“You heard me. Who do you love?”
“Why does that matter?”
“Who…do…you…love?Does the question confuse you? If not, then answer me.” He hesitates, but sees no way to avoid answering, at least nosafeway to avoid it.
“That’s it. Just her.”
“Truly? Just one? Not love for mommy and daddy?”
“He’s dead. So is she. All my family is.”
“Really, last of your line are you? A shame. Nevertheless, there must be others. Close friends or mentors? Hell, a pet will work if we must.”
“I have always been a private man, and mentors are for those who need guidance, not that it’s a bad thing to need guidance, but I have always found my own way. And I don’t own any pets.”
“That is disappointing. The more options there are, the more fun the choice is, at least for me.”
“Your choice of victim of course!“
“We will leave you tonight, but first we need to leave a bit of strife, a piece of ruin, a slice of guilt to leave our mark on your life. Were we to leave you with only a memory of a few unhappy months…”
“Unhappy is not the right word for the days past…”
“…then we may as well have done nothing at all. Now, for us to leave we must find someone else to move on to, someone else to take your burden. That person will be a loved one of your choosing, though the choice here seems clear. Your wife shall take the burden from you.”
A feeling of horror seeps into Brennan as he hears how this cruel game will play out. He would not wish the cruelties he has experienced here on anyone, and his wife deserves nothing but happiness.
“No, I wont choose her.”
“Too late friend, you have already said she is your only love, the only one who can accept this burden. All that is left is for you to say a few simple words:I loose you upon my beloved wife, may you damn her as another has me.”
“Why don’t you just go to her, why must I order you to?”
“What would you have to regret if you knew we would go to her regardless? You must know that you are the one will damn her. A little note to you as well, not all choose to survive as you have. Many will end their lives or die from our actions, though that is not our intention.” As he speaks, the beast enters the room and once again stand in the doorway, and the pulse in its chest seems to have quickened, excited with anticipation of what is to come.
“And if I refuse?”
“Then I will leave and my friend will hide himself once again, and your torment will escalate to levels you never thought possible until you beg us to move on to your wife. So, what shall it be?”
Brennan leans back in his chair. His wife has been with him since they were young, and he loves her more than anything in life. She is his will to live. He can’t send these things upon her. She is strong, but they are stronger. What if she were to die at their hands, and in turn, his? How could he live with himself? He tries to think of a way to outwit them, but he can think of no way out. At least no way in which he will leave here alive. He looks down at the knife that still rests in his hands, and realizes leaving here alive may not be an option. Would he take his burden to suffer alone to the ultimate level, and die to save his faithful and beloved? The answer is easy.
“No. She is not yours to take. Bring your worst now, for now is the last you will see of me.” With that he takes the knife and cuts his wrist open with a scream and then a smile. He drops the knife as the blood pours from him like a fountain. His eyes start to blur with tears, but he is happy. He will never be able to tell his wife of his last gesture of love, but she will live. That is what matters.
Through his blurred eyes he sees the man stand up and walk over to him. He crouches down in front of Brennan and frowns. He lifts his hand up and shows Brennan the coin he continues to roll about his hands.
“Look at the coin friend. It moves from one gap to the next, just as my friend and I do. But what happens when it reaches the end of my hand, and nothing is left?” He goes through the motion and shows Brennan how he uses his thumb to move the coin back where it started. “It just keeps going, just as I will here. I do not need the next space, just the one before it. If you are the last gap, and I will continue whether you are their or not. Before you leave this world I must know, do you know who was before you?”
Brennan is growing cold, and he can no longer feel his arm, but he manages to shake his head.
“No. I thought not. Do you remember your wife, and how months ago she had many misfortunes come her way? And what poor health she was in? This is not the first time we have been in this house. Did you not wonder why she was miraculously cured days before you came under misfortune? Why her life seemed to just realign itself? Why she left you without hesitation? She was not worried for herself. She was leaving you to suffer alone, even after you stood by her during her bout with us.She is the one who sent us upon you.”
Brennan can’t feel much of anything, but deep inside he feels a sadness creep into his heart, constricting every part of his body. His mind is clouded and he has difficulty forming thoughts, but he manages to speak a few last words.
“Her…only…choice. No…other…love.”The man frowns and stops his little coin trick.
“I am sorry to tell you that you lie to yourself, even as you death creeps into your body. You were certainly not heronlychoice. You were just herfirst.This burden you refused her, she gladly gave to you. A burden of one love, given to another.” With that he snaps his fingers once more. The tears are now ones of sorrow, and they stream down his face and mix with the blood that pools on him. A black ring has began to encroach around his eyes as death begins its final approach. The figure of the man fades out of view, and is replaced by the glorious glow of the creatures Amaranthine heart. As he loses consciousness, he loses his love for one heart and enters another, just one of many to carry the burden of love.