His mind bled. He held up his hand; it shimmered, each hair picked out in fine spirals of oil-on-water rainbows. His body rippled between states. He was male and female. She could feel each change but couldn’t decide which was true, her own thought process an unreliable narrator.
There was a moment of stability. The world was normal – the machine sat, innocent, in front of him. A single red light flashed. He remembered who he was, how he had come to be here. The acclaim, the international recognition, the funding for his grand interdimensional project. And it had worked. He was someone else, somewhere else, for that fraction of a second.
She held the device in a shaking hand. What had she seen? She was a scientist in a clean, calm laboratory. There was no war. She wanted to return, fight her way into that reality.
A scabby claw snatched at the smooth pebble of technology she that made it possible. She kicked down with her good leg and the grasping demon scuttled away. A great roar of collapsing masonry heralded a belch of superheated air blasting her way. She dived for cover and swiped at the device.
Everything slipped across itself. She spluttered, tasting blood in her mouth. He spat, red on the floor. It boiled away. She smashed a fist into the panel of buttons on his machine. He felt something coarse, unkind, close sharply on his ankle. She breathed hard and collapsed into the softly contoured chair.