A Very Small Eternity
rating: +28+x

35 Seconds

"Do you sometimes think about going away?"
She looked at him. Smiling lightly.
"Sometimes. But we couldn't."
"Why not?"
"Who would do our job?"
"Does it matter?"
She stopped smiling, turning her eyes towards the ceiling, the greenish light reflecting in her iris.
"Not anymore…", she sighed.
"So why not go now?"
Her smile returned.
"Where do you wanna go?"
"I don't know. Just… very far away."
"It wouldn't be far enough."
"It could be… with a little imagination"
He held up a small inhaler. Fifteen milligrams.
First, he took half the dose, then he offered the rest to her.

18 Seconds

The lights shifted to a red tone.
"But this isn't enough. Time does not actually stop with that."
"Yet, we can buy days, even years if we wanted to."
"How? How many of those things do you have?"
"I raided the Temporals storage and diluted it with about every Mnestic we have on site. We have enough for –"
He raised his arm, painfully slowly. Then looked at the watch, the seconds hand barely progressing forward. He waited until it made a step, before continuing:
"– at least two minutes. More than enough."
"But look! You can barely move. We won't get far."
Now he smiled, almost mischievously.
"Why would we move? This cot seems comfortable enough to spend an eternity or two. We can go anywhere from here. We have us, after all"
A light giggle was all reaction he got.
"So? Where do we go first?"

"Sweden? Just Sweden?"
"Yeah why not?"
"I don't know. What's it like there?"
"I don't know, I've never been there. Probably a lot of forests. Maybe even a few dragons."
"Are there dragons?"
"It's classified."
"There were. At some point."

A few minutes of silence.

"And do you enjoy the forest?"
"It's a bit cold."
"We could go north."
"To escape the cold?"
"No, to see the northern lights."
"I've never seen them"

She sighed.

"Isn't it weird"?
"We've seen so many secrets. So many impossibilities, so many wonders and horrors, buried under meters of concrete and kept from everyone else. And yet, we've never even seen the northern lights."

He held up an inhaler. Twenty-five milligrams.

"Nothing is stopping us now."

11 Seconds

The lights got significantly darker. Only a deep, heartless red was left. It had stopped blinking. The alarm sounds were gone, too.

"We should hurry up, it will be dark soon."
"Isn't that advantageous when you wanna see the northern lights?"
"Well, we won't see anything anymore, once the lights go out… And stay out!"

She paused for a moment, contemplating on the implications.

"Then I want to see your eyes one last time."
She turned towards him again, a tear running down her temple and vanishing in the cheap gray pillow.
"Don't cry. We have so much more to discover."
"How much more time?"
"What does it matter. We have all the time we want."
"It isn't the same. Without the light. Or the wind."
"Then let's visit a storm. A big one."

She curled up closer to him. Then silence followed, maybe for five minutes, maybe for five hours.

"Are you afraid?"

He didn't answer at first. Thought about it, watching a mote of dust frozen in mid-air.

"Then why do we run?"

He held up another inhaler, toying around with it. Sixty milligrams.

7 Seconds

The lights went out. When he stared at the LED bulb for a few minutes, he thought he'd seen a small dark-red twinkle. He wasn't sure though. More like the idea of light than any real illumination. They were just lying there. In silence. For hours. Sometimes, he could feel a tear running down her cheek, lightly touching his face and reminding him that they were still there. As if that held any meaning. Somewhere in the back of his head the counter was nagging him. Constantly. Unyielding. Counting every last second down, one by one. Very, very slowly.

He had started it, so many days ago. A last resort option thought of by some people in gray suits. Faceless demons. If only they could feel what he was feeling. If only they could understand their sacrifice. And for what? For the shale idea of seeing the northern lights. In his head. Not even a picture. Not that a picture would be very useful without light reaching his eyes. And for a few hours – stolen of Foundation time-dilation-drugs. Sixteen years of service for a few hours spent in total darkness. What a waste.

"I am not afraid", he concluded, hours later.

His voice was dry.

"Just… sad."
"I know."
"Was it worth it?"
"Our work. Was it worth it?"
"I –"


6 Seconds

Finally he reached for her hand with another inhaler. Eighty-five milligrams.

"I don't want to run anymore."

Her voice was quiet. But he could hear the resignation. An eternity was much shorter than he anticipated.

He sighed, pulling back the inhaler.

"So this is it?"
"I guess so."

5 Seconds

Silence. An hour passed. Maybe four, maybe even a day.

4 Seconds

"I think it was worth it."
"I know."
"We may not have saved everyone. But we have saved some."
"I know."
"I love you."
"I love you, too."

3 Seconds
2 Seconds
1 Second

On June 13, 2017, at 20:42, the on-site nuclear warhead of Provisional Site 146 detonated. On-site personnel had triggered the warhead 10 minutes prior, according to protocol 146-CONTI-3. Due to a previous breach event, only minimal personnel was physically present. Agent Nathaniel Teller and Agent Ana Morales had volunteered to perform necessary staff contingency efforts. At the moment, their reasons for the detonation of the on-site nuclear warhead are unclear. An investigation is underway. In the name of the Foundation, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Agent Teller and Agent Morales for their service and their sacrifice.

– We die in the dark so you can live in the light.

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