“Right smack back here in six hours flat.”
I’m back in the white room. The same blank land I showed up in... right after I died.
And the square box-headed individual, The Goddess herself, stands in front of me, chirping with that deep, inhuman voice of hers.
“Bless your heart,” she said. My heart does not feel blessed, even if The Goddess herself was saying it to me. In fact, her tone suggests that it is not a very sincere blessing to begin with...
“I died again, didn’t I?”
“Right as rain, you did,” The Goddess replies. “Really messing up my day here. That there obelisk, you see it? Supposed to be making a brand-new universe on that thing. Due by next Tuesday, but I keep getting distracted on account of your cute face popping up over and over.”
“I died... in another crash on another carriage.”
“Uh, my info says it was a car crash.”
“What’s a car?”
“Nevermind, then,” she says. She flicks open a panel on her arm and begins tapping at it. I move around to see what it is she is viewing, and it is in fact another moving painting-type design, being controlled by her very own touch, just like that interesting square communication device Francis had used back on Earth. “What is that thing?”
“It’s my computer monitor,” she says. “Lets me view info from across the multiverse at the ease of my connection speed. Which is about infinite, I’ll tell you.”
“Computer monitor... I do not know any of these words.”
The Goddess sighs. “Exactly why you weren’t supposed to end up on Earth, of all places. Your kind’s not acclimated to that sorta world.”
“But... Oh, but Earth was such a fascinating place,” I say. “A world full of wonder and mystery, adventure and heroes. The magic possessed in such a place was beyond my comprehension. And yet... I want so much to comprehend it all.”
“Yeah, Earth’s pretty nice,” The Goddess says. “Never been there or nothing, but clear as day, Earth’s gotta be in the top ten worlds.”
“What world could possibly exist that is better than Earth?” I ask.
“Balloon Land is right fantastic.”
“What’s a balloon?”
She sighs. “Well... Aight, I’ll admit. I did you one dirty with the Earth stuff. My mess-up. My right to wrong. You ain’t got to be punished for me letting the horse out of the barn.”
“I am quite confused by this line of statement.”
“Y’see, your karma’s real bad this time,” she says. “Last time you died, you were a martyr and all that jazz. This time, you ain’t done nothing but set a convention center on fire and get two extremely attractive young’uns killed in a car crash.”
“Like your goodness points versus badness points. Your rank for how you’ll be reborn in the next world.”
“And last time, I was high up, so I received a very high placement in a world with walking cities and giant monsters to fight...”
“Yep, though you went to a much different place on account of little old me.”
“But this time, I was not high up, so I will receive...”
“Just kidding. But it is lava world. A whole realm made of lava and all that. Lava people, lava cities, lava bats that do way too much damage so it’s real unbalanced... See what I’m getting at here, kid?”
“I’m doomed, all because I died so quickly...”
“Well, ‘cept I ain’t gonna let you go that way. I AM The Goddess after all.” She folded her thick, gray arms together and her strange face shifted into a sort of self-satisfied smirk. “I can do whatever I please to you.”
“Anything at all?”
“Anything at all.”
I hadn’t truly thought of the concept of “all” until now. This woman, this The Goddess who is worshiped across all the realms. Surely she can do anything she sets her mind on. Surely she can turn back time, or change fates, or create entire worlds.
My mind sets upon a thousand ideas at once. Truly limitless potential, right there in front of me.
I just have to confirm this. It can’t truly be as good as I think. Or... can it? Maybe it can. “So you could do anything you wanted, and in addition you feel guilty to sending me to the wrong world...”
“When you say anything, you truly mean anything?”
“Right I do.”
“You’re pushing your luck and you ain’t even asked.”
I start to ask the only question I possibly could. “Could you... Perhaps...”
“Would you, The Goddess, take my hand in marriage and join me on the quest to great heroics? Together, we would be unstoppable! We would save not just the world, but every world! Our combined love would change the fabric of reality.”
The Goddess bursts out laughing.
“So, what do you think of my proposal?”
She took a few more moments to stop laughing. “You just proposed to me... The balls on you.”
“I have no balls. I have only the gusto of my spirit.”
“I see that.”
“So, your answer?” I ask.
“Fuck no,” The Goddess replies. “I mean, thanks and all, but fuck no. I ain’t about to get tied down at my young age.”
“How old are you?”
“Real rude to ask a woman her age.”
“Also, sorry, but you ain’t my type,” she says. “I like my boys soft and cuddly. Real teddy bear types you can just grab and gobble up like...” She motions to a ferocious hug and then makes some suggestive hip movements.
“It was worth the shot I gave it,” I say. “Then, if not marriage to The Goddess herself, what options do I have available to me?”
“You can reincarnate in whatever world you want. And... I’ll keep your memories and system intact, just because I feel downright sad about my screw-up.”
“Whatever world I want..."
“Don’t you do this again.”
“Sorry. I’ve made my decision, though,” I say.
“What? I didn’t even give you the list of worlds! C’mon, you gotta try out Balloon Land.”
“No need. Because I already know that I want to go...”
“Ah, Mystix it is th—Huh? Earth?”
“That’s right. I want—no, I need to return to Earth as soon as possible. In fact, the moment I died must become the moment I truly live.”
“Earth isn’t supposed to have... Agh, I gave you my word and everything. I’m a right fool,” she said. “I thought for sure you were gonna pick Mystix again. Why don’t you wanna return home? Be with, uh, the pink hair people?”
“Maybe in a future time,” I say, “after I have achieved my status as an S-Rank Hero and saved the Earth. Perhaps then I can return to Mystix and show my people back in North Spire what I have become.”
“Uh, no, this ain’t a revolving door,” The Goddess says. “You got one chance. One last little opportunity thanks to my overwhelmingly awesome generosity. I’m a great gal and you’re a puny little piece of nothing that better make up his mind once and for all.”
“That changes my equation somewhat...”
“...But not enough to shift my acceptance. I want to go to Earth. I want to become a hero in a systemless world!”
“Just don’t die ever again or I’ll make sure you go to Lava World no matter what.” The Goddess begins preparing my entry by pressing a bunch of buttons that appear out of nowhere in this white wasteland. “You’ll wake up in a few seconds, brand-spanking new like nothing ever happened to you. In fact, for all you know, this might be all just a dream.”
“All just a dream, eh? I doubt that,” I say. “A dream of mine would have featured the love of my life Malia.”
Then, suddenly, the image of Malia herself, in all her elfly glory, pops up right beside The Goddess.
“Just playing with you,” The Goddess says.
A whooshing sound. The Goddess waves me bye.
Without any further warning, she shoves me into the portal.
The room of white is replaced by flashing blue and black going faster than I could have ever imagined.
I’m about to be reborn.
But... I have a very good feeling about what’s coming next.
And that feeling is confirmed about eight seconds later when I appear on the other side of the portal—I’m upside-down and arms hanging against the roof of the horseless carriage.
“Yes!” I shout. “Yes!!!!”
Delta, also upside-down, turns to me and gives the angriest glare I’ve ever seen.