The room was pitch black. A spotlight hovered over a single chair with one occupant. Voices whipped by like a rapid wind, becoming an echo in the void. Time hung up its coat, and the world stayed behind.
“You are found guilty of treason.” Like a sound of thunder, one voice condemned the sole occupant. “You disobeyed a direct order, and you brought nothing but destruction here. The world is broken because of you.”
“The world was broken before I did what I did.” The sole occupant stared deep into the darkness before her. “Condemn me all you want. I have no regret.”
“You took lives into your own hands.”
“Lives that would’ve taken other lives.” A deep sigh escaped her lips. “Condemn me, but don’t play with me. I know all of you sit on the other side of this darkness. Reveal yourselves, and show me the respect that I had shown you.”
White light flooded the small room, blinding the occupant. She quickly moved her hand up to shield her eyes, but she was too late. And it took a long moment for her gaze to adjust to the five faces staring at her from a small distance away.
“That better?” A man with graying hair stepped in front of the others. “Can you see us?” He wore a silver uniform, something that defined him from the others and made him the one in charge. “Can you see what you have done?”
“I know what I have done.”
“Then, why be so reckless? Sarin, you destroyed time. You destroyed the world.”
“No, Davis. The world still exists. Time still exists.”
“It is not our world that waits for us outside these walls. Those people have no memory as to who and what we are. We are segregated for the sole purpose of study, and you broke the rules. You broke us.” The man now hovered before her. “They could kill us, if they figured out how to get to us.”
“They’re afraid. We changed them. We changed the world.”
“You changed the world!” His voice bounced off the walls. “You killed them!”
“I did what I had to do!” Sarin turned toward the others, who all expressed nothing but silent rage. “I did what I had to do.”
“Sarin.” Davis leaned closer. “You leave me with no other choice but to send you back.” A dark realization settled over her. “Your final mission will be to clean up this mess.”
“No… No, you can’t ask me to do that. You can’t ask me to kill her.” Davis’s face lingered in front of hers. “I will not kill her.”
“You don’t have a choice. Sentence has been passed.” With that said, the others left the room. “You left me with no choice.” He turned to watch the door slam closed. “I told you the rules, and you broke them.” His gaze settled back on her. “You were not supposed to go for the big fish.”
“I was tired of picking off the smaller animals, Davis. I may have saved a handful of lives, but what about a thousand lives, a million? How could I allow all those people to die?”
“Because they were already dead.” His finger touched the thin, white wire that held Sarin’s hands to the chair. “With this technology, we were only supposed to study these… People, and we were not supposed to interfere. And you were the best of us, the brightest, and with my help, I altered the device. And I told you to stay off radar, and no matter what, do not change the major courses of time. And you did not listen.”
“But I brought you a world without mad men, a world without Hitler. I brought you a better world.”
“You changed the world but not for the better. If you cut off the head of a snake, it grows back, and what grows back is more evil than what was originally there.”
“I could not have known or predicted the outcome once I killed him or the other ones. I didn’t know anything until I returned here.”
“And when you returned here, Sarin, the world started up again, but it’s not our home now. More atrocity struck, and our technology is a rarity. Streets are broken, and there is now more dead. You have to change the world back.”
“You are asking me to kill her.”
“I know what I am asking, but you cannot leave us here like this.”
“But what will happen to me?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then, I won’t do it.” The wires tightened across her wrists and ankles, keeping her bound to the chair. “I can’t do it.”
“Then, I will.” Davis pulled a syringe filled with orange liquid out of his pocket. “One of us has to go back, and I am trying to give you a chance here.” His eyes held hers. “Take it.” He waved the needle before her. “It’s your only exit.”
“But she will die, and I may too.”
“You ran out of time here, and so did we.” Davis rolled up her sleeve. “Don’t make me do this.” He gently pushed the needle into her skin. “Please.”
“Okay.” Tears rolled down Sarin’s face. “Okay. I’ll kill her.” She watched Davis pull the needle away from her arm. “Did you ever love me?”
“With all my heart.” Davis gently touched the side of her face. “Don’t let me forget that.” He pulled the wires off her wrists and ankles. “Do it right this time.” He pulled her up to her feet. “Do not leave us behind like this again.”
“I promise.” Sarin allowed Davis to lead her out of the room. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s too late.”
Darkness invaded everything, and then light peeled it away. People in colored uniforms waited on line with papers in their hands. The sky was a dark blue, and no sun was seen. A massive, iron building stood before everything, and the world behind it began to decay. And one woman started to make her way to the end of the line.
Before she could get there, she noticed someone familiar nearby. She folded her papers into her pocket and headed toward a more secluded area. Her eyes grew wider as she settled on another’s face, and she stammered for words. But she was speechless, and before she could react or scream, her throat was cut.
Switching into the young woman’s clothes, Sarin covered her tracks and discarded any evidence proving that she was responsible. With a small burner, she eliminated the other’s fingerprints, and with a pill of acid, she placed it gently into the mouth and waited for all the teeth to melt. This woman would be known as Jane Doe, but as Sarin stared down now at the deceased, all she saw was her other self. And without wasting another moment, she quickly took the papers out of the pocket and made her way to the end of the line.
By, Melissa R. Mendelson