The pain got worse as time passed on. Girlie wasn't hearing the voices anymore, but the pain hadn't eased any. She silently wished for something, anything, to distract her.
As Prez hugged her sister, trying to keep her calm, the agony progressed into something entirely different. Accompanying the stabbing of a thousand invisible knives was a the memory of when her mum died. The scene was muted, but Girlie knew every word that was said in the kitchen that day by heart.
This was definitely a different pain.
"Prez, make it stop," Girlie muttered. "Please."
"We're trying. Dip and Mabel are in the woods. Stan's inside looking for something. Bill has someone coming." Prez's words were no comfort. Sure, it was nice to know that there were people who cared enough to help, but the words themselves echoed a million times in her mind, ricocheting against her brain like bullets in a small room. Girlie winced.
When she opened her eyes again, there was a girl. She introduced herself as October. She explained that she could help. Then, she asked a question that Girlie really had no idea on how to answer:
"Do you think you can trust me to let me help you?"
Girlie was silent a bit, but when she could taste a coppery liquid, her own blood, she nodded.
October took her hands and rested them against both sides of Girlie's head. Instantly the pain began to release its grip.
"Girlie, what did you do to anger the Time Council like this?"
"I tried to help. I couldn't let-" Girlie stopped abruptly, remembering that she couldn't let Prez's fate slip. Finding a new topic, she asked what was happening to her. October looked like she was trying to decided whether or not to sugar coat it. "Tell me. I - I can handle it."
"Well, the Time Council is trying to, more or less, blow up your brain."
The news didn't surprise her as much as she thought it would. The blood in her mouth made sense now, and Girlie felt more at peace than she had been earlier, knowing how her doom would approach. It's never a bad thing to have the other team's playbook.
Suddenly, the pain returned, causing a spine-chilling cry from Girlie. The magnified voices of the Time Council boomed in her head.
'OCTOBER CAN'T KEEP YOU SAFE FOREVER!'
"Shit!" October screamed. "The Council overpowered me. We have to get her to them. Get them to see what they're doing to the girl."
"You want to take Girlie to the people who are killing her?" Prez protested, voicing Girlie's opinion exactly.
"It's the only way. We need to get to the portal."
"Where is it?"
"I don't know. You try noting the exact directions when you're traveling just below the speed of light."
"Thanks, Bill. You send great help," Prez sarcastically said.
"I'm doing what I can. More than you anyway. Calm down."
"Calm down? You try to be mellow when a stranger is failing at keeping your baby sister's brain from being slow cooked!"
Stan bust through the door, holding a book that looked a lot like Dipper's except with a number one on front. "I have it. I've been looking for this page. It's a portal thing to a place called the Time Council. I heard you talking about it."
"Thank you, Stan," Prez took the book and glanced at the page. "Well, of course. The clearing. Of all places."
Girlie stood, trying to figure out how to make it to the clearing with minimum pain. She hadn't even taken a full step when she fell.
Sighing with resignation, Prez lifted Girlie onto her back and hurried as fast as she could to the clearing.
'WE AREN'T EASILY PERSUADED, GIRLIE! IF YOU THINK YOU CAN POSSIBLY BEAT US, YOU ARE WRONG! YOU WILL FAIL, NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY!'
Girlie realized that the Time Council finally managed to terrify her. She had been scared before from what could happen to her and her sister, but they finally found out how to frighten her.
As an author, there was one thing she feared more than anything.
What would happen when words failed.