The beautiful sound of bird song filled the air. Chloe’s eyes slowly opened. She felt like she was awakening from a deep slumber. Was everything just a dream? Was she finally back home? No, this bed was too comfortable. Her body sunk into it and it contoured to her body perfectly. It was the most comfortable bed she had ever slept in. Her eyes slowly opened to an unfamiliar room.
The walls were strange. It took her a moment to realize they were made of horizontally placed logs. She was in an old time log cabin, something that no longer existed in her time, at least to her knowledge anyway. The room was empty except for a large bed meant for more than one person. There was only a single doorway out. A large window took up most of the wall to Chloe’s left.
Sitting up was difficult. Her clothing was far more restraining than before. She no longer wore her pajamas. Instead she wore a tight ball room dress. It was a beautiful Victorian era dress that ran down her body before exploding into a large tent of frill. The dress had something like a corset. It tightly outlined her body to emphasis her curves showing off a large amount of cleavage given her relatively small chest size.
She was grateful that the room was cold, otherwise she’d be sweating wearing such a heavy dress. It took her a moment to get out of bed and stand up, examining her faint reflection in the window. She was still herself, but her hair was curly and extravagant like she had just spent several hours in a salon. What was going on? Outside the window was a large grassy hill with a massive oak tree at the top. The sky was a beautiful clear blue with a brightly colored sun. The few clouds were puffy and white.
It took her a moment to remember. Elizabeth had taken control of her world. What was once a train would now appear exactly as she envisioned. She was the god of this world, capable of reforming it at a moment’s notice. Elizabeth had put her in this dress. She had turned Chloe into a vision of beauty from her time.
Chloe jumped at the sound of a creaking behind her. She turned and let out a sigh of relief. Mouse was standing there, dressed in an old navy army uniform. It was like something from the civil war. His dark hair no longer looked messy and greasy. Instead he looked well groomed, like a true gentleman.
“Hello my love.” He spoke softly, only the hint of a grin showing on his otherwise calm face.
“Mouse? What is going on?” Chloe asked. She didn’t bother to question the way he addressed her. There would be time for that later. Right now she had to find Elizabeth. Finding her was the only way to escape this fantasy world.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Mouse’s grin fully formed. He looked overjoyed. “Elizabeth is the keeper of this world, she’s allowed me to stay and avoid my inevitable fate.”
“What fate is that?” Chloe’s voice sunk. She already knew the answer.
“Becoming another unsolved murder on the streets of New York.” Mouse replied. His voice drifted almost like he was in a trance. Chloe knew better. There was nothing clouding his judgement. Mouse was a coward, avoiding his death. Elizabeth was using him.
“I think I understand.” Chloe decided not to antagonize Mouse. If she was going to dispel this illusion she would have to manipulate him just like Elizabeth was. “That doesn’t explain why we’re dressed like this or where we are.”
“Elizabeth can’t maintain this world by herself, not with that thing we ran into before trying to destroy it, so I made a deal with her. I offered her my energy. I’m not powerful enough to make use of it anyway. In return I get to live in this world and receive whatever my heart desires, and my heart desires you.” Mouse’s voice
Chloe’s heart skipped a beat. She felt herself becoming flustered, both out of embarrassment and anger. His heart desired her? Was Elizabeth really dangling her as a prize to keep Mouse around as her personal soul battery? It was disgusting, both that Elizabeth would do that and that Mouse would go along with it.
“That’s screwed up.” It took a moment for Chloe to find her words. “Where is Elizabeth? I need to speak with her.” So she was dressed like this for Mouse’s enjoyment. She looked down at her breasts propped upwards by the dress for Mouse to enjoy. She felt sick to her stomach, like throwing up. She already missed her pajamas.
“Don’t worry about Elizabeth.” Mouse replied condescendingly. Chloe couldn’t help but notice his lack of slang. Again, it wasn’t due to anything supernatural, it was him attempting to be proper. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but we have all of eternity together. We never have to return to our deaths. Elizabeth will shape this world and give us anything we want.”
“That may work for you.” Chloe sneered. “But the difference between me and you is I’m still alive.” She let out a scowl and began walking towards the door. Mouse didn’t move out of the way at first until she showed no sign of slowing down. He was not brave enough to deal with an angry redhead.
Chloe entered the lodge of the cabin, the only other room the small house had. There was an immaculate bearskin rug, a comfortable looking lounge, and a beautiful stone hearth fireplace. Elizabeth had turned her world into a paradise, just not Chloe’s idea of paradise. Chloe didn’t take the time to enjoy the scenery. She made her way to the door leading outside of the cabin. Mouse followed behind, but kept his distance.
Chloe felt relieved. Given how timid Mouse was acting, it showed he didn’t mean her any harm. She wasn’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt, but as she cooled off she realized the possibility that Elizabeth may have used her to manipulate him.
Chloe stepped outside. The grassy fields were plain and clean, yet it still felt damp as if she was walking into a mist. She felt her dress, the clothes were still dry, was the muggy dampness just in her head? The grassy field seemed to stretch on for miles. This was only a template, the world was still under construction. It made sense to have plain plains to build upon.
“If you must see her, she’s up at the tree.” Chloe jumped at Mouse’s voice behind her. His words were heavy with melancholy. “I’ll be here for when you accept your fate.” Chloe was about to snap at him but chose to save her energy for the true obstacle.
Chloe stepped through the cool heavy air as quickly as she could move in her heavy dress. Her skin felt more and more tingly with each step. She welcomed the sensation, allowing it to rejuvenate her. She needed all the strength she could muster if she were to oppose Elizabeth, the goddess of this world.
As she climbed the hill to the large oak tree she saw that there truly was nothing more to this world. The only structure in sight was the small two roomed log cabin she woke up in. It made her wonder, as unlikely as it seemed, did Earth begin the same way?
“Welcome.” Chloe heard a woman’s voice. She turned to the oak tree and saw someone who hadn’t been there a moment ago. There was a woman, standing about seven feet tall, with long golden hair that reflected the sunlight with a glittering glow. Her transparent dress was like a wispy white vapor showing off every inch of her immaculate skin. Her eyes were a dark purple, adding an exotic flair to an otherwise mundane vision of beauty. Elizabeth had changed her form. She was no longer the little girl Chloe knew.
“What are you doing Elizabeth?” Chloe kept her voice calm. The last thing she needed was to get into a yelling match with a god.
“There’s much to explain.” Elizabeth replied. “This world is mine. I control every aspect of it.”
“I’m aware of that, but why am I here?” Chloe asked. For a moment she was worried Elizabeth would admit her mistake and send her away. If she were set free without saving Elizabeth and Mouse she would never forgive herself, even though part of her wanted to put this all behind her regardless of the cost.
“You should be grateful.” Elizabeth didn’t answer the question at all. “I can give you anything you desire, all I ask in return is your energy to help me extract the power I need to maintain this world.”
“The only thing I desire is to return home.” Chloe shot back.
“You say that now, but when you die you’ll have wished you could spend eternity here in paradise instead of being thrown back into the endless cycle of death and rebirth.” Elizabeth spoke to Chloe like she was a child now. The cycle of death and rebirth, the angelic entity had mentioned Elizabeth had lived many lives. She knew what would happen, she would be reborn back on earth as someone new. She had been tossed along for that ride hundreds of times, it was only natural that given an alternative opportunity she would take it. “The cycle is meaningless and endless. You should be happy to be free of it.”
This was getting nowhere. Chloe had to attempt an alternative solution. The only way to send Elizabeth to the afterlife would be to force her. Chloe didn’t have the power to oppose her of course. She was a player in Elizabeth’s game.
“How are you going to maintain this world? You and I both know that monster is still out there waiting to consume us all. Staying here would only lead to an eternity of consumption by that thing.” Chloe asked. The earth shook as something attempted to break Elizabeth’s barrier. It wasn’t a coincidence, bringing that monster to Elizabeth’s attention made her weaker against it. That meant only one thing, she was afraid of it. Chloe glanced upwards. She could see something beyond the sky, like the pale reflection of herself she saw in the window, a beast with thousands of mouths each of them chewing on the world’s outer shell.
“You’re right.” Elizabeth’s words shocked Chloe. She turned her gaze back to the goddess. “Normally I wouldn’t be able to repel that thing. It is more powerful than me, but there is one more powerful than us.” She held out her hand opening it. She was holding something. He looked like a doll at first, but Chloe recognized him. It was Alexander. He was small enough to fit in the palm of her hand. What had she done to him? His eyes were closed as his body lay limb. Elizabeth was keeping him in a dream like state for a reason.
“What have you done with him?” Chloe snapped. She reached for Alexander instinctively, but Elizabeth pulled him away like a mother withdrawing a toy from a child.
“This is only a projection of him. I am busy working to extract the energies that have merged with his soul. He has the power to create a barrier strong enough to repel the amalgamation for eternity.” Elizabeth explained. “With that power my world will flourish. You and Mouse will be the king and queen. I will bring in more souls and they shall serve you and give me more energy to create a more vibrant world. ”
“I don’t want to be the queen.” Chloe hissed. “I don’t even like Mouse! How dare you offer me up as a treat for trick him into worshipping you?” Chloe had finally snapped.
“You don’t like Mouse?” Elizabeth was surprised. She tossed the projection of Alexander’s body into the air. It slowly faded, becoming more transparent until there was nothing left. She then made a gesture like she was pulling on a rope. Suddenly Mouse appeared right next to Chloe. He looked around, startled by his sudden teleportation. “Given the way you talked with him in the train car, I saw love in your eyes. Is that not true?”
Chloe looked to Mouse, then back to Elizabeth. “What you saw was me flirting with him to keep him occupied so he didn’t move to the next train car where we recovered our memories.” Chloe let out a scoff.
“What’s going on?” Mouse asked. Elizabeth ignored him.
“Why would you prevent me from getting my memories? All I want is to give you the world.” Elizabeth replied. “You don’t want to be happy, but I will make you happy. You two will be happy.” Her words were becoming more anxious. Chloe felt her head jerked forcefully until her gaze met Mouse’s. A rush of emotion overwhelmed her. It was similar to the tingly sensation from before, but this was more powerful. She saw Mouse and felt broken. The only way to be repaired was to be with him, to be held in his arms. It was the most powerful need she had ever felt, the desire to be his lover. She felt her body move without her telling it too. Mouse held his arms open ready to hold her. She couldn’t control herself. The passion had taken over. Elizabeth had done something, she had forced Chloe to fall in love with Mouse, but this wasn’t love.
Chloe stopped only a few steps away from Mouse’s embrace. This was fake. Her logical mind battled with her emotions until she was able to tear herself away. Tears ran down her face as she turned her back to the one she was forced to adore. Elizabeth could make Chloe feel anything she wanted, but in the end Chloe still had control over herself. Her will was strong.
“You can’t control me.” Chloe’s words were staggered but strong. Tears still fell from her cheeks due to the false longing. “I will not be part of your game any longer.”
“That’s not possible.” Elizabeth’s confidence had been shattered. “I should be able to make you do anything. I can make anything happen in this world.”
“You want to know the truth, Mouse?” Chloe turned back to Mouse, looking at him through her teary eyes. The desire to hold him returned, but she was still in complete control. “Elizabeth died, but was too cowardly to go to the afterlife. So she made a train, a train where she could hide away forever. She was afraid to be alone so she drew others into her train, you and Alexander and who knows how many others? She forced you into her purgatory.”
Mouse chuckled lightly, dismissing her concerns. “I know!” He stated loudly. “I understand it all. Now listen to my story. Those greasers shived me and left me to bleed out. You want me to return there, to face my death head on? I even know of the end result, being reborn and cast back into that Earth naked and afraid only to die again. It’s pointless, Elizabeth sees it and so do I.”
“You will see it too in the end.” Elizabeth said, pausing for a moment. “For now I regret to say that I must tear your energy from you forcefully. You’ve left me no choice, and we are running out of time. I cannot hold that creature off any longer. I need your energy to tear that power away from Alexander so I can use it myself. Now Mouse” Elizabeth yelled.
“You got it!” Mouse let out a cackle. Had he lost his mind completely? He held his arms up and Chloe saw light burst from his chest. He fell to his knees wincing in pain, but laughed regardless as Elizabeth drew the energy from his soul. She then turned to Chloe.
Chloe screamed in excruciating pain s she felt her very life force being ripped away from her. She fell to the ground convulsing as her soul fought to maintain its form. The light that emerged from her body was rippled and weak.
“It will hurt more if you continue to resist me.” Elizabeth shouted. Despite the pain, Chloe still fought. She did her best visualizing her energy returning to her. She tried anything she could think of to prevent her soul from being drained. Elizabeth was struggling to continue the siphon. It was a test of wills turned to a test of spirit. The pain was agonizing and felt like it would never end.
Chloe opened her eyes. The pain had gone. She was surrounded in pure darkness. Elizabeth stood in front of her, but it wasn’t the same Elizabeth as before. She was a little girl again, the same little girl Chloe met on the train. She was crying uncontrollably from fear. Chloe’s first instinct was to kick the girl away. What if this was some sort of trap to make Chloe give in to Elizabeth’s will? That was unlikely, Elizabeth was too proud for that. This was a side effect of the siphon. Their souls had connected allowing Chloe to see Elizabeth’s pain for what it was.
Elizabeth’s dad was a conductor on a train. He would be gone for days at a time, leaving her and her mother alone. One day Elizabeth decided to sneak on to the train to be with her father. She wanted to be with him so bad.
She kept herself hidden until the train had passed the point of no return. She stowed away in the cargo waiting patiently as the hours zipped by. She would surprise him at the next stop. When the train finally came to a halt she ran to her father. But her father wasn’t happy with the surprise. Her presence tore him away from the loving passionate kiss he had been sharing with another woman.
“Who is that?” Chloe could feel the disgust on the woman’s words as she sneered at the child.
“Looks like a lost child. I’ll be right back my love.” Elizabeth’s father responded. Elizabeth wanted to call out, to break her father’s charade, but she couldn’t find the words.
“Now look what you’ve done Elizabeth.” The scene jumped ahead. Elizabeth and her father were alone in the cargo room. “You know what this means?” Elizabeth just shook her head. “Can’t have you go tattling to mommy.” With a rush Elizabeth’s father was on top of her, holding her down as his grip tightened around her small neck.
“I never wanted you anyway.” His words were cold. They were the last thing Elizabeth heard as her light was extinguished.
Chloe walked to Elizabeth, kneeling down so she would be on the same level as the crying child. She placed her hand gently on Elizabeth’s shoulder.
“It’s true.” Chloe whispered. “Life is painful, unfair, and stupid.” Elizabeth looked up to Chloe’s eyes. The tears slowed. “Even after all of this, I don’t know its meaning.” Chloe smiled. The darkness shook around them intensely. The creature was breaking through, Elizabeth was on her last legs. “Maybe that’s the point, to find its meaning. Maybe that’s why we are reborn over and over again.” Chloe kept her voice gentle. “The only way to find out is to play the game. I know it’s hard, and I can’t promise satisfaction at the end, but it’s the game we’ve been given, so let’s play.”
Elizabeth had stopped crying. She grabbed on to Chloe in a tight hug. Chloe returned the hug as the darkness around them shattered. The barrier had fallen, they were at the mercy of that beast. Chloe, Mouse, Alexander, and Elizabeth would all be consumed.
“Thank you for everything big sister.” Elizabeth’s voice whispered in Chloe’s ear. “I’m sorry. Go play the game, succeed where I failed.” The last thing Chloe saw was a glimpse of Elizabeth facing the incomprehensible form the beast chose.
Chloe sat up in her bed with a jolt. Her alarm rang out loudly. Her head was swimming from the most vivid dream. She grasped at the depths of her mind trying to remember, but the only thing she saw was an old fashioned train. She grabbed her phone, dialing up her friend Tayla. She wanted to tell Tayla something, as if she had just been given knowledge of true enlightenment. She canceled the call. Whatever she had seen in the dream, it was gone now. She had fallen asleep angry at her life, but now she was just happy to be alive and she didn’t know why. She placed her phone down. It was time to get ready for school. She had a big day ahead of her, a big year really, a big life.
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