Friday, September 25, 2015

Reaper Dreams

Hush now, love. No more screaming. It’s all over. Now, now, that’s better, right? It doesn’t hurt, and I’m sure you’re thankful. I know you must be scared… they’re always scared, right after. But just try to breathe. That’s it, dear, just slow down; breathe. Look around. You’re safe here. It’s all okay now. Sincerely. It doesn’t hurt anymore, see? And I can’t imagine anything can actually hurt anymore.
That’s good. I know you’re frightened, but take a moment to gather yourself. You can hold onto me, I don’t mind. In fact, I insist. I’m here to help, in my own way. Let me help you up.
What happened? Your brakes failed, and you ran the light. A truck hit your car. Massive trauma to your chest and neck almost guaranteed you didn’t feel a thing, except maybe a flicker of dismay before your spine snapped. Quick and painless, just for you. But you’re alright now, I promise. At least as alright as you can be.
The hospital? No, dear, you’re not in a hospital. Not quite. Look around you. We’re still on the street. And I’m no doctor.
You’re dead. See? No, please, calm down.
Now stop screaming, and don’t look, if that helps. Yes, that’s your body, and no, I can’t change a thing. There isn’t much you can do about it now either, so just bear with me. And try to be quiet, you’re embarrassing us both, and I don’t relish being stared at. No use crying over spilt milk, really. Though, in this case, the milk is your life, and it isn’t so much spilt as smeared across the pavement. Take your time though. We’re still waiting on the door.

Stop screaming, please. Seriously, I know you're pretty worked up right now, but getting upset won't do you any good. You're just dead, and that's honestly not the worst thing you could be. And let’s be honest, at least…
You’re really going to try to run? You won’t get very far. They all try to run at first. Just sit down. Running won’t do you any good, you’re linked to that hunk of lifeless meat the same way I am. Neither of us can get more than a few yards away. All we can do is sit here and wait. Enjoy the moment, as far as I know it’s the last one you get on this world. That’s it, have a seat. Breathe, if it helps, though it’s pretty futile. Old habits die hard, I find. Here, you can use my sleeve to wipe the tears away. Would you like something to distract you? Well, we have some time, why don’t we talk? I’ve been dying to finally speak with you, if you’ll excuse the phrase. Here, come sit with me on this bench. You can ask me anything you’d like, about whatever is on your mind.
Whoa, slow down. One question at a time, please. This isn’t a joke or a prank. You’re really dead. Who am I? Asking what I am seems more appropriate to you. I’m no angel if that’s what you’re thinking. No, I’m not a devil either, so you can get that worried look off your face. You know me, though you may not think so. I'm the figure you see out of the corner of your eye in that dim time between sunset and night. In the twilight, in the times of transition, that is when my world blends to yours. My face may seem familiar to you, and that's because you have seen it your whole life. I am the flickering shadow of your dreams; the eyes and soothing voice that calms your nightmares. In those moments where you came close to death, I sat beside you. That week you overdosed and spent locked under observation? I held your hand as you slept. I stood guard over you. My heartbeat was in the slow ticking down of every clock, gently counting off your seconds as they drift away from you. That’s obviously a metaphor. As far as I know, we don’t have hearts.
Will you please stop staring? You’re making me self-conscious. I know that all came off a bit dramatic, but we have a lot of time to practice our introductions. No, before you ask, I am not human. At least, I don’t think I am. I merely appear human to appease your mind, if what I think is correct. It’s hard piecing everything together when you start over so many times. You’ll notice the subtle differences if you look closely: my skin is a touch too pale; my eyes are black, without distinction. If it was cold today, you’d see that my breath doesn’t frost. This is because I don’t breathe. I was not born, or at least I don’t remember being born. I came into this world beside one such as yourself, long ago, as I stood beside you at your beginnings. You must have felt it, at times. I was the presence over your shoulder, the darkest shadow in the room at night, while you lay fearfully between sleep and wakefulness. It may not always have been comforting. It isn’t meant to be, really. We’re here to protect you, yes, but there is another, more sinister aspect. I can tell you now, because it is already too late, and it will answer the question I can see behind your eyes.
I am your death.
Not just yours, though in this chronology you will only know me. I am the Gatekeeper, and your guardian of sorts. You are born into this world with an allotted time, and we guarantee that this appointment is kept. We keep you safe from the world, and from the monsters in it, and outside of it… but when your time is up, it is our hand on the trigger. You could call us guardian angels, but we’re nothing so concerned with your ultimate welfare. When I say we, of course, I mean that each of your kind has a Gatekeeper assigned to them, whose task it is to make sure they die when they’re supposed to. Me? I made your brakes fail. If you would like to know specifics, I altered probability so that right when I needed it to, your life would end. Nothing personal… it’s just, how do you humans love to put it?
It’s just business.
Monster? Oh dear, please, stop with the histrionics. I am not evil, I’m not here to hurt you, and I do have a name. I am no more good or evil than a thunderstorm, or an earthquake. Only humanity could find a way to attach taboo morality to behavior that existed before consciousness. I am what you would perhaps term a force of nature, though I am beyond nature. You could term it supernatural, but in reality, I’m just outside the nature you can perceive. We… my brothers and sisters and I, are amoral, just like this universe. I am not interested in good or evil. Those are human constructs, and I won’t be guided by your primitive taboos. Your wor… excuse me dear, what was that? My name? You can call me Sam, dear. Short for Samael, but that is far too formal for old friends. I know it sounds biblical, but let me assure you, your mythologies stole the names from us, not the other way around. I am far too honest and apathetic to plagiarize your world’s superstitions when the reality is far more complex than any human theology could express. Now what was I saying?
Ah yes.  
Your world, your reality… they answer to us. My kind and I bend the world around you to keep you safe for a while, until your allotted time is up, because otherwise, there would be a problem. A host of problems really, and none of them you’d like to see. Neither would I. What kinds of problems? I don’t really know, which means we’re all doing our jobs quite well these days. Humanity has always feared us, and always known us. We are featured in your mythologies and histories. I’m sure your more primitive ancestors huddled around fires and grunted their worries about us to each other as they struggled to survive. One thing I’ve always appreciated about you people is that you do so love a good story, especially a scary one. When your myths speak of the grim reaper, they are likely speaking of us. The angel of death, the ferry man of the river Styx, many of your ancient gods and demons and angels… these legends all refer to one of us, or many of us, in variety, or maybe some of our less savory cousins. Look around you, dear. There are more people than you remember seeing on your drive, yes? Well, you’ll notice many of them look like me. Yes, they can see you too. Feel free to wave, but please don’t stare. The end of a Charge is a very personal thing for us, and they do their polite best to avoid watching. They’re not voyeurs any more than I’m an exhibitionist, and it feels positively pornographic to draw their attention to this last exchange. Why do you think I asked you to stop screaming? There isn’t much that happens to us that is more personal than guiding a Charge through their death. That’s why I abhor any situation with high body counts… group goodbyes seem so tasteless and orgiastic.
Now back to what we are. We are the forces attributed to death in your frail human superstition. In fact, many of us gave our names to these myths, and to the names of your angels and demons and other fabled spirits. I personally don’t find it good practice to use these names. I prefer to comfort my Charges in their final moments before they completely shuffle off their mortal coil by being more personal and with the times, as you say. Perhaps these archaic names would have worked centuries ago… and they obviously did, as your cultures have robbed our names prominently… but in contemporary culture, if you tell someone your name is Charon, they look at you like you just sprouted a second head that was mouthing obscenities at them. I consider it good customer service to be accessible to you. I don’t want to be deceptive. Often charges turn to their insipid human belief systems to justify these moments. I’ve never seen God, nor have I spoken with Satan, and I’m not inclined to believe either of them exist. I’ve seen terrible monsters that would crush your fragile psyche, and they are a natural part of my life and reality. To us, it is laughable to watch your little lives pass in a blur of false promises from con artists and fools. If we don’t know where you go, how the fuck do you think any of your ignorant ancestors got it right? Please… they thought pigs were evil and there’s a good chance those tasty little mud-grubbers are smarter than the lot of you. They’re at least much happier in their short time, so who is the more intelligent species now?
You’ve seen us, now, and you know we’re around. We talk and laugh just as you do, though our jokes are a tad darker than most of you humans are used to. We deal death, so your conception of black humor is like knock-knock jokes to us. We’re a social group, out of necessity. Everyone else we know, we have to kill. We follow you from birth to death, watching you learn and grow. It’s a lonely life, so we fill it with each other, since humans are so singularly unaware of our presence. We are also not the only creatures that haunt worlds outside your perception, though I think we’re the most pleasant. Some of my cousins would terrify you beyond what your frail psyche could maintain. Your dreams and nightmares are seeded by these very imaginative creatures your myths have termed, rather uncreatively, Nightmares. There are more sinister monsters, too, which I won’t worry your head with discussing. You were ignorant of them your whole life, though humanity has always found a way to grab snapshots of them for their bedtime stories. Suffice to say that we fight for you, as well, because your lives are important to us, and to the world.
So if I’m not an angel or a demon, who or what I am? Well, I told you. I am a Gatekeeper, though sometimes we call ourselves Reapers out of some perverse black humor. When a human such as yourself has lived their allotted time, I let loose the steady hand of safety, and conspire with the world to snuff your life like a flame.  No, don’t look so sick or upset. Without us, there would be infinitely more death… or, more terrifyingly, much more life. No, we don’t force your hand in the life you live, we merely keep the end at bay, until your time is up. We can’t have you living too long, or dying too soon, and upsetting the balance. We stay in the hidden places of reality, pulling the strings of the world around you. Don’t ask where we come from. Nobody has an answer, and it would be presumptuous to attribute it to anything more than something greater than me. I wouldn’t consider us supernatural. We merely inhabit a nature beyond human understanding and perception. Here is your glimpse of the infinite beyond… or, at least the foyer. My kind live in the world of transitions, caught between life, and death, and the beyond. Once the door opens, your guess is as good as mine.
It’s cute, how you bite your lip when you’re thinking hard. You have a question for me, I take it?
I honestly don’t know why you have a scheduled amount of time to live. We don’t really know what happens in the grand scheme if you aren’t dead at your decided time either, within a certain margin of error. The system isn’t perfect, but every Gatekeeper tries to upset the balance once, and it’s never pretty. Some pretty horrific things happen, and it can really cause a mess for everyone else. Things have to be balanced in some ineffable way. World War One was actually the result of one of us ignoring the rules, trying to give a Charge more time. As you know from the classroom, it wasn’t pretty. World War Two? That was just human error. You people just love an excuse to kill each other. You’ve been doing it since before your ancestors climbed out of the trees. I met Hitler’s Gatekeeper once, you know. Pleasant guy. He always had the good grace to act ashamed. I can’t say much, I was attached to Himmler at the time, and that man wasn’t much to be proud of. What our Charges do in their lives, we can’t help but take personally. To exacerbate matters, it isn’t even as simple as all that. You aren’t born with a strictly allotted time.
Intuitively, we have a sense of your beginning, and your end. From the moment you came into this world, I had an innate sense of when you would have to die. It wasn’t always today, though. You see, you could call it predestination, but it isn’t that simple. Events unfolding in the world, and in the universe at large, can alter the fundamental pattern of things. Your actions aren’t controlled, so if someone had chosen to kill you, our pattern would alter so that we made sure you died, or didn’t. Humans have spoken to great length about the Butterfly Effect, but that only grazes the surface of the relationship between all actions occurring. Humans have only scratched the surface of the patterns we see playing out before us, and we don’t comprehend the depths beyond those. As far as I know, things that have already happened can also influence this. You were still an independent creature at the whims of what you could call fate. The delicate homeostasis must be maintained for the greater portion of existence. We are merely tasked with making sure the machine keeps working. I have never met the power which exercises its will over me, though I know it is there. I can feel it. No. Don’t call it God, that’s just ignorant. If you don’t know, you shouldn’t assume. You’re dead, not stupid. However, I’m not here to enter a philosophical discussion with a corpse. I’m here to open a door for you. It seems, though, that we were a few moments early, and I’d hate for you to pass on with head full of doubts. Some of us consider it in poor taste to converse too much with our Charges, but me? I think it’s only courteous to make you as calm and comfortable as possible before I unlock the door and send you through.
The doors? How the fuck should I know?  They’re doors, like you’re used to, except more so. I hold the keys, I don’t get to go inside. It could be paradise, purgatory, or a caricature of hell. It could be another world, another life. Every time I open the door, all I see is a wall of black, and I’ve never had the guts to poke my head in and look around. It isn’t really my concern, anyway. I just make sure you go through. Remember the surprise party your family threw when you turned twenty one? It’s like walking through that door, except I get to ruin it a little by telling you there is a surprise, and there probably won’t be any chocolate cake. Do I know what happens if you don’t go through it? I’ve never had a Charge refuse, honestly. Most were too in shock to do much else, and frankly I make poor company through eternity. Still, it’s not something I would really recommend trying. I have a feeling there aren’t many loopholes built into the system, and it could be bad for both of us.
Didn’t you quit years ago? Don’t answer, I know you did. No, I don’t have a cigarette. Why would I? You’re dead, not at a gas station. You’ll just have to make do with my company. Besides, I hear they’re bad for your health.
Where was I? Right. The doors. We’re not allowed through. As far as I know, there’s no way back for you either-at least not one I’ve ever seen, which is a damn shame. Ghosts? No such thing. Hell, a lot of things attributed to spirits are simply just us, fucking with you all. It’s pretty easy, you’re all gullible. Shit, look at how many of your species believe in some type of God that would give a shit about any of you. How laughable is that? Any being that could create a universe as vast as this would surely be beyond approaching a minor species on a minor planet of an unremarkable solar system in an average galaxy with some universal truth which was so vastly open to interpretation. The human need to believe makes you all suckers for a good story. Reapers exist in a time and space outside your perception, and I still have my doubts as to the idea of a creator. You’re not exactly a difficult bunch to confuse. There you have it… you can’t stick around. That’s part of our job, you know, and I’ll push you through the damn door if I have to. It wouldn’t be the first time. So here we are, waiting for this door to open up. Any questions?
Oh, that IS a good one! How does human society know of us, of our names? Well, let’s say that just like many human plans, sometimes these ones can change. I already mentioned that there are times when your perception delves into our realm. During the twilight, we can sometimes be glimpsed. When you’re falling asleep you may see or hear us, and in your dreams we can exercise some little power. Sometimes, in the periphery of your vision, or in mirrors too, you will see us. Maybe you’re one of the lucky few granted a reprieve from the overreaching machinations of whatever greater power is calling the shots. You’ve already seen me, spoken with me… but you get to go back. It happens more often than you’d think, but not often enough to make you hopeful. Near-death experiences? Most of them are complete horse shit. Just your brain firing off due to cells dying. There are neurochemicals being released and your get a type of activation synthesis which shows you flashes and images that probably seem spiritual to a dying idiot. Some, though, are times like this, only at the last instant we get a little prompt that you should make a miraculous recovery. Maybe that car didn’t hit you quite as hard as everyone thought. So you head back, and you know my name, and BAM. You can tell your story, though in modern times you’re likely to be branded a lunatic and be committed somewhere.
I’m sorry; I keep saying “you” with this, don’t I? Sorry love, but chances are, the door is going to open any second now. We’ve been sitting here too long. Don’t get your hopes up. I’d hate to see you be dead AND disappointed. I’ve always hated seeing you disappointed.
Oh, no more tears. I’m always shocked that, at this stage, people are still overcome with emotion. I guess when you do this long enough, you get deadened to it... pardon the expression. How long have I been doing this? I can’t rightly tell you, though there are rules we all know. When you are born, one of us is attached to you, and we intimately know how much time you have. It’s the world’s worst form of clock. We follow you your whole life, watching over you. We see everything you do. Oh no, we can’t read your thoughts, or do much to interact. We influence the world in little ways… the timing of stop lights, maybe moving small objects. We amuse ourselves by playing pranks, sometimes. Opening doors, turning on lights; that sort of thing. You’ll remember that you almost never seemed to lose things? Well, it’s a little late, but you’re welcome. Look around us at the other Reapers. You can wave if you want. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it now that you’ve stopped making a scene. We’re as diverse as you humans are. Skin tone, hair color. The trick is in the eyes. I’ve never met one of us that lacks the black eyes. I like to think it makes us look mysterious, and a little sexy. Not that we really know anything about sex, except that you all go through great lengths for it, and look ridiculous while doing it.
Yes, I’ve seen you have sex. I wasn’t impressed.
We see EVERYTHING. We get to watch you grow and learn, and live your own stupid, short lives. Remember when your first dog died while you were away at college? That’s the feeling we have when we lose a Charge, only we have to be the ones to end it for you. You’ve seen Old Yeller, and read “Of Mice and Men” so you understand that sometimes we do these things out of love. You watched your dog grow, and live, and die. We watch you grow, and live, and die too… the difference is, that I had to make your brakes fail so that truck hit you. Does it seem cruel? Well, I suppose I’d need someone to blame too, so go ahead. Rage. Cry. Scream. Hit me. Dead is dead, and we always do our best to make it as painless as possible, though that isn’t always in the cards.
There, dear. You can lean on me still. I know you’re tired and scared. It’s interesting, isn’t it? How we can be so attached, and yet so easily snuff your little candles like a windstorm? I agree wholeheartedly. There’s a trick to that too. From what I’ve put together from others, we have a built in reset which I would imagine functions to keeps us doing our jobs with as much coldly methodical precision as we can muster. After 99 Charges-99 lives we’ve snuffed out-we simply forget. We forget everything about who came before, every life we touched and nurtured and ended. We wake up as the proverbial tabula rasa. We know the rules, and how things work, but we don’t remember your names, your faces, or our love for you. We DO love you, you know. Especially the closer we get to the end of our memories. It’s easy to fall in love with humanity, because you’re so perfect and oblivious, and we’ve spent so long learning to love you.
Have I ever been in love? Of course, I would assume. Likely many times, though I can’t remember. Can you imagine that? I could have loved a hundred times… a thousand times… and I don’t remember them at all. I could have loved with depth and breadth and passion, though it would always be unrequited. We share only these final moments with you, you know. You only know of us, truly, at the end. And when you walk through that fucking door, that’s it. We get no more time together. And, eventually, my time will run out too, and I’ll forget you. The last few are the easiest to love, and the hardest, because you know that soon enough you won’t remember them. Believe it or not, we can feel fear and love and loss as deeply as you humans. We just get to feel it a hundred times, just about. For some, I guess the idea of forgetting what they’ve lost is comforting. You just wake up and everything is fresh, and her loss doesn’t hurt anymore. For me, though, I can’t stand the idea of forgetting… her. Who knows? Maybe love is just a byproduct of our duty. I don’t think the inevitability makes it any less real, or less painful and frustrating.
Who was she? I fear I lack the ambition for subtlety now. That’s a pretty simple question, isn’t it? I think you know the answer, or should. “She” is, of course, you. I was just doing my best to not make our first meeting too awkward. From watching the little song and dance routines you humans go through, it feels like such an admission from a stranger is a mark of instability. Except you and I? We aren’t strangers. You’ve always known me.
You seem surprised at this revelation. I’m sorry you’re so taken aback by this. I must admit, when I first realized it, it struck me as just as ludicrous too. Actually, stupid is probably a more apt description. I never wanted to love you, no more so than I wanted to kill you after I fell in love. Do you know how hard it is to watch people fade before your eyes, year after year? People you’ve watched grow from birth. They are your children, your best friends. You’ve seen everything they’ve been through. You share their weakest moments. You observe their best and their worst. You watch them go from children, to beautiful people, to dust and bones, just like that… to me, your lives pass like the blink of an eye, but we still remember everything. It’s harder, you know, when we can’t forget. It isn’t just you, either. I remember everything, from all of my Charges. Sometimes, the thought of forgetting isn’t so bad. Most days though, the thought of forgetting you... forgetting any of you…it kills me, in a very metaphoric sense. I remember your first steps, your first kiss. I remember your first heartbreak, and the car accident when you were 16 when you broke your wrist and were so scared of telling your father. I remember how you smiled at your college graduation; how proud you were to have that piece of paper in your hand, and how ridiculous you looked when you messed up dyeing your hair and had to live with it being that ugly orange for a few weeks. I was here, and I remember every detail, intimately.
You know, I’ve never visited any of their graves. Of every Charge I’ve had, these final moments were the last we had together. And the first. In the beginning of a Cycle, we have purpose, and so we carry through with a sense of duty. We just wave your lives away, because we know there are consequences if we don’t. But we grow to understand you all… we begin to lose ourselves in human emotions, we discover a new world waiting for us, as it always has, just beyond the cusp of OUR reality. We start to ask why, and question our motivation. Some of us rebel. Still, we lose you, and now we know what that loss means.
I didn’t know we could cry. After all this time, I’m still surprised by how closely we resemble you. Maybe that’s intentional design. Hell, for all I know, I knew how to cry before, and I have forgotten as many tears from before as I’m crying for you right now. Care to give me a moment, love?
What about you? Why should you be so special? It’s simple: you aren’t. Not in the scope of existence, at least. There is nothing exceptional about you, except that I love you. How fucking stupid does THAT sound? I watched you grow, and I learned what love was, and realized that I love you… I spent your lifetime in the shadows, never able to tell you. I saw every failure and success you had, every wound you took to your body and mind. There were times when I sat and cried while you slept, because I knew you were hurting, and I had no comfort to offer you, and I was right there, so fucking close… and helpless. I was in the room with you when your mother died. I watched her have this conversation with her Reaper. Do you know what her real last words were? She asked her Reaper what would happen to you. That was the moment I realized I loved humanity, because this woman was more concerned for your welfare than her own fears. He pointed at me, and told her I was watching over you as he had over her. She came over and hugged me. She asked me to take care of you, to keep you safe, and thanked me. In all this time, that’s the first Charge I’ve seen ask about someone else, and the first time anyone has ever said thank you. Then she told you she loved you, though you couldn’t hear, and walked through that door. I wanted to cry like one of your small, obnoxious human babies. How could I not love someone who had such an impact on someone else? All my Charges have showed fear and denial and selfishness and confusion. Yet your mother showed only love for you… a love which transcended her fear of death. How could I not love someone who inspires such love?
Shit, now we’re both crying.
I tried to show you, you know. I did my best to give you a happy world, even though that’s outside the role I was given. I cherished you, and your time. I tried to keep the Nightmares away as best as I could, and the other monsters you couldn’t see. I dreaded the approach of this moment, because I will lose you. I’ve loved you, with the pure, unrequited love of a stranger who knows you better than anyone else can. I love you still, at the end, and am thankful only that I get to say that. I’ve watched your entire life, and come to love you, always knowing when it would end. I came to dread that moment, because I’d rather have unrequited love than lose you. Do you know how hard it is to pack a lifetime of caring and love into a five minute conversation, knowing you are already terrified and confused? In five minutes, I have to put in a lifetime of compassion and love, which I didn’t even know I had the capacity to feel. I love you, and I hate that there was only a brief flicker of time for me to love you. I’ve watched you love, and lose, and I wish I could give you so much more time in this world, to love and live. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you safe forever, but we both had an appointment to keep.
I’m not very good at being a person, because I’ve never had to be a person. I’ve seen how they interact, and it’s kind of how I imagine you observe animals in a zoo. I can’t interact; I can’t impact your world in a meaningful way. I made the most beautiful flowers bloom in your garden. I stood watch over your dreams to keep the Nightmares at bay, to keep you safe in the world. Every night, I professed my love to you, knowing that each morning you’d forget it when you awoke. I did little things to help make your life easier. I hovered at the edge of your consciousness, so you’d never feel alone, or hopeless. I always knew you’d never know my name until the day I killed you, and that tore at me. I knew I’d have to. I have a duty, and the universe is more important than you or I, don’t you think? I never wanted you to see me, never wanted us to share this moment, because I think that I’d rather love you forever, hopelessly, than to lose you forever.
You’re beautiful, you know. So beautiful. I’ve always wanted to tell you that, and…look, I don’t know if you’ll forget me like I’ll forget you. I had to tell you, because I’ve waited your whole life to tell you, and now this is my first and last chance. I love you.
I’m sorry, please give me a moment to regain my composure. I didn’t mean to take up your last moments on this world by blathering about my problems, and your door is here it seems. Beautiful, isn’t it? They’ve all been different, and I enjoy the variety. It’s comforting, I guess. It seems very thoughtful to not make this so routine. Well, time to go. I hope you’re a little more relaxed. Be brave, dear. You’ve always been a tough woman, and I’m very proud of you. I know I should have said it earlier, but it’s hard to feel sentimental when you’re not even sure what feelings are. I hope that whatever is on the other side of that door is good for you, I really do. Chin up, and wipe those tears away. That’s my girl. This is no time for both of us to cry, and my face is leaking enough for both of us. Would it be okay if I held you for a moment? I think we’re both scared right now.
What’s going to happen to me? Oh dear, don’t worry about me. I’ll make do. I always have. I’ll carry on the way I have before… and the way I likely have many times before this. Thank you for asking and thank you for this. It’s not often a Charge lets us be so selfish. You are a very special woman.
Well, good luck sweetheart. I hope there is happiness for you beyond this door.
Now you really should be going and…What’s that? Yeah, I guess I have time for one last question. I’ve got nothing BUT time.
…Excuse me? Are you sure you’ll care to know? It won’t make a difference. Nothing ever really does. No, I don’t think you need to know, my dear. Allow me this one vanity, please? Now along with you.
Fair enough. I suppose I owe you this. You’ve been more than patient with me. I still don’t see how it could make a difference. Soon you’ll be through the door and I… well, I won’t be. Do you really want to know? Fine.
You’re number 99, dear. The last memory I will have, will be of you, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way for this version of me to die. It’s kind of ironic, that the keeper of your death will be, in a way, killed by your passing. My love for you was mutually assured destruction. Anyway, our time is up. Looks like this is where we both start again. Now through the door you go.

See you never, my love.