“Wait! I love her!” Duke blurted out the only phrase that would work. Duke Fisher had the ability to see five minutes into the future. It happened constantly like watching two TVs at the same time. He’d had several years of practice with his ability, but it wasn’t always so easy to manage. What made it even more difficult was that the future was usually unwritten.
His vision of the future was usually a muddled mess of events until one future became more and more likely. It became clearer as the future came into focus and became the present. That all changed the moment he saw skeletons rain from the sky five minutes into the future. As soon as the first skeleton landed, he only had one clear future. It was either that, or no future. The words didn’t make sense, he’d only met Amber that day and not that long ago. He couldn’t possibly love her, and he didn’t. But saying it was enough to get the intruder’s attention.
“You love her?” Ballisea asked. The tall, pale woman was made taller by bone-white horns curling out of the top of her head. She appeared moments after a skeleton fell through the skylight in Duke’s office. “A Corona in love with a Zero?”
Amber wanted to protest the statement too, but her throat was being gripped by bony skeleton fingers. She did appreciate that its grip loosened slightly when Duke confessed his sudden love.
“I don’t know what that means,” Duke said. “But if you’re going to let me go,…” he paused for effect and gave a heavy shrug. “There’s no point without her.”
“You’d die for her?” Ballisea asked.
“I’d die without her,” Duke nodded. He was following his vision to the letter, not even questioning the words. The skeleton holding Amber released her; she fell to her knees gasping for air.
“You don’t know who I am,” Ballisea said to Duke. “You don’t know what you are.” Duke helped Amber get to her feet and wrapped his arm around her for show. He shook his head at Ballisea.
“I don’t,” he said. “But, I know you know what love is. You don’t have to hurt anyone.” Ballisea grinned.
“Oh, I know I don’t have to hurt anyone. But, I do,” she sighed. “because I know what love is. You think you love her? Would you give anything to protect her? You’re ready to die for her, could you defy death for her? Would you destroy universes to save her?”
“I would!” Duke said with full confidence in his lies.
“Then who are you to tell me I can’t do the same?” Ballisea asked. Duke tilted his head.
“What?” he asked. That was a question he did not see in his future. He pulled Amber closer to him and put himself between her and the skeletons. For the first time in his life, he didn’t know what was coming next.
“You’re trying to convince me I don’t have to hurt anyone, but it’s somehow okay for you to rampage for love?” Ballisea shook her head.
“I’m never going to get my husband back if I keep letting Zeros escape,” she said. Her voice had a sudden cold edge that wasn’t there before. “Don’t worry, you won’t see a thing,” It happened so fast, Duke didn’t realize Amber was gone until after it happened. She slipped through his arms and sunk into a hole in the ground faster than she could scream.
“Thank you for reminding me of what I should be doing. Now, go, and be with your loved one forever,” Ballisea said. It was the last thing Duke heard.