I woke up.
This, in and of itself, was significant. It meant that either my desperate plan had worked, or some other miracle had occurred to save me.
Of further significance was the fact that I didn’t seem to be in pain. This was a matter of no small relief. Neither my stomach, nor my privates, nor my wrist or jaw seemed to be in trouble. I didn’t move for a while, just to savor the sensation of not hurting. Eventually the novelty of this wore off, and I decided it was time for further investigation. I opened my eyes.
It was dark, but I could tell I was in some sort of bed. I wanted my mysterious glowing orb, and I tentatively felt for it. To my relief, my connection with my right pinky finger was at full strength. I called forth the orb, and it floated aloft with a soft glow. This was quite in contrast with how I had last seen it, and I was further relieved.
Moments after the mysterious glowing orb emerged, the room’s own lighting came up. I blinked in the brightness. I was lying in a bed in the Complex infirmary, a long, peach-colored room with two rows of beds going down the opposite walls. At either end of the room there were doorways, and the doorway I was closer to had a green light over it that started to flash as I sat up.
Two seconds later, the door burst open and the beloved quartet came barreling through with Heather in the lead. She pounced on me and gave me a big kiss. Pulling back, she beamed at me. “Hi honey,” she said.
“Hi,” I said. Then I said, “What happened?”
Matilda shouldered Heather aside and placed her hands on me. She concentrated for a few seconds, then said, “He’s healed completely. Thank god.”
“The League medics know their business,” said Carver. I turned to see him approaching the bed. He held out his hand and I shook it. “Good to see you in one piece,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said. “What happened?”
Just then, I noticed a man standing behind Carver. He looked different without his wimple, but I had no trouble recognizing him.
“Roger Binks,” I said, smiling. “Nice to see you. So I take it my plan worked?”
Roger smiled back. “If your plan was to lick my card so that I could gate in and save the day, then yes, it did.”
“I knew I licked something, but I couldn’t be certain it was your business card before I blacked out. Glad you could make it.” We shook hands.
“I also am glad,” said Barbara. We all turned to the neighboring bed to see her sitting there sedately.
“You’re alive,” said Heather happily.
“Evidently,” Barbara replied.
“This a pet of yours?” Carver asked me.
As one, the beloved quartet rolled their eyes at Carver. “Barbara isn’t a pet,” snapped Gertrude.
“She’s an enlightened child of the universe,” said Sara.
“Quite so,” said Barbara. Then she turned to face me directly. “Andrew,” she began, “do you remember when I told you that I would not always be so cryptic?”
“No,” I said.
Barbara blinked. “Oh.” Shrugging, she continued. “Well, a lot has happened since then. In any case, I did make that promise and the time has come. I am going to tell you the truth, and I am not going to leave anything out. It’s the least you deserve.”