Harmony shivered; she felt intense chills course down her spine. She stopped walking and leaned against the kitchen counter for support. The pale, dark-haired woman closed her eyes to try and hide from the spinning room, but her head continued to whirl. She focused on the cool feeling of the granite counter-top under her palms to try and stay on her feet as the dizziness grew stronger.
“Babe? You okay?” John, her husband, asked as he walked into the kitchen. He saw his wife clinging to the counter for dear life and rushed to her side. Her teeth began to chatter and her body started to shiver uncontrollably. Harmony knew her husband was there, she heard his voice. She could not fight off the dizziness long enough to open her eye, but she tried talking through her clacking teeth.
“C-c-c-cold..” she said, then she collapsed into her husband’s arms.
Harmony woke in a hospital bed. She knew that much. She woke before she opened her eyes and recognized the stiff, vaguely comforting and claustrophobic bed. She spent a lot of her youth in hospital beds, and she felt comfortable. Harmony became aware of a woman’s voice while she felt a familiar, rough hand in hers.
“She’s awake,” were the first words Harmony understood. She opened her eyes to see her husband sitting next to her hospital bed, his hand in hers, and a short, pale, dark-haired woman in a black suit. “I’ll give you some time alone,” the woman said without introducing herself, then walked out of the hospital room.
“What’d I miss?” Harmony asked with a weak, raspy voice. It hurt to talk, but she expected that. John squeezed her hand but took half a minute to respond.
“About a month,” John said.
“Hey I got a new record,” Harmony smiled. John shook his head and squeezed her hand harder.
“Harm, this isn’t…,” he paused and stood up; Harmony released his hand. John liked to pace while he talked, and she knew this had to be important. “You passed out a month ago in our kitchen. Do you remember that?” he asked. Harmony’s eyes drifted upward as she relieved the memory, then she nodded.
“Remember anything after that?” Harmony shook her head gently. John looked at his wife and laughed nervously. John rushed to her side again, lifted her hand in his and peered into her eyes. “You know I’d never lie to you, right? Especially in a situation like this.”
“What’s going on?” Harmony asked, but she nodded. “I know you wouldn’t lie.”
“Because it’s gonna sound crazy. Everything you missed…,” he looked around the hospital room, “…where we are. It’s wild.”
“Tell me!” Harmony said in a loud, raspy whisper. John took in a deep breath but nodded.
“As always, bad news first. Ready?” Though most of Harmony’s hospital time happened during her childhood, she’d had a few relapses as an adult. She always insisted on hearing the bad news first.
“You don’t have a soul anymore,” John said. Harmony waited for more. A punchline, or further explanation or anything, but John remained silent. After a moment Harmony burst out into wheezing laughter that quickly became a hacking cough.
“What do you mean?” she asked after she calmed down.
“It’s easier if I explain everything at once, then you can go back and ask questions when I’m done, okay?” John asked. Harmony nodded.
“You fainted in the kitchen. I brought you to the hospital, but you were already in a coma. You were dying and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Your body was shutting down,” John paused and smiled at Harmony. “This is where it gets weird.”
“A few hours after we got to the hospital this woman,” he turned and pointed at the closed door. “That woman showed up. She said she could help you, but not there.” Harmony glanced around the room to double check. It looked exactly like the hospital she was used to.
“Not where?” she asked him for clarification. John shook his head and kept talking.
“When I asked how she could help she told me she knew what the problem was. She told me your soul died.” Harmony’s eyes widened and she was about to interrupt, but John put a finger to her lips. “Let me finish.” She sighed but nodded.
“Trust me. In the month you were knocked out I have seen some of the most amazing things you could imagine. I didn’t believe her at first, but now with everything I know, everything I’ll teach you about,” he smiled. “You’ll see that she was right.” He took in a deep breath and continued.
“Anyway, your soul died. She said it’s kind of common where she’s from,” John raised his eyebrow at Harmony and grinned. “An alternate universe.” Harmony narrowed his eyes at John, but she did not interrupt. “She couldn’t help you in the universe we came from, so we had to go to a different one, that’s where you are now. But wait, there’s more,” John grinned.
“Without a soul, the body rolls over and dies, so you had to get a new body.” Harmony lifted her hands to examine them carefully. They looked exactly like the hands she expected to have. Then, she glared at John.
“Let me finish,” John said.
“Shorter version,” Harmony said through her teeth. John was giving her too many new questions without any answers about the comatose month. John nodded, then took in a deep breath.
“The only way to save you was to put you in a virtual body. The woman, Melody, is from a universe with super advanced technology. They have an amazing virtual reality game.. and you’re in it.” John stood up straighter and crossed his arms. An elegant deep blue robe coalesced on his person. “We’re in it.”