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by on March 12, 2015

Madeleine Smith Prime had never given much thought to how she would die, but she certainly would not have anticipated dying in a starfighter with four alternate-universe versions of herself. And, technicallly, she didn’t even exist. She had been erased from time. What would happen to her when the warp core breached and the starfighter blossomed into light? Madeleine had no idea. She didn’t want to find out, either. “Doesn’t this thing have an escape pod?” she suggested. She had to raise her voice to be heard over the blaring ship klaxons.

“Yes,” Madeleine Smith-Harrington said bleakly. “It fits two, in a pinch.”

“Oh,” Madeleine Prime said. There were five people in the starfighter. The math did itself. “Great.”

“My mecha-suit might be able to withstand open space for a short period,” Lady Smith-Harrington added. “Not as long as the pod. But long enough to get back to Earth.”

“So, three,” Madeleine Prime said. “Three out of five. Not bad.”

Princess Madeleine of the Grey Castle had followed the conversation thanks to the starfighter’s internal translation matrix. Now she rose up, throwing back her cloak dramatically. “I will stay. Verily, it is my honor.”

“I’m stayin’ too,” Mad Maddie cut in. “Y’all go.”

“We should do this fairly,” Lady Smith-Harrington said. “We should draw for it.”

“What about her?” Mad Maddie pointed towards Evil Madeleine, who was still lying unconscious on the teleporter pad. “She can stay, yeah?”

Madeleine Prime sighed. As the original Gaseous Girl, she had a feeling everyone would look to her. Truthfully, she didn’t want to stay. She hated heroic sacrifices. And she definitely didn’t want Evil Madeleine going and taking the place of one of the good guys. But…she was Gaseous Girl. They all were. And Gaseous Girl had a code. “No. She gets the same chance as all of us,” Madeleine Prime said.

“Hey, now-” Mad Maddie said angrily.

“She gets the same chance. That’s it. So let’s do this.”

The ship’s computer blithely announced that they had ten minutes to a warp core breach. Lady Smith-Harrington went to the replicator, and after exchanging a few harsh words with it, managed to replicate five plastic straws, with two slightly shorter than the rest. The drawing took only a few seconds.  Madeleine Prime drew for herself and for Evil Madeleine. Somehow, she wasn’t surprised at all to get both short straws. It just wasn’t her day. “You should go, then,” she said. “I hate long goodbyes.”

“Same,” Mad Maddie said. The other two nodded. They were all the same person, after all. Lady Smith-Harrington drew herself up and saluted Madeleine Prime, before powering up her mecha-suit and ejecting from the craft. The princess offered a formal curtsy; Mad Maddie bawled her way through a frantic hug and several tissues. Then they clambered into the escape pod and were gone. Madeleine Prime was alone on the starfighter, with her evil counterpart.

She was very tired. She hadn’t slept in a while, not since this whole crisis started. She’d fought alien behemoths, Shrieking Tree Demons, died, got resurrected, found herself wiped from existence… all of that added up. She wondered if the replicator made coffee. Then she decided it didn’t matter. She was about to get blown up by exploding starship. Did she really want to be awake for that?

Evil Madeleine stirred. “Ow,” she grumbled. “My head hurts.”

“Yeah, a lot more of you’s going to hurt in a minute,” Madeleine Prime said. “I’m going to bed. Wake me if we survive.”

“Hey-” Evil Madeleine started to protest. Madeleine Prime merely stepped past her into the Century Comet’s small sleeping quarters, the door sliding shut behind her and muffling the alarms. The sleeping arrangements weren’t much: two small cots, one for the pilot, one for a co-pilot. “Dim the lights,” Madeleine Prime said to the computer. “Play something classical. I don’t care what.”

The computer launched into Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the second movement. Madeleine vaguely recognized it from some old apocalyptic movie she’d seen. “Figures,” she said again, and decided that might as well be her last word. She lay down on the cot, closed her eyes, and waited for the warp core to breach and blast her into atoms. She heard the distant alarms die off. Then, a sudden flash, and-

This story was written for the Grammmar Ghoul Press Mutant 750 writing challenge, and is part of the Gaseous Girl Mysteries. Thanks for reading. Be sure and tune in next week to see if our heroine survives. Which she will. Maybe.

  1. oh you! What a (non) ending!

  2. Whoa. Now that’s a cliffhanger! Good stuff. I love Gaseous Girl!

  3. And?! You’re killing me here. 🙂

    I love the way the alternate Madeleines interact. I’m going to miss the rest of them.

  4. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a super hero. I think I’d leave evil Maddie to her own devices. This is building up to be a terrific serial. Love the cliffhanger ending. Looking forward to what’s next!

    • My favorite kind of endings are cliffhanger ones. I’m looking forward to what’s next as well; I don’t know how I’ll write Madeleine out of this one.

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