Holly and I sat near each other, toes in the water of a stream that glowed with harmless neon fish. I’d made sure the wind wouldn’t be too cool, and that the weather was a pleasant, warm summer’s night. I had remade the world to get rid of all the rot and disease that had been everywhere. My powers were contained in this Madstone, but they were still fully functional within it.
It had taken only a moment to do all that, and replace many of the animals with enhanced versions. Nature was a techno-biological fusion. Worms with drills and filters snatched up by birds with rotary wings, who get snatched out the air by a falcon with jet engines.
I did not devote a lot of focus to that. One of the first things I did instead was try to open up a dimensional breach to get Holly and me back out. It didn’t work. I created a replica of the communication devices I used back before I had phenomenal cosmic power. Bam, right back to having internet, TV shows, and various satellite spy cameras. They showed things moving more quickly. Mix N’Max and the goddess who had been trapped in here before me were finding their around Empyreal City.
The goddess, Clara, had swapped her furs and ribbons for an old-timey dress that looked like a colorful Amish design. She was looking at the sights of Empyreal City and the fashions of the people; Max was looking for some street food to eat. Then they were fighting. Then things exploded. Everything was going more quickly that it should have. Time was slowed down in the Madstone compared to the outside world.
I kept an eye on them and set to work. First, I sped up time within the Madstone to match that outside. They’d gotten a headstart on us, but now they wouldn’t gain ground. Then I started creating the pieces I needed for a dimensional bomb. Yep, that lovely piece of technology that shaped my life was going to save me once again. Whoever created the Madstone built it well back in an age before computers, nuclear bombs, carbon nanotubes, and robotics.
I got a little distracted around the time Holly decided to go for a swim, so I temporarily sped time up further in the Madstone. Cut to Holly and I sitting on the bank of a river. She laid her head on my shoulder and I put my arm around her, holding her close to comfort her. Holly broke the silence with a question: “Are we going to have to populate this entire world?”
I laughed. “No. I wouldn’t mind at all if I had to with you.”
“That’s sweet. Trying to marry me too?” We both laughed at her joke.
After a little bit, I normalized time again and continued the build, ending up with a Dimension Bomb precise enough to bring Holly and I out.
Unlike Max and his friend, I had control over where I popped out. I landed in Empyreal City nearby, feeling like I was being dragged toward them. It was the pull of the Madstone. It had some hold on me and wanted me back. I jammed my hand into the road to stop myself.
“What did this street ever do to you?” Holly asked.
“I feel a strong pull toward the stone,” I explained.
She pointed to where the woman floated over, now taking to the air in a more modern dress, flowing ribbons trailing far into the air behind her from where they were tied around her knees and elbows. Max jogged to keep up and waved. “Hey!”
“Hey,” Holly said as we both waved back.
“That bitch just trapped me in that rock,” I said, pointing between the other goddess and the rock that Max had in a pouch.
“What?” Max wondered. It seemed sarcastic with the grin he always wears.
“How did you get out?” she asked. She looked between Max and I, then smirked. “It wants you back.”
“How about you undo this lasso and I’ll let you live?” I offered.
“It’s the stone, not me,” Clara answered. “It can take those with superpowers, but it holds on to certain powerful beings. Gods, like us. You won’t be free unless you find someone else to take your place.” She raised a hand. The pouch flew off Max’s hip and burst apart with the Madstone flying at me. I disappeared. The stone curved around, reminding me of a magic bullet I dealt with recently. It came back for Clara. I reached around from behind her and held her tight.
“Is it gone yet?” I asked, amused. My playfulness disappeared when Clara shrunk down to the size of bacteria. I’d have just burned her, but I had the Madstone coming for me. I activated superspeed and raced around the planet, coming back to the same spot from the opposite direction.
Holly gasped for air as veins bulged red on her throat. Curious, unintelligent, and curiously unintelligent onlookers were experiencing the same symptoms along with eyes rolling back and people collapsing. I used my omniscience to notice the area was flooded with a deadly strain of a fast-acting fungal spore that colonized veins and grew in deoxygenated blood. I saw to them first, healing everyone. The human immune system was helpless in the face of this divine fungus cultivated for generations in a pocket dimension. Before long, the veins on everyone stopped bulging and they were normalizing. I had to account for potential embolisms. I gave her a hug before teleporting her off to the house with the rest of the family.
I still had work to do. Max and Clara were gone, along with the Madstone. My omniscience would only tell me that Max concocted a serum that would allow them both to hide from me. Amazing how I never found all these anti-omniscience things before I had the ability. But back then, how would I have known? If something like this captured me before my ascension, I’d have used the same sorts of methods to escape but without ever feeling anchored to it.
I had to smile though. I still felt the pull. I manifested some spy drones that followed the pull across the entire world. I manifested spy drones along the entire corridor, knowing they wouldn’t have to go any further than about halfway around the globe.
“What did you do that for? You don’t want to escalate with Gecko. She will go too far. If you stop being a bitch, I can talk to her and protect you.” Max said near some of my little pet drones.
“I’m not going back in the Madstone,” she said. “It’s a terrible joke. All the power in the world, but it’s a trapped world where you’re alone except for life you create.”
“I understand, and it was an amazing world. You’re amazing,” Max told her. “Gecko is clever. She will find a way out, but antagonizing her will not work for you. Let me go somewhere and present myself. I can speak to her and clear all of this up. Whatever else, she’s my friend and she’s reasonable.”
I was, of course, waiting outside the door when it opened. I saw a shadow, but whatever he’d doused himself with didn’t let me see or hear him. The drones, little floating silver orbs with blades sticking out of them, got around it because they aren’t me. They’re electronic devices. Mere tools, like fire or a death ray.
“Hi!” I said, not bothering to look at the towel floating through the air.
It floated up, the shadow wiping at its head, then Max’s face appeared. He wore a more conciliatory and subdued smile. “Hey Gecko. I’m sorry for Clara, she panicked.”
“Oh, is that what she did? She nearly killed Holly. A bunch of other people too, but mainly Holly. I cured her and the others.”
Max shook his head. “I didn’t know about that. She grabbed me and left. We don’t want any trouble.”
“Tell me what happened,” I said. I could tell what happened. I wanted to hear how he chose to tell it. I was running out time as well, Part of that was time to calm my own anger. Maybe the Reindeer part of me was helping with that, same way she cared more about all the non-Holly people than I did back in Empyreal City. Part of it was to calm her down as well. She was watching as well, and if she saw me being reasonable, then maybe she’d realize she should calm the fuck down and not drown the world in mountains of pestilence.
In my head, I’d already nicknamed her Pestilentia.
“I touched the stone and ended up there. A mushroom nearly ate me, but I exploded it. I harvested the pieces and was experimenting on the wildlife when Clara found me. She was so happy to see another person, and an attractive man, that she almost raped me. She had been in there so long, isolated, that news of the outside world fascinated her. We formed something of a bond. It felt like we were in there for weeks.”
“Time ran differently inside it,” I noted.
“Makes sense,” he shrugged. “We’re like a couple. I don’t know if you can put a name to it when we just got out of that situation.”
“I get you,” I reassured him. My girlfriend is helping plan a wedding to a woman from the past who is my baby daddy and her present self who is my ex. At some point, strict relationship labels fail.
“She has been trapped alone in the Madstone for like 200 years. She felt threatened and lashed out. You understand that, right?”
I nodded. “Well, I don’t really control the world in the traditional sense, but it’s more or less under my protection or domain, I guess? And as an all-powerful god, I’m trying to practice tolerance and patience for the… beings who live here.” You ever want to call someone a pitiful lesser being and then remember all your loved ones who are the same beings and think otherwise? Damn Reindeer and my better nature asserting itself.
“I ask you, please, to give her a chance,” Max urged. His face shifted slightly.
And I was back in the Madstone. He was probably reacting to seeing Clara make her move. The landscape of my cyber-biological Eden was dark and stormy, with lightning shooting down to strike battery trees that shifted the charge to the rest of the grove with smaller zaps between them. The lightning cleared up in a hurry, as if the stone was comforted to have me in its grasp again.
For dramatic effect, I called the beasts of the forest to me. There was a fearsome bear with a pot of honey. “Are we going on an adventure? I would like to hunt a woozle again.”
A roe deer approached and snorted. “The He is fiercer, but there is always one stronger, Winnie-the-Pooh.”
“It’s a she this time, Bambi,” I told the deer. “And while she’s an enemy, she’s not as important an enemy as this Madstone that imprisons us. Open war could be bring disease upon the planet while I try and deal with her and this thing.”
“What are we here for?” Winnie asked.
“I’m going to use you to contact some people out there, both so I don’t have the constant drain on me, and because people like talking animals. I think there’s some folks who would respond better to y’all alerting them to Pestilentia than if I showed up and asked them to intervene. Especially because it would sound hypocritical to former enemies I asked to trust me with god powers.”
“What if they shoot at us?” Bambi asked.
With a wave of my hand, I gave him a pair of solar-powered lasers on turrets strapped to his sides, and told him, “Then shoot back.”
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