Jet’s of rain was pouring heavily from the thunder scorched skies. The trees swayed and danced in the turbulent breeze, as it ripped through the woods. Meanwhile, in the Nibbler bunker there was a gathering of a small group of Nibblers draped in hooded apparels. They encircled a bed and appeared to be statue still, stretching their hands over someone. It was hard to make out who it was, as the room seemed to be engulfed in blinding light.
The skin on their hands glowed and their entire bodies shun, illuminating their clothing as well. Still in Neb's bedroom, Mandy tossed and turned restlessly under the covers of a large king sized bed. There were still echoes in her head from her past encounter with the leader of the Strays.
“No! Get off! Get off!” She howled and punched the air. She soon pushed herself up, leaping suddenly out of the nightmare that was replaying in her head over and over again. Her face was covered in cold sweat and her hands trembled a bit. She walked away from the bed, panting heavily. Her mouth felt as bitter as bile. She rushed straight to the bathroom and planted her face over the toilet seat. A sick, uneasy feeling had overtaken her. She didn’t need to wait very long. The contents of her stomach came oozing out of her mouth, as she threw up.
Her hands reached desperately for the handle, pulling at it feebly. It took several tries to get the toilet to flush. Mandy leaned against the toilet seat, managing to lift herself up from the floor. She took a few labored steps, flicking her hair backwards, away from her face. She stopped abruptly in front of a white sink and turned her gaze to a wall-mounted mirror. She sucked in some air, whizzed a bit and slowly walked towards the mirror.
She almost lost her footing, as her hands quickly took hold of the sides of the sink. Heaving a small sigh of relief, Mandy raised her bowed head and looked straight at her reflection in the mirror. Unexpectedly, she was thrown into the nightmare again. Her eyes twitched intermittently and her body froze. Her subconscious was flung into where she was several days back. Only this time, her experience was more twisted.
She saw the leader of the Strays walk into a small room. His face was black as sooth this time and his eyes rolled menacingly. She could see him coming close to her. She wanted to run, but couldn’t move a muscle. She could hear her own heart beating in her chest. It boomed loudly as if it was hooked up to a really big speaker. The black faced pack leader creeped up behind her and choked her with a boot strap. He tied it tightly round her neck and pulled on it, smirking with a crazed glint in his eyes.
“You won’t be getting out bitch! Not this time.” He head whispered to Mandy, as he tightened his grip on the straps that was strangulating her airway.
She could barely breathe and couldn’t speak. She just shook in the chair, as her eyes bulged. Mandy suddenly woke up in a cold sweat, finding herself on the bathroom floor.
“Cough! Cough!” Mandy gulps in air, seated up on the floor. She seemed disoriented, and lashed out, hitting Janice in the face.
“Calm down! It’s only me,” Janice whispered telepathically into Mandy’s head, as she cupped her face in her hands.
“Try to block out the echoes, listen to my voice. I am real, I am here with you. Sniff the air. Let your other senses guide you. You cannot believe everything your mind throws at you.” Janice threw her thoughts at Mandy, holding her head firmly.
Mandy started to feel a lot less trapped in her own mind. Her panicked state calmed. She raised her head and looked Janice in the face.
“Help me up,” Mandy squealed, smarting a bit, as she grabbed hold of Janice’s arm.
A reassuring smile crept up to the surface of Janice’s usually steely face. She pulled Mandy up and helped her to her feet.
“Apart from the forced mental connection which intoxicated your mind, you’re sort of radioactive. Don’t worry, you’re not going to die.” Janice pants, as she helps Mandy meander through the tube-like hallways.
“It certainly doesn’t feel like it. I am really not sharing your optimism right now.” Mandy coughed, spitting some blood on the ground.
“The Sifters can manipulate the smallest of elements on the atomic level. They are our grandmasters of telekinesis. They will strip all the radioactive poison in your blood and tissues out,” Janice spoke telepathically into Mandy’s mind.
Mandy looked frail and a bit wary. Every step she took felt like it was killing her. She fell forwards unto her belly, as her knees buckled under the pressure of her own weight.
“Mandy! Are you alright?” Janice projected her thoughts at Mandy.
It was no use. She was unconscious. The radioactive poisons in her system seemed to be taking it’s toll on her body.
“Damn it! The Strays must have taken them into the deeper radioactive parts of the Hollow cities.” Janice panicked, twiddling her thumbs a bit, before deploying her telekinetic abilities to suspend Mandy’s unconscious body in the air.
Janice clicked the heels of her shoes, as she trotted hurriedly through the hallway. She was heading in the direction of an isolated floating box-like room with transparent glass corners. Lights were seeping through the glass. The entire floating structure was shimmering, as it spun around like some sort of disco ball. Figures in hooded garments were in the box, encircling a young man. There appeared to be floating tiny debris shooting out of him at the behest of the hooded figures around him.
Just then, in that instant, Mandy’s eyes rolled open and she seemed smitten with fascination at the event unfolding before her. She laid suspended in the air by Janice’s telekinetic lift. It was as if she was laying comfortably on a bed of air. Mandy felt anything but comfortable on the inside, especially with irradiated blood coursing her veins. She was unsure if there was a fix for what she had. She was unsure if her poisoned blood and tissues could be made whole.
Her nostrils whizzed slowly, but frequently as she gazed at the sights before her. She looked down at Janice and managed a brief smile. Her eyes twitched a bit. She didn’t have the strength in her to push out words from between her tired lips. Janice could see all the telltale signs. The utter exhaustion was the biggest and most depressing one.
Unexpectedly, the cube stopped spinning, and a familiar face emerged from the box. He whizzed through the gathering and hovered around Mandy.
“It’s you. Neb, you’re alright,” Mandy said in her mind.
Neb could hear her thoughts. They had a telepathic link. He smiled at her and batted his eyelids, bowing his head with traces of regret and sorrow on his face.
He didn’t speak back to her. He looked at Janice and nodded. She withdrew her telekinetic hold on Mandy, letting her drop into Neb's arms. He carried her into the static, floating cube and laid her on a rectangular slab.