July 17th, 2050:
Negotiating with someone self proclaiming himself President and threatening the members of the committee to start a new world war if they tried anything to put down his regime claiming it was none of other countries’ business to tell him how he was supposed to act as a legitimate leader happened to be very hard if not almost impossible.
The diplomats were cornered whatever decision was the best to take faced with such setting of events. All efforts to save the world from premature destruction had been put into action and yet it had resulted in a masterful checkmate. Desperate they could only wait for history to repeat. Even if the Lonesome managed to defuse the Shovel of Death on time it only gave the start for the true revolution taken care by the committee to conciliate all countries around the world to establish a long-term democracy.
July 15th, 2040:
Arms opened I extend my hands pulling Alys’ inert body into their caring embrace. Because of the amount of energy I used to save her she has lost consciousness and I held her lovingly against my chest smiling with compassion. She will think it was a dream, that I came to visit her in her sleep but I must admit painfully that it is the hard reality. I should remain a memory for her to stop living in the past and go forward.
Tears filled my eyes while I look at her sleeping peacefully. When she will awake I’ll be forever gone. I’m dying of remorse to cause her more suffering than necessary although I must fight back my emotion in front of Hellmet.
I turned around to put Alys inside the shield too. I see hope in the eyes of everyone that are expecting me to solve the situation at last because we won’t have a third chance to achieve so. We’ve been fighting together for many years and we no longer need words to communicate our thoughts and expectations. Seeing my siblings reunited is moving. I haven’t seen again my sister in so long since she left home to become engaged singer. As always her smile enlightens the curves of her face, warm and caring. I will forever keep her in memory as a big sister watching over her little brother from afar. Her lips moved slow, speaking softly words of encouragement: “We’re counting on you!” I would like to cry of emotion, hug tight my comrades and my family for the last time because I know so well after the fight has ended our roads should part when I’ll retreat from the living world to wander across the flow of time. Instead a pale reckless grin draws on my face while streams of power focus and gather between my palms. I feel the weight of a heavy task put on my shoulders, such is my fate and I can’t give up after going through so many obstacles with everyone to win the war.
“ Make the right choice!”
Hearing this old rough voice resurfacing from a past I had managed to forget sounded too familiar and yet so foreign. How this can be even possible?
I look over my shoulder to make sure I’m not dreaming of hearing my father’s voice. My eyes widened. He stood next to Theodora and Naomi holding their hands tight.
I can’t hide my astonishment and my emotion, though I bit my lip hard to redeem my composure and turn around to face Hellmet. He’s looking at me mockingly and snapped his fingers putting the Shovel of Death in movement. The robot moved mechanically but quickly. Its arms and legs made of iron split apart scattering into long shot war guns.
I leap backward to dodge the first bullets throwing defensive shields in the air to stop them. I look at them exploding, scattering into bits of sharp metal melting immediately and frown. Like expected those weapons are highly radioactive, filled with nuclear energy. To destroy the puppet I must defeat the puppet master.
Hellmet threw another row of bullets laughing mischeviously:
- So now are you starting to understand you can’t defeat me in your state? All you’re doing is escaping once and again, trying hard to counterattack, but in the end I’ll manage to find your weakness! Because all heroes have weaknesses!
His words echoed strangely in my mind, recalling a woman’s face from a distant past I had forgotten with time. She smiles warmly holding a newborn baby in her arms. Sky is cloudless, reflecting on the surface of the sea. Then all of a sudden their faces vanished falling in pieces as though they were made of glass. When I look up at Hellmet I remember what lit my determination, the reason why I’ve been fighting for a better world guaranteeing justice and freedom of expression. Why we broke up because of Hellmet who was already persecuting intellectuals at the time even before he was self-proclaimed as country leader. My will was to protect them who were living happily together without a second thought about their lives endangered. I shove my hand onward, casting a shield large enough to stop all the bullets at once:
- Using strength has never solved anything! Why won’t you listen to what I have to say? If you keep playing around with this cyborg of yours the world will blow in an instant. Is that what you want?
Not waiting for an answer I cast an orb between my palms that grew bigger and showed a glimpse of the near future if another Traumatism happened again, a sight of true chaos.
For several days the world is dipped into darkness. Flying submarines cross the sea back and forth dragging survivors undersea to live in the new safe world created by the government. Then slowly things seem to get back to normal but people who were forced to stay on Earth are living in huge nuclear shelters from now on. Nothing can grow nor breathe outside the residential structures that had replaced the former high skyscrapers shattered to ruins
- Can you live with the weight of such responsibility? I added.
- I get your point but it has not happened yet so you can’t prove anything with just magic.
- You’ll dwell with your deeds in a dark cold cell like the one you have thrown me into for showing opposition to your regime. I’m not saying here I’m the victim because it only showed to the world your true face in how you deal with protesters, who are willing to revolt by speaking the voice of the opposition. You’ve gone way too far. So what? Look at it the reasonable way, is it possible for me to stay neutral as to decide of the judgment’s outcome when you’ve been missing with your duties as leader during so many years? But my task is not to eliminate you. I must listen to your reasons and try to weight my judgment by taking the right decision. In other words I’m not here to seek for revenge but to prevent you from doing something irreversible that will cost the lives of many people while seeking for more and more power.
- Words are not enough to save it all! Are you expecting me to surrender right now so easily? I simply have to push this big red button you know and every life on this world will disappear. Come to stop the countdown, otherwise you’ll feel guilty not to have intervened on time to avoid another apocalypse!
My life is shattered. Since the Evacuation has ended I’m staying under check with other refugees at the staging area waiting for the government to assign me a new identity and a place to live. We’re keeping track of latest news thanks to the radio broadcasting official reports all day long. Lost in the echo the names of the missing are said one by one like a funeral prayer, either people who went missing or died. In the deafening undersea silence it sounded like a sorrowful broken harmony, a melody of sadness and chaos bringing back memories of our beloved we had forever lost. I thought my heart skipped a beat when suddenly her name appeared in the list. My ears caught hold of this long forgotten woman name like a precious treasure recalling the happiness of brighter days.
How long has it been?
In the darkness a face is shining like a fugitive memory of love and trust. We were strongly united like best friends finding support in each other’s smile to keep living. Our hearts collided and became one standing up for the same cause. She presided the student council. I was another student who barged in the school syndicate to raise my voice against the regime. We shared only a few things in common at first, yet our fight was the same, a fight to hope for freedom against injustice. We became close friends, laughing and chatting like there was no tomorrow. She was always smiling but I knew without asking she was enduring her everyday life the hard way.
I remember the day when we parted. Still today the sound of the official radio is resonating in the back of my head when a bittersweet feeling of melancholy comes to harass me in my inner meditations. I hold tight the keepsake hanging around my neck to stop mourning about a past long gone. Inside the sweet scent of lavender is faint but soothing for my broken heart when I awake in the dark to look at the moon appearing from afar above the surface. Everyone around me is falling asleep after hours waiting for a new life only a few ones will be granted after all.
How could I forget the reason why I was fighting?
My determination grew stronger when my gaze drifted from Hellmet to the Shovel of Death. I have so little time left to watch the birth of the new world I’m dreaming of. Every minute counts draining my power, my strength as well.
I take a step forward and extend my hand. Aiming at Fritz a blue seal draws shape over my palm. I feel also the presence of the Lawyer and the Witness at my side. Time’s clock machinery was put into action by the gathering of the four of us. It sizzled and broke apart into shards shapeshifting into an hourglass made of light.
- Let’s end this war properly. Time itsel will punish you by death anyway for the world to find harmony so I’m ready to carry somehow a fair trial although you’ll not get round of a suited condemnation for your deeds. I hold in my hands this shattered dream you stole from mankind long ago by trying to get control over the flow of time. Of course one can’t erase the past and people will remember what happened but it will only remain as a memory of our mistakes we should not reproduce in order to recover peace. You committed murder against mankind itself seeking for more and more power by scheming to set on fire the ultimate nuclear weapon called the Shovel of Death. You pretended it was an accident throwing opprobrium on a young nuclear researcher who was the perfect victim of your evil plan for the example but you and only you were the mastermind of the apocalypse.
- But it was not me who pushed the big red button so he has to be blamed for causing an apocalypse by accident! Hellmet responded with an evil smirk.
- Adding to your circumstances it will aggravate your condemnation for shattering the lives of many people fighting for justice against your regime. You shall be punished to have persecuted without mercy politicians, intellectuals or simply ordinary citizens who became active political opponents to prove mankind was still able to stand for human rights and freedom of expression fighting for democracy against your thirst of absolute authority.
I look at the flow of time dancing inside the hourglass and added in a lighter voice:
- As for me, the reason why I returned from death lays in my esteem for the special person I swore to protect long ago as my own daughter at all cost. I’m speaking in the name of every innocent civilian, every orphan child who does not deserve to die by the whim of a power thirsty dictator and his gruesome cyborg made of nuclear energy.
The Judgement birthed into a giant time clock responding to my summoning. My hand tipped swiftly the hourglass upside down activating its power.
- Have you anything else to say for your defence?
- Anyhow my culpability can’t be denied so feel free to carry the judgment as you please.
- You will have to respond of your actions before a proper justice court mandated by the United Countries Comitee. For now I’m simply asking you to stop the countdown right away for world’s sake.
- Do you think I’m really going to subdue so easily without fighting?
He snapped his fingers, bringing the Shovel of Death to life. The robot activated the complex mechanism managing its body made of iron, putting its arms and legs in movement. The ground crumbled under its feet when he stepped forward to stand between Hellmet and me in order to protect its master. I gulped of fear despite my foolhardiness when a pair of lifeless mechanic eyes shot glance at me with anger.
Hellmet chuckled with satisfaction. An evil smirk curled his lips when he spoke again:
- What now? Will you still pretend you can beat me with that toy of yours that can only make history repeat once again?
Voiceless in horror, I looked at him holding out a remote set with a big red button on top. I wanted to scream but what only came out were the tears that climbed over my cheeks silently. I could no longer hold them back. I closed my eyes to put my spirits together and think reasonably about my next move. Behind my eyelids a face showed up, like a ray of sunlight. Her smile made me reconsider my actions. I should keep fighting until I obtained victory, or lost the battle.
- Choosing you to be Judge, what a joke! You’re scared of fighting like always, aren’t you?
I clenched my fists. When my eyes opened their colour had changed from olive green to bright turquoise.
- What of it? Strength is not the answer to everything! Do we need to begin another war to understand we should use words instead of fists to make the world to change positively? What kind of future waits for us if we can’t live in peace? Our children do not deserve to suffer because of our mistakes! If you intend on escaping your responsibilities in this matter, I cannot let it pass between us like casualties!
- Only words!
Responding to his will, the Shovel of Death moved closer to me, seizing my neck in a single move. His grasp tightened while he lifted me a few inches above the ground, quickly disarming me. I used my last shards of power to strengthen the shield but could no longer hang on. The barrier broke apart, exposing my comrades to danger. “Spare their lives... “ I whispered in a weak voice. Resisting any longer was draining my life force.
- Hellmet, listen up you b***d! Marcus yelled.
Everyone startled. Theodora’s eyes asked him to retreat but he decided to interfere instead, standing next to me and added:
- You shall be punished right away for your crimes! I’ve been setting up a strategy to save the world from premature destruction, hiding in the shadows for twenty years, but your stubbornness is unforgivable, highly exceeding my expectations! Even when you know everything is over and you’ll be sentenced to jail for the rest of your life, you’re still trying to get round of your punishment because facing your responsibilities, after your thirst of power has nearly destroyed the entire world, is too heavy to dwell with!
- Do you realize where you stand right now? You’re telling me to subdue to justice but why haven’t you stopped me from achieving my plans earlier?
- It may sound cheesy but I knew the lives of my siblings were endangered if I fought recklessly head on to take you down the leadership. By watching over the world from afar during the last twenty years, I wanted to protect them, as best as I could, from you and your regime.
- Speaking of which, you’d be smart enough to stay back, wouldn’t you? You don’t seem to realize what’s truly going to happen if you resent using fists to fight me. I will play nicely and put it a different way for you to understand everything about the sensitive matter you’re currently trapped into for being careless!
He smirked, gazing at the Shovel of Death with amusement:
- According to what you told me earlier, you pretend to be a loving and caring father. Right?
You who survived death have acquired that so desired power too!
Marcus nodded silently and frowned:
- What happened in the past must stay in the past. I admit I can’t make up for the choices I made, but one thing I take for granted is my love for my siblings. And so, whatever is your plan for winning the war, you’ll have to pass over my dead body if you dare stealing away from me that happiness!
Lost in the echo of time lingered bittersweet memories from thirty years ago that Marcus recalled painfully.
Back in time a face enlightened by a warm, caring smile
By the window a soft breeze carries a sweet flower scent inside the room.
Preceded by her father a little girl hurried to her mother’s bedside:
- Mom, are you all right? ~
- Be reassured Naomi, Mommy is doing fine but really tired because of giving birth so she needs to rest at the hospital a few days more.
Hearing a stranger's voice for the first time, the little human being between her arms opened widely his eyes, gazing at the child sitting near the bed. “She’s Naomi, your big sister”, Theodora whispered, cuddling her newborn baby tenderly, smoothing the tiny strands of golden brown hair that peaked out on his forehead.
- He’s so cute! <3
Marcus laughed lightly with amusement. A gentle smile curled his lips. He sighed, looking deeply at Theodora and put a hand over Naomi’s shoulder:
- Mommy and I need to talk in private for a moment. Can you please go play outside?
Naomi nodded but looked over her shoulder at her parents with curiosity when her father closed the door.
Marcus leaned against the wall wearily, looking with compassion at his wife:
- Darling, what should we do?
- Time will come soon enough for our son to learn how to deal with the weight of his fate. Do you really think, as truly loving parents, we should entrust him such a burden to bear with at a young age?
- Unfortunately, we have no choice.
- I refuse! Gaining such a powerful ability coveted greedily by the most ambitious politicians will put his life in danger, as he will grow up!
- Move aside!
Fritz screamed, clenching his teeth angrily. In the line of sight of his weapon was Hellmet who stared at him with wonder. The shears slashed the air like a lightning bolt, chopping off the arm that imprisoned my neck. I collapsed, out of breath, falling brutally to my knees. I felt my father’s arms wrapping protectively my chest. He helped me to stand, smiling with compassion.
Fritz took on guard, glancing accusingly at Hellmet:
- Shall we start?