april 23, 2016
it took a long time for it to happen, and a couple of tries to get there.
he didn’t turn frenzied right away. she, or something that took her form, told him to be brave, to be strong.
he obeyed for, oh, fifteen days. fifteen days he would have gladly traded for an eternity tortured by lucifer himself.
fifteen days of a black rot eating away his insides,
liquefying his guts like a poison. fifteen days of a world rapidly disintegrating.
fifteen days that the sun, despite the season, never broke the clouds.
fifteen days of denying the fact her death was literally killing him.
fifteen days of denying the fact her death hadn’t averted the apocalypse. instead, it had accelerated it.
henry and katrina had been killed, he’d clutched the grand grimoire all
the way back to the cabin. knowing what he had been thinking, abbie had
silently plucked it from his hands and hidden it away.
time travel and dark magic were dangerous possibilities around a weak, grieving man.
it didn’t take him long to find it among her worldly things.
he drove out to the cabin. jenny, in her own grief, had taken off to somewhere in west africa. she didn’t share details; he wasn’t family any longer.
he also wasn’t a warlock, and his abilities with magic
were far weaker than abbie’s had been. he was certain he wouldn’t
remember the future once he travelled back, so he had written extensive
notes to tuck into the grimoire.
in the end, though, he tore them out,
leaving only one directive to his past self. there was only one choice that had mattered.
‘stay with her’
he awoke, gasping.
gray light filtered into the small bedroom and the smell of woodsmoke clung to the quilt.
disoriented from a terrible dream, he fumbled for his phone on the nightstand.
yesterday, he’d killed his wife and son. but, somehow, the images from a future he’d imagined in his sleep persisted, clouding even his memory of watching the blood bloom across katrina’s chest.
and they were far worse.
“you okay, crane?”
he started at her voice. she appeared like a ghost, wrapped in a wool blanket, with her face shadowed in the half-light.
she nodded slowly and made her way over to the bed, perching on the foot.
“tell me? after a traumatic experience …”
he shook his head. “this was different. it was a dream of things I hope never come to pass.”
she scanned his face. “that bad?”
he reached for her then. “I lost you.”
she smiled softly and squeezed his hand. “good thing it was just a dream, then.”
they sat like that in silence for a long time.
he filled her mug again from the percolator.
“abbie, tell me about 1781.”
“it’s not important, crane.”
“yes, it is.”
she applied to quantico again. he found a job teaching history. together, they discovered far more than just the fenestella had been prepared for the witnesses.
they even tracked down the horseman and the
kindred, who had teamed up to hunt down stragglers from purgatory. one
day, without explanation, the latter had appeared at the archives with a
large silver box decorated with snakes and urns.
“don’t ever open it,” he growled before taking off again.
on leave before going to the academy, abbie accompanied him on a weeks-long visit to england.
he planned to propose to her in a gesture worthy of the period romances he’d learned she secretly loved.
instead, in a bout of turbulence over the atlantic–that she insisted was ‘really mild’ and ‘no big deal’–he blurted out the question.
she laughed and laughed, but finally managed to find her voice.
the next spring, they married at the historical society.
it was a sunny saturday.