll be going soon. Your door just closed shut.” Even as he’s saying the sentence the surroundings start to dissolve around me. I pet the fluff ball one more time before my form disintegrates and the world goes dark.

I raise my head and see several silver spiders strutting around the room. I know Krieg’s controlling them remotely. Looks like whatever else happened, my mission was at least partly successful if he snuck those things in.

I look at the shiny camera staring up at me. “I got to play with a puppy!”