Erik’s earth mother came running up the stairs in a panic. Little Fran was standing at the bathroom door with a look of fright upon his face. The bathroom door shuddered violently but ceased as Erik’s earth mother approached.
“Erik”, his earth mother called cautiously. “Are you alright? What’s going on in there?”
On the wet floor of the bathroom, Erik stirred. His eyes opened weakly and he stared about the room in a haze. She was gone. The tub was filled with water and looked as if a bomb had exploded inside of it. Grimy hand prints were draped around the tub’s edges. The finger scrawl on the medicine cabinet mirror was still there but she was gone.
Erik stood to his feet and began wiping the grime from the tub. He then proceeded to wipe the mirrors removing any trace of her presence. His earth mother began rapping harder at the door, calling out his name and demanding a response.
After a quick inspection around the bathroom room, Erik opened the door. His mother and Fran stood there staring at him in confusion. Erik quickly gathered his thoughts and began to explain.
“I’m sorry for all the noise and the mess on the floor. I got water on the floor and lost my balance”, Erik explained.
“Erik”, his mother sounded unconvinced. “All that banging up here, it sounded like you were wrestling in here or a party was going on.”
Erik looked up at his earth mother with sheepish eyes and said, “I’m sorry. I was slipping all over the place. I’ll clean all this up.”
Erik could not meet his mother’s eyes. He wanted to reach out to her and collapse in her arms but he dared not. He didn’t want to chance exposing her to the very emotions that may have created the thing that stalked him in his dreams and in the present reality. The whole thing just made no sense to him. He shouldn’t even be experiencing these emotions towards his earth mother. But he was and they were strong. He even felt attached to Fran his little earth brother. Just the thought that his wayward nightmare could have hurt him last night sent shivers down his spine.
“I have to use the bathroom Erik”, Fran exclaimed. I have to go really bad and you wouldn’t let me in.”
The little boy stood in the doorway, knees locked, shaking and fidgeting anxiously.
Erik’s earth mother looked at him with a very stern look of disapproval.
“I’m all done Fran and I’m sorry. Are the pancakes ready yet mommy”, responded Erik as he moved out of the bathroom? He was glad to be out of that bathroom. He was glad to be out of that space but he was more relieved that no one had been hurt. He needed to get ahead of this phenomenon and figure out how she, this apparition of ghostly hate and rage, made it across the sky bridge. Time was running out for his home world and if he didn’t act faster, earth itself could be doomed to the same fate.
“Erik, I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately. I want this mess cleaned up and I want to see you and your brother seated downstairs in twenty minutes for breakfast. Your father will be up shortly if he isn’t already so get going, hurry up, no dawdling”, his mother said patiently.
Fran darted into the bathroom and slipped on the wet floor. His head bounced off the plaster coated floor and he started crying and wetting himself. Erik’s earth mother moved to his side and cradled the little boy carefully in her arms. She spoke softly to him, soothing him and reassuring him as she began removing his wet clothes. Erik stared at the two of them and started recalling his own childhood on Cold World. How different the two realities were.
On Cold World, the familiar bonds of family just didn’t exist. The Great Divestiture was so efficient and so complete that the children of Cold World ceased addressing their parents as mother and father. They were birth constructs and that was all. They had one responsibility and that was to provide initial shelter, food, clothing and access to the archives of knowledge. Mothers didn’t breastfeed anymore. Fathers did not await the arrival of their new born infants. Families did not celebrate the coming of new souls into the world. There were no lovers. There were no friendships. There were only detachment and a singular focus on technological development and growth at all costs.
Outside of the pursuit of knowledge, Erik had no other passions. He was truly an island unto himself. He preferred it this way too. He was his best teacher and disciple. There really hadn’t been anyone more gifted, more possessed of an innate ability to think in four dimensions. His was a lonely brilliance and the absence of emotional bonds made that existence more than bearable. He didn’t even register the concept of companionship. He didn’t need it or anyone.
As Erik started sorting through his things in his bedroom, his mind continued to retrace the steps that brought him to earth. He had done this countless times leading up to the events of last night. He thought through what he believed was every possible derivation, every possible algorithm, and all the possible probabilities and yet he must have missed something. She was here. She had crossed the Sky Bridge. His formulae had been wrong. It just didn’t make logical sense to his calculating mind.
Going back to the beginning, Erik laid out the facts as he knew them. Something from the Dark Realm had crossed over to Cold World which in and of itself shouldn’t have been possible. This thing which resembled a female had first appeared to him in his lab and she was angry on a berserker level. He didn’t recognize anything about her except for the sense that she had been hurt or wronged in some way and that he was the object of her hate. On Cold World she started appearing in an irregular form, half in and half out of sync with time. While she didn’t appear to have a real material presence to anyone other than Erik she was very real and had an extremely disturbing effect on Erik. Erik was afraid of her. This fear was palpable and registered an alien emotion within Erik. His encounters with her always left him on the brink of stark raving terror. He was sure that this had to be due to the fact that he was dealing with emotions he knew nothing about intellectually. He couldn’t explain the feelings he was having but he did feel them. They were not mental projections or some faded part of his imagination. He was experiencing emotion. Then the thought hit him…the more he felt, the stronger her presence seemed.
Erik thought back to that day he entered Professor Voguebuk’s lab after the professor had been slain before his eyes. Even this had unsettled him when it shouldn’t have. He remembered his thoughts as he watched the lifeless form of Professor Voguebuk sprawled in a bloody heap, half his body shredded and missing. It was a grisly scene but it shouldn’t have bothered Erik and yet it did.
Erik could remember the lab and all the lights and sirens that rang throughout the complex. He remembered the last words of the professor who urged him to find the solution to the pending disaster approaching Cold World. Erik was confident he could, given time. He just didn’t know how much time he had. He remembered walking towards the lab door and opening it to a sight that would alter all his plans and that of the future of Cold World.