Irene arrived at the shelter carrying Alice.
"You can put me down now," said Alice.
"Alright then," said Irene, as she did so. And do at least consider dressing more practically from now on…
Irene shook that thought off as she pressed the buzzer next to the door. "Guys? It's me, Irene Northland, and Alice Sox is with me."
Several moments passed before the door opened. "Get in quickly!" said a voice from inside. Irene and Alice complied, the former closing the door afterward.
"Bob!" Alice said. "I'm over here!"
"Alice, you're really okay!" Bob said, as he rushed over to her.
"I am now. That is, after one of those women used some kind of repair magic on me. Using it somehow caused her to be wearing a wedding dress." A moment passed. "You don't seem surprised by this."
"I was told about that earlier, and I actually saw it for myself once."
"Speaking of wedding dresses," Alice said, "Bob, I actually died in that chamber."
"That's… a strange segue," Bob said.
"I suppose it bears more explanation. You see, my soul, or essence, or whatever, detached from my body the moment my main systems failed. Before I knew it, I was in what I think was the afterlife. There, I met a woman who looked similar to me, wearing the poofiest white ball gown I'd ever seen. In short, she told me that it wasn't my time, and to return to my body. I did so, but didn't wake up afterward until a few minutes ago."
"If she was who I think she was," said Bob, "hey guys! How would you like to hear a story? Y'know, to keep our minds off what's happening outside."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Bob's story began with a newlywed couple entering the bride's house, where they both were going to live. The groom carried his bride across the threshold, with some difficultly thanks to her dress having such a large skirt. Not even waiting to undress, she went inside the house's energy chamber to make sure it would meet their requirements. Again, it took some doing for her to get through the door.
She would soon regret this. As she was about to check things out, one of the energy seals failed, flooding the chamber and prompting it to seal shut. As with Alice and Bob, there ended up being no way to get the bride out or stop the power flow. Unlike Alice, unfortunately, the bride had no one around who could save her. The other difference was that the chamber had a lower power output, and so it took much longer for the overload to kill her.
As days turned into weeks, then into months, the couple eventually accepted what was going to happen, and made the most of the time they had left. Then came their anniversary, which they could sense would be their last day together. The husband took the day off from work so he could be there for his wife. They reflected on the past year, and the years prior to getting married.
It was with a smile that the wife left this world, her only regret, as well as her husband's being that they never had a proper wedding night.
Once Bob finished the story, Alice was the first to speak. "I guess then," she said, "that she didn't want me to leave you alone like she did her own husband."
"Indeed," said Bob, "he never really got over losing her, and in the following years their house essentially became a shrine to her. Sadly, he never was able to remove her body from the chamber." He paused a moment. "Say, does anyone know where Man-Dude is?"
"She has gone to aid the women against the invaders," said Hark.
In fact, Man-Dude had just about reached the place where the women's battle was being fought…