When Tomorrow Never Comes

By Ollen Cummings

The great beast screamed again, and Crono tightened his grip on the katana that now shook in his grasp. Funny, how the most important things seem to happen so fast. In the literal blink of an eye, the Mammon machine had enveloped them in this bizarre warp and they found themselves confronted by Lavos, the most powerful creature ever known to have existed on earth, in any era.

Why did time hate him so much? Something from the very beginning had prompted him to believe things might end this way, but he was always able to burn through any fear or doubt with raw optimism. Now, no amount of optimism was going to bring them all safely out of this hornet's nest. This must be the price he had to pay, for getting involved in the midst of time in the first place. He could have lived out his life in relative happiness, never having to face death head on. Then again, it wasn't lost on him that he took his life into his own hands just by waking up every morning. There was an opportunity here, and even though it was the most horrible choice he knew he could have to make, the consequences of ignoring it were more than he was willing to accept. After all, it wasn't as if he hadn't been warned.

"Hold a moment, my boy." Melchior, the old man who was the guru of life caught his arm. They stood in the dank hole, the terra cave that housed the Earthbound village of Alghetty. They had just retrieved the guru from the summit of the mountain of woe, where he had been imprisoned by the reigning Queen of Zeal. Lucca and Marle held the red knife Melchior had given them, the only weapon capable of destroying the Mammon machine and stopping the cataclysm Lavos's awakening was certain to cause. They paid no mind to the old man or what he told Crono in a hushed, secretive tone.

"There is something important that you must know before you begin this task." The old man removed his spectacles and polished them idly on his robes. "A good friend of mine once told me about a theory he was developing - that there exists an entire reality for each and every choice that any creature even capable of choice makes. That means there are literally an infinite number of realities, where any and every outcome for each situation dwells in its own place." His pale eyes met Crono's, sending a light chill down his spine. "I've never believed that. I suppose I've never been as attached to reason or logic as my friend. It is one of my many faults. But, being as old as I am, I'm bound to accumulate quite a few over a lifetime."

"What do you mean by all of this?" Crono asked at last. He didn't mean to be rude, but the cryptic note in Melchior was highly disconcerting. The guru of life was alluding to something large. Normally, Crono would have been happy to listen to any riddle the man might concoct, but everything was out of control now. There was so much to do, and time was not fighting for him. On the contrary, the same future he'd sworn to reshape seemed desperate to be born in an instant, rushing his body and occluding his thoughts.

"That is the way with the young." Melchior smiled good-naturedly, if not somewhat sadly. "Always rushing to get to the point of things. Sometimes a man must hold back and observe life for a time. There are a great many things to be discovered by doing so, but that is more of a personal passion than anything else." The smile lessened a little, slipping away altogether as he drew closer, his voice even more private. "I believe that there is only one real future, and that we have been given everything we need to achieve it. the decisions we make are made for a reason, even when we choose to be indecisive. I wish I knew you better, my boy. I feel sadness in your future, and little else."

There wasn't any reply he could have made to that. He roamed his mind, looking for some sort of comment that might ease the looming tension around and within him, finding none. He stood there, feeling stupid, until Lucca caught his wrist.

"What's taking so long? We don't have a minute to lose!"

What irony. Time really must loathe him even more than he'd assumed. This battle and its inevitable outcome were taking forever, as if time was slowing down as a way to punish him for his arrogance. After all, who was he to think he could change the fate of the earth? Maybe there was only one future, and it wasn't the happy one they had all hoped for. Maybe this is what he deserved for thinking one person could make a difference against something so great. He was nothing compared to the power of Lavos, and neither was anyone else. Magus, the greatest mage time had ever known, was lying in a broken heap at his feet, breath coming raggedly. On his other side, Schala of Zeal, the second most venerable enchanter, crouched humbly. Lucca and Marle were sprawled at a respective distance behind him, neither able to raise themselves from the ground - if you could call the glowing, shimmering surface below them 'ground.' He was alone, and he was resigned to his fate.

'One among you will shortly perish.' A young boy in the sky kingdom of Zeal told him that when he and the others first arrived. Somehow, even at that moment, he knew who it would be. 'This is it, then.' He thought, not feeling as terrified as he'd hoped he would.

Light bloomed from him, spreading lambent beams across this strange nether world he was now trapped in. Their pulsing corresponded to the beating of his own heart, the throbbing of his own soul. The hated, blessed moment was finally here. He never would have admitted it to the others, but as he realized what he was doing, he felt his heart almost burst with sheepish pride. He was doing this for them. Or that would be what he'd tell them, if any of them would ask. This whole experience had stripped him of most of his delusions. He was ready to...go.

The golden aura around him grew greater and stronger, filling him and breaking apart any borders that constricted him as it forced its way ever outward. Its intensity doubled, then tripled, until not even the darkness that was his body could resist it. Something gave away, and then all that was left was the light.

Ollen Cummings' Fanfiction