The Crossing

If you had the power to change your past - to fix every mistake you've ever made, to live the perfect life - would you do it?

Alice Carlton, the sixteen-year-old good girl, is dying because of a single mistake.
Charon is trapped in a living death because he dared fight his fate.
Two wrongs never make a right. Or do they?

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8. Consequences

            “Impressive.” Charon’s voice was the first thing Alice heard when she woke this time. He was standing over her, his black eyes sparkling with mirth. “I didn’t realize you had such an… interesting past. I might have petitioned for more time with you if I’d known. You have very… juicy memories.”

            “Shut up and get away from me. I don’t need more time. I can fix it all easily within my three weeks, thank you very much.” It was true. Alice had three weeks, but not that many bad memories. She’d already dealt with one of the biggest ones. That man – whoever he’d been – had broken into their house, raped her mother, beaten her senseless, and then taunted her father into hunting him down. In her real life – the life where she was lying comatose on a hospital bed – her father was doing ten years for murder. Now she had a father again.

            “Ahhh, so sweet. Little Alice gets her big happy family reunion.” Charon’s voice was amused and sarcastic, sending a spurt of doubt through Alice. The way he said it, it sounded like it was a bad thing.

            “What do you mean? What happens? What goes wrong?”

            “You honestly didn’t realize that, whenever you change something, that changes everything else? You didn’t know?” Charon laughed again. “Let’s just say that your nice happy family has some serious issues. And that non-murderer father is one of them. So are you, actually. The little psychotic murderer.”

            Even as he said it, Alice felt the new memories flood into her. Three years in an asylum, counseling and therapy every week after that. Even more after her father’s liver failed and he died from his alcoholism. But he’d never been alcoholic before! He hated drinking!

            “When you change the past, everything after it gets warped Alice. You may have spared your mother some pain, but you caused just as much after that. You honestly thought that when you fixed one little thing you could make it all perfect? There is no such thing as a perfect family. No such thing as a perfect life.”

            Alice felt her anger rise. Anger at herself, at her own stupidity. Anger at Charon, with his refusal to explain anything to her. He seemed to enjoy watching her screw up. “Like you would know! You never actually lived! You just sit here watching other people die!”

            Charon actually winced. It was the first non-snide reaction Alice had gotten out of him so far. “You have no idea what I know or don’t. No idea about my life.” He gave her a look so full of angry sympathy she staggered away as if slapped. “You never will. In three weeks, you will die and I will be here, waiting for the next fool stupid enough to get himself or herself killed.” Charon leaned back against the wall, his head falling backward and his eyes closed. “No, you will be gone and I will be here. Forever.”

            “Why? Why stay, Charon? Why not just go?”

            “Because I can’t. Alice, you don’t understand anything. This is my duty, my purpose. I cannot just go, any more than you can change your death.”

            Alice looked at him, leaning there, and felt a stab of pity. “Who says I can’t change my death? Who gets to make those rules?”

            Charon opened his eyes again and looked at Alice. “He does, and nothing anyone says can change what He wants. You can try to change your death if you want, but all that will do is kill you faster. Actually, that will just make me end you, but still. You’re dead, I’m here. Forever.”

            Alice was really getting tired of Charon’s mood swings. He would be bitter and angry one minute, vindictive the next, and then sink into a depressed funk that made her actually want to comfort him. Strange.

            Rather than think about the weird relationship they had – if it could even be called a relationship – Alice closed her eyes and turned away from him. She vaguely heard Charon sigh in relief as the darkness descended again.

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