Written by: Derek Pena
I felt a second heartbeat. It throbbed steadily, filling the gaps left by the first. The two rhythms fought against each other, but neither seemed to give in. I looked out into the vastness of space, finding nothing. Against the darkness, my chest appeared to glow. It was as if the two of them noticed the sky and sought to populate it with a star of their own.
Like a moth, a hand reached out to the light. Fingers fluttered around my chest, dancing about, as if to invite me to join them. The pale hands slowed with each beat. My hearts followed suit, their drums becoming ever so silent. The fingers laid deathly still. They seemed to observe me, waiting for even the slightest hint of motion.
As I began to snap out of my trance, they grasped at the discordant organs. Sparks jolted forth. I gasped in pain. The grip tightened. Their claws tore at this new part of me. I tried to fight the beast off, but the harder I fought, the more that came. Arms from underneath me soon surrounded me. I struggled to breathe as they chilled me with their touch. With a final pulse, I jumped up and fell into the sky.
The music was gone. Having seemingly completed their goal, the hands vanished beneath me. I could still feel my hearts, but life was not present. The light that kept me warm was consumed by them. Yet, I retained consciousness and continued to float up into the abyss, waiting for an inevitable collision. It never came.
Intense heat snapped me awake and returned the color to my world. I barely made out a massive celestial body before me. A star, full of white-hot energy, flung me across its orbit into uncharted territory. Gone was the void and in its place was the indescribable. Snowflakes peppered an ocean, which to everyone else was silent. But I heard the chorus of the stars as they slung their solar wind across the plains of purple where I found myself. I could see the air move with each vibration and reached out to touch it.
As we met, I felt my body change once more. My heartbeats returned. I felt my skin fill up and warm my bones, restoring me from my husk. Pieces of me rearranged themselves until they assembled something that felt… right. I traced my veins from my arms down to the light emanating from my nails. The curl of my fingers, the flowing of my hair, and the rhythm in my chest all seemed to harmonize.
And as I looked back to thank my guiding star, I saw me.