The world tipped back and forth and colors bled together as she forced herself to march forward on trembling legs. Snow crunched softly under her bare feet as Maria stubbornly pressed on. Her hands hung heavy at her sides, still dripping with blood.
Why? Maria asked the universe in the relative safety of her mind, her head swirling in a daze. Why did she have to suffer like this? What had she done to deserve torment like this? Eyes hot, her throat tight, Maria desperately wanted to cry, but despite the pain, the tears refused to come. Why wouldn’t they come? She wondered brokenly. Why was she not allowed even that simple relief? And even worse, she realized she couldn’t remember why she was hurting. What had happened?
She couldn’t remember why she was walking when she was in so much pain, or where to, but she couldn’t muster the will to care. She had to keep going, though she couldn’t recall why. Everything hurt, Maria couldn’t even truly comprehend this kind of bone-deep pain. A small mercy she was grateful for, even though all she wanted to do was succumb to the pain. Maybe that darkness would be welcoming?
Maria stumbled, shoulder connecting and scraping along the bark of a tree. Maria choked on her next breath, her sight flickering briefly to a harsh white before she was violently thrown back into her body. She jerked, limbs tingling, trembling. Maria coughed, dark fluid dripping from her lips to splatter against the snow. It melted through the white and disappeared. A small pinprick of darkness.
Maria resumed her march, following the distant pulsing pull of… something. It was something important, Maria was sure, but what it was, she did not know. Or rather, she did not remember.
In fact, she couldn’t remember anything since stepping out of the Void hours — days? — ago. What had happened? Why was she hurt? Where were her sisters? Had she been fighting? Why was it her fault that — What had she done to warrant such guilt? Why did her chest ache with phantom pains? What had she done?
Maria kept marching. It was all she could do. That phantom thread tangled in her ribs pulled more insistently. The thing calling her made her heart pound in her chest. It made her blood roar in her ears and made Maria want to scream to the heavens. But she kept her mouth shut, so unbelievably sure and terrified that it’s suffocating silence would swallow her voice. Maria took a deep breath and tasted sharp. The sharpness of something so terribly cold and dark.
Maria blinked, blackness swimming in her vision, threatening to drag her down into oblivion. Strangely, she felt both comfort and horror in the thought. Maria wished her sister’s were with her. The spaces at her sides felt so empty without them. The world felt too quiet without their noise.
Maria coughed again, harsher this time. She doubled over, falling to her knees. Maria slapped her clawed hands against her face, and whimpered as the liquid that splattered across her palm burned against her frozen flesh. And still, no tears fell, though her eyes burned. Was she too hot for tears? Everything felt simultaneously too hot and too cold. Everything hurt.
As the fit ended, Maria lowered her trembling hands, chest heaving. She dropped her eyes, and found herself unable to look away from the darkness painted across her bloodied hands — no, claws. Why did she have claws? Why was her blood black like —
The thing — that something that tugged at her, returned. Tightening like a furious fist around her fluttering heart. She knew what that was. Or, she should. But how could she have forgotten something like that? It pulled, and Maria felt like it would rip open her skin and drag her brain and heart into it’s waiting maw if it tugged any harder.
It tugged harder, and light exploded behind Maria’s eyes as she screamed. And through her agony, Maria remembered. She remembered what it was — it was the Void. That dark dimension of nothing and everything, that universally impossible god-like sentience that had claimed Maria and her sister’s lives so long ago. The entity that owned their souls, from the impossible beginning until the even more impossible eternity. The dimension that would forever be their home and prison, as well as their source of power.
Maria remembered that she and her sister’s were not the only ones the Void had claimed. She remembered the creatures dragged into the Void and driven beyond insanity. The fragments of souls that had no hope of peace, that could not die. A fate she and her sister’s dreaded, a fate they all knew they could not escape. Even if it would be centuries before that terrible darkness remade them into twisted, fractured monsters.
The tugging stopped, and Maria dropped to her hands and knees, the Void’s call swirling in her blood, echoing in the hollows of her bones. She had to return to the Void.
It was funny how she despised the Void and all that it had and would do to her, and at the same time needed and craved it’s power. She needed the Void to exist, and she knew that the Void would heal her when she returned. Numb and trembling, Maria finally remembered what she had been doing.
What she and her sister’s had been doing for what felt like decades — hunting and destroying the twisted creatures broken from the Void. Tearing them apart and severing their connection to the Void before they could wreak havoc on reality. Maria and her sister’s had gotten good at destroying the intruders and sealing the cracks in reality they made when they left the Void. She remembered following a group with her sister’s. Of tearing and severing bonds both physical and not, and then — then her vision went dark. There was more she was forgetting, but it was static in her brain.
Maria forced herself to her feet and stumbled forward. Regardless of her own question’s, she could not ignore the Void’s call. Besides, she could ask her sister’s what happened when she returned, if the Void didn’t repair her memory. Maria marched, head swirling, following the pull of her unwanted and inescapable master. She marched, and the closer she drew, the stronger her steps became. Until finally, the voice of the Void filled her head, and the binds slackened. Maria stopped.
Before her stood open air. She stood on the edge of land before a chasm, a long drop down into a rushing river below. She narrowed her eyes, seeing the cracks in the fabric of this dimension that no one else could, save the other denizens of the Void. Maria took a deep breath, then stabbed the air in front of her. The crack grew larger as Maria dug deeper and pulled. Reality fractured around the space between Maria’s claws, the cracks became an impossible reality, and the black-hole like darkness of the Void spilled out.
Maria pulled harder, not bothering to watch the fragments of the wall between the dimensions fall. The damage she incurred didn’t matter. Once she was through she could sow the cracks back up and it would be like nothing had happened. Maria howled as she teared down the walls, a hole large enough for her to crawl through brought into existence by her hands.
Maria stepped back, chest heaving as the Void’s energy rolled out and over her form. She shivered, eyes fluttering. Gods, as disgusted by the Void as she was, Maria could not deny the feeling of it’s power made her feel… impossible strong. Whole. Even as she stood before it broken and bleeding.
Wrapping her hands around the edges of her hole, Maria heaved herself through the break, and stepped into the Void’s grasp. And as the chill and darkness filled her senses, her horror and disgust returned. Maria shivered, eyes burning. She turned, and the light of a world she could no longer live in nearly blinded her. Her knees trembled, and then gave up on her.
But before Maria could fall, warm arms wrapped around her, holding Maria aloft against a warm body. A voice whispered against her ear. A familiar voice. Now, now the tears came. But they were not tears of pain or fear, but relief. Maria sobbed, pressing back into the firm yet gentle grip of her sister.
The crackling of her other sister’s powers filled her ears, and Maria allowed herself to be lowered to the semblance of ground the Void had. Content in the knowledge that her sister’s were safe, that they had her. And in the moment her other sister joined the embrace, Maria remembered why she had been out there.
She remembered hunting down the Void’s corrupted monsters. Five had escaped and were going to wreak havoc on Earth. Maria had broken away from her sister’s, furious and exhausted — there had been so many escapes lately — and had run after the remaining two. Then —
Screams — snapping trees — snapping jaws — black blood splattering against the snow — creature’s dissipating — claws raking against her back — summoning her own claws — the terrified faces of her sister’s — her sister’s splattered in the blood of the creatures and their own — the hot rush of power — the Void’s voice loud and large —
Oh. She had let the madness of the Void control her. She had taken out the beasts — and then had nearly turned on her own sister’s. She had fled. The horror in their eyes — she couldn’t take it. Though she was glad the shock of it had brought Maria back to herself. She could have — she had almost —
Maria froze, whipping her head up to rake her gaze over her sisters. They were fine, the blood splattered across their clothes were remnants of the beasts. The Void had already patched them up. Maria sobbed. She wept in their arms, blubbering apologies, unable to take the what-if’s swirling in her head. She nearly broke when her sister’s whispered,
“We forgive you.” Their arms tangling tighter around Maria. Burning against the cold of the Void. “We will always forgive you. As you always forgive us.”
And Maria thanked them in that terrible space, content in the knowledge that she was still herself, at least for now.
(A snippet of a story idea I had. Let me know in the comments what you think, if you want!)