Today I woke up in a puddle of my own blood.
I was greeted by a bleak nothingness as my mind came to life, grumbling and scrambling in search of the five switches hidden away in its cobwebs to bring back my awaiting senses. The first switch was smell; easiest to find as always.
The stench of my fevered, slimy body barely registered as repugnant anymore, instead only adding a salted musk to the air. I came to the swift conclusion after a moment of consideration that I must have been wakening in an alleyway in a city. Moldy cement told me it was a humid place; the piss and stale vomit stating this was someone’s sad home.
Something sweet was here too, directly to the left of my immobile body. What was that? Sugar? No, it was caffeine.
As if to answer my immediate confusion, an excited, deep baritone voice rumbled into my mind.
‘I brought you coffee’ He said nonchalantly, as if intruding into other people’s minds was a regular offense which didn’t bother him in the slightest.
I firmly believe this was the part that I hated the most upon my return from death; never knowing where my body would be, and always having someone bothering me in some way or another. I did not have the patience for visitors while trapped in such a vulnerable state.
‘Who the fuck are you’ I sent back scathingly just as taste returned and I realized there was a metallic fluid coating my tongue.
‘Hey now, no need to be rude! I am only a fascinated observer and possible friend. The coffee is yours once you’re mobile… unless you’re going to keep snapping at me.’
I could practically hear the grin in his mental voice and internally grimaced. ‘Do you realize how easy it would be to kill you?’ I threatened, immediately regretting the words. Technically speaking, I didn’t have that kind of power just yet. It was lying dormant still. The stranger seemed aware of this too.
Laughter tumbled through my mind and he replied, ‘not quite yet, and don’t you worry; I’ll be gone once you have that power back.
There was a twitch in the muscle beneath my eye. Almost a flinch. Another switch was flipped at that moment as well. I could feel the sticky cement beneath me, and the soft, thick fabric of the vest I was wearing apparently. Warm air told me it was mid afternoon. I relished in this, knowing all too well what was about to register to this sensor in a moment.
‘This really is a process for patience, isn’t it?’ Came the voice again, irritating my anticipation.
‘Yes. It generally helps to be alone without persistently obnoxious distractions, though.’
Pressure on my chest as he responded ignorantly, ‘hey, I came with encouragements. How many times have you come back from the dead with coffee waiting for you? Willing to bet never!’
I realized the pressure was his finger. He’d poked me. Really? And there it was: Pain. Blinding waves of anguish that pulsed through me and sent colors to dance into my skull. Gods, this was torture. No, torture was much gentler than this. I hated this sensor the most of them all. The flesh wounds heal of their own accord with inhuman speed while I am absent, but bones do not. On top of that was the stagnant blood and organs; all stilled in death and empty of life. There was a pressure pulling everything towards the ground while it waited in silence for life to return. Dull pulses of pale agony came and went in predictable patterns beneath the screaming pain galloping across my body.
Block it out, I commanded in vain. White hot fire spread beneath the skin, and electric shockwaves invaded each shattered bone across my ribcage. Block. It. Out.
Damn, I was not quite there yet.
Alright fine then, assess the pain instead; where was it coming from? I ignored the quiet, constant whisper underneath, though.
I knew that two of my ribs were shattered. I was fairly certain that my spine was cracked, and there was a good chance my pelvis was collapsed as well. The skin was tight across my chest, fresh scar tissue covering what must have been the stab wound that probably killed me. I couldn’t breathe yet either; splinters of broken bones had punctured both lungs which were collapsed in my death. I still couldn’t exactly remember what had happened, did I fall?
Resigned, I came back to the stranger with their psychic fingers curled into my mind, though I had more patience than I began with.
‘Who are you?’ I repeated.
Laughter vibrated through my mind while I wondered how this person could be so easy to amuse.
‘I’ll tell you later if you’re friendly. It’s not important just yet. When does the real fun begin?’
I knew that he was asking about my own psychic power and the chaos magic tied to my soul. How he was aware of this strength was what I wanted to find out. Still, I was powerless and he was awaiting an answer.
‘My brain needs to wake the five bodily senses first,’ I explained slowly. ‘Then it can awaken the real strength within itself. Once that is done, you will die violently, and then I can reset my body, feed, and heal.’
More laughter received my threat. I wondered if he was mocking me.
‘I’ll take your threats seriously when you’re capable of it.’ He confirmed.
Before I could react, the next switch was flipped and I was dunked into mayhem. Car horns were honking in traffic, tires squealing, people were talking, someone was screaming. Gods, my skull was going to split in half.
There was a hand on my shoulder, and hair tickled my face, quickly accompanied by his forehead pressed against mine. What the hell did he think he was doing now?
‘This is also why I’m here. Let me steady you.’
Immobile as I was I could not push him away. Almost immediately, I realized that I appreciated the strange behaviour as the overpowering noises seemed to fade through a tunnel, and warmth spread throughout my aching limbs. First came confusion, but quickly it fell away to gratitude. The senses were not cut off, but rather dulled until they did not threaten my brain.
‘Gross!’ Came that deep timber interrupting my wave of thanks as he exclaimed the obvious, ‘you’re all sweaty!’
Ah yes, there was the brat again. I proceeded to explain, becoming less volatile and more amused. ‘Why do you think my body has not started to rot yet? My sweat is laced with vitamins to keep the flesh preserved until I return, smart one. I’m running a high fever right now.’
I swear, he was just like a cat.
The sounds were becoming clear again very slowly without pain accompanying them. There was still an ache in my bones that pulsed with white lightning periodically, but it was bearable. Now was the time we were both awaiting. Patiently, I looked forward to that switch as a tingling sensation was already beginning to warm my body.
‘Now the real power comes, correct?’ He asked in a rather childish way.
‘Yes. Now the power that will let me destroy you can awaken.’
‘Hey! I’ve already talked about this; I’m here as a friend. I even brought you coffee. And narrowed down your senses. Be grateful!’
Laughter came again. Perhaps he knew I couldn’t be positive if I was serious anymore. What a nuisance.
Pressure began to build behind my eyes, starting up a dull ache in the sides directly above my ears. He was still trying to send quips at me, but his mental voice was muffled and far away. Sharp threads of electric pain jarred through my jaw. My head felt as if it was a balloon filled with spiked little balls being stirred about. Colors danced in the blackness and suddenly there was a physical pop in the back right side of my brain, the pressure released and it was like a gear finally clicked into place. Ethereal ice cold water drenched my fevered body, washing over my skin. Muscle spasms throughout my chest and up into my neck. Yes, now the real fun begins.
“Uh oh,” came my visitor’s voice, clear as day to my right, rumbling like a storm cloud.
It was the first time he had spoken aloud. I reached out with a surge of power from my mind, not quite sure if it was searching yet or attacking.
Nothing. The visitor had fled in an instant. Carefully, I allowed my power to wash into the city streets all around, combing for any sign of the psychic threads that had been attached to my mind only a moment ago. There was no sign of enhanced life within the ten mile radius I reached out to. What an odd awakening this had become.
But there was still work to be done. I sent my psychic fingers into my body, beneath the flesh and into the tiny veins housing the stagnant substance of life. I wrapped a cold hand around my heart and prepared to fill my collapsed lungs with the illusion of air, easily picking out the bone shards stabbing them first.
Slowly, I pushed my power into those organs, prepared for the coming pain as the mucus lining them acted like glue I had to force apart. I muse each time I return that it would feel much better to shove a knife into them instead. It started as a sharp sting when the power began its work, but quickly, that flashed into hundreds of tiny blades ripping across the organs as they were forced open by only a small fraction.
I had to steel myself for a long moment to allow the ache to dull until it was only singing with its pain. Now I was ready.
‘On three,’ I commanded of this patiently waiting powerful essence within.
One; tiny electric jolts dance across the blood, stirring them out of slumber while the hand pumps its organ, and the lungs inflate.
Two; repeat the electric current, deflate the lungs to remind them how they function, and pump the heart.
My eyes snap open while the final electric jolts jump through muscle and bone, shooting my broken body into an aching sitting position. I swallow huge gulps of real air which lights fire inside my ripped lungs. My body is shaking violently. Flashes of pain shoot through my chest and I gasp a deep breath. My throat is scorching all the way down into my belly. I need to feed. I need to heal my broken bones and quench this burning thirst.