"Don't ruin this," she begs me, "Everything we have, everything we've worked for, all those years, all those lives—we sacrificed them for the greater good and you want to just—just--throw it all away?"
I stare out at the ruin of the city, the burning and the smoke and the bodies, and then down at the unassuming stone in my hands, which has the power to change time itself, for all that it looks like any old meteorite.
"It's already ruined," I tell her. "It was ruined the moment we killed the first person to stand against us, to see us for what we are."
"They call us monsters," she cried, "Monsters, for trying to save them."
I look at her then, feeling so very numb inside, unmoved by her tears. "Save them?" I repeat, "You really think we've done that? That we haven't just made things worse?"
She doesn't answer, mouth pressed tight. "Only because they fought us," she says, her voice shaking. "Only because they resisted. We can still—we can fix it, we can salvage it all. None of this matters when we can just undo it. That's what the stone does—and you want to erase us from time, rather than the real monsters of history?"
"I think," I say slowly, "That we've proven we can't be trusted to do the right thing."
For a moment I think I've gotten through to her, as she looks at me, at the stone, and then at our surroundings. But then her expression hardens, loses its pleading edge.
"We're heroes," she spits. "And we're going to remake the world in our image, like we always planned. No more hunger and disease. No more disparity between the rich and the poor. No more war. Not after this one."
She raises her hands, lets the light of her power begin to pool in her cupped palms, bleed into her eyes. "I won't let you damn us all," she says.
If I could still feel anything, I'd be heartbroken, presented with this final proof that who we are, what we wanted, has become so irrevocably twisted. She would never have stood against me before.
But maybe that's the problem. Maybe she should have. Maybe we wouldn't be here if we hadn't been such a united front against all the injustices of the world...until we became the greatest injustice.
We're not heroes, not anymore.
And we need to be stopped.
So even as she flies at me, ready to destroy me like we've destroyed everything else, I let the stone fall.
And too late she sees that I've cracked it open.
I hear her scream in wrath, in despair, in horror.
And then time is rewritten, and we are erased from it.
Fictober is an event hosted on tumblr where writers respond to a prompt a day for the whole of October.
You can find the prompt list here.
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Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.