A Momentary Thing

by dblauvelt [Reviews - 7]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure

Jessica looked around her, at the rubble, at Earth that she knew lay dying beneath her feet, at the spectre of a hero that the Universe wouldn’t even let die… and the bastard had just eaten the last of her grapes.

“This is so fucking depressing.”

The ghostly, twisting form nodded, shaking white and yellow rubbery crumbs onto the damp grass. “The consummate heat death of the Universe can have that effect, if you dwell on it.”

“I meant,” Jessica glared at him, “that you just ate my entire lunch.” She yanked the box of wine away from him before he could devour that as well. “What the hell do need to eat for, you’re dead for God’s sake!”

The man laid back gently upon the grass, his hands twisted behind his head, apparently gazing up at the cloudy skies above. His reply was muted, the sound seeming to float upon the slight breeze like an autumn leaf, lazy, drifting. “Comfort.”

Jessica grunted and raised the box to her lips again, taking some comfort of her own. She understood that… the cheese and grapes thing. She understood he was dead, that he knew her name, that history had consumed her, claimed her as an avatar; she also knew that this moment of self-awareness was only a pause, a reassertion of her human self, and that history would be back. Soon. Despite the fact that there was nothing that she or anyone else could do to change the situation. With a flick of her fingers, she could change any moment in history, alter any outcome, become anyone, destroy anything. But like a child’s toy, the battery was spent, the clockwork winding down. When the Gods and their enemies had left, they took the framework with them, salting the earth, poisoned the well, so that no one could feast upon the corpse. Matter was collapsing in upon itself. There simply was no more energy, no more time, no more space…

She belched. It was fruity and stale, the force of air managing to brush her frayed bangs out of her eyes. She should have held it in, waited for History to consume her again, she considered. The results would have been… more interesting.

“You’re taking this rather well…” His head(s) was/were tilted up, the rest of his body flat, peering at her. She wondered where the hat had come from.

She knew everything else: what happened to the crew of the Marie Celeste, who shot Kennedy, who slept with whom, knew when the stars died and were born again and when Jesus picked his nose… “I know everything ever, remember. What’s the point in freaking out about it?” And she knew then, somehow, why he’d eaten her grapes and cheese slices: to make her irritated, angry. To ground her to the here and now, before the savage, hateful riot that was time incarnate came back to claim him.

“Yeah, whatever.” She said to the knowledge, and altered history so that there appeared before her the naked, sleeping form of James Dean, bunches of grapes and cheese triangles dotted about his bare skin. Jessica caught the Doctor’s glare. “What? A girl’s gotta eat.” She nibbled on some cheddar, and watched Jame’s chest rise and fall, completely oblivious to his surroundings.

“You’re not what I expected…” The ghostly voice drifted to her once more.

“No shit?” Jessica didn’t care. She didn’t care what he thought, what was happening to her, any of it. In all honestly, she wanted to lie down and sleep. Sleep forever.

“No.” The voice said considering. “I was expecting someone more… hippie-ish.”

Hippie-ish?” Jessica felt the anger rise inside her, but quickly quelled the emotion. He was baiting her, trying to keep her aware, awake. So she laughed instead, a crisp bark. “I was never that naive.”

The grapes were yummy. They exploded upon her palette. There were seeds, at first, but she altered that with a spare thought.

“What do you do for a living?”

It was such a casual, meeting-you-for-the-first-time-at-a-lame-party kind of question that the lie rolled off her tongue before she remembered who she was talking to: “Marketing for a telecommunications firm.” The words hung stale in the air between them, made her feel weak, lesser. It had been an unbelievable cover before this started, yet so drummed into her being by the company that she almost believed it some days. She could alter the timeline, take back what she’d said, but he would know, somehow, making her appear weaker still. She didn’t know why it mattered, but History’s wrath must still be burning deep within her somewhere, guiding her actions.

She knew now all the amazing things she could have been, all the paths that had never been open to her: an agent of Faction Paradox, a quantum vessel hybrid, a CIA member… so many more glamorous histories that had been denied her when she’d lived.

“So you can alter everything in the universe, but you still haven’t changed that.” There was sadness in his voice. “Yet.”

She laughed again, real laughter this time. “Out of all the miseries, of all the tragedies, I hardly think my day job qualifies as top priority. Besides, we both know that it doesn’t really matter what I do. Have done.” She tried to remember what it felt like to care about the future, to care about what happened, but it had been so long, since a time when she still believed that there was still hope, when there were still dreams in the world, that caring itself seemed childish. Pointless.

“Of course it matters,” the voice said gently. It was the voice of all of the kind teacher’s she’d ever had as a child, filled with support, love, caring. “It’s the most important thing of all, what we do with our lives, no matter how many you’re given. That’s what we can learn from history; that’s its only gift.”

She wanted to ask what he meant, what difference did it make that she killed all those- but there was a rushing sound then that screamed down from the heavens and up from the depths of the earth, and she knew that it was too late.

History was back.

And she was royally pissed off.