Crimson grabbed the jacket she had used to treat her wounds, wrapping it tightly around her hand. “What are you doing?” Jake questioned, staring at her from the corner of his eyes as he tried his best to clean up and sooth all of his wounds. His jacket was soaked using the remaining water in Crimsons flask and he was slowly applying pressure to his burn wounds.
Crimson replied, “Since this room is hot, the door handle is probably hot. I don’t want to get more burns.” Jake nodded, absentmindedly, changing his focus to cleaning up little nicks and scratches that he had because of flying debris in the explosion.
Crimson, having finished securely wrapping the jacket, gripped the door handle. Not wanting to wait long and have the heat touch her skin, she pushed the handle down. Surprisingly, the door opened smoothly. It swung so well that Crimson almost fell flat on her face.
“Careful there,” Jake chuckled, dropping his used jacket on the floor. It was wet and had dried blood all over it so he kicked it into the lava. Crimson shot him a playful glare before unwrapping the jacket. Even though it was dirty, it was her favourite jacket, so she placed it back in her backpack.
“Come on,” she replied with a roll of her eyes.
The room they were in was…. unimpressive really. A hotel sized square room with light golden walls. On the other end was a glass circle that went from the bottom to the top of the wall. There were numbers on it, mimicking how a clock face looked like.
The floor was wooden, though it had small grooves lined with gold. These grooves came from behind the walls, slithering as they made their way to the center of the room. They bled into a small depression in the floor, also lined with gold.
Crimson turned her head towards the walls, as Jake walked over towards the glass. He looked through it, staring at light whisps of purple clouds, like freshly spun cotton candy wrapped around the pink sky. A small moon hung in the sky, it’s pink light dotting the glass face. Jake wondered how it got so late without him realizing.
Crimson let out a gasp of surprise as her eyes set upon the small squiggles etched into the wall. Her eyes quickly scanned it, the briefest of events flashing before her eyes. It came and went as fast as a blink. Everytime Crimson looked away, she would completely forget what she had seen.
Her hands traced the squiggles, the history of everything unfolding and clasping back up behind her. Her mind seemed so vast when she knew what she saw, then so miniscule as soon as she looked away. “How am I seeing this?” she wondered to herself, her voice a stark comparison to the dead silence in the room.
She kept walking, not noticing Jake watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Suddenly, she reached the end of the room. All the images stopped. But she knew, somehow, history was still alive. History was waiting for the two teenagers to do something. Something that would send it moving again.
Yes, it felt like that. A moment of anticipation. Like the moment between an exhale and an inhale. The moment before the sun’s rays crack behind the lull of the night. The moment before an action was taken. The moment before Crimson and Jake had to choose.
Who would go?
Crimson turned around to see Jake examining the little pool. A silence hung between them. Crimson was afraid to speak. Afraid to think of the choice she had to make. “It’s the clock,” Jake suddenly spoke, using his chin to point at a a little lump in front of him.
“This is the Doomsday Clock?” Crimson uttered with disbelief. “I thought it would be something big and majestic. Like a grandfather clock or something. But this is…..”
The clock was nothing special. It looked like a mini, alarm clock sized grandfather clock. But instead of having a bell below the clock face, it had an hourglass. Crimson watched the hour glass for a bit but no sand came out. ‘It’s probably just like the walls,’ Crimson thought. ‘Waiting for something to happen before a sand falls.’
Crimson looked back up at the clock face. There was only one click hand, it looked like a minute hand and one symbol. A big fat ‘0’ right where the ’12’ would usually go. The minute hand was close to the zero, a minute away from it actually.
“That hand looks awfully close,” Jake frowned, surprising Crimson. She almost physically leapt up in fright and shock. He was somehow already besides her, staring at the clock face. Other than that, his face was almost right beside her.
“Y-yeah,” She replied awkwardly, feeling her face flush and undignified red. “We should probably go quicker, right? The early worm- uh, I mean bird, gets the worm right?” Jake nodded, stepping back.
“I’m-” Crimson started, reach into the dagger which she just remembered was in her jacket (thank goodness she did not throw it away).
“I’ll be the sacrifice,” Jake countered before the word even left her mouth. “I won’t go into this whole argument again. Just stab me and get this over with,” he growled, reaching his hand out. Crimson stood back clumsily, her hand gripping the dagger and drawing it out.
“No, I’m doing it,” she hissed, walking backwards and almost into the clock. Her voice wavered with uncertainty and an underlying current of fear. Jake took a step forward before retracting. He opened his mouth but Crimson beat him to it.
“I also don’t want to get into an argument so just stand back!” Crimson snapped, taking a step forward as she brandished the dagger. Her hands were shivering and she felt goosebumbs crawling across her skin.
Jake took a few steps backwards, his hands slightly raised. His eyes were almost worried. “No need to do that. You’re going to fling the dagger into the wall if you don’t control your arm,” he warned with a slight chuckle before suddenly lunging forward.
Crimson stumbled backwards. She could not let Jake get the knife. “Don’t take another step,” she whispered softly. “If you do, I’ll stab myself here and now. Just… Let me be the sacrifice,” She fumbled over her words as she realized stabbing herself would be what being the sacrifice was.
Jake sighed, his hands dropping to his side. He looked defeated, his shoulders sagging slightly. “Please don’t,” he looked down, voice cracking. He looked up at Crimson, and she felt her heart almost literally break.
“I can’t let you die,” she sniffled, feeling her eyes get glassy. “You just….. Matter too much to me.”
Suddenly she felt her hand fly up on its own. Her body was dragged forwards. Her emerald green eyes widened as they trailed upwards. Disbelief shown in them as her mouth gaped slightly. Jake had grabbed her hand and she had to watch as the glittering gold plunged itself into tender flesh.
A scream was stuck in her throat. It was ear piercingly loud in her mind but nothing came out. Tears didn’t budge from her eyes as they just stared into the deep brown pools she had been so used to.
“You matter more.”
Those three words echoed in her mind, silencing the whirlwind of emotions and thoughts. The dam broke and the tears flooded as she watched the man she had grown so close with. She watched his smile, his charming smile where one side would quirk up higher than the other and his upper teeth would show.
She watched him as the light from outside seemed to be absorbed into his eyes, retracting into a shower of rainbows as it danced around her. A sob finally escaped and her body was racked with shivers.
Her other hand flew up as she reached to pull him into a hug.
Their first and final hug.
Before she could even reach, his body disappeared into flakes of gold. They twirled around her before melting into the air. Warm golden blood trailed down from the dagger’s blade, collecting into the small pool.
It shot across the grooves in the floor, disappearing hehind the walls. The minute hand on the doom clock stopped just before turning to the ‘0’ and instead rewinded. It went as far back as where the ‘9’ would be on a normal clock.
Crimson let out a mourn, dropping the dagger on the floor and placing her head in her knees. The memories of their time flashed in her mind and she let out another cry, feeling her cheeks grow wet with tears. “Jake-” she coughed out, feeling her heart ache.
She turned around, face scrunched up as tears slid down her face. She felt sad, and, and angry. Angry at Time for making Jake die. Angry that this whole burden was placed upon her.
She ignored the fact a single sand plopped into a pole. She ignored the fact the walls started writing again, capturing what had just happened. She felt like a bomb about to explode.
Before she could open her mouth to scream her grief away, the glass behind her opened. Wind wooshed in and dragged her out. The air left her mouth and she felt herself screaming as she slammed into the winds.
Equilibri were below her, weapons charged and locked onto her. Her hair whipped around, her hair tie having flung away. She heard the screech of a blast being shot and scrunched her eyes tight.
Suddenly, without the time to consider if it was real or just a figment of her imagination, she felt the warm grasp of her beloved mother. Her eyes flew open as she stared into similar green eyes. “You’re safe darling,” Cordelia murmured comfortingly. Feeling the warmth envelop her, Crimson let out a soft and she broke down right there.
She felt self conscious, a 16 year old crying in front of her mother. The same mother that had worried about her daughter stealing a spaceship and escaping. The daughter that was still hiding a big secret – the fact that her new found friend had just died.
As the thoughts came in, she cried even harder. Her mother wrapped her arms tightly around Crimson, letting the poor girl cry. “Mom- Sorry- Friend- Ja-” she tried to force the words to come out but Cordelia shushed her quietly.
“Sis!” Otis clambered towards Crimson, wrapping his little arms around him. “You’re here! Alive!” He chirped gleefully but then his expression fell when he saw all the wounds. “Oh, you’re hurt. We need to find home quickly then!”
He sprinted towards Arcturus, who was doing his best stabilizing the shop from all the shots. “Dad! Let’s go! Hyperspace please!” he shouted, the floor rumbling as shot after shot fired. The little 10 year old boy almost fell to the ground because of the intensity of the impact.
Arcturus nodded, pressing a small button. A tablet came up and he placed his hand over it. The tablet lit up green and the engines rumbled. Otis slid onto his seat, as Cordelia strapped Crimson in before taking her spot as co-pilot.
The family drove off in the speed of light, letting the hyperspace fly them to their destination. Arcturus stood up and Cordelia eyed him but left him alone. “Crimson…..” he spoke, his voice gravelly.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, staring at her feet. She felt bad, but couldn’t show that. She was still too sad about… Jake. Oh Jake.
“You know what you did was wrong. I can see you hold a lot of grief. That is a lesson enough right?” he sighed, placing his hand gently on top of Crimsons head. When she nodded, another sigh escaped his lips. “Alright. If you want to, tell us about the whole thing, okay? We’re your parents. You can trust us to help you.”
It took only a few seconds for the Betelgeuse Residence to show up. The ship landed safely and the Roth family quickly went home under the cover of darkness.
The cool air felt welcoming to Crimsons skin. She took a deep breath, the slight winter chill entering her lungs. She couldn’t believe it had just been a day. All of that, in only a day.
Crimson got her wounds properly treated before taking a long bath and changing into star pajamas. She shut herself in her room and opened the blinds. The dark blue sky, illuminated by a white moon. It brought her a sense of peace that she needed.
But the peace also brought a hollow feeling. Jake should’ve been with her. But Jake was gone. She paused before looking behind her. She made her way to her cabinet, where a single lamp was lit. There was her aviators jacket, washed and nearly folded.
A small sniffle echoed in the room and Crimson let her hand glide gently over the jacket. She picked it up, feeling a sense of wrong just dropping her heart. She squeezed the jacket tightly in her arms, letting out another sob.
‘Your sacrifice will not be in vain.’