Michael walked to his cot and sat down, facing Ashley. "I've been living, for years now, with such a broken mind I couldn't even realize I was giving up the life I wanted.”
Ashley put her hand on his knee. “It's not your fault. You were being used.”
“What?” Michael looked at her, confused.
“Most of us who believed in your coming have done the research. The horizon project?”
“Smalldridge and Colonel Holt were supposed to be using it to predetermine threats to national security. You were being sent a few weeks into the future at a time, being briefed on what had transpired during those weeks and then sent back to tell them what the future would hold.”
Michael nodded again, staring right through Ashley's cot and into the past. “I remember.”
“That wasn't the only thing you were being used for though Michael. Smalldridge was a greedy bastard. He was using you to get information on financial situations in the stock market and the global economy. He told the Colonel this was to foresee economic collapse, but that wasn't the truth. He was using you.”
Michael had tears in his eyes.
“He was using you for his own personal gain and you knew it. That's why he had to use his modified version of electroconvulsive therapy to make you forget. He couldn't have you divulge to the Colonel, or anyone else for that matter, that he was using your information unlawfully. Every time you came close to remembering, he fried you again.”
Michael had his face in his palms. “I remember,” he said again, tears racing down his wrists. “I remember the therapy.”
“I'm so sorry Michael,” Ashley said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “I cried when I read about it.”
He looked up at her, his eyes bloodshot, his nose leaking with saline and snot. “It hurt … so much.”
“I don't know how it worked, but it worked pretty good because you never faltered, not for two years; even though Cassandra reportedly attempted to contact you continuously throughout that time.”
His face contorted as he began to sob, his hands in front of his mouth. “I remember,” he said, his voice distorted by his palms and his anguished lips. “I remember her coming to my house. I remember not knowing who she was, telling her to leave.” He dropped his head and cradled it in his arms as he broke down, his arched back jerking with every sob. “I ab-” his words were cut short when he sucked in air with a sniveling choke. “I abandoned her.”
Ashley was rubbing his back. She sat with him as he cried into the evening. She tried to console him, but his mood did not change. The best she could do was help him undress and lay on his cot. After several hours, she heard no more from him. He'd cried himself to sleep.
She looked over to him from time to time, ensuring he was alright. Her heart bled for him, and she envied the fabled Cassandra; a name she had known since childhood. She watched Michael sleep and dreamed of another life, in which they were star crossed lovers.