Prologue I – February 23, 2008

Disclaimer: none of the characters are mine, but belong to Impossible Pictures™.

The cemetery stood abandoned and dark, with the cold wind blowing through the skeletal branches of leafless trees and a moon shining like a cold yellow eye of an emotionless monster through black-and-silvered clouds.

A woman slowly moved through the trees with a stalking grace that implied many years of practice of moving silently: not even a slight limp of one of her feet belied it.

Slowly, the woman made her way to one of the gravestones in the cemetery and said:

"Hello, Stephen. It is I, Helen. I know that you cannot hear me, or perhaps just do not want to acknowledge me, but... this is the anniversary of your death, after all, and I have to tell you that... I am sorry. I should have stuck with the initial plan; I should not have tried to have Nick sacrifice himself, but... I could not help myself! For years and years Nick and I tried to make our marriage work: for three years I passionately loved him, for two more I respected him, and then, well, I met you. And I fell for you hard, and I panicked, and I fled – through a time anomaly, as I later realized.

"That experience was terrible, but I survived, and I was sure that if I could survive that, I could do anything – but I was wrong. I could kill you, for example, but I could not change your heart. You loved Nick, no matter what, forever and ever, and for him... you died. I failed. Then Nick died, for I succeeded...and now, it is my turn. I cannot – quite – change the past, but I can see the future. You are dead; Nick is dead; Jenny is gone; and now, it is my turn. My death is coming at last. I will put on a good show, but in the end, I will die. I know not if there is an afterlife or not, but I doubt that I will ever see you again. Good-bye, Stephen, and good luck..."

Slowly, the woman turned around and vanished back into the twilight among the trees. More shadows followed her – clone troopers of her army. Within moments they were gone through a manifested time anomaly, as if they were never there, and the cemetery was empty once more.