The blind man had not disappeared, of course. All he had done was distract the woman with the nearing bus, and snuck behind the bus shelter. A gate led to the park behind the shelter. He walked through it, twirling his cane merrily, which he seemed to no longer require. As he strolled through the park, his eyes began to change. They lost their milky opacity, and sprouted bright blue irises, wide pupils at their centre. For the first time in a long while, he could see. Truly see, as the ordinary people saw. The incessant noise, the multitude of voices that his brain played host to on a constant basis, faded away. All the data, the facts and figures, integers and variables, vanished from his mind. He was not alarmed. He knew precisely what was happening.
He spotted a park bench along the path. He sat down and revelled in the sight of it all. A flock of geese flew across the deep blue sky in a “V”, returning to their roost. The lake before him was calm, not a ripple to be seen upon its surface. The smell of the recently departed summer lingered still, aided by the pollenating plants around him that just didn’t know when to stop. The trees whispered as the wind blew gently through their slowly dying leaves. But they were good whispers, not like the ones he was used to. They weren’t the voices of Time.
At least, Time was what he called it. Some call it God, or Fate. Most call it madness.
That was what he had heard for most of his life. The voices whispering to him, telling him all the futures and destinies of every single person on this planet. Every decision they made. What they wore. What they said. He even heard their thoughts! At first he had been overwhelmed by it all. He had even tried to kill himself on numerous occasions, but the voices didn’t want that. They didn’t even let old age reach him. He wasn’t sure of his age, but he knew it surpassed some of the oldest monuments on the Earth. He had been there at the construction of Newgrange, a megalithic passage tomb built five thousand years ago.
Eventually he learned to cope with the voices, all the data that was streaming into his mind. It took about a millenium for him to realise that all these destinies, all the lives he heard in every waking moment were leading to something. The voices had a plan. They controlled everything. People thought they had free will, but that was a myth. Their futures were pre-ordained, just more cogs in the wheel of Fate’s massive engine.
At first this plan didn’t bother him. Let the mortals be ruled by higher powers, he thought. What care did he have for them? But after a few centuries, he realised that he was probably another of Time’s pawns, and that was when he began to rebel. He figured that if he could see the future, he could work out how to change it. He would try to mess up the voices’ plans, but it never seemed to last. The only relief he got from these little uprisings was the sight and the silence.
The first time it happened, it frightened him. He had lived with the voices for so long, he panicked to think that they had left him, his only companions in his lengthy life. But when they returned, they were worse than ever. Eventually they got so bad, that he had no choice but to try to change time again, just for a few minutes of relief. The second time he did it, he realised what was happening.
Time was going into flux, peoples’ destinies were changed, some died where they should have lived, and vice versa. Time rewrote itself, rebooted its system. And every time he did it the voices would punish him, make him do things he didn’t want to. Affect things to cause the deaths of many people, deaths that would tear at his soul. But for now he wasn’t concerned with the consequences of his actions.
Everything pivoted around Evelyn’s decision, and later, Cillian’s. He left the park bench, continuing his stroll, waiting for the voices to return as he knew they would. The sun was in front of him, sinking slowly behind the trees in the distance. The geese left the sky, out of sight.
And then it happened.
At the very second Cillian made his decision, blinding light shook through the blind man’s head. He crumpled to the ground, his last sight the stony, grey path he had been walking down. His irises and pupils retreated to the milky depths of his blindness. His skull felt as though it would explode. The voices returned, screaming at him. The data streamed through his mind and he saw . . .