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Science Fiction Thriller LGBTQ+

“Beth, please! Don’t do this! Magic shouldn’t be used like this, you can’t bring her back, you—”

“Can’t I?” Beth casts a snide grin at me before looking back at her computer.

“No, you can’t! I asked Mal, and he—”

“Mal is a child. He never knew the whole of what this power could do.”

I squirm. I have to crane my neck at such a severe angle to see Beth from my vantage point of strapped to the floor that it hurts my neck and eyes both. “Only one person has ever succeeded, and they only—”

“They only brought the target back for seventeen minutes before their heart failed again, I know, I know. Hate to break it to you, Lucy, but I know more about this than you could ever learn.”

“Beth, I know you want to see Carmen but it won’t work! She’s been dead for six months, the guy who got brought back had only been dead a few minutes.” My chin scrapes against the cold, laboratory floor. “And that was someone who studied for—”

Beth marches over to me, abandoning her computer for a moment. She stares down at me, and I hate how much her eyes look like Carmen’s. “You know, I never did understand why my sister was so enamored with you. You’re such a… a pragmatist.”

“Please!” I can’t stop my voice from cracking. “I get it! I do! I… I want to see her too, but you have to know this isn’t… this isn’t what Carmen would have wanted.”

Beth rolls her eyes at me. “Don’t give me that. You don’t know what Carmen would have wanted. Maybe she absolutely wanted me to do this.”

“You killed three people, Beth!”

“Okay, yeah, Carmen probably wouldn’t have wanted that.” Beth chuckles before walking back over to her computer. “But like, she’s dead! And dead people don’t get what they want.”

“You don’t even want to respect her wishes?”

“Shh.” Beth taps something on the screen, chewing on the inside of her cheek.

“You know she—”

“Stop talking, I’m trying to concentrate.”

I close my eyes. My head hurts because of the strain of looking up. All this time I spent searching for the murderer, searching for the person who stole Carmen’s body, and the one behind it all was the one who’d turned me on to the mystery in the first place. I knew Beth was fragile—I’d always known—but this?

She hums the theme to our high school’s fight song, clacking away at her computer.

“Beth, I know you don’t want to listen, but please. You can’t do this. You must at least know that trying to use that magic could kill you.” I have to try, at least. For Carmen’s sake, and their parents.

“No, it won’t,” Beth says cheerfully. She doesn’t even bother to look up at me anymore, she just keeps clacking away at her computer. “Not for five minutes anyway. I’d have a few minutes before my strength would give out. And, luckily for me, five minutes is about the time I’d have to bring her back.”

“You can’t—”

“You know, I kinda get why supervillains do this now. I worked so hard on this plan, it feels good to be able to tell someone about it. Before the end, you know.”

“The end?” Is Beth really going to kill me? I guess she killed all those other girls, so she’s obviously capable. “Do you mean—”

“Not your end, Lucy dear. That’d break Carmen’s heart.”

“Carmen’s dead,” I spit bitterly. “You said so yourself. You don’t care what she wants.”

“That’s true, I did say that. And I don’t care, ‘cause she is dead. But she won’t be, soon enough. And once she’s back, I don’t want to waste those five minutes I have with her to be spent with her fussing over you if I killed you.”

“You’re not going to be able to bring her back! That’s impossible! The magic doesn’t work out! That’s—”

“Lucy, I swear on whatever gods grant me power that if you keep beating that dead horse, I’ll change my mind and kill you too. Then when Carmen comes back, I’ll just Weekend at Bernie’s you and Carmen won’t know the difference.” Beth finally turns away from her computer and stands over me, huffing the bangs out of her eyes. She smiles again, and it’s just as kindly as I remember. She betrays no malice. “Here, I’ll explain it for you, all Dr. Doofenshmirtz style. No musicals though.” Beth laughs, and squats down next to me. I could barely see her before, but now the angle is so severe that her head is eclipsed by the light that shines down on her lab. She looks almost heavenly. “Here’s how it’s going to go. I cast a time spell a few minutes ago—I’ll gave it ten minutes, ish, since time technomancy isn’t one of my specialties.”

“Time techno—technomancy?”

“Time technomancy. Piece it together, Lucy, and try to keep up. Once I’m sure the timer is set and the spell has taken hold,  I’ll work the necromancy spell and Carmen will come back for just long enough for me to be able to see her, and then she and I will die and then we can be together the rest of our lives.”

“The rest of your life? You just said—”

“No, but that’s the brilliant part. The time spell will turn us—and everyone, and everything— back until right after I performed the spell and with the technology, it won’t cut out after I’m death! We’ll just go back around and around forever!”

I blink at her. “Like… like a time loop?”

Beth’s smile is blinding. “Exactly! I guess this is also kind of a gift for you, too—didn’t you always want to live out the rest of your life with Carmen? Don’t you want to hear her say your name one more time?”

If she’d asked me that at Carmen’s funeral, or a month ago, or even maybe a week ago, I wouldn’t even have hesitated. But no matter how much I want her, and I still so desperately want her, this isn’t right. “Not if it means trapping the world in a time loop like this. You’re changing the fabric of reality!”

“So?”

“So—so that’s wrong! Time should go on! You should move on! You can’t keep this moment tucked away forever.”

Beth leans in close to my face. “But I can!” She reaches over my head and unstraps my hands magically, letting me rise to a kneel before her. “And I will. And I’ll tell you this—you won’t miss it at all. And you will never know any different again!” She stands, her knees popping, and walks away from me.

“What do you mean?” I tug at the straps still trapping my ankles, but they hold fast.

“Ah, good! The time spell has finally stabilized!” Beth opens the door I had thought was the closet and pulls out a gurney with a body on it and I can tell from the beat of my heart that it’s Carmen before Beth even pulls away the sheet.

“Are you ready, Lucy?”

There is no reason to a madman. I start to hyperventilate. I’ll never graduate from college. I’ll never own a cat. I’ll never get married. I’ll never see Mom again.

“Dita Karpa,” Beth hisses, and her irises and pupils disappear. “Dita Karpa, Ereshkigal, Djall, Veles! Zalmoxe, Djall, Peklenc! Dita Karpa! Dita Karpa! Dita Karpa!”

I cover my head with my arms as a blindingly white light fills the room. It permeates anyway, searing my vision until it’s spotty and red and painful.

No matter how much I can’t see, I know immediately her when Carmen sits up.

“Carmen,” I whisper.

“Carmen,” Beth sighs, her face pale and sweaty.

“Where am I?” says Carmen, and I almost cry when I hear her voice. She swings her legs over the edge of the gurney, and stumbles off at the same moment that she sees Beth, who has fallen to her knees. I was right. The spell was too much for her. “Beth!” She flings herself at her sister, letting Beth’s head droop against her shoulder. “Beth! What’s going on? Are you okay?”

Beth smiles at her sister with a dopey, sleepy grin. “Carmen. I’m so happy to see you, manzanita.” My heart sinks. The magic is taking her over, just like she predicted. She’s not going to be able to reverse the spell now.

I look desperately towards the door, wishing more than anything that I’d brought Mal with me. Carmen catches my movement, and when her eyes meet mine, despite the situation, I almost weep. “Lucy!”

“Carmen!” I strain against my restraints, and because of Beth’s weakened state they break this time and I rush to their side. “Carmen!”

Keeping one arm around her sister, Carmen pulls me into a tight hug. “I had such a weird dream—I was nowhere and nothing and I felt nothing and—wait, what happened to the hospital? My aneurism burst, didn’t it?”

I bite my lip to keep my bottom lip from trembling. Beth seems too drugged out on her sister and the magic eating away at her soul to answer. “I… that was the dream too. I think. It’s okay. You’re here now, with us.”

Relief floods Carmen’s eyes. “Thank goodness. I thought I’d never see you again.”

“You know… you know I’d never let that happen.”

“What happened to Beth?” Carmen brushes Beth’s bangs out of her eyes. “Is she sick?”

There’s no way I can tell her the truth. I can’t ruin her last five minutes—our last five minutes—the last five minutes to ever exist? Thinking about it too much hurts my head. “Yeah, she’s not feeling so well. She’s okay though, just… a really high fever, is all. She’s just really happy to see you. We both are.”

Carmen furrows her brow. “I can’t really explain it—I know it’s stupid, because I know I must have… I must have just seen you, but I feel like… I really missed you guys.”

“That’s not stupid.” I want to say something else, but before I can, Beth lunges out and clutches my face, dragging it towards her mouth.

“I miscalculated,” she hisses, and her hot breath on my ear makes me wince as much as her words. “It’s too much. One minute, max.”

She lolls back into her sister’s arms, and Carmen looks at me strangely. “What was that about?”

“Nothing. We have a, a gift to give you. Later, though. She was just reminding me about it.”

Carmen’s face lights up. “A gift? What for?”

“Just because… because we love you, Carmen. You know?”

She giggles, and shoves my face away. “I know, goofball. Why are you being so dramatic?”

“I’m not,” I say, and I do my best to smile reassuringly. “I just want to have a good time with you right now.” A minute, she’d said, right? I’d never been good at judging time, but there must be about half of that, right? Thirty seconds until we started over. Thirty seconds until the last moment of the world. At least nobody else would know, right? They’d repeat the same moment over and over in real time, and only I would know, again and again, that this is all we got. “Your… your dream sounds really freaky. I can’t imagine losing you like that.”

“It was only a dream, though.”

“I know, I know. I just never want to lose you.” Again.

Carmen narrows her eyes. “Are you sure there’s nothing going on? You’re being… sappier than usual.”

I try for a smile again. Beth’s breath is shallow. She won’t be able to carry on the spell much longer, and the minute she dies, the minute the loop resets. “Sorry. I dunno. PMS, I guess? Just feeling a bit clingy.”

“Well, that’s alright.” Carmen says, rubbing my back with the arm she has still slung around my shoulders. “I’d rather you be over affectionate than not affectionate at all.”

“I just want… you’re my best friend, Carmen. You know that, right?” Beth has stopped breathing, although I don’t think Carmen has noticed yet.

“Of course, you dorkus.” Carman rolls her eyes, but lets me pull her into a hug, squeezing her between me and Beth. “And you always will be mine.”

“Beth, please! Don’t do this! Magic shouldn’t be used like this, you can’t bring her back, you—”

“Can’t I?” Beth casts a snide grin at me before looking back at her computer. 

May 17, 2020 04:40

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14 comments

23:33 May 25, 2020

Hi!! I really truly love this story, and it would be amazing to see more of your writing! It would be awesome if you read Daryl Gravesande's stories, and then like and follow!! His favorite is the first! Then please spread the word! I would gladly do the same for you! Thanks so much for the support! Stay safe!-Avery.

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Alexis Porter
22:13 May 25, 2020

What an attention grabber! You did a great job with the story, it really captures your attention right from the beginning.

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Tori Routsong
23:48 May 27, 2020

Thank you! I've been working on my introductions lately and I'm glad to hear it has been paying off!

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Avyanna Power
03:48 May 25, 2020

This story captured my attention right from the beginning to the end. I was so curious to see when the time would keep restarting for them.

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Tori Routsong
23:48 May 27, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Anja Z
20:31 May 23, 2020

I liked the detail in this story , it really held my attention. I loved it. Thank you..

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Tori Routsong
21:11 May 27, 2020

Thank you!

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Tvisha Yerra
16:46 May 23, 2020

The dialogue felt a bit too informative, as if it was for the reader, and not actually part of the book. Maybe you should've added another character that didn't know what was going on, so you could explain it to us, and make it seem like a real conversation. But great story!

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Tori Routsong
23:48 May 27, 2020

Thank you for the feedback!

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22:24 May 22, 2020

Loved the story. Great job, and I like how it circled back at the end. I guess that is the prompt tho. Haha.

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Tori Routsong
23:49 May 27, 2020

Thanks!

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Cynthia Scott
05:15 May 17, 2020

Great story!! I really enjoyed it.

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Tori Routsong
23:49 May 27, 2020

Thank you very much!

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10:27 May 31, 2022

How I Got My Ex Husband Back.. Am so excited to share my testimony of a real spell caster who brought my husband back to me. My husband and I have been married for about 5 years now. We were happily married with three kids, two boys and a girl. Four months ago, I started to notice some strange behaviour from him and a few weeks later I found out that my husband is seeing someone else. He started coming home late from work, he hardly cares about me or the kids anymore, Sometimes he goes out and doesn’t even come back home for about 3-4 days. ...

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