Saturday, February 20, 2016

Overwritten: Perspective (Part VIII)

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I return to work after a couple of years in recovery. I think they only give me this time off because I’m such an oddity. No one else is like me. A human who has survived such a dramatic temporal shift is rare if not completely unheard of. Each time I see my daughter again, more time has passed, and she spends less time with me, weening me off of her care. Eventually, she’s gone for good, and I never see her again. I keep abreast of the situation with Mateo and Leona year by year. Horace Reaver spends a little time in a human prison, which is apparently good enough for the choosing ones, while it lasts. But Mateo and Leona need his help with something, and so I pull some strings and have him transferred to a different prison. It’s far more complex, and seems more difficult to break out of, but it’s not; not for them. Somehow, I know this. I have some kind of connection with time that I tell no one about. I can’t see the future, and I certainly cannot travel there, but I feel it. I am part of the timestream itself. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, I just know what needs to be done. I gather a list of other salmon within my “range” and assist them as well. They never know, and that’s just how I like it. I even help Reaver out once by sending a message on a convoluted path throughout time. He thinks it's a favor, but it doesn't work out for him. But it’s all for the best. And again, I just know this to be so.
After yet another decade of working at a salmon/chooser prison facility, I am given a special assignment. I and four of my closest friends operate in shifts, monitoring two of the most notorious salmon criminals I’ve met. Reaver is one of them, of course, but his pseudo-partner rival, Ulinthra is the other one. I live underground on Easter Island in a sort of cave mansion. It’s pretty badass, and I feel no need to go anywhere else while I’m not working. The others live with their families in the future. I was ferried there once. It was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there, I’ll tell ya that. At the moment, my shift partner is taking a nap, and I’m keeping Reaver company. We’ve just returned after a brief journey into the past so that Reaver could finally attend one of his friend’s funeral service.
“I’ve been down here with you for years now,” I tell him, “yet you refuse to speak to me. I’m curious as to why that is.”
“You betrayed me. That’s all I need to know.”
“I never betrayed you. I was never with you. I was a spy.”
“Who were you working for?”
“Lady Justice.”
That got a laugh out of him, which is all I was really going for.
“Melly accidentally sent me back when she sent you back to 2016. I was born to protect people from people like you. It’s fitting that it should end in a place like this.”
“What do you mean, end?” he asks.
“This day today is our final day.”
“How do you know?”
“I can feel it.”
He lifts his chin, not totally surprised. “When did that start?”
“Melly rubbed off on me I guess.”
“She’s a strong one.”
“Indeed. She helped me out when I needed her most. Way I hear it, she did the same for Mateo, against you.”
“She did. I overestimated her loyalty to her father.”
“She wants to do the right thing. All in all, I would say she is the most noble of the choosing ones.”
Reaver chuckled in a way that made it clear that he agreed. He walked over to the corner and rested against the glass. “I’m so tired. Is it really over today?”
“It is. There is nothing we can do to stop it. But it sounds like you don’t want to.”
“Do you?”
“I believe I’ve served my purpose.”
“What are we talking about? My shift partner said suddenly.
I look at my watch. “Is it time already?” My end is coming soon. It’s like I’m being pulled towards it, and it doesn’t feel like darkness. It feels like peace.
“What do you mean?” the other guard asks.
I cover for myself, “oh, I just thought you would be asleep longer.” Before anyone can question what I really mean, someone pulls me out of the timestream.
I find myself standing on a simple garden path. A man pretends to be picking flowers up ahead of me. “Can I help you?” I call up to him.
“I just wanted your last sight to be of beauty, so I hijacked The Cleanser’s jump,” the man explains vaguely.
“What exactly does that mean? Who is the Cleanser?”
“He’s a rival of sorts,” the man answers, but then adds that he’s more of “a partner.”
“He will be the cause of Reaver’s death?”
“And yours, yes.”
“What shall I call you?”
“What do you think you should call me?”
“I’m getting the sense that you’ve been breaking the rules, but you’re so powerful that no one can stop you. You’ve gone rogue.”
He stops haphazardly tugging at a dandelion. “Rogue,” he repeats. “I love that.”
“Glad to hear it,” I lie.
“The Cleanser is trying to rid the world of time travel,” The Rogue says. “In all time periods, in all realities.”
“And you’re trying to stop him?” I ask.
“Not all that much,” he clarifies. “But I certainly don’t want him to do it, even if I thought he would be capable of such a thing. I’m just trying to have a lot of fun. When you’re immortal, every decision you make is meaningless. At that point, all you have left is watching other people’s decisions.”
“If you say so,” respond, but I have no interest in him expanding on his words.
He turns and looks at me. “But I can see that you don’t care.” Can he read minds? He goes on, “no, what you want is true beauty. I thought this garden would do it for you, because of its simplicity, but you want something more. You want to see something no one else has.”
“And do you have any idea what that is?”
“Death.” He snaps his fingers and returns me to the Easter Island cavern, far away from Horace Reaver’s prison cube. Reaver is talking with someone. “That’s the guy I was telling you about,” The Rogue says.
I nod. “The Cleanser.” I can’t hear their conversation, but I see what is likely a bomb. “I’m going to watch Reaver die? I have no interest in that either.”
“Not him,” the Rogue says. “Just wait.”
I patiently wait for them to finish their conversation. The Cleanser mysteriously moves over and picks up Reaver’s pillow. His body shudders away from itself, and then he disappears. The pillow falls to the floor. Just as that happens, all five of Reaver’s security guards appear inside of the cube, including myself.
“This is my favorite part,” the Rogue says. All he needed was a bucket of popcorn. He turns an imaginary dial in the middle of the air and the volume from inside the cube increases.
“It’s a bomb!” Horace yells as one of the guards is pointing a gun at him.
“You see? Without you, Reaver wouldn’t have cared that others were going to die. It may not seem like much to you, but if there’s an afterlife, you’ve increased his chances of going to heaven. You’ve helped redeem him.” He turns the imaginary dial the other direction and lowers the volume. The device the Cleanser left in there exploded and consumes the cube.
“They died anyway,” I say. “I died. Who cares if Reaver was a slightly less despicable human being at the time? Why are you showing me this?”
“I showed you this perspective so that you could die knowing you made a difference. Sure, Reaver is only negligibly better than he was, but what about people you met who already had potential, but were squandering it. What about Micro? What about Brian?”
I laugh at the obscure pop culture reference.
“You mattered, Lincoln Rutherford,” the Rogue claims. “You matter.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better for when you send me back into the loop to experience the death I just witnessed?”
“It is,” the Rogue says.
I lean against the cave wall and let out a sigh of relief. “Do it.”

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