Afflictions: Part Twenty Two

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CW: Suicide

Paul tapped his cane on the sidewalk, as he meandered towards his house. A few cars passed by on the street, but overall it was pretty quiet. The wind brushed past him, and he began to regret not bringing a coat. He was full of energy now, and he had one last idea as to how to fix everything.

It would be better to say that this idea hadn’t occurred to him before, but it would be a lie. Really, he’d just wanted to avoid bringing other people into this. Part of it certainly was the fact that he didn’t like to make a habit of telling people how the future goes, but a bigger portion of it was that this was the only thing he brought to the team. If he couldn’t keep the future straight, then what was he doing here? Regardless, he’d carried this as far as he could, and it was time to ask for help.

Paul had walked far enough that he figured he should be coming up on the house soon, so he began to hold out his hand, waiting to feel their mailbox. After a minute, he finally felt some brick with the braille sticker that he’d put above the actual box. He followed along the sidewalk, and stepped up to the door.

He reached out for the door, but felt a rush of air in front of him.

“There you are!” Arte sighed. “Don’t just run off like that. Come in and sit down.”

Paul suppressed a sarcastic remark, and followed Arte inside. Once they were in, Arte guided him to a chair in the living room.

“What’s been going on, Paul?” She sounded worried, which he’d expected a little. Neither of them were in the mood for jokes.

“Who is here right now?” He was pretty sure he heard someone else, but not positive.

“It’s me and Ashley” Arte replied.

“Hi Paul.” Ashley sounded way more worried than he had expected, and it hurt a little. He probably shouldn’t have let it get this far.

“Okay. I need you to listen to me, and then I’ll need your help. I’m not going to tell you everything, but I’ll tell you most of it.” Paul took a deep breath and sighed. “Since about two years ago, I’ve been having a vision of something that will happen in the future. I’m not honestly sure when, but I’ll know before it comes. This event has to happen, and I’ve come to terms with it. However…” He paused and looked off to the side for a moment. “While I was at the monastery, the vision changed. There was always going to be a fight between our team, but the problem is the change.” Paul sighed again. He felt like he was rambling to stall. It wasn’t going to get any easier.

“What happens?” Arte asked. She sounded calm and patient, and that broke down Paul’s last wall.

Tears began to flow down his face. “I tried so hard to change it myself, but I don’t think I can. I’ve done everything I could think of, and then I did it all again. I haven’t slept in who knows how long… I-” He heard some movement, and then felt people sitting down on both sides of him. A hand came to his right shoulder.

“It’s alright, Paul. We can help.” Arte said from Paul’s right.

“It’s Zoey. I don’t know why, but I’ve watched her die at least a hundred times now.” He shook his head, and wiped his tears. “Zoey gets killed, and I don’t know how to stop it.”

The room was silent for a moment, but for Paul’s occasional muffled sob and the gentle blow of the AC. Paul wondered for a moment if he’d made the right decision here. In the end, he supposed it was the only decision he had left to make. He really did try everything. He worked nonstop on this for a year, and couldn’t make a single change.

“It’s gonna be alright, Paul. We’ll do whatever we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Arte still somehow spoke calmly.

“That’s right. It’ll work out.” Ashley’s voice was sweet and reassuring.

Paul took a moment to collect himself. He couldn’t understand how they did it, and how they weren’t more upset with him for not doing his job. He supposed that was because it was never his job in the first place, he’d just taken it upon himself to singlehandedly keep the future in line. Having help might just make putting the future back right actually possible.

“Alright.” Paul took a deep breath and sighed. “I don’t honestly know what I’ll need you to do yet, but when that day comes, I’ll need you to be willing to do whatever I ask you. Is that alright?”

Arte was quiet for a moment. “I don’t know that I like how you’re saying ‘whatever’…”

Paul’s heart skipped a beat. She’d seen right through him. This was what he was afraid of. He knew she wouldn’t be okay with it if she knew she was helping him kill himself. “It’s the only way.”

“If you can honestly say you’re not planning something dumb, then I’ll do whatever I need to do to help you.”

“I’m not planning on doing something dumb.” Paul responded instantly. It wasn’t even a whole lie, if you thought about it. He’d been calculating this move for two years, so it wasn’t dumb. He knew very well what she meant by dumb, but it was the only way.

“Okay. We’ll help you. Is that fine, Ashley?”

“Definitely. I’ll help however I can.” She sounded almost cheerful.

Paul laughed. It was nice to feel hopeful again.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Greetings all! Works a little bit rough, and everythings on fire, so not much writing happening. Did get a new studio setup, which is going pretty well. Should be able to write season 4 by the time it needs to be released at least.

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