[02.08.01] » by Benjamin S. Avner
"THE GATE. A HINGE BETWEEN THE HALVES, NEITHER ONE NOR
-Written on a set of
gates near Seattle Center
"I can still relive
the memories of those days long past… just by closing my eyes, like such, and
whispering your name into the desolate night… "
I feel the loss as I'm pulled awake by the usual summons. "Serge…" Consciousness comes pouring in, but I try to
fight it off for a second. It's a
losing battle. "Get up, Serge!" My mother's
voice pierces through any last fog of dreams - "come on, sleepy head! Get up!"
I force myself to sit up in bed, but after that, I wait for about ten
minutes, listlessly waiting for my thoughts to order themselves.
started sleeping until noon every day, those who cared just chalked it up to
general exhaustion, or the aftereffects of my collapse at the beach a month and
a half ago. I've always slept late, but
I used to get up earlier in the summer to enjoy the bright days. Not now.
I sleep later and later every day, and my mother sometimes resorts to
waking me up. Now it's… well, I don't bother
to move my head to check the clock, but it must be 2:30 or 3:00 in the
eventually get moving. Once I get
outside, I find I have to squint from the glare of the light. The day seems particularly warm and
bright. So much so that anything in
Arni other than the bright blue expanse of the sky seems dark and colorless by
comparison. I used to love summer days
like this, and I guess part of me still does.
But I've lost something. Now I
only feel really alive at night.
Fantasies that are so painfully far away in daylight seem almost ready
to come alive in the dark.
at the docks, where I can usually expect to find Leena this time of
afternoon. Like always. Leena runs over to hug me as soon as I
approach, being used to my late "mornings."
Now Leena starts pulling at my shirt and rubbing her hands over my lower
back. It's an effort to keeps holding
her, and not to flinch away.
We spend a few hours baby-sitting a
few kids, and then go for a walk to Opassa Beach. I'm glad to be near the sea; it seems to be calling to me in an
odd way. The rolling of the waves, the
gentle, repetitious lapping of the surf seems to calm Leena, but it stirs
something in me. Something connected to
whatever I've lost. I want to go
somewhere, do something great.
Explore. Escape, I guess.
Instead, we gather shells for
Leena's latest art project, and then she sets me to doing pushups followed by
running, saying that I need to maintain my oh-so-wonderful physique. I used to live to jog on the beach, with
Leena as my surrogate aerobics coach.
But now I feel like I'm not going anywhere, no matter how fast I
move. I try to enjoy myself anyway, but
it's kinda hard when every step brings the temptation to stop and let the sea
tell me what it has to say. Afterwards,
we sit on the beach for a few more hours, Leena occasionally giving me massages
and me returning the favor… lifelessly, I think, but she doesn't seem to
Every moment seems like forever and
I count the minutes until it'll be time to do something else, but when sunset
approaches, I find it hard to believe the whole day is over. A day just like any other. As usual, I've tried to ignore my
misgivings, but haven't been able to. I
feel almost an obligation to be happy, for Leena's sake, for my mother's, for
everyone's. But at moments like these,
I can't fight the simple fact that I'm not happy. It's ridiculous to pretend everything's right when you're constantly
fighting back these stirrings to somehow escape. I guess I've become a dreamer, and there's nothing to satisfy my
Why can't I enjoy myself? I think it's because reality is so pale
compared to fantasy.
As night falls, Leena and I fall to
our several-times-a-week-random-philosophy-discussion. Yet another routine. "Now, they're exploring their spirits, not
just the physical world. That's why I
say they're living their lives to the fullest," she's saying of the old couple
from Arni's pub.
"How do you know that? You assume that everything in their daily
lives is deep and meaningful, but they're not exploring a damn thing," I
retort. "They're doing nothing. These are two old people living out the last
days of their lives in mundane-ness because they don't want to put forth the
effort to live to the fullest. Now, take
someone like Rachel. For the first time
in her life, she just might be really living."
Leena tries to interrupt but I talk over her. "Hang on, let me finish here.
Her one real dream is to be a traveling poet, right? One day, she finally gets up the courage to
just leave here. And she doesn't have a
clue whether she'll make it or not."
Rachel had been a fixture
waitressing at the shack we called a pub, but one day, the morning after my
collapse at the beach, she'd just been gone, leaving only a short note
behind. A note written in verse,
naturally. We in Arni will probably
never know whether she'll move millions' hearts with her words, or end up dead
in a ditch.
"Yeah, Serge, I agree with
that. But you assume everyone's dream
is to travel or something. What about
people who dream of settling down in a quiet village?"
"You think there're that many? I don't."
Leena smiles slightly,
challengingly. "How do you figure
that? There's really no logical way to
A wave of frustration hits me. What's the point? "I can't prove what I'm saying logically. But it's the truth. Why should logic dictate the truth? I can tell you right now that damn near
everyone in Arni is not 'living their life to the fullest.' Everyone… well, except maybe you, Chief
Radius, and that old fisherman… everyone else living here dreams of being
somewhere else. They're just afraid of
"Why do you keep coming back to
that? Why is change inherently
bad?" She goes on for awhile. Debating abstract things with Leena is
another former highlight of my life that had all meaning abruptly sucked out of
it six weeks ago. We go back and forth,
but none of it means anything. The
truth won't change no matter how skillfully we reason out the same arguments
over and over. Finally, Leena throws
her arm around my shoulders. "Well,
whatever. It's getting late, I'll see
"So long, Leena." She leaves and I'm finally alone. Alone with the sea, the night, and my
loss. The loss again.
I'm trying not to let my bitterness
extend towards Leena. She's actually
been considerate of how I've changed, and knows when I want to be alone, like
now. I really should let her know
exactly what I'm going through. I guess
I'm afraid of change too. But it's
unfair to Leena, and to everyone in Arni, for that matter, to keep carrying on
like I'm whole. They'll have to know
sooner or later how, well, deeply unhappy I am; breaking the news now could
spare some people a lot of pain.
Leena. "Serge and Leena forever."
It really seemed that way, once.
But since the loss, everything about her is so hollow. All the time I spend with her seems like
more of myself that I'm giving away. It
shouldn't be, but it is. I've been
trying, but there's nothing I can do about it.
Hell, my whole life up until now
has meant nothing, and it doesn't look like it'll change anytime soon. I've accomplished nothing and benefited no
one. The world hasn't changed at all as
a result of my existence. I think I'd
go insane if I were to stay in Arni and become a fisherman. Maybe I'd still be haunted by my loss, too.
This "loss" has to somehow explain
why I've become so self-centered where I used to be a nice guy, and so unhappy
with everything in my life I once loved.
Why I've been drawn to fantasy, darkness, and the sea, and why I'm
suddenly obsessed with the unknown.
Basically, I lost something, six
weeks ago, when I collapsed for no apparent reason on Opassa Beach. I'm sure of it. My life since then is empty.
I don't know what it is that's missing – a dream? a memory? – actually,
it's like the memory of a dream. I
know I've forgotten something, and the vaguest hints of it that I get sometimes
are enough to stir my soul.
What I've lost was important to me,
precious to the point that living without it seems pointless. It's totally removed from my life, yet the
brief almost-tastes of it I get are more real than reality. At night, by the sea, and in my dreams… whatever
it is keeps calling to me, with its little tantalizing hints. But I've never quite been able to reach it,
or even figure out what it is, since the incident on the beach.
Maybe it makes me a bad person, or
maybe it's the logical extension of my desire, but I know with sudden clarity
that I would give anything in my power to find out what I've lost. I'd give my life if, before I died, I could
get back what's been taken from me.
Then it's like I'm in another
seems different now. Actually, on
closer inspection, it's the rest of the world that seems different. The sea's gentle roll is the one thing that
seems exactly the same, but there's a subtly different feel to everything
else. More unreal. The sand seems less solid, the cloudless
summer sky less dark, a clearer, less-tangible black. It's enough to make me a little dizzy, so I turn around, trying
to clear my head. The dizziness
gradually subsides, but the weird feel of the world does not.
When I turn back to my original
position, I see a boy standing in front of me.
Was he there before? A child,
maybe six years old, with a broad face and spiky red hair. The kid is dressed in blue, and seems like a
ghost in appearance – the air around him seems to shimmer. He stands staring at me dispassionately,
small arms dangling by his sides. He
seems to solidify partially as everything else fades, leaving a sort of balance
between the ghostly world and the ghostly child.
My mind tells me I shouldn't know
him, but somehow I do. He is called
-Why have you come here? This place is not your. Return-
The words clearly come from Crono, but he doesn't speak aloud or move
his mouth. I can only stare at him,
totally confused. -Return to your home. Return-
he repeats, again without actually talking.
The voice is quiet and aetherial, seeming like several voices at
I try to
talk a few times. What I finally come
up with is something like "Return?
What? What are you talking… uh,
what is this?"
long pause, while Crono just stares at me.
It makes me a bit nervous, though that might be just the normal
discomfort that comes from being stared at, strangely familiar ghost-child or
not. -It is understood now. This was
not conscious will. Still, you have
played a part in bringing yourself to this place- I wait for an explanation and get one, sort of. -Your
will caused you to be drawn back here,
to the center of space-time. A strong
desire, combined with your integral part in the space-time continuum. This was unexpected, but will be remedied in
due course. For now, welcome, Serge,
Chrono Trigger- He vanishes.
Trigger? Suddenly, I remember. I saw this boy in a dead world, again in
Terra Tower, and spoke with him on Opassa Beach. I soon realize that none of what I can remember really makes any
kind of sense within any context I can think of. More images flash through my mind, images out of a buried memory,
but I can't resolve them into anything coherent. It's like a floodgate that's been pried just slightly open – I'm
suddenly in contact with memories I never knew I had, but after a promising
start, there's not enough water pressure in the reservoir to send more than a
few trickles out. Incoherent images
keep coming. I'm a fighter. I'm unconscious. I'm awake. I'm mortally
wounded. I'm myself. I'm someone else. I'm with…
"KID!" I actually do yell the name out loud, and stagger backwards,
holding my head. I remember Kid, but
more than that, the idea of not remembering Kid seems inconceivable. That's the trigger for a deluge of
images. Now it's like the floodgate has
suddenly vanished completely, and the memories pour out of it in a deluge. I slump onto the "ground" and desperately
try to sort out what I'm remembering before it drives me to insanity. I meet Kid, and see her die and live
again. I fight alongside her, against
Lynx, FATE, and the Dragon God's shade.
I see Karsh and Zoah and Marcy, Norris and Fargo, Viper and Riddel and
Glenn and all the others. I remember a
Radius stirred into action by a desire to fix the mistakes he'd made years
earlier. I see a young woman named
Leena who fights by my side, filled with a strange mix of curiosity and sadness
so absent in the Leena I grew up with.
And so on. I wait for what seems
like an eternity while the memories wash over me, filling me.
I have no clue exactly how long
it's been, if time even has meaning here, when Crono appears before me
again. -The timestream remains unstable with regards to you. The resdual effect of the use of Time Eggs
appears to have solidified your control over the space-time continuum. But this is only an anomaly, easily
reversed. You will now be returned you
to your former state. All will be taken
care of for you-
"Wait!" I yell, struggling to my
feet and holding up my hands. "Hang on
a second!" The world starts to distort,
and abruptly stops again. He's trying
to send me back, but it's not working.
-What are you doing?- demands the not-quite-voice of Crono. -You
cannot defy the will of space-time itself-
Something continues trying to send me back, but I don't want to go back. I'm fighting it off. I have no clue how, but it seems that
defying the will of space-time itself is exactly what I'm doing.
"Wait!" I yell a second time. "Stop!
You can't take my memories away again!"
I feel a renewed sense of struggle,
and again I somehow win this struggle.
The world tries to fade back into focus, but I fiercely keep my thoughts
on Kid and the others. I'll die before
I let them disappear from my mind again.
All I have are memories, thoughts, but as I'd thought they would, they
seem more real to me than my life in Arni.
-It was agreed upon long ago. Do not presume to defy the will of the
timestream. You must be returned to
your former state-
"No." I'm aware of the absurdity of the entire situation, but force
myself to ignore it as I step forward.
"I won't let you. It seems I can
stop you, so I'll make the decisions about my own mind."
Yet another eternity seems to
pass. The pressure builds and dies in
cycles, as my antagonist tries to find its way through my defenses. It pounces whenever I let my guard down at
all. I focus on Kid, but I start to
fear that I can't hang on.
Once it almost wins. Kid literally seems to disappear from my
head, bit by bit, but an overwhelming fear strengthens me enough to survive
this assault. I'm scared to death of
losing my memory of her and that dreamlike time. Our bizzare journey stirred feelings in me that I've never
experienced before or since in my short life.
I barely survived forgetting the first time, and I couldn't deal with it
if it happened again.
Abruptly the struggle ceases. Whatever consciousness is behind this seems
to have realized it can't win. I'm
amazed, but grit my teeth and try not to let my guard down for an instant. The sea continues to crash against the
unreal beach, heedless of everything.
Somehow, it's unchanged even here.
Crono speaks again. -Why
do you defy the will of time itself?
Your sacrifice was for the good of all-
I hesitate for a moment; how does
one respond to something like that?
"Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not convinced that I'm doing anyone any
favors by becoming a shell of myself. I
mean, if I was strong enough to draw myself here just by wishing for my mind
back, I think there's a reason. My
memories and thoughts belong to me."
-Irrelevant. Perhaps true, but
irrelevant. Would you truly defy all
creation?- Crono raises his head to look me straight in the eye. Based on the voice, I don't expect to see
anything but emptiness in his eyes. To
my surprise, his eyes seem to have a
tinge of something human.
"I guess so. Is that my only choice?"
-It may be-
-BETWEEN THE HALVES-
Crono and I
continue to stare at each other, unspeaking.
Finally, acting on a hunch, I call out to him. "Hey. You act like
there's something conscious controlling space-time. Your boss, I guess. Can I
speak to it?"
rewarded with, surprisingly, a dry chuckle.
Crono's expression, of course, doesn't change. -You are. Time has its own will, it's own
consciousness. Space-time is shaped by
those who touch it most closely. They
leave a little bit of themselves behind.
The one called Crono was the most influential being to live on this
planet, from time's perspective, so the space-time continuum has molded itself
partially after him. This includes
sentience and even some of what you would call 'humanity'-
"Yeah? Well, uh..."
wish to appeal your case to the human side of space-time?-
"Yeah. I do.
If you'll listen." Silence. "What, so you're the guy to talk to?"
-'I' am all- Abruptly, the image of Crono is replaced by another child, a
little girl with thick glasses, wearing a brown outfit and a bizarre
helmet. I've seen her too – Crono's
companion, Lucca. Like the Crono-image,
she "speaks" without her face moving, and the voice is the same. -All who
have shaped time have left their mark.
Lucca and Janus- The image
abruptly becomes a small boy with blue hair.
-Schala- Before I can make out any details about
Janus, the image startles me by resolving into a faithful reproduction of a
child Kid. -Those few outside of time
as well, such as Spekkio- Abruptly,
it's a creature I can't even hope to identify.
It's a big heavyset being, standing on two legs, with short, thin arms
by its side and an enormous mouth. It
resembles a red Beach Bum, actually, but it looks to be able to move much more
quickly. Seems powerful, too.
-Even yourself, Serge- I find that I'm looking myself in the
eye. The child Serge haunts me a
little. It's myself, but without any of
the love for life I had at that age… actually, without any emotion. It's me drained of all humanity, all that
makes me an individual. But I do seem
to sense that this Serge-image has just a trace of me in it, as if my mind has
also become a small part of the space-time continuum. I get a sense of standing naked before the god I once prayed
to. But then I figure that, if this
Serge really comes from me, then time will already know and understand what I'm
trying to say.
More silence. I assume I'm the one who has to speak, but I
have a bit of trouble beginning. "Uh,
well, I… you know why… I mean, I've made my request. I don't want to be returned to my old life with my memories
erased again." Once I start talking,
the ground, sky, and other surroundings disappear. The remaining world is totally colorless and featureless. Void except for us Serges. Even the Sea Of Eden, present in all places
with any connection to reality, doesn't exist here. I think I hear a ticking sound too, like a pendulum's swing.
The timestream speaks through the
other me, in its usual dispassionate voice.
-Your return and loss of memory
has been agreed upon. It is the will of
all of space-time, for the common good-
I don't know how serious this
is. Am I being tested? And what's with the ticking? I decide to treat the whole thing like a
debate. "Now, I don't really
understand," I answer. "How is it for
the common good? I was working for the
common good before, back when I was fighting for the future. What benefit does the world get from me
being miserable, and doing nothing to help anyone else?"
-You are a fundamental part of the chain of all living creatures, as are
all lives. Each being is essential in
the ongoing quest of a planet to evolve to its next stage. That is the meaning of your existence – to live your life to its fullest. Your ally Schala knew this to be true. All who try to live their own lives
contribute to the eventual evolution of the planet to its next stage. This is your duty-
"But why do I have to live without
my memories? Why can't I "live my life
to its fullest" by searching for the ones I traveled with back, well, when my
life had greater meaning? Kid promised
she'd be searching too." I deliberately
avoid using the name "Schala." I
remember Kid's assertion that she was herself, an individual, not just Schala's
clone. And I remember that the "Lucca"
portion of the timestream approved.
-During the time of which you speak, you were controlled. FATE and the Dragon God and Lucca and
Belthasar. You followed paths set by
them. A mere tool. What "greater meaning" can arise from such a
It's getting harder to think; I
know I'm not imagining that ticking pendulum sound. "Yeah, I know all that.
But, the people, I mean, uh, yeah, the connection I had with those
lives, that was all real. I guess what
I'm trying to say is that the friendships we formed, our interactions, that
stuff wasn't set for us, it was reality.
Kid was, well, the best friend I've ever had. That wasn't part of someone else's plan for us."
-Personal sentiments. Irrelevant
compared to the greater issue-
"What do you mean? Why are-"
The other Serge actually has the
gall to interrupt me. -The greater issue is your life in freedom-
he says, answering one of my unasked questions. -You now can live the life
of a free being, totally uncontrolled by fates and gods. Yet you would spurn this true free will that
has finally been granted to you. You
long only for your days as a slave. Are
you truly one who would fight for freedom, then run from its benefits?-
"Okay. Now you're contradicting yourself!" Training from all those discussions with Leena. I think I must've been waiting for a chance
like this, and I immediately pounce on it.
"Listen, I just want to find Kid and the others, or at the very least,
hold on to my memories of them. Those
memories are all I have left of the most important experience of my life, and I
don't want to lose them again. You
can't offer me the life of a free being, and then start telling me how it's my
duty to spend it." That damn ticking
almost makes me lose track of my point, but I press on. "I mean, I can't live life to the fullest or
whatever if those choices are taken away from me. That's not freedom. If
I'm really free, I'd like to choose to keep my memories."
-It is not a true option. From
the standpoint of your world, your journey never happened. The friendships and dreams you speak of do
"It was real! I was there!" I immediately insist. I'm sick of this game. How can these idiotic semantics about
space-time and timestreams change what happened? I then figure that losing my temper isn't a smart idea if I'm
being tested, and try to calm down.
-True in a way. But
irrelevant. In the new, restored
timeline, your journey is but fantasy, not reality-
"I don't see… well, I guess I'm
living in fantasy, then. Isn't that my
right as a free being too?"
-You would turn away from reality?-
By this point, I'm sure the other Serge is gently leading me towards a
decision. Being partially me, he must
understand my train of thought.
"Okay. You want something more dramatic. I'll play. How about this
– this 'fantasy' of mine is deeper and more real than real life could ever
be. So I reject reality. I choose fantasy."
There's a shimmer, and the "human
side of the timestream" changes its appearance back to Crono. -You
have made an important choice. It is
within the power of space-time to grant your peculiar wish. But are you certain, Serge?-
I suddenly notice the absence of
that annoying pendulum sound. It may
have stopped awhile ago, for all I know.
I start to think it over.
There is a decision to make, but it
doesn't take very long. I think of
Leena with her boyfriend gone. My
widowed mother, her only child taken away.
The thoughts hurt quite a bit, but I realize I'll abandon them anyway if
I go back, which would hurt more. Maybe
they deserve better; I really hope they'll both be okay. But I honestly believe it's better this way. So I speak up. "Yes. I'm certain."
-The world is yours to shape-
Suddenly, everything seems to be spinning. All goes black.
actually lose consciousness. It's just
all black. But at least it's some
semblance of color. I remember how
darkness makes fantasies come to life, and I think of my particular "fantasy." As I blink, wherever this place is starts to
come into focus, like it's forming around me.
Light starts to appear, slowly.
Naturally, the Sea Of Eden is the first thing to form Then it stops getting brighter. The rest of the place seems reluctant to
appear. It's all formless.
"So this is
my fantasy world for me to shape?" I murmer.
Serge. We fight over it." A whispered voice startles me. I spin around, but can't see anyone. I hear laughter.
it?" I call.
there. Thanks." The whisper comes right by my ear now,
causing me to flinch back. It comes
again, but now it's much farther away.
"I doubt you'll win, Serge. You
had your chance, and you've squandered it."
Mastermune is in my hand now, summoned from nothing. But I can't even see my opponent. Then I feel breath on the back of my neck. Desperately, I spin around, knowing I won't
get my weapon there in time. But my foe
is gone. Amazingly, I've just escaped
by actually manipulating the space-time of this strange world to put some room
But my opponent can do it too. A figure suddenly appears to my side as it
compresses space, and I again extend space to get myself far enough away to
avoid the attack.
enough of this! Show yourself! Stand and fight!" I order. Hey, maybe it'll work.
chance," replies the whisperer. The
sudden attack comes from behind and to my left, but by sheer luck, I was
prepared to turn that way already, and my Mastermune is there to meet it. This time my opponent is the one who has to
bend space to escape me. But I quickly
catch a glimpse of a black cloak…
flesh... or what passes for flesh here," he says, finally speaking out
loud. Picking up on his voice, I bend
space to launch an attack of my own, but he's prepared, and long gone by the
time my weapon hits where he was.
"Lynx's shade, actually, but it's really the same thing. You see, FATE has made its own impact on the
timestream, and become a part of it. So
in your little fantasy world where anything is possible, so is the living
incarnation of FATE – me." I try to
attack again, and he blocks with his scythe, and then reverses space to end up
behind me, catching me off-guard. I
manipulate the world yet again to escape, but I can't do it as effortlessly as
he seems to. I know I'm starting to
tire physically and mentally; this is unlike any other fight I've had.
remember that he's my father, as I learned in the end. I found out after I'd already killed him, so
I've never thought of him as such, but Lynx was born from the body of my father
Wazuki. I speak, hoping that my voice
doesn't betray my exhaustion. "So what
do you have to gain from fighting me, father?"
"'Father?' In name only. Wazuki was no match for the goddess of FATE, and nothing remains
of his mind." Lynx is talking casually,
giving no sense of shortness of breath.
"As for why we fight, well, we have to.
We're resolving a paradox. Both
of us have memories from after our battle-to-the-death in Chronopolis. So the space-time continuum solves the
paradox by throwing us together and seeing which of us survives. En
garde!" The sudden exclamation
makes me stiffen in anticipation of an attack that never comes. He has me shaken, and he knows it.
"Why not at
least fight me face-to-face?" I demand.
just more likely to win this way."
"fighting," yet rarely even making weapon contact. The near-darkness is Lynx's friend; with his panther's eyes, he
can actually see. He's very patient as
the fight drags on, launching endless probing and feinting attacks. Sweat is pouring down my face, and I know I
can't last much longer. But I'll be
damned if I lose to Lynx after all I've been through since the last time I
drags on, and a bit of fear is building in me, despite my best efforts. Finally, I take a gamble. I think I've picked up a pattern in what
he's doing, and decide that next, after letting me sweat for a few moments,
he'll attack from the right. When Lynx
bends space to launch an attack, I'll use my will to hold him there so he can't
escape. I'll blindly try to block with
my left swallow blade, and then counterattack with an upward thrust to the
throat with my right blade. If it
works, he'll have no way to avoid it.
Then again, if my timing is off, or if he attacks from another
direction, I'll have to work hard to avoid getting mortally wounded myself.
works, as it turns out. The attack does
come, almost exactly as I'd predicted.
I am able to hold him in place, so that he can't warp away after I
block. However, my parry as his scythe
comes down on me is just a little bit too hard. The Mastermune blocks the attack just fine, but the force of it
causes the blade of Lynx's scythe to be pushed away, and slide under my
As a result, as my riposte lands –
not quite dead-on to the throat, but still a deep hit to the upper chest –
Lynx's scythe slides under my Mastermune to embed itself about three
centimeters into my left side. It then
jerks diagonally upward, tearing through my chest.
The pain is excruciating as I lose
my grip on my weapon and fall to whatever passes for the ground here. I can't move, not even to try to hold my
wound closed to keep in the blood and entrails. Lynx also stumbles, the Mastermune embedded in his own body, but
only to his knees. His panther's face a
mask of pain, he rises with an effort and retrieves his scythe.
"As long as… you die first, it'll
be okay," he manages, whispering again.
He raises the scythe slowly above his head, clearly struggling for ever
millimeter. "If you die… the paradox is
solved," he wheezes. "The Serge who…
defeated the Goddess... of FATE… will be erased from pages of time. Space-time is rewritten. You never survived Chronopolis..." Lynx has raised his scythe by now; it's
directly over my head, glinting just a bit in the faint light, the blade
already dripping blood. "Just thought
you should know," he murmurs, barely audible.
With no further comment, the scythe comes down…
-NOR THE OTHER-
doesn't exactly flash before my eyes, but I have plenty of time to reflect on
what's happened. Does this have to be
the result of my personal desires?
Maybe my choices were selfish; everything is self-motivated,
really. But I still can't feel that
I've done anything wrong. If it's my
responsibility as a human being to eke out a decent existence for myself, I
would choose my fantasy over any "reality," for the sake of myself, for those
in reality who would only be hurt in the end by any emotional ties to dreamers
like me, and for my fellow dreamers who need me. But it seems making that choice has done more harm than I could
have imagined. So is my life denied to
me? Is that how it works? Does it have to end like this?
My answer comes
as Lynx abruptly jerks back in mid-swing, as if struck. The scythe clatters to the ground a meter
away. I stare, and, though it's pretty
dark, I can make out the outline of a knife in Lynx's chest just over the
heart, next to the Mastermune. He was
hit by a thrown dagger…
crosses his face as he reaches down, trying to retrieve his weapon. Then Lynx simply crumples into a motionless
heap. With a quick distortion of space,
a smallish red-clad figure is beside us now, surveying her handiwork. "Iocane poison on the dagger," announces the
one who threw it. "Seemed
After kicking Lynx a few times to
ensure that he's dead, my rescuer turns to me, quickly surveying my
condition. "Don't try ta talk or move,
mate. Lemme see what I can do for ya."
The hair, the paint on her face,
the clothing (or lack thereof), and the mannerisms are all the same as I
remember. It's not just Schala, it's
her. The girl from that lost fantasy,
the imaginary world so much more real than reality. Yeah, it's Kid.
Kid tries to heal me for a few
frantic moments, but it seems all the Elements in the world can't get undo a
death-wound. So I finally find her at
the moment of my death; maybe it would make for a good stage tragedy or
something, but that doesn't do much to comfort me. I won't last much longer, but I have to at least talk to
her. "Kid… I want you to know…"
"Hang on a sec! Don't talk like yer dyin' or somethin'! I know I didn't come all the way 'ere to
have ya die in me arms. That ain't gonna
happen!" Kid turns her head. "Crono!
Can't ya do anythin'?"
I hadn't noticed Crono watching us,
but there he is. Only he's
different. Rather than being a child,
this Crono is a muscular, medium-height young man, maybe sixteen years old. He stands upright with one hand under his
chin, in what can only be described as a pillar of pure light. How long has he been watching? At Kid's call, he hesitates just an instant,
then nods and walks over to us. He
kneels down over me and raises his hands.
I'm healed. There's no sense of healing, my wound is
just totally gone. I gasp with pleasure
at the rush of air filling my lungs, and at the total lack of pain. Kid and Crono watch me. Then Crono slowly rises to his feet,
managing to look both regal and casual at the same time. Kid follows his lead, and, a bit gingerly, I
Is this real? When I ask that question aloud, Kid's answer
is "Ey, I should ask the same thing."
That leaves us both staring at Crono.
I'll never know if I'm imagining
the tiny smile that I think crosses Crono's face as the voice of the timestream
answers. –Schala and Serge. For you, this
is reality. You have both made the same
choice, as have all others who you may encounter here- Crono raises his arms and begins to fade away. -Live
according to your choices-
Then it's bright, and the air is
filled with the warm touch of summer.
Our arms are around each other, and we're grinning. I'm the first one to speak, in what could
generously be called a half-decent imitation.
"Oi, Kid! It's bloody great to
see ya again, mate!"
Kid's smile, impossibly, broadens
even more . "Speak for yerself,
Serge. Told ya I'd find ya… but I never
thought it'd be here!"
Words pour out of both of our
mouths – nothing meaningful, really, and we're both trying to talk at the same
time anyway. But this intense joy is
real. It's like coming back to life
after a trip to one underworld or another.
Standing under this world with the best friend I've ever had. I realize how excited I am to see the others
again, too. I hope all those who I grew
close to during my journey have found their way here.
"Ya think the others made it?" Kid
asks, at just about the same time I think of them.
"I say we find out!" I
point in a completely random direction.
"Let's try that way first."
"Oi! Let's see what's out here!"
We're running. This world of ours is finally beginning to
take shape. Outlines of what could be
mountains, forests, lakes, and cities start to shimmer in the distance. The sky is picking up color, and it doesn't
take much thinking to see that it'll end up as rich cerulean blue. And us?
We'll run like the wind, until the day we die.
was written during the months of December, 2000 and February, 2001, and belongs
to me, Toma Levine. Feel free to send
it to anyone you want, post it on webpages, etc., as long as you don't change
it or take my name off or anything.
"Chrono Cross" and all of its characters belong to Square,
and were used without permission.
Well, thanks a lot for reading (um, that goes to those of
you who actually read it, not those who just skimmed to the end). Please drop me an e-mail if you have
anything to say at all. I'd really
really appreciate it. Please?
-Benjamin S. Avner (AKA "Toma Levine")