Helena opened her eyes and took a deep breath. Today was the day. She was going to go home.
Or she was going to fade away into nothingness? Would she be dead if that happened? Would she move onto to the afterlife, if there even was one, or would she just truly cease to exist?
She shook her head. She couldn’t think like that. She would get through this. Myka would get through this. And she would wake up in Siberia in completely impractical clothing and she would call Myka cursing her name and Myka would laugh at her from a beach somewhere tropical. And then they would make their ways home and she would finally be with Myka once and for all.
If anything good had come from this escapade at least she and Myka had their feelings sorted now. Myka loved her and was willing to follow through with everything that meant. Helena’s heart swelled in her chest. Ever since…it seemed like such a long time ago, before Warehouse 2 and her plan to blow up the world, she had loved Myka. It had intensified in her time in the pokeball. When she had been restored to her body she wanted nothing more than to take the woman in her arms and tell her just how much she loved her, tell her how she had saved her from the darkness. She could do that now without fear of hurting or scaring the other woman.
Helena sat up, smiling slightly. Only today between her and truly holding Myka in arms as she had wished to for so long. She quickly got dressed and padded downstairs. Breakfast was already on the table but she found she had no appetite. Her stomach was too full of butterflies to hold down food.
Leena shot her a knowing look when she pushed her plate away, but didn’t say anything. Artie walked in holding the box with the book in it and the pen. Helena’s stomach dropped even further at the sight. This was really happening soon. She had to keep repeating to herself that everything would be fine. Hadn’t Myka said something to her about some scientific research about positive thoughts influencing the course of events, if only slightly? She had a feeling that she could use even the slightest edge today.
Artie looked over at her as he sat down, drawing his coffee towards him. “Are you still sure you want to go through with this?”
Helena swallowed. “I do. Myka and I talked about it. We’re both going to do it.”
“Alright. If you’re sure.”
“I am. Just…perhaps it should happen soon before my nerves get the best of me?”
Artie nodded. “After breakfast. I set up everything last night just in case. Though I suppose it wasn’t really just in case. You are rather stubborn.”
Helena smiled weakly. “So I’ve been told now in three different centuries.”
“I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of, or not,” Pete mumbled through his eggs.
“It brings you back your Myka. I suppose in this case it’s something to be proud of, or perhaps at least beneficial. My mother thought nothing good would ever come of it. I wonder what she would say today. Then again, she’d probably die at the attire we’re all wearing before she ever could consider my stubbornness was a good quality or not.” Helena laughed a few times, but there was no real mirth.
They ate in silence a little while. Helena sat silently, not moving with her arms wrapped around her middle. Everything would be fine.
Except for today could be her last day.
No, everything would be fine.
Her brain waged a war within the confines of her skull. A headache the size of the Roman army developed between her eyes. Now was not the time for such pains.
“Who’s going to be using the spell book?” Helena finally asked, tiring of the quiet. It allowed her to think far too much.
“I will,” Artie said. “Leena will be handing you the pen. Pete’s going to be standing in the back with purple goo on hand just in case things get unpredictably messy.”
“Yup, then I get to goo it up.” Pete mimed a combination shooting and spraying move. Helena rolled her eyes slightly at the vulgarity of it.
“Ok.” Helena let out a breath slowly. Leena handing her the pen was a good idea. She was calm, cool, and collected in times of great pressure. She wouldn’t let her have the pen too soon and wouldn’t hold onto it until it was too late. She trusted the other woman. Perhaps the only one she trusted in the merry band more than the inn keeper was the woman she was trying to get back to.
“If all goes to plan you’ll be home before lunch. If the time lines line up anyway.”
Helena shook her head. “We’re pretty sure they don’t, but that’s another matter and an unimportant one at that.”
Artie shrugged his shoulders slightly. He took another sip of coffee. Helena wondered how he could appear so calm. This was make or break. They would get the Warehouse back or they wouldn’t. Helena would be out of her mind if she were him.
Then again maybe that was only her projecting her current feelings on the man. Her situation was life and death. The Warehouse, not so much. It would be a hardship, but nothing that couldn’t be surmounted.
Helena clenched her fists and forced herself to stay still and silent for the rest of the meal, focusing on clearing her mind. A buzzing mind was not going to help anything. She started going over kempo move sets in her mind, feeling every muscle that should tense with each move, feeling every release as she relaxed. It did wonders to calm her and clear her mind, but she still could sense the thoughts under the veneer of calm that would burst through if she lost focus.
“H.G., H.G.?” Artie waved his face in front of her face.
Helena shook her head and turned towards the man, blinking a few times. “Yes?”
“We’re done. Are you ready?”
Helena took a slightly shaking breath. “Yes.”
They all walked into the library, now clear of her scanner contraption and most of the usual furniture that took up the space usually. Helena’s mouth went dry as she positioned herself in the middle of the room. She didn’t know what was wrong with her. She had faced death before and never once blinked. She had wished for it more than a few times after Christina had died. But now it was different. She felt the fear that everyone spoke of as they faced death. And here she was going willingly to her potential demise like a lamb to the slaughter. She supposed it was fitting after almost ending the world that she should finally feel the fear she had almost caused everyone else in the world.
She wondered what was different now that her heart was beating triple time and her palms were sweaty. How had she not felt this before? But the answer was clear. Every other time she had faced death she had had nothing to lose. Death was no worse a fate than life. But she had something to live for, Myka. And she had barely gotten any time to enjoy the new happiness she and Myka had found. She was afraid of losing that time, afraid of losing what could be instead what was really in the here and now. And somehow that was even more terrifying.
Artie took her place in front of her. He took the spell book out of its special little box and flipped it open gently, a little over half way through. He looked up at Helena, bushy brows drawn together.
“Quite ready, darling.” If anyone noticed that Helena’s voice was an octave higher than normal, no one said anything.
“Alright.” Artie nodded at Leena.
The other woman appeared at her side gripped the pen in her bare hand. The pen was such a strange artifact, never whammying more than one person. Helena had to wonder why that was. But it didn’t matter right now. She looked at the pen as if it was a drink of water in the middle of the desert, her salvation. And really, that was quite literally what it was.
She managed to tear her eyes away from the pen long enough to look at Artie once again. Helena nodded once. Artie’s eyes flicked down to the page and started to read.
The words blended together. Helena couldn’t pick out a single intelligible word. All she could hear was the rushing of blood in her ears. Her heart felt like it was going to beat out of her chest. She wondered absently if this was what having a heart attack felt like.
More words came out of Artie’s mouth. So many words, enough to fill a boat and then sink it many times over. But it seemed like nothing was happening. Helena glanced down at herself to confirm. She didn’t seem to be any more ephemeral than normal.
She glanced up at Artie, whose eyes were still down on the page reading word after word, a droning buzz that filled Helena’s head. She tried to catch his attention. This wasn’t working. He had to try something else. He was doing it wrong. She didn’t want this to last any longer than it had to. Her heart wasn’t going to be able to take much more of this.
But Artie wouldn’t look up. He kept reading, kept firing words into the air like bullets that were hitting Helena square in the chest. She turned frantically to Leena. The other woman was watching her intently. Her eyes met Helena’s, filled with concern and compassion.
The inn keeper opened her mouth and more words spewed out, but Helena couldn’t understand. She opened her mouth to tell Leena that Artie was doing it wrong, that it wasn’t working. She had to do something to help Helena fix it so it would just be over. But the words wouldn’t come. They were stuck in her throat, blocked by the overabundance of words in the air around her. She felt the words from the book flow down her throat and push down the words she wanted to speak. She was helpless. She had no voice. For the first time in her life words were betraying her.
With the spread of words through her body she felt odd. They poured down her throat and into every single part of her. Helena shuddered at the feeling. These words were not her own. They weren’t the ones who ran through her blood every day, who told stories of time machines and invading aliens. They were foreign, distorting everything, words of death and desperation that even in her darkest days Helena had not felt.
She wanted to scream, but even that ability was taken from her. Words clogged her lungs, stopped her breath. They made her blood run black and thick, slowing her heart and making it work three times as hard just to keep her alive. Helena wanted nothing more than for it to end. She didn’t care how now. She didn’t care if she saved the Warehouse. She only cared that this stopped. It was worse than death. It was never ending.
A thought pierced through the words. Myka was going to have to go through this. And it was all her fault. And with that thought the words flooded her brain and took it over too. Helena was no longer herself anymore. She was words. A distant part of her registered the poetry of that. To so many people in the world that’s all she was, words made into stories, and here she was made up of only words that weren’t hers, but words nonetheless.
Suddenly, there was a pressure where she thought her hand might be. She wasn’t quite sure anymore. She remembered that something was supposed to happen. Something important. But the words were blocking it out. Was she supposed to grip onto this pressure? Was she supposed to throw it away? Would either option end this? She had to do something, didn’t she?
The words told her, no she didn’t. She should stay as she was. Words were glory. Words were power. They had the potential to change the world, the potential to end it. If she was words she was the greatest thing in existence.
Oh, but words were painful. Words had cutting edges. They were hurting her just as much as they were making her great. What was she to do? Words had made Myka love her even before they met. Was she to give that up so quickly just for a little pain? She could be even greater than the books she wrote once upon a time.
Myka. Something about Myka. It was the one thing the words couldn’t get to. They had no power over the image of her. There were no words to describe her, to break her down into a concept, a string of words strung together to explain everything about her. Myka. There was something she had to do for Myka. To get to Myka. But what was it?
The pressure on her hand came again. Did the pressure have something to do with what she had to do for Myka? The words shouted no at her in every way and in every language possible. What she had to do for Myka was let that pressure go. Everything would be fine if she just let that pressure go. If she just let everything go. She would be all words. She would be glory and light. There wouldn’t be any more darkness in her. Words had no room for darkness. They illuminated the world.
Helena was almost swayed. Words had brightened her life for such a long time. Surely what they were saying must be true. Surely Myka would love her more if she was all light instead of the amalgam of darkness and light that she was. They could be so great together, the words and the word lover. It was a match made in heaven.
But Myka loved her just as she was, just as she loved Myka for everything she was, mop of frizzy curly hair and a fear of opening up to others and a love of order and protocol that sometimes got in the way of the fun she wanted to have, everything.
The pressure came again and this time she closed her hand. Myka would take her as she was. And she hadn’t dealt well with being told what to do, anyway.
And in an instant the words were gone and all there was, was light.