Irish sighed, pinching the end of her nose. “Right, of course. But why are you telling me this? If not just to cause me undue anxiety while it’s going on.”
“If Heherson is doing this, I thought it would be important to know why. As you two used to be going out, I thought I’d ask if you had any ideas. It’s not something just any necromancer up and does, after all. Messing around with spirits, raising the occasional singular dead, sure. An entire apocalypse worth? Why would anyone do that?”
“Super villain status?” Irish suggested.
“That’s so old school.”
She sighed, leaning back in her chair. “I don’t know, Tim. I can’t think of why he’d do something like this. Are you sure it’s him?”
“There are two necromancers in Saltdale’s registry. I mean, I could be doing it, but if that’s the case than I really need to be throwing myself a bone here, because that would make me a brain dead master caster here.”
He bowed his head as he lit the candles. There was a particular order to it, one he had been instructed on since birth. Even when tired, he could not make a mistake. Even when tired, it was impossible for him to do so, it was the only way.
“Why?” asked his sister, who couldn’t hold anything in her head, hadn’t been able to for ten years.
“We must do our job consistently, for we have chained Time here,” he told her.
“Because if released, Time would slay the Gods.” He continued before she could ask. “Time slays everything, eventually. You and me as well. Mother and Father.”
“Time is imprisoned for crime then?”
That was the simple explanation. He smiled as she lit the last candle. “Yes. Yes, that’s it.”
They were looking at HER with those big, big eyes. As if they weren’t asking for the impossible. As if they weren’t asking for their death.
SHE could have held on. SHE never did, not before. SHE knew better than to hold on for too long with most. Everything had an end eventually. HE reminded HER of this every day.
But they were HERS. The first thing SHE had ever had. They had given themselves to HER, unyielding in their attempt to broach HER initial distance.
Then time passed. They grew old, as everything did. Except for HER. Except for HIM.
They could have lasted a little longer, she knew. Even without HER help. SHE could let it be as it normally was and they would survive for a bit longer.
But HE was here – the one SHE usually loved to see. But HE was here – not for HER. For them.
“they’re mine today” HE said. There was no emotion in his voice, not today.
They smiled up at HER. “It’s okay.”
HE kept everything forever. SHE had everything for such a small period of time. SHE had to smile for them, if it was the last thing SHE could do.
SHE would say farewell.
The world would turn.
He was so close.
There was the clock, ever-present, ever-taunting. Trying to distract him while he was trying to ignore it. Oh, the clock was important. The timer told him when the inputs would stop.
His muscles were tense now, so tense. Trying not to twitch, because every single motion needed to be important, needed to be exactly what it was. He had to be on top of it, needed to complete it all before the time destroyed all possibilities. He needed to watch, he needed to listen and he had to be one frame before-
Time ran out.
“Hah! Who’s the winner now?”
He shut his eyes and dropped the controller on his lap. Well, there went his title. He used to be so much better in brawls.
They waited in vain to be remembered. A fine layer of dust covered her body, over her opened eyes as she stared at the same thing she had looked at for the last several years: her sister’s arm, still cracked from when it broke and was glued back together.
A couple years ago they would be dusted and lovingly replaced in the exact same position. Before that, they would be dusted and rearranged, able to see the new additions to the room, watching the people who entered here. Before then they had been in a different room, where few people ever entered, still tended to meticulously. Before then they were moved every month, brought down from the shelf to be held by a child that didn’t belong to them, but was nice nonetheless.
Before then was when they were played with, day to day. In the house that was built for them by the child they loved.
She hadn’t seen that child in a very long time. Not even the woman she had grown into.
Not in years.
They waited for her return, the old woman she had become. For whatever she would wish of them.
She sat at the edge of the creek and waited. The calm water passed by, clear enough she could see the silt of the bottom. Further toward the center there came the occasional fish. That wasn’t what she waited for, therefore she didn’t move an inch.
“Not now, sweetie,” she responded quietly over her shoulder, eyes still on the river. The time seemed about right, so she slid sideways further upstream and reached in, the water up to her elbows as she picked up a stone, turning to see what lived under it.
“Come here,” she beckoned her daughter over. The child knelt down beside her and looked at the snails attached to the rock, eating away at the algae. The girl reached out and poked one of their shells. The chime that sounded rang clear, as though a bell rang above water. “This means it’s time.”
“Time for what?”
“Now,” the woman reaffirmed. Placing the stone back where it had come, she took her daughter’s hand and they descended into the water.