Anthony and Cleopatra.
Bonnie and Clyde.
Richard the Lionheart and Phillip of France.
I can do famous lovers. I can shake their pairing, rip their meetings asunder with a breath, kill their kin and kith. Make sure they’ve never known each other or rewrite the space between them so that it was fear and loathing, not love and lust that was their final end. Reunite, destroy, make whole again.
All this I can do.
I can make snow encrust the sands of the Sahara or make towering pinnacles of basalt stab out from the seas and pierce the sky. Make the world black with cold lava or smash the moon against Martian seas.
Direct the fall of a snowflake or control the elongation of a phenocryst; all are history.
All I can change.
To a point.
None of these things do I do; I control my anger, harness my blistering hate.
“I’m sorry.” The once-was-I-more-than-a-man says.
It is not enough.
“You’re a paradox. Until the end, until now, when everything is falling apart, is the only time you’ve been able to gain… awareness, even as you are falling to pieces. There’s no energy left in this universe, no time. It’s collapsing. You can rewrite every single moment, every word spoken, but there’ll never be enough energy to sustain what’s left.” The words were awkward, as if the words were plucked from his own past, strung together to make into cohesion. He was already dead; he had nothing new to say. Yet, the next was said with such hesitation, the tone so weary, that she sensed genuine pain beneath the words that came from so many mouths: “No one knew you could gain sentience.”
I have watched species writhe in sudden and extended deaths, sliding into oblivion. I have been the goat that has its throat slit, felt its blood spatter upon the rocks, to feed a child, to feed an army.
I am the dolphin caught in the net, the lamb that steps upon the landmine, the rabbit who’s eyes burn from the acid of shampoo.
All these pains and more have I felt. All the agony, the remorse, I have known it. The stench of death is my skin, the hides of a trillion creatures my garments.
All of this was made to be, came to pass, for Them.
Everyone of us a pawn in their great battle, their struggle. All of the worlds that beat and pulse through my veins, tumbling through the black space that is my blood, tools for them to use. To abuse. Over untold millennia.
And they still lost.
‘I’m sorry.’ Just isn’t enough.
Not nearly enough.
I lunge, my fingers reaching for his throat, my strength taken from a thousand million years of emotions felt and spent, by a thousand billion prayers asked of the uncaring void by every ounce of life that has ever lived, throughout all the agony, the ecstasy, the sorrow and the loneliness: What is it all for, you heartless bastard?
His reconstituted self didn’t struggle as I tore at his form, clutched and shredded his being, his lifeline, his deathline. Torment blistered across his endless faces, but when he spoke it wasn’t with his lips, but a thought cast out into the maelstrom that had erupted around me, around the watchtower, that consumed the dying corpse that was all that remained of Earth.
“Jessica. Jessica, stop.”
It was my name. He spoke my name, my human name, the name of the person that was this form before possession, before revelation. Suddenly the endless vista of pain and tortuous complications that was my being, that was history caught in my throat.
He was just a man before me, now, and I a middle-aged woman, sitting upon the hillside beside a barren husk of a castle, the sickly taste of wine upon my lips and the smell of the sea tickling my nostrils.
And the Doctor was eating the last of my cheese…