Time Out of Mind (part 4)


Previously:  In ancient Rome, Peter prepares to execute Katrina.

Droplets of moisture dribbled down the stone walls of the Roman prison.  Katrina found herself alone, frightened.  How could she correct things in her current life, when she was powerless in this one? She wondered.

Rattling outside the door alerted Katrina to someone’s approach.  The wooden door of her cell swung open.  Peter entered, his face stern until the other soldiers left.  His face crumbled.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “Are you hurt?”

“No,” she said as he embraced her.

“This is all my fault…” His Adam’s Apple bobbed as he swallowed. “I love you so much.”

Katrina lay her head on his chest.  “I love you, too.”

“There’s only one thing to do,” he whispered.  He pulled a vile from a satchel at his side.  “We die together.”

“Peter, no!”

He clasped her thin arms in his strong, callused hands. “They’re going to burn you alive.”

Katrina nodded her head.  Peter popped the top of the vile, “Hemlock.”  He took a hard swig, leaving half for Katrina. “I love you,” he whispered.  As a convulsion ripped his body, he fell to the cold, stone floor.

“Peter,” she screamed.  The vile slipped from her hand.  The poison spread across the stones.  A look of betrayal spread across his face, visible through his agony.  “Claudia…” He sighed, and then closed his eyes.

As she knelt, rubbing his hair, Katrina felt the room dissolving around her into inky darkness.  But what did we do wrong?

A dingy, small room materialized around her. Peter sat by her side on the dusty floor.  “Are ya’ ready to die for this, my love?” Sirens wailed outside and shouts rose above the sirens. Katrina glanced around. They were in some sort of attic.

The disorientation was slowly fading. They were in Ireland, 1916. They were holed in a room, waiting to be killed by the British police.  They were fighting for the liberation of their country.  They had planned to die together.

“What is it, love?” He asked.  A trail of blood seeped across his forehead, running down the side of his face.

Katrina stared at Peter a moment.  Did he know? Did he have the same comprehension of the situation that she did; did he know of the other lives? “Peter, I…”

He looked startled. “Peter? Who’s Peter?” He smiled. “After five years, I’d think you’d remember my name is Collin.” He chuckled, taking her hand in his palm.

Katrina placed her hand to her forehead and clenched her eyes.  She had to focus more clearly on the situation.  What was her name? She wondered. What exactly were their plans?  The name Erin slithered into her mind from somewhere in her subconscious. “Of course,” she smiled, “you’re Collin.”  She gave a quizzical tilt of her head.

“I know your mind must be cluttered,” he held her hand close to his heaving chest.

A man barged into the room, calling to Collin. “They say they won’t kill the girls if we give ourselves up.”

Collin stood. A veil spread across Collin’s face, then faded into his dark eyes.  “Do you believe them?”

“As much as I belie any British bastard.”

Collin nodded.  “Tell them…” he paused.  He turned to Katrina. “Erin,” he took her hand and helped her to her feet. His hand slid across to her stomach and patted it. “Tell him that his father died for liberty.”

He turned to the man. “I’m gonna go out.”

The man clenched his hand to Collin’s shoulder. “We’re brothers; we die together.”

“Collin!”  Katrina screamed.  Her mind swirled. Can I stop him? Am I supposed to?

“I’ve made up my mind.”

He rushed toward the front of the room.  Katrina stood, racing toward him.  As she reached him, a barrage of bullets tore through the front window of the shop attic.  Katrina felt the bullets tear through her.  The coppery taste of blood filled her mouth as she felt her legs collapse below her. “Julia!” He bellowed.  In an instant British police had swarmed the building.  Katrina felt her life slipping away.  As the scene faded, she saw Collin thrust to the floor and handcuffed.

Everything faded to black.

For a moment, she was without time.  She thought that perhaps she had failed and she had returned to the purgatory—the void where she had first met her elder self.  A bright light encompassed her vision.  Even her clenched eyes could not force it away.  The light subdued and she opened her eyes.

She was sitting in The Victorian Parlor Cafe.

This was her final chance to set things right.

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