The vibrating phone fell off the nightstand with a crash loud enough to wake the dead, and Cat certainly felt dead. She groaned and reached for the phone as it started buzzing a second time, not bothering to look as she answered it with a yawn.
“Cat Weaver here. What do you want?”
The voice on the other end was cheery, and Cat’s head throbbed with every syllable. “Cat! Glad you’re awake. I’m calling because a new case just arrived, and I’d like you to look at it. Are you available to come to a briefing this afternoon?”
Cat yawned again. “I dunno. What time is it now?”
The cheery voice took on a scolding tone that reminded Cat of an overprotective mother. “Another late night, huh? Well, it’s half-past-nine. Take a couple of aspirin and a shower and get down here by noon. I’ll have coffee ready for you.”
“Thanks, Sheryl. I’ll see you at noon.”
Cat put the phone back on the nightstand and slumped back into bed. She needed this case badly- the bills were piling up, and the tequila was running out. She hadn’t taken a case in months; not since she sent Charlie Berkley to prison for murder, a case that effectively ruined her career as a Private Investigator when he was later found innocent. The fact that Sheryl was still talking to her, much less offering her a case, was a miracle that Cat was not about to pass up.
Taking Sheryl’s advice, Cat popped a couple of aspirin and stood under the tepid shower water. After a sluggish wash, she stepped from the tub and examined herself in the mirror.

These last five months hadn’t been kind to her. Her face was haggard-looking, her skin was pale, and she’d lost about three dress sizes from a steady diet of tequila and coffee. Her short, black hair was uneven, and her green eyes looked older than her 30 years.
Cat was a mess, and she knew it. That incident with Berkley had taken a toll on her confidence, but Cat was hopeful that this case could bring her back.
Dressed in a pair of jeans and a loose sweater, Cat slipped on her favorite pair of flats and made her way to the police station. As soon as she stepped through the door, Cat was given a large cup of coffee and a bagel smothered in cream cheese.

“Here, eat this. It’ll help with that hangover.”
“Thanks, Sheryl. Sorry, I’m late.”
Sheryl waved her off before pointing her to a seat. “No matter. Here’s the case I told you about this morning. I know you don’t do many missing person assignments, but the family asked for you specifically.”

“Really? That’s a first.”

Cat skimmed the file as she chewed on her bagel. “Hmmm….young man, 30s, hasn’t been seen in a month, last known address is…a hotel? You’ve got to be kidding me. Do you know how hard it is to find clues in a hotel room?”
“Yes, actually, I do. But the room is paid for until October 29th, so it’s untouched. Something must be there. Are you taking the case?”
Cat skimmed the file one more time before sitting upright and looking Sheryl in the eye. “Depends. What’s the pay?”
“The usual forty dollars per hour, plus travel expenses. Also, the family has offered a five-thousand-dollar reward for his safe return.”
Cat sipped her coffee. It had been a while since she’d investigated a disappearance, and the pay was more than she hoped for. She had to take it.
“Sure, I’ll take the case. Expect my first bill within the week.”
Sheryl had Cat sign the legal papers before she left, and, after a quick stop home to gather supplies, Cat was off to the scene of the crime.


     The hotel was as run-down as Cat had imagined. The walls were dingy, the roof was sagging, and the neon lights flickered in the gathering darkness. It was straight out of Cat’s nightmare, but she stifled a shudder as she went through the door.
The lobby was surprisingly clean, and the young clerk seemed chipper as Cat approached the front desk.
“Welcome to the Smoky Pines! How many nights?”
“One. And is room 234 available? That’s always been my lucky number.”
The kid (whose nametag read “Jeremy”) quickly typed something on the dinosaur of a computer before shaking his head. “Sorry, but room 234 is booked until October. Can I offer you room 235 instead?”
Cat feigned disappointment as she pulled out the company card. “Sure, I suppose that’s close enough. How much?”
“Sixty dollars for one night.”
Cat gave him the card before taking another look around the room. “Say, do you know where I can get some food? It’s been a long drive, and I’m starving.”
Jeremy thought a moment before shaking his head.
“There’s nothing here but vending machines, but, if you don’t mind walking, there’s a diner just up the block. They have the best onion rings in the state!”
Cat smiled as she took her card and room key.

     “Thanks, Jeremy! You’ve been a big help.”

Room 235 was not nearly as clean as the lobby, and Cat was afraid to touch anything for fear of infection.  She gently set her bag on the desk, locked her room, and took her case file to the diner for some well-deserved food.

Photos and paraphernalia covered the walls of the diner as Cat sat down and ordered a burger, some onion rings, and a strawberry milkshake. It arrived in record time, cooked to perfection, and Cat quickly lost herself in the best meal she’d had in ages.

When she finished, Cat wiped her mouth and sat back in the dingy booth to peruse the file. The victim was named Kane Walker, and Cat sipped her milkshake as she read the scare file. For some reason, the name “Kane Walker” gave Cat a severe dose of Deja Vu, but she couldn’t find the source of her familiarity.

Puzzled, Cat walked back to the hotel and thanked Jeremy for his suggestion before retiring to her room. Once inside, she spread the file across the battered desk and began making a list of the inconsistencies on her phone recorder.

“Kane Walker, aged 33, was reported missing on September 26th, 2018. However, this report is incomplete as it lacks any descriptive details about Mr. Walker or his friends and family. All I have is a blurry photo, a receipt from his room at the Smoky Pines, which is booked from September 1st until October 29th, and that his grandmother reported him missing after ‘not hearing from him in two weeks.’ There is a number listed for the grandmother, so I’ll attempt to call her in the morning. However, my gut is telling me that something’s off about this case.”

Turning off her recorder, Cat yawned and decided that a shower would clear her head. It was surprisingly warm, given the condition of the hotel in general, and it was with regret that she left the comfort of the steam and climbed into bed, where she eventually passed into a dreamless sleep.


     Cat awoke early and stretched in the dawning light. Her clock read “4:45”, and she knew the hotel would be quiet at this early hour.

She dressed and gathered up some tools for her investigation. Hanging an old Nokia camera around her neck, she slowly crept to the door that separated her room from room 234. Using a lockpicking set she’d found on Amazon, Cat unlocked the deadbolt and cautiously entered the darkened room.

Room 234 was much worse than Cat had expected. Clothes and papers littered every surface, and newspaper clippings covered the wall behind the desk. Cat raised her camera and documented the scene as she went to the desk area and began reading the headlines.

“Let’s see…murder case, murder case, missing person, an odd phenomenon…he’s got quite a collection here.”

She snapped a couple of photos before a headline made her pause and set the camera down. It read:

“Berkley found innocent of murder charges.”

Cat snatched the article and read it.

“Charlie Berkley, 24, was found innocent of the murder of 19-year-old Alice Rodriguez after the Metro Police Department discovered new information about the case. Berkley, who was sentenced to death by lethal injection, was executed at 9:45 am on November 2nd, mere minutes before his innocence was announced. His last words included the phrase: “I swear upon all that is holy that I did not kill that girl. It was all Mother’s doing.”

Jonah Simpson, attorney at Simpson and Meyers, commented that he “was highly disappointed in the people responsible for sending an innocent man to his death.”

One of the people responsible was Private Investigator Cat Weaver, who investigated Berkley’s involvement with a local eco-terrorism group and provided officers with the evidence that led to his arrest. She stated that “Berkley had the motive, means, and opportunity needed to commit this crime. I’m confident that we have the right man.”

Weaver has declined to comment on Berkley’s release, but a source close to her has confirmed that she “feels terrible about the mistake and wishes that she could go back and change things.”

Funeral services for Berkley are Monday, November 9th, 2018 at the Parson’s Parrish in Milltown.”

Cat sank onto the unmade bed as tears trickled down her cheeks. Once she’d heard the news about Charlie’s innocence, she purposely avoided all forms of media as she tried to drink herself to death. Seeing the case now, on paper, made it real.

It reminded Cat of all the reasons she hated herself, and she whispered a heartfelt “I’m sorry, Charlie” as she wiped her eyes and examined the article again. “Mother” had been circled with a red pen, and there was a symbol drawn into the margin that felt oddly familiar to Cat. It looked like an X, but one line was wavy where the other was straight. It also had a tiny dot in each corner.

This piqued her interest, and Cat tucked the newspaper into her pocket as she returned to the wall. The articles reported attacks on oil fields, nuclear power plants, mining operations, and the people who owned them. They also referenced “mother” and had that symbol next to it in red.

“Alright, Kane, what are you playing?” Cat whispered as she took photos of the symbols before her. She then began musing over the case as she turned to the window.

“Ok, so Kane was involved in some cult-like activities. Hmm, I bet his Grandma didn’t know that. Still, it seems harmless enough, but could be the reason he’s gone missing.”

Before she could consider that possibility further, a large hand appeared out of nowhere and clamped itself over Cat’s mouth. She fought back, but her assailant was much larger and stronger than she was. She was put into a headlock and quietly slipped into oblivion.


     The room was pitch-black when Cat awoke, and it took a minute for her to remember what had happened. Bolting upright, she searched the area around her for something to use as a weapon. The sofa was scratchy and firm, and there didn’t seem to be anything on it but an old blanket. Cat’s head throbbed as she gently stood up, noting the concrete floor, and began walking straight ahead. It took her seven steps to reach the wall, and she followed it around the room in search of a light switch or door. Finding nothing but smooth, concrete walls, she returned to the sofa and began weighing her options.

The symbols that Kane left in his room must have meant something, and Cat wondered if whoever had kidnapped her was responsible for Kane’s disappearance as well. If that were true, how would she escape? Would Sheryl know to look for her if she didn’t return?

Cat laughed in the darkness. There was no one to miss her if she vanished, and Cat almost enjoyed the idea of dying on the job like this. She could then stop messing up the lives of everyone around her.

As she thought this, a small beam of light shone down upon her and lit up the small, barren room. It was coming from a trap door in the ceiling some ten feet above her, and Cat squinted at the brightness of it. A male voice cut through the silence.

“Are you awake?”

Cat saw his head silhouetted against the light, but she couldn’t make out his features. She shrugged. “Depends. Are you God?”

The man sighed. “No, Catori. I’m not God, and I don’t appreciate your sarcasm.”

“Wait, how do you know my name? Who are you?”

She was beginning to panic now. Here she was, trapped in what must be a basement, with a stranger who knows her most intimate secret.

Things were getting weird.

“I’ve always known your name, Catori, and I’m sorry that I’ve had to resort to this, but time is of the essence. Mother has returned, and I need you to wake up.”

It was the mention of “Mother” that caught Cat’s attention, and she finally realized who her captor was. The rest of it, however, was still a mystery that Cat was determined to solve.

“Look, I don’t know what you want from me, Mr. Walker, but I would appreciate it if you’d let me out of this hole and discuss it with me on equal grounds.”

“You remembered my name? Good. What else have you remembered?”

Cat went quiet for a moment as a particularly strange nightmare came flooding back to her, but she pushed it down as she replied.

“I haven’t remembered anything. Now, can you let me up? I need to pee.”

Kane sighed and lowered a metal ladder through the hatch. Cat slowly climbed into the light and found herself in a small sitting area behind the hotel lobby. There was one exit, through which she could see Jeremy stealing glances at them from his post, but the thing that interested her the most was Kane Walker.

He was a large man in his thirties, with a scowl that could scare the toughest of men into submission. But his mahogany eyes were kind, and Cat felt a strange sense of familiarity about him.

“Do…Do I know you?”

Kane smiled at her. “Better than I know myself, and I hate to awaken you like this, but when we failed to defeat Mother in our last battle, it set certain things into motion that need to be fixed before we confront Mother again. That’s why I need you.”

Cat sat on the sofa across from him as her head reeled. “I have no idea what any of this means, but I feel like I’ve been in this situation before.”

Kane nodded. “That’s because you have. You’ve been in this same situation more times than I can count, but it’s never exactly alike. Mother changes things to suit her mood,” he pointed to the mug between them. “If you drink this tea, it will help you remember. I need you to remember, Catori. I can’t fight her on my own.”

Cat looked at the mug for a solid minute before turning back to her host.

“Why should I believe any of this? You’ve kidnapped me in the middle of my investigation, held me in the basement of a shabby hotel, and now you’re telling me that we’re practically family?” Cat crossed her arms. “No. I’m not drinking any magical memory tea until you explain what’s going on.”

Kane sighed. “It’s not that simple, Catori. My explanations are a pale comparison to your memories and would take up valuable time. Please, drink the tea.”

“You’re not helping your case, Kane. If you need a narrower topic, tell me what you know about Charlie Berkley.”

“Fine. Charley Berkley was an accident. Mother had planted the evidence against him and many others, as you’ve seen from the clippings I’ve gathered. That’s how she works. She takes the desires of men and twists them into something unrecognizable.”

Kane leaned towards her. “Have you ever wondered why the world seems to be growing more and more unstable? Or why the corrupt flourish while the pure live in poverty? That’s Mother. She’s shifting the balance, and I need you to help me stop it.”

As he spoke, Cat flashed back to her latest nightmare. She was standing on the top of a skyscraper as the world burned below her, and it prickled at the back of Cat’s mind like a far-off memory. Maybe, Kane had the answer.

“If I drink this tea, what guarantee do I have that it’s not drugged or poisoned?”

Kane laughed. “Like I could poison you. You are pretty resistant to human ailments, or hadn’t you noticed?”

It’s true that Cat hadn’t been to the doctor in ages, and her hangover the other morning was the result of six full bottles of tequila, so maybe she was something special?

There was one way to find out.

Cat sighed as she took the mug in her hands. “It’s not like I have anything to lose. Fuck it. Cheers.”

She drank the warm liquid, noting the combined flavors of rosemary and turmeric, and set the empty mug back on the table.

“Now what?”

Kane leaned back against the sofa. “Now, we wait.”

Within minutes, Cat’s eyes began to glaze over as memory after memory invaded her mind. She remembered how she and Kane were created to keep Mother in check, and how they fought for generations to keep humanity safe from her control.

Cat also remembered who Mother was. Mother represented order within disorder and life within darkness. The Earth was her child, and humanity was a plague upon it. However, the Others protected the idea of humanity, so Kane and Cat were born to fight and die in an endless cycle of futility. Cat couldn’t count the number of lifetimes she and Kane had experienced, and it was becoming intolerable.

When the memories began to slow as they approached Cat’s current reality, something felt different. Usually, she’d feel a great sense of relief when she regained her memories, but now, all she felt was exhaustion. However, she hid this fact from Kane as she blinked her eyes and looked at him for the first time. He was smiling.

“Welcome back, Catori.”

“Hello, Kane. What do we know about Mother’s current whereabouts?”

“Not much, I’m afraid, but I’m getting close.” He stood and offered her a hand. “Let me show you what I’ve gathered thus far.”

They went back to his room and began going through the evidence. With each new article, Catori’s exhaustion grew into depression, and a plan formed in her heart.

“If my calculations are correct, Mother should be in the Midwest by November,” Kane continued, seemingly unaware of Catori’s inattention. “Now, I know of an old training facility in the area that’s well hidden from the public eye. If you can fortify it, we can lure Mother there and use it to push her back. What do you think?”

“Hmm?” Catori brought her thoughts back to the present, “Sounds like a good plan, and it’ll give me plenty of time to prepare.”

“Good. Now, you need to rest and get acclimated to your memories. I’ll have Jeremy send up some food, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

Catori thanked him as she returned to her room. Once Jeremy had made his delivery, Catori bolted the door and reveled in the privacy. She stripped off her clothes and sat on a towel that was on the floor by the closed window. Taking a deep breath, Catori began a deep meditation routine that always replenished her energy. Her spirit left the physical realm as she connected with the universe, and she was soon soaring through her many lifetimes as she tried to find the cause of her negativity.

As she approached the memories of their last battle with Mother, Catori felt a dark stain upon her soul. She approached it cautiously, shivering with fear as a deep female voice entered her mind.

Catori, my child. I’m glad to see you are awake.

Hello, Mother, Cat replied softly, I should have known that you were behind this.

Of course, I am, child. I needed to talk to you.

A vision of an older woman appeared from the darkness and floated before Catori. She had long, jet-black hair, violet eyes, and wore shadows around her thin body. She smiled at Catori.

Our last encounter was…complicated. I could feel your exhaustion, so I attached myself to your dying soul and waited for this opportunity. You and Kane have always been protectors of humanity, but times have changed, and I’m working towards a larger goal. Surely you can see that now.

Catori was silent. Her feelings were a jumbled mess, and talking with Mother only confirmed what she suspected.

Catori was tired of fighting.

What do I do?

It was the cry of a lonely child, and Mother’s image smiled as she raised a hand to Catori’s cheek.

You know what to do, child. Listen to your spirit. It will guide you.

Catori closed her eyes and floated back to her own body, which shivered in the coolness of the room. Emotions tumbled from her eyes as she realized that times had changed. The humanity that she and Kane fought for was gone, replaced by something ugly and destructive. They needed Mother’s chaos to reset humanity.

Catori then thought about Kane. How would he react? Would she be able to convince him? Or would he be her enemy?

Catori dressed for bed as she weighed her options. She knew that Kane’s straightforward nature would make him resist, so she had to be subtle about it. Somehow, Catori would make him believe.


     The next morning found Catori and Kane in the small dining room off the main lobby of the hotel. Jeremy, who was still on shift, brought them coffee and cold bagels as they outlined their plan.

“Our old training facility is below a field in rural Oklahoma, just outside of Tulsa. If we leave tonight, we should get there in a day or so.”

He drank some coffee as he waited for Catori to respond, but she only nodded, so he continued. “Once we’re inside, use your power to put a barrier around the main room. I’ll then cast the spell to summon Mother to us, and we can finish what we started all those decades ago. Sound good?”

“Sure, Kane. Sounds good.”

Kane leaned forward and looked her in the eyes. “Are you ok? You’ve been quiet since your awakening, which isn’t like you.”

Catori sighed as she faced him. “Kane, aren’t you tired of fighting the same battles lifetime after lifetime?”

Kane remained silent as he processed the question. “Honestly? No. We were created to fight, and not fighting goes against our nature. My personal feelings are irrelevant when all of humanity is at stake.”

“True, but think about how much it’s changed. Humanity is miles away from where it began. Surely you can see that.”

Kane shook his head. “That’s irrelevant. No matter what form humanity has taken, we must protect it. There is no other way.”

Catori went silent as Kane changed the subject. “Do you have a car?”


“Good. We’ll take that. Be ready to go by noon.”

Kane left her alone at the table, and she could tell by his posture that he was unsettled. She quietly finished her coffee and returned to her room to pack. Catori often traveled light when working a case, so there wasn’t much to do but wait. She thought about giving Sheryl a call. It was the least she could do for a woman who’s stood by her side when no one else would. She grabbed the phone from the nightstand and dialed Sheryl’s number.

“You’ve reached Sheryl, so leave your name and number at the beep, and I’ll get back to you.”

“Hey Sheryl, it’s Cat. Listen, you’ve always been a good friend to me, so I wanted to call and tell you that I won’t be coming back. That case you sent me on turned out to be bigger than we ever expected, but I don’t know how to explain it. Just know that I’m safe, and I’ll miss you. Goodbye, Sheryl. Thanks for everything.”

Catori hung up the phone and placed it on the dresser. Then, she laid on the filthy comforter and waited for noon to arrive.


     The trip from Montana to Oklahoma was uneventful.  Kane tried to coax some form of life out of Catori by reminiscing on past battles and the good they had accomplished, but Catori remained silent. Finally, they arrived.

The training room was a large bunker hidden beneath a cattle field. The walls and floor were solid concrete, and Catori had a rush of nostalgia as she entered the musty area.

“Wow, we haven’t been here in, what, sixty years?”

“More like seventy. Here, help me with the generator.”

They quickly unloaded the generator and hooked it up to the antiquated light system before turning it on. One or two bulbs burst from the sudden surge of power, but the remaining bulbs filled the room with a pale-yellow light. Kane turned to Catori.

“Your turn.”

Catori sighed as she found the center of the room. She took off her shoes, raised her arms, and looked to the concrete ceiling. With a deep breath, Catori used herself as a conduit as she drew energy from the universe and pushed it out of her body and into the room. It took about an hour for Catori to surround the entire structure with the protective energy, and she collapsed to the floor as the air shimmered around her.

“Nice work, Catori!” Kane praised her as he helped her to a chair. “That should keep Mother contained for sure. Now, you rest, and I’ll summon her.”

Catori watched as Kane grabbed his staff and took her place in the center of the room. His deep voice echoed as he began to chant.

“I call to the darkness, chaos, and all that came before. Send me your creator, the one who ruins all things, so that I can know her power. Send me Mother.”

Kane repeated this chant seven times before Catori realized that the lights had dimmed considerably. The air had also become colder and swirled around in random gusts. As Kane repeated his chant for the eighth time, Mother appeared before them.

She was even more beautiful in person. Her jet-black hair shone with starlight, and her violet eyes were deep and full of mischief. Her dress rippled with living shadows as she stood between them.

“Hello, Kane. Catori. It’s so good to see you again.”

Kane had assumed his defensive stance, but he gave Mother a small bow in recognition.  “Hello, Mother. I’m sorry it had to come to this, but the world cannot take much more. You have to stop.”

Mother raised her eyebrows. “And, which ‘world’ would that be? The world of humans, with their imposed society and false gods; or the actual world, which I created, which is dying because of humanity’s greed? Which world, exactly, are you trying to save?”

Kane shifted uncomfortably under Mother’s reprimand, and Catori used this opportunity to grab Mother’s attention.

“Mother, you know that our duty is to humanity first and the Earth second. It’s been that way since the beginning. Why should this timeline be any different?”

“Because it shouldn’t have come this far,” Mother fumed. “Humans were made to take care of the planet; to cultivate her essence and protect her beauty. Instead, they imagine themselves to be above it all, raping her of her resources and killing her with their machines. I did not create this paradise for them to destroy it, so I shall destroy them.”

Kane looked appalled. “You can’t just wipe out humanity! They are important to the growth of the universe.”

Mother turned to face him. “Kane, think back to all your regenerations. After everything you’ve seen, can you honestly tell me that humanity is something other than a plague upon the world?”

Kane went silent for a moment before replying. “My feelings are irrelevant. However, I admit that, as a whole, maybe they are a plague. However, there are those who respect the planet and strive to uphold your wishes, whether they know it or not. Surely they deserve to be saved.”

“Perhaps. But humanity, as a whole, needs to be eradicated from this blessed planet before it’s too late. I propose that, for this one time in the history of our relationship, we work together to ensure the bigger, brighter future that this world should have. Can we do that?”

Kane began pacing the room, and Catori knew he was struggling with his convictions. She went to him.

“Kane, please think about it. Humanity isn’t as delicate as it was in the beginning. It’s exploded with malice and modernism, and the last three lifetimes have been increasingly difficult. You know Mother is right. We need a cleanse.”

Anguish crossed his face. “I agree that things have changed, but what happens when we turn our backs on who we are? We won’t be the same, and I can’t risk that.”

“I can. Kane, I’m tired of fighting for a corrupt system. Let’s cleanse it through chaos and start fresh. Please,” she touched his arm, “Kane, we need you.”

“She’s right, you know,” Mother added. “We could use a warrior of your caliber on our team. I’ll even assure you that one million pure humans will remain alive. That should satisfy both you and the Others. What do you say?”

Kane struggled for a moment before a look of tranquility crossed his features.

“No. I will not betray myself. I am a protector of humanity, and I will protect it until the end.”

With that, he charged at mother and tried to land a hit with his quarterstaff, but he barely made it halfway across the room when he felt something cold wrap itself around his throat. He raised a hand to it as it began to tighten, but there wasn’t anything for him to grab. Kane then turned to Catori, who had her hands in a grip-like position as she used her energy to restrain him.


“Because Mother is right, and you can’t see past yourself to the bigger picture.” She turned to Mother. “What should I do with him?”

Mother walked over to Kane and gazed into his mahogany eyes.

“If you’re determined to be against me, then I must be against you. Change your mind, Kane, or perish.”

Catori loosened her hold on Kane so he could reply, but he still refused Mother’s offer. “I can’t join you. I don’t want to become something I’m not created to be. I’m sorry.”

“Very well. Goodbye, Kane. You’ll always be in my heart.”

Mother wrapped Kane in living shadows and took control from Catori as she leaned in and opened his mouth. Catori watched in horror as a thin, blue line emerged from Kane’s mouth and entered Mother’s. Kane began to convulse as Mother ripped his immortal soul from his body and absorbed it into herself. After a couple of minutes, the line disappeared, and Kane went still.

Mother gently closed his eyes before carefully laying him on the ground. She then looked at Catori, who was sobbing in the corner as grief and guilt flowed through her. Mother sat down and wrapped Catori in her arms.

“I’m so sorry, child. I wish it hadn’t come to this, but Kane chose his fate.”

“You didn’t have to absorb his soul! You could have just killed him like you always do. Why was this so different?”

Mother stroked Catori’s hair. “Because this is the end. If our plan works, we’ll send humanity back to the stone ages so they can begin anew. Under our guidance, there would be peace, and Kane would have become the very thing he feared. This way, he can die as himself. I did him a favor.”

Mother’s dress felt cool on Catori’s face as she processed Mother’s words. Knowing Kane as she did, Catori had to admit that he would have been miserable in the new, peaceful future that they were envisioning. But that future was still a long way off, and Catori dried her eyes as she sat up and looked at Kane’s lifeless body.

“I still wish you hadn’t taken his soul, but you’re right. He would have been miserable. He was always the rigid needle that charged into battle, and I was the flexible thread that held him together. It’s strange without him at my side, but I know that it’s for the greater good.”

Mother smiled at her. “I’m glad you see things my way, Catori. Your spiritual manipulation will come in handy as we eradicate this virus on the Earth, and I’m happy to have you by my side at long last. Together, we’ll change everything.”

Catori smiled as she stood up and took Mother’s hand.

“Good. Where do we begin?”

Written in 2018 for my fiction class.

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