• Published 13th Oct 2014
  • 3,622 Views, 119 Comments

Trans-Cosmic - Radiant Dawn

When two universes collide in a not-so-hypothetical scenario, what will happen to the people within them? Will mankind perish, or will new friends and allies emerge amongst the chaos?

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Chapter 1

What do you do when life gives you lemons? To anyone who’s familiar with the beaten-to-death adage, obviously, you make lemonade. I’ve lived my life by that lesson, and it’s brought me through quite a few tight spots. It’s now at the point where I can take those lemons, squeeze the hell out of them, and make apple juice...and then laugh at the completely confused faces of everyone else; in essence, I make the impossible possible, and laugh in the faces of everyone who says, “it can’t be done.”

What then, do you do, when said lemons come in the form of starry-eyed ponies that find everything about your world amazing? The answer for those of you too slow to think of it is this: you make pony-ade.

Life was pretty normal for me before I met up with my kinda-sorta-roommates, and often consisted of me going to work, grinding away for nine hours while trying to keep my dear underlings from dicking about, taking a jog through the park, and then coming back home for some well-deserved R&R. I wasn’t rich by any means, but a good work history and a few run-of-the-mill business degrees had allowed me to live rather comfortably on my own. My parents were always a phone call away and I had friends to spend time with on my off-days, so I had everything I could want.

That didn’t mean I didn’t want more out of my life, though. Beyond the fact that I was absolutely terrified of dying alone one day, my house, cozy as it was, felt very empty most days. My dog Bailey kept me company of course, but she could only comfort me so much before things got a little weird.

I wasn’t all that worried about that particular problem, though. After all, I was only twenty-five, so I had my whole life ahead of me; “the world is my oyster” and all that...whatever that meant. The point is, I wasn’t particularly anxious when I thought of what I didn’t have, since I was leagues ahead of most people my age -- which, I’ll admit, was a little sad (for them, not me), but I wasn’t going to waste my time trying to help people who didn’t want help; a lot of people call it being insensitive to those in need, but I prefer to refer to my particular views as “efficient humanity”, meaning that I only devoted my time and efforts toward those who needed my assistance, and wanted it. People only change when they’re ready to, after all.

Aside from that strange mental tangent of mine, I consider myself to be a pretty likable guy, all things considered. I was rather common when it came to my physical attributes -- hair and eye color among them -- but made up for my shortcomings by fostering positive relationships whenever possible, with whoever was available. Many people overlooked the wallflowers and mice of the world, but I gravitated toward those people; more often than not, the quiet ones usually had the best stories to tell, and had learned far more by observing instead of talking. Because of that, my friends and I were often considered an odd bunch, but I loved them all the same.

It goes without saying that I tended to be more interested in the “weird and wonderful” things of the world, but some instances were a little too strange even for me.


Chapter 1

Casper, Wyoming was a pretty quiet place compared to what I was used to, but then again the whole state was pretty quiet. Not many people would willingly move to a place that was quite literally the least populated state in the US, but when you're looking for work in a recovering economy, you’ll move anywhere if it appears to be more stable. Snow and rolling plains were nothing new for me since I was raised in Kansas, but I will admit the amount of snow surprised me sometimes. Seriously, it’s like cartoon-amounts of snow, and it happens every winter. If nothing else, Wyoming was pretty predictable.

I was a hotel assistant manager for...well, a hotel -- the name of which I will refrain from using, in case they somehow try to sue me for using their name without proper citing or some bull. Don’t let anyone tell you that managers have any more rights than a peon when it comes to legal actions...but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, my job allowed me to meet many different people as they passed through, most heading toward Yellowstone, or some rather idiotic individuals who wanted to brave the freezing waters for our unofficial ice-swimming competitions, or to do the “polar plunge” on New Year’s Day. Personally, I preferred my nads to stay outside of my stomach, but apparently that was just me.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, the people...right.

As I said, I had the opportunity to meet many different people as they passed through or visited our city for various reasons, and I was privileged enough to shake hands with some very important men and women. While (like the hotel) I won’t disclose their names, some of them had Secret Service agents following them around. A very sadistic part of me constantly wanted to point wildly to no one shouting, “he’s got a gun,” just to see what would happen. Ah, the opportunities never explored, eh?

Now, along with the comparatively normal people were a rather large collection of who I generously refer to as “overdeveloped drunken escapades”, and their completely legitimate concerns and requests (as stated in our hotel’s guidelines) often crossed the line into the realm of ridiculous. For example: a customer -- a nice old lady from Iowa -- was visiting her son while he went to school in Casper, wishing to spend the holidays with him. Of course, campus housing didn’t allow company, so the elderly woman booked a room with our hotel. Upon arrival, the customer took one look at the room before requesting that every electronic device not manufactured before 1980 be removed from the room; her reason? She didn’t want “big brother” watching her sleep.

Make no mistake, we do laugh at those people; if you’re one of them, we laugh at you...loudly and often.

It’s pointless to deny the fact that I was rather well acclimated to dealing with odd people, and had learned to simply go with the flow when life -- and people -- decided that my life had become too boring. Some of those people I ended up thanking -- like my best friends Kyle and Jenna, for example -- but for the most part I did my best to bend instead of break, if only to be ready for the day when man decides certain unnamed celebrities should be sterilized.

*cough, mumble* WAYNE *cough, cough*

Don’t read too much into that…~”You’re so vain…”~

Anyway, before my ravenous ADD took me away, I was explaining just how prepared for strangeness my life had made me. Suffice to say I was at the point where should a dragon suddenly pop up and start rampaging through the city, I would probably glance up, sigh, and then begin prewriting an incident report for my hotel. Okay, perhaps that was a bad comparison, but you get the point; I wasn’t surprised by much nowadays, and in many ways, it worked to my advantage. Basically, for something to actually surprise me, the impossible would have to happen.

Praise be to thee, O mighty ‘verses, for slapping me in the face with the giant phallus known as “fuck you, that’s why”.

It was a snowy Friday six days before Christmas, and it appeared the sky was doing its best to force everyone in town into hibernation. The snow fences worked quite well in corralling the white stuff into more manageable areas, but such a thing meant that while we would walk through three- to five-foot corridors of snow, we would randomly come across eight- to ten-foot mounds that were imposing at the best of times. Travel had slowed to a crawl with the blizzard being as it was, and I did my best to keep our guests happy and safe (which honestly wasn’t that hard, but try telling that to a hotel packed with vacationers from warmer states). I was currently in charge of the establishment since my direct supervisor -- the hotel general manager -- was out sick with the flu; personally I believed he was just too lazy to come in on such a clusterfuck of a day, but if I had the ability to pass my duties off on someone else, I guess I would probably do the same.

It was nearing four in the afternoon and the sun was beginning to fall, but anyone who’s been to a snowy state will tell you that when enough snow is on the ground, it’s possible to see just fine even in the middle of the night if there’s enough artificial light, or a full moon. It was during this time that I decided a short smoke break would be in order, so I made my way to the front desk to advise the supervisor underneath me.

Kyle was reorganizing the front desk for probably the tenth time in the past month, trying his best to figure out a way to find things quicker; I’d told him that if he didn’t move things so much he’d be able to remember where they are, but my advice often fell on deaf ears. One of the things I’d always heard when I was first entering the workforce at fifteen was that friends shouldn’t work together if one of them was of a higher station than the other, since it could easily breed preferential treatment, but Kyle and I had set out to prove that wasn’t always the case: when he and I were working, it was completely professional; when we were off the clock, we were best friends -- nothing more, nothing less. And no, before you suspect it, it wasn’t me who promoted Kyle; my direct supervisor did that with no input from me whatsoever, so as to ensure there wasn’t any personal bias on my end.

Kyle glanced up at me as I approached, his surfer-swept blonde hair nearly hiding his blue eyes completely. “Hey boss; what’s up?”

I jerked my head toward the door. “I’m going out for a smoke. Hold down the fort.”

He nodded and turned his attention back to the folders he was currently going through. “You got it. Don’t forget to put on a coat; it’s pretty crisp outside.”

“Crisp” was an understatement, but I nodded all the same as I held up my phone, though he wasn’t looking. “Text me if you need me.” My answer was a silent nod, so I grabbed the thick hooded coat hanging next to the desk and zipped it before heading outside.

The wind had died down some as night had fallen, but that didn’t mean I had any easier of a time lighting up. A small alcove that had been built into the wall of the building for the explicit purpose of smoking gave me some sort of buffer from the chill winds, but I still felt quite a bit of shrinkage due to the temperature. The gloves I was wearing also didn’t help much, being fabric and all, but they made it possible to handle a cigarette without crushing it between giant gloved sausages, like proper snow gloves would give me.

The weather was cold even by the state’s average at eighteen degrees, having dropped to just above zero, which meant room temperature water would begin to crystallize on contact with the air. The weather didn’t do much good for my whiskers either, as they quickly became frosted on my chin. To avoid freezing my ass off any longer than completely necessary, I did my best to take long drags on my stick-o’-death so I could hurry up and get back inside.

Taking one last drag on my cigarette, I flicked the smoking butt into the small depository reserved for spent smokes. I then prepared to walk around the corner and briefly brave the windy assault before lights in the sky caught my attention.

Anyone who has ever lived far out in the countryside (or knows someone who did/does) is familiar with the summertime phenomena of viewing the Milky Way, or at least part of it. However, because of the amount of light pollution that reflected light from the snow caused, it was never supposed to be visible during winter, much less during the day. Much to my surprise though, there the cloudy band was in the sky, twinkling much brighter than I ever thought possible.

And I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

I glanced about as shapes began to emerge out of the corner of my eyes, and I saw a few dozen people standing in front of buildings, on balconies, and even just outside of their stopped cars, just staring up at the sky above us.

“Dude,” quavered Kyle’s voice beside me, “what the hell is going on?”

I shrugged, unable to take my eyes off the sight before us. “No idea, man; I’m a gamer, not an astronomer.” I then glanced around at our guests, who were beginning to mill about out in the cold, and inclined my head toward them. “We need to keep things under control though, so c’mon and let’s-”

I was cut off as a deep rumbling began to ripple through the ground beneath my feet, followed by a pulsing of the beautiful light show above. The stars in the sky seemed to almost shudder as the light intensified, nearly turning night into day again, but the cloudy band of our own galaxy remained visible, oddly enough. Though “odd” was a meaningless word at the moment, since something incredibly strange (and probably impossible) was happening.

Suddenly, before I could properly adapt to the insane situation, the ground just seemed to tremble beneath my feet. Following the small shudder came a much stronger shift of earth, as if the planet had decided to flex a previously unused muscle, and accompanying that was a subsequent shattering of nearly all the windows I could see, and killing every light in the entire city.

Obviously, every person I could see -- including myself -- was knocked off their feet and into the snow. Thankfully none of the more foolish guests to our hotel had fallen over the balconies, but with a whole mess of broken glass and no power, we were now in emergency mode.

“Kyle!” I shouted, the deep rumbles making it difficult to make myself heard.

A few grunts came from beside me before Kyle collapsed to my left with a dull thud. “Y-yeah?”

I looked to my friend and pointed to the hotel. “As of now, we’re enacting disaster protocol: go find our emergency maps and flashlights, blankets, and make sure the water pipes are undamaged. I’ll herd up all the guests and check to see if anyone’s injured; go!” Kyle nodded before dashing away to do as I asked, grabbing a few other nameless (in my mind, anyway) employees that were on duty to execute disaster protocol objectives.

Yes it sounds a little more important than it probably is, but it was a part of my job, so I was going to do it.

As I made my way inside the hotel and began ordering the guests into the main lobby, I checked my cell from time to time, just for the hell of it. Of course, the cell network was down, but I hoped that for safety’s sake, it would be back up soon; no updates on the situation -- or exactly how much of the state was affected -- could negatively impact things as they were.

The basement of the hotel was well-insulated and windowless, so it was where we currently had all sixty-three of our guests camped for the night. It was a bit of a tight fit, but no one was going to be freezing to death as they slept, and it allowed the other workers and I to more easily keep an eye on things.

Kyle had gotten an old radio working a little over an hour ago, and what we heard wasn’t promising.

I had vastly underestimated the severity of the situation; it was not merely only our city or even the state that had been affected. Instead of that easily manageable possibility, the truth of the matter was far more dire:

Every state north of Kansas was without power.

Simply because of the amount of people affected by the strange happening, the federal government -- who were currently the only ones on the airwaves -- was calling this the worst disaster in recorded history, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. The sick and elderly were particularly at risk during winter, so without adequate heating, they would suffer and quite possibly die. This would be the first time I was glad my grandparents were already dead.

Without a working cell network I couldn’t call my parents, nor would we be able to contact emergency services in case one of the guests had an existing condition we didn’t know about, or something like that. I was no stranger to having to take charge of a situation, but let’s just say that keeping nearly a hundred people safe with no power was a little beyond my pay grade. I was getting quickly frustrated by the “just wait it out” orders by the officials on the radio, and after over four hours of doing damage control, needed another smoke break.

Kyle and six other employees that were unable to make it home were wearing thick coats and sweeping up all the broken glass they could in the lobby, trying to keep it clean seeing as how it would be where anyone looking for shelter would most likely enter from. The blizzard was still in full effect, which meant that snow was beginning to collect on the ground and around the windows and doors. Soon it would be unsafe to spend any length of time anywhere but the basement, but for now we needed to make it look habitable so that we could offer refuge to anyone caught out in the storm with nowhere to go...and honestly, I think it was that possibility that scared me the most. After all, I wasn’t a doctor, and other than minor first aid, I would have no idea what to do if someone were seriously injured.

God, I really need that smoke…

“Kyle!” I called, causing my friend’s head to snap up at the sound of my voice. I motioned to the now-broken glass doors that led outside and said, “I’m going out for a smoke, so keep things under control until I get back.”

He just raised an eyebrow at me, as if I had spontaneously grown two more heads. “Dude, most of the windows are broken out, and there’s a pretty nice breeze in here; why exactly do you have to go outside?”

I was about to fire off a smart remark before realizing I had nothing even halfway intelligent to say in response to that, so with a sigh, I pulled the pack of cigarettes out of my pocket and flipped open my lighter. “Whatever; it’s been a stressful day for all of us, so I think I’m owed a few passes on stupid ideas.” Kyle just smirked as I lit up and sucked in the nicotine-laden smoke, continuing to clean up the floor of glass shards.

Though I ultimately decided to stay inside the rather drafty building, I still stood by the front doors and looked out at the snowed-in landscape, catching sight of a few cars here and there -- mostly larger trucks -- that were powerful enough to brave the snowstorm to get the occupants to wherever they were headed. Unfortunately, my little compact car wasn’t going to be moving anywhere, and I was not going to be walking twelve miles just to get home. The storm didn’t show any sign of letting up anytime soon, and making sure so many people were kept safe and warm was going to be a chore.

C’est la vie, and on we go.

It was two minutes before midnight, and the light show in the sky had finally began to dim. A disaster of such epic proportions had set our government into overdrive it seems, and I could see lights in the distance as power was slowly returned to Casper. Whereas a disaster like Katrina had shut down New Orleans for over a month, it seemed that restoring power was much easier -- or, at least more important than saving several thousand stranded people because of flooding.

Thankfully, the National Guard had showed up shortly after the strange event had taken place, and worked to restore order. They set up emergency shelters for people who couldn’t make it home, and evacuated anyone that was injured. Luckily, the hospitals had backup generators in case of power loss, so many of the frail that were affected by the cold or by injuries would live. Television, internet, and telephones were apparently going to take longer to bring back up, but radio broadcasts told us that the Army and National Guard were doing all in their power to restore order and ensure the safety of everyone before less-important things were addressed.

After the hotel was evacuated by the Guard members and we were given the okay, Kyle and I went our separate ways and headed to our respective homes. A few of the nearby members of service helpfully offered to dig out cars that were buried under mounds of snow, which allowed me and the other employees to leave once we were given the all-clear.

The drive home was thankfully quite a bit calmer than the rest of the day (if snow-filled streets filled with humvees could be considered calm), but it took me a bit to make my way home, as the streets were writhing with activity. Granted that the people of Wyoming were generally more lively during winter than, say, somewhere like Alabama, but the cold months always slowed things down no matter where you were; it was strange then for me to see the town so alive with activity, though it was because of such a negative thing happening. Pretty perhaps, and exciting, but still rather negative, considering it knocked out the power and broke things.

Still, as I rounded a hill of snow and saw my house appear a few blocks away, I wasn’t all that worried.

A few of my front windows were cracked and my mailbox had fallen over, but nothing significant seemed to have happened. I had paid extra for high-quality insulated windows to save on heating costs, and it seemed the glass-block windows I had used for most of my home had held up well to the stress of the short quake. I’d need to replace them at some point, sure, but I would be able to use my home without fear of turning into a very large, very morbid popsicle.

I unlocked my door and made my way to the kennel next to the second-level stairs, unlocking it and letting Bailey out of her cage so she could do her business outside. As always my dog was overjoyed to see me, and her cute butt-wagging was even more comical, given her size -- a rottweiler acting like a little puppy is hilarious, no matter how you spin it. As she bounded out into the snow, acting like a fool as she played in the fluffy white stuff, I looked on and pulled out another smoke.

The large black dog trotted over to the part of the yard I had trained her to do her business in as I kept an eye out for people walking around; I wasn’t particularly worried about her attacking someone -- and my neighbors knew she was far more friendly than such a large and imposing figure had any right to be -- rather, I was keeping alert for anyone that might not have anywhere to go to escape the cold. I truly was worried that someone might be freezing to death when I could do something about it, but worrying about things beyond my control was going to drive me crazy, so I just opted to handle what I could.

To my eternal shame, I was unbelievably happy when Bailey finished and trotted back to me so that we could head inside, and I could hide from my fear.

I ushered my dog inside the house and closed the door, locking the deadbolt as I kicked off my boots. Saying the day had been strange would be an understatement, and to be honest, I simply didn’t have it in me to attempt and decipher just what had happened. So, instead of doing what I would normally do and stay up all night trying to figure out the puzzle, I opted to sleep off the day’s stress and deal with it all tomorrow.

The exhaustion hit me full force as soon as I opened my bedroom door, and I didn’t even get my pants off before collapsing onto the bed. I decided to be lazy and sleep in my clothes since the hotel was going to be closed for repairs, and thus, I wouldn’t have work the next day. I took a moment to quickly reset my clock (since the power had killed the alarm I would normally set) before closing my eyes and groaning in elation at the softness of my bed. Bailey hopped up and nosed my face affectionately before plopping down to my side and joining me in sweet, sweet slumber.


“Ugh,” I groaned to myself, swatting at Bailey sleepily, “shut up and go back to sleep, girl.” The barking did not abate, which meant I would not be getting back to sleep anytime soon. I cracked one eye open and glanced at my clock to see that my well-trained, lovable companion had for some unknown reason thought it prudent to bark at something at 2:34. With a slew of grumbled curses, I sat up and swung my legs over the side of my bed before standing and beckoning my faithful, annoying dog toward the front door.

The wind had all but stopped when I looked outside, which left the weather to be a heavy, but steady snow. The band of stars in the sky had faded completely by now, but I did my best not to think about it. I was sure the media would be releasing all sorts of stories and hypotheses about what had happened the day previous, which meant an influx to our state and any others that were affected...and that meant a hectic work week. Knowing my manager, he would have new glass put in within a few days, and the hotel would be cleaned out within a week, but until then my job would be to oversee the repairs and lock up any records we might have, the latter of which I had already done.

Thinking ahead, for the win.

I waited patiently on my front doorstep for Bailey to return after doing whatever it was she felt she needed to wake me up for, other than to make me stand outside in the cold while she dossed about doing who-knows-what. That wasn’t to say that I didn’t love the big girl, but let’s just say there’s a reason why humans rule and not dogs. However, if you really think about it: dogs don’t have to work, they get fed without paying for it, and we even feel worse as a species when one of them dies than one of our own kind. I suppose, in a bit of an abstract way, dogs kinda do rule the world.

Wait, where was I even going with that...dogs...oh, right.

So anyway, I waited patiently out in the freezing, snowy weather for Bailey to finish her business, when suddenly, she started barking again. This time, however, she appears at the top of the hill next to my house, dancing in a small, agitated circle as she keeps glancing to me and back the way she came.

“Found something, girl?” I called, grumbling as I began trudging through the corridors of snow (bear in mind that I don’t have my boots on at the moment) to placate this man’s best friend by telling her she was a good girl for finding a stick or something. Maybe I’d throw it around and tire her out before-

Oh fuck, that’s a body!

Forsaking all decorum and throwing away my own discomfort, I made my way toward a partially-crumbled portion of the road-plow snow wall that Bailey was anxiously circling, where a still, gloved hand could be seen laying just over the curb. I rushed over to the snowy barrier and began digging as fast as I could, chuckling despite myself as Bailey lended her own skills to the endeavor.

The form was shivering faintly, fully-covered in what looked like a thick full-length hooded jacket, the hood so large I couldn’t get a good look at the face. Regardless, this person needed my help, so I quickly picked them up and fireman-carried them back toward my house, Bailey on my heels.

A faint cough ushered forth from the person’s mouth followed by a stuttered whisper of, “I-I-I w-wasn-n’t th-the only w-one; sh-sh-she’s s-still o-out th-th-there…”

The quiet yet worried words pushed my adrenal glands into overdrive, and I rushed as quickly as I could into my home, hurriedly placing the victim on my couch and wrapping all three throws (sofa-draping blankets) I had nearby over them before quickly forcing on my boots and dashing back out the door.

“Where is she, girl?” I called to Bailey, who barked and bounded off toward where we found the first person. I followed at a dead sprint, knowing that anyone caught out in this weather without adequate protection would freeze to death in a matter of minutes. It appeared my greatest fear from before I’d gone to bed had materialized as if called from my very thoughts, but I was going to do all within my power to keep my other greatest fear from being realized: being responsible for not saving someone when I could have.

Bailey was barking madly and digging through the same patch of disturbed snow I had found the first person in, so I slid across a patch of ice to my knees and began frantically digging with my hands to free whoever was trapped inside; while it was true the wind was kept away by the snow, the victim would still freeze to death if not given shelter soon.

It luckily only took a few seconds to find the second victim, though this one was considerably larger in size, and I grunted as I struggled to lift her. Finally, after settling her weight securely, I began my quick trek back to my house, hoping that these unlucky souls would survive.

A few moments later Bailey and I arrived back home with our new guest. Before doing anything else, I quickly dusted my current burden off so that the snow wouldn’t melt and dampen the clothing “she” wore, whoever she was. I then lifted up the blankets of my first save, who was thankfully shivering violently (a sign her body was still functional enough to warm itself) and placed the larger form next to the smaller, covering the two of them back up; the two seemed to instinctively reach out for one another, so I assumed they knew each other.

Confident that the two would be fine for a moment, I made my way to the kitchen and filled up the kettle before placing it on its base to boil, and then went about pulling out a couple hot water bottles I had on hand. This wouldn’t be the first time I had needed to treat someone for hypothermia (it wasn’t exactly a rare condition around here, especially for those who weren’t prepared for it), so I hoped my basic (and rather limited, I’ll admit) first-aid training would let me save the two poor souls in my living area.

It was just then that it all hit me: I was now responsible for two lives, neither of which I recognized.

Debilitating fear threatened to overtake me, but it was chased away by the alarm on the kettle. Wringing my cold hands and grabbing the two hot water bottles, I made my way over and began pouring the boiling water into each one, doing my best to focus on the mundane task and settle my nerves. I pressed the extra air out of the two bottles and sealed them shut before making my way back to my living room, where a bundle of several blankets was still shivering.

I lifted up the blankets and pressed the two hot water bottles into the space between them. “These should warm you up. Just stay covered and you’ll be fine within a few hours.” After covering the two up, I tried to get a look at either of them, but the hoods -- and clothing in general -- seemed to do a very good job at obscuring all details, save for the fact that they were humans and clearly female. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more shapely pair of behinds-

‘Alexander Victorsson, you will STOP ogling the two freezing women until they are able to choose whether or not to slap you for doing so!’ I mentally shouted to myself, tearing my eyes away from the pair as I sat down on the chair across from the sofa. And yes, I use my full name when I’m chastising myself.

Bailey made her way over and sat down just in front of me, eyeing our two guests with what I could only imagine was worry, since she kept whining softly every now and then. I tried my best to stay awake, but eventually the adrenaline crash overtook me and I nodded off with my elbows on my knees.

“Um, s-sir?” called an unfamiliar voice with an unfamiliar accent, rousing me from my exhaustion-induced slumber.

I threw my head back and released an epic yawn -- and by epic, I mean high-pitched and scratchy -- before opening my eyes to see one of the figures in front of me. She was the larger one, and was still wearing that bulky concealing clothing, but other than some slight wobbling, she seemed to be alright.

“Yes?” I answered with a question (is that an oxymoron or something?), raising my eyebrow curiously.

Normally I would have a perfect view of this person’s face from where I sat, but for some reason her face was still shadowed as if she were wearing a shadow. Nonetheless, her voice and stance told me all that I needed to know about her: that she was alive, and strong enough to speak and walk on her own. The fact that she was still alive was, of course, more relieving than anything I could imagine not pertaining to a sexual nature, so I did my best to keep from jumping up and fawning over her like a worried parent.

I didn’t have to, because after a moment of quiet sniffles, she launched herself at me and hugged tight around my neck. Stifled sobs escaped her mouth as she continued to embrace me, followed by the odd sensation of her rubbing her covered cheek against mine. It was nice, in a way.

“Th-thank you so m-mu-much!” she cried helplessly, unable to speak any further due to sobs of what I could imagine were from facing her own death. I could understand that feeling, and did my best to hold her firmly yet comfortingly to let her know that it was going to be alright, and she was safe.

After a few minutes of allowing her to cry against me, I asked, “How’s your friend? A-at least I assume she’s your friend because-”

She pulled back and looked directly at me, though I couldn’t see her eyes due to that infuriatingly concealing hood. “She’s fine; we both are, thanks to you.”

I nodded before looking past her at the sofa, seeing the other form’s chest rising and falling as she continued to sleep. “Has she been awake yet?”

A soft giggle sounded from the woman on my lap. “She never wakes before noon, no matter what. I do, however, know one way to wake her. You have coffee, don’t you?”

I nodded dumbly as she lifted herself off of me and sauntered off toward my kitchen, her hips swaying ever so slightly as she did so. I had apparently been right about her rather generous assets, and even though I’m not what one would consider an “ass-man”, I couldn’t help but stare for a moment before following.

And screw you for your judgemental glare; I’d like to see you resist.

“Uh, yeah.” I answered dumbly before leading her to a cabinet and opening it, displaying its contents. “I’ve got a few different types in here; what do you think she’ll like the most?”

The woman seemed to consider my question for a moment before answering, “Whatever you have that’s strongest.”

I smirked before reaching further back into the cabinet and pulling out a small black bag of coffee beans with a skull and crossbones on the front. “I think this should be strong enough.”

She reached a hand out and grasped the bag in her hands before bringing it close and reading it to herself, mumbling as she did so. After reading the name and warnings on the bag, she snorted a laugh and nodded. “I think this will do quite nicely, sir.”

I nodded as well before taking the bag and tearing it open -- it had been a gift, and I never had need of 660mg of caffeine all at once -- reaching into the cabinet and pulling out my handheld grinder. One whiff of the beans themselves almost sent me stumbling; the strength of the scent alone almost woke me up as much as drinking a cup of regular coffee. I poured a generous amount into the grinder and began turning the winch, preparing the beans for brewing.

“So,” I began, opting to make a bit of small talk as we waited, “I never got your name last night, since I think we were all more focused on your survival at that point. My name’s Alex; what should I call you?”

She seemed to hesitate for a moment before answering, “Octavia...you can call me Octavia.”

I nodded, figuring that I’d had a few odd nicknames in my past as well. “And your friend?”

Octavia now looked toward the door leading out of the kitchen and shifted on her covered feet -- the wide-bottomed pants she wore completely concealed everything. “Her name is Vinyl.”

Hmm...two strange nicknames in a row, it seems.

“You two must have been friends a long time.” I commented, reaching into the cabinet and pulling out the filters as I prepared to start the coffee brewing.

A slow nod was my response to be followed by, “Yes...a very long time. We have known each other for over twenty years now.” I could only assume she was smiling as her tone turned brighter, but I couldn’t see anything with that DAMN HOOD IN THE WAY! “It hasn’t all been rainbows and sunshine as they say, but there is no one else I can think of who I would trust more than her. She is truly a friend without equal, and I owe my good fortune and my life to her.”

I nodded. “Wow, that’s heavy. I have a couple friends like that, and I can attest to the value of a friend like that.” I then changed the subject as I began filling up the carafe with water, pointing to her hands. “How are your fingers and toes? Any pain or numbness in your extremities?”

She seemed to hesitate for a moment before flexing her fingers a few times. “They’re fine; a little sore, but apparently that means proper blood flow has been restored and I’m healing.”

I nodded once again. “That it does. However, your body needs fluids to heal, so you should try drinking as much water as you can so that you don’t get dehydrated.”

Octavia said nothing, but made her way over to the paned cupboard where glasses could be seen, and retrieved one for herself before making her way to the sink and filling it. After taking a few sips she leaned back against the counter and went strangely silent for a few minutes. She had just been through a rather traumatic experience the night previous though, so I left her to her thoughts as I started the coffee brewing.

It was nearly five minutes later when I finally heard a soft, “Thank you again, Alex.” I glanced up at her and even though I couldn’t see it, I had the distinct impression she was smiling at me. “I know it must be very inconvenient to take two po…” She paused oddly for a moment before continuing; what had she been about to say? “It must be inconvenient to provide shelter to two people who you do not know, so I feel I must thank you profusely for doing so. Without you, Vinyl and I would be lost.”

I waved a hand at her dismissively. “Seriously, think nothing of it. I certainly wasn’t going to leave the two of you out there to freeze to death, because besides the fact it was simply the right thing to do, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself otherwise.”

“Perhaps that’s true,” she began, sipping her glass of water once again, “but I am still thankful that you were one who chose to intervene instead of proclaiming us as ‘not your problem’. It is a sad truth that not everyone would have helped us, given similar circumstances.”

I took a deep breath of the scent of brewing coffee and let it out with a sigh. “Well, you’re welcome then. I can understand the importance of my intervention, but believe me when I say that you don’t have to keep thanking me. If you want me to feel like my actions were worth it, then make sure the two of you stay healthy.” I then moved toward her and extended a hand. “Speaking of, we should probably get you out of these clothes as soon as we can. They were laden with snow, so I’m sure they’re wet in places and-”

Her hand shot out faster than I expected and caught me firmly by the wrist, keeping me from pulling down her hood. After a moment of tense silence she politely stated, “I can remove my own clothes, Alex. Might I inquire as to the location of your washroom though?”

She released my hand and I rubbed my wrist -- Christ, she has a strong grip… “Y-yeah; head down the hall directly across from the kitchen entryway and down the hall. The door at the end of the hall is the master bedroom, and the door directly to your left from there is the master bathroom. The guest bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in awhile, so you can use mine. Shower is stocked too, so if you feel up to it, you can wash up as well.”

Octavia nodded briefly before answering, “I think I will take you up on that offer, Alex.” She then paused and added, “And...I am sorry, but Vinyl and I have a shared...condition, shall we say, that we would rather keep to ourselves.”

I frowned and furrowed my brow. “You don’t have Ebola or something like that do you? That disease has been going around lately, and I’d rather not die.”

“Ebo-w-what?” she stammered before shaking her head vigorously. “N-no, we aren’t ill or anything! It’s...umm...cosmetic, is all. I apologize that I can’t say more, but it’s just a bit embarrassing.”

I shook my head with a smile. “No, it’s fine. So long as I’m not in danger of catching a deadly disease, you can keep it to yourself. It’s not my business really; I was just curious.”

Octavia was silent for a moment before she spoke again. “Perhaps we will show you some other time, but for now it is something we would rather keep under wraps, as it were.”

“Hah,” I retorted with a grin, “very punny.”


“Anyway,” I said with my smile still present, “you go ahead and get washed then. I’ll present the sleeper with her highly-caffeinated nectar when it’s ready.”

Octavia nodded once again. “Thank you, Alex. Vinyl takes it with no cream, but a large amount of sugar. ‘Don’t be shy’, as she says. I will return in a bit, when you and Vinyl have gotten properly acquainted.” Aaaand once again with the hip-popping walk. How am I not supposed to stare?

I sighed and shook my head, mentally scolding myself once again. It took a few more minutes before the coffee was ready; once it finished, I prepared a cup with plenty of sugar and walked out to my living area, setting the cup on the coffee table in front of the sofa. I then placed a hand on what I assumed was the shoulder of this “Vinyl” and proceeded to shake her...only to feel the “shoulder” give quite a bit more than a shoulder should have, accompanied by a soft moan and shifting of the body. I snatched my hand away as if I had just grabbed a hot coal and cursed myself for not just calling her name. Seriously, why hadn’t I thought of that before?

The body moved a few more times before a boy-like voice grumbled, “Just five more minutes, Tavi…”

I sighed again and rubbed the bridge of my nose -- more upset with myself than anything else -- and answered, “Coffee’s ready.”

A few more grumbles and shifting were my answer before Vinyl sat up, reaching a hand up into the hood to presumably rub her eyes. As with Octavia, the solid black clothing that covered her entire body gave no indication as to what she looked like, so I just did my best to imagine her smiling gratefully at me.

“Your friend went to go wash up, so I made you some coffee to start the day.” I stated blandly, motioning to the steaming cup on the coffee table. “You can shower next if you want; I’ve not got work today, so I’ll be here and can take the two of you home whenever.”

Vinyl was silent for a few moments before mumbling, “Home...y-yeah that umm...that sounds great.”

I was a little confused from her less than enthusiastic response, but passed it off as mere shock from almost dying just a day before. After tentatively sniffing the mug in front of her though, she seemed to nearly launch herself voraciously at the coffee, sipping and humming loudly before sighing in contentment, having drained the mug of steaming coffee in less than thirty seconds.

She wrapped her arms around herself and giggled happily. “That was ah-maze-ing! I’ve never had a cup of coffee that strong before, dude! Got anymore?”

I pointed toward the kitchen. “There’s a whole pot in there if you want it. Just don’t-” I was interrupted by Vinyl nearly bowling me over as she rushed to the kitchen, followed by a clattering of dishes and at least one cringe-worthy shattering of ceramic. “...break anything.”

“Sorry!” she called back, and I just shook my head while snapping my fingers, calling my faithful canine friend to my side as I stood to let her outside.

I had found it strange that Bailey had been so calm all morning -- she wasn’t in any way aggressive, but could be more than a little excitable around strangers. Instead of barking or wanting to play, my dog had been quiet and...well, not Bailey. It was a little odd, yes, but all things considered it was a minor bother. After all (and I did feel rather pleased with myself about this) I had saved the lives of not one, but two people last night. While I didn’t do it for praise or anything of the sort, it did make me feel more than a little proud of myself...and Bailey, since she woke me up. Most people vastly underestimate the value of a good dog.

Currently though, I had more important things to worry about. First off, I needed to get the two women in my house to a hospital, and then to wherever they lived. Now that I actually stopped to think about it, why would someone be out in the middle of a blizzard anyway? I’d ask them later and hopefully I could help them get home, but that would come later.

For now, I just needed to let them stay warm and safe.

Speaking of, I knew that if I had just survived hypothermia, I would likely be pretty hungry. Luckily I was indeed quite famished myself, so I called Bailey in and shut the door behind me as I headed to the kitchen. I caught sight of what looked like a short bristle brush left on the coffee table, full of what looked like…

White fur?

I raised an eyebrow at the sight but continued my walk to the kitchen.

“Look out!”

That was my only warning before I walked into the smaller form of Vinyl as she exited the kitchen area, and some unknown object stabbed me in the cheek. The unknown object luckily didn’t puncture my face, but as I tried to pull away it dragged across the left side of my face, drawing a long line of blood. I hissed and stumbled back, shooting my hands to my cheek as I growled in pain.

“W-what the fuck was that?” I yelled loudly, and more than a little angrily. “Do you make it a habit of walking around with knives held in the air?” I prepared to continue my tirade of pain and confusion before looking to my assaulter with wide eyes and a dropped jaw.

Before me stood a mass of messy two-toned blue hair, and out of said hair was sticking two very realistic animal-like ears. The face in front of me was covered in snow-white fur, and two large ruby-irised eyes stared back at me in shock. Now I would like to consider myself rather accepting of many things, but of all the people that I could have saved the night previous, it had to be thrice-damned furries? What the hell, man? I mean, not that I didn’t have a few odd hobbies of my own (past-tense there...for the most part), but people dressing up as animals still kinda topped my weird scale.

“Oh geez, are you alright?” Vinyl asked...while the mouth moved. As far as I knew, personal animatronics like that didn’t exist yet. The two of us stood in silence until I slowly reached a hand up to touch the flattened equine-like face of this strange bipedal being, convinced it was a dream, as Vinyl just stared at me in confusion. “Um...that’s my nose, bro.”

I chuckled weakly and smiled with more than a little mania present before mumbling, “Hehe...cute little pony.”

Black began to ring the edges of my vision before everything fell away, and I felt my head quite firmly hitting my hardwood floor.

Author's Note:

And now, a little theme music for you lovely people.