Sunburn


Jim channeled more heat than he could handle. He fired a beam of bright blue, almost white, plasma from his hands at the tall, pale woman with white horns. Jim focused on channeling heat, not protecting his hands; he felt searing pain as the skin on his palms began to melt.

He hurt himself in vain. The blue beam traveled toward the woman’s head but a small black hole appeared in front of her and swallowed the plasma. The beam stopped; Jim’s hands were burned to a crisp and he could no longer access his star. The black hole disappeared to reveal the woman’s smiling face.

“It’s like you don’t know who I am,” she said. Then, she cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. “Do you know who I am?”

“I don’t care who you are!” Jim shouted. He raised his hands and yelled in pain. He fired a wide beam of white-hot plasma at her knowing it would destroy his hands.

“You don’t know me!” the woman said gleefully. A larger black hole opened to swallow the beam. At the same time, a second black hole appeared behind the woman. The appearance of a second portal gave Jim hope for reinforcements. His hopes shattered when a white-hot beam of plasma flew out of the portal behind her toward Jim. He closed his eyes and waited for the end, but it never came. “Do you know how rare it is that someone doesn’t know me?” She said; she sounded closer. Jim opened his eyes. The tall, horned woman now stood directly in front of him. He saw a flash of white past her. The same beam seemed to be traveling back and forth behind her. A black portal swallowed it, while the other one sent it out. He knew she was controlling the portals but he’d never seen anyone use them with such minimal effort. “When I’m in a good enough mood to care that is,” she smiled. “Aren’t you lucky?”

Jim raised what was left of his hands. All 10 fingers were completely burned down to black, short knuckles. The skin on the palm of his hands was almost completely gone with bone showing through. Despite the intense pain he hoped he could get her point blank. The woman looked down at his hands and shook her head.

“That must hurt,” she said. Two small black portals appeared around   Jim’s wrists. They traveled forward and swallowed his crippled hands then disappeared. Blood flowed out of his wrists due to the now missing hands. Jim roared in pain. “Oops that might have made it worse, let me fix it,” she giggled. A small black portal, the size of an apple, appeared to Jim’s right, and a matching one to his left. A small, thin beam of white energy flowed from the right hole to the left. It brushed past his wounds and cauterized them. Despite the intense pain, Jim noticed the bigger beam traveled from right to left behind her as well. It boggled his mind that she somehow she divided it with portals without even trying; and, she was still juggling it.

“My name is Ballisea, estrella.” She identified him by his Unique Soul; he wasn’t worth acknowledging as a person. “I want you to tell everyone you meet that they should flee when I show up.” Jim watched the white plasma continue to bounce between universes behind her and realized he never stood a chance. He eagerly nodded his head happy to be alive.

“Yes! Yes! I will!” Ballisea looked him up and down, then shook her head.

“No, something’s missing,” she said. Her voice carried doubts and Jim immediately began fearing for his life again. “Look at you, you’re pathetic. I’ve had more trouble from Zeros.” The pale woman tapped her chin thoughtfully. “I need something to really drive the point home.” She paced a circle around the wispy, ruined man then stopped in front of him again. “I know!” She smiled and looked Jim directly in the eye. “You’re going to want to stay very still. Starting…,” she winked at him. “Now.” Jim saw black in his peripheral vision; he almost turned to look.

“Ah, ah,” Ballisea clicked her tongue and gave her head a gentle shake. “If you move, you die.” She took several steps back. “I’ll show you something interesting though.” She held her hand out and caught a large rock dropped by a black hole. She held the rock up to Jim. “This is you.” A small, vertical black portal formed around the middle of the rock. “This is what I did to you.” She let the rock go; two halves hit the ground. “That’s what happens if you move. Bye now. Don’t forget to tell everyone about me,” Ballisea said. She walked through a black portal and disappeared. Jim watched the beam of white plasma come out one last time, except it came out of a cluster of tiny black holes as a shower of light. Jim realized she made hundreds of teeny portals to whittle the beam down into harmless sparks.

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