She’s coming to him. She’s everything he’s ever wanted. So why does his stomach hurt, and why can’t he stop thinking about what others have said?
She’s beautiful. Actually, beautiful doesn’t come anywhere close. She’s stunning, scintillating, wondrous. They don’t cut it either, but he can’t find any other ways to say it. So he watches her coming closer and smiles for a moment. He thought that, at this moment, the memories and the doubts would fade, but they’re just as loud as ever.
He can still hear his father’s voice. ‘My son, you must never forget where you came from. You must never forget why we are sending you. You are to be their guardian. You will keep them safe against everything this wide and terrible galaxy can throw at them.’
He squeezes his eyes shut and takes a deep breath, but the voice carries on.
‘You must never fall in love. You must never come to care for one of them more than the rest, or your mission will be compromised. My son—’
He remembers, even now, so many years later, laughing. He and his father are stood beside the Seeing Eye, a massive glass globe many times his size. Shining within it is the blue and green planet to which he is going to be banished. He can see every person on it and the thought of falling in love with any one of them as is ludicrous as anything could be.
Love exists between beings of a higher plane, he thinks, not with those pathetic little creatures to whom he will be a god.
He blinks and looks back at her. How could he ever have thought her anything other than perfect?
‘My son, remember this, above all else. Now go, and save the world.’
A great sigh makes those sat nearest him start in surprise. But they take his sigh for one of rapture, and maybe they’re right. His mind drifts as his stomach clenches, to another time, more recent than his final talk with his father.
He’s stood now on the roof of a sky scraper. The whole city is spread out before him, but his eyes are fixed on the malevolent being before him.
‘Beware, Super Guy, for this isn’t the last time we’ll meet.’
‘You’re finished.’ Did he really say that? ‘Your time here is done. Go and never return.’
His arch enemy smiled and shook his head. ‘I will go, but I will return. I will sneak back when you are at your most vulnerable, and I will strike where you least expect it.’
‘I’m impervious to your attacks. Surely you know that by now? There’s nothing you can do to hurt me.’
‘Hurt you? I didn’t say I’d hurt you. But the people around you? They, I can hurt. Beware, Superguy, beware of falling in love. Because the day you do, I’ll be back.’
He blinked out of existence then, vanishing to the dark realm from which he’d sprung. And if Superguy felt a shiver run down his back, he shook it off and returned to his duty.
He squeezes his eyes closed then glances over his shoulder. She’s nearly here. His throat dries in an instant and he struggles to swallow. He would face a million Thrak beasts rather than be standing here. He would rather fight a thousand Hex Sleuthers than be doing this.
He faces front and takes a deep breath. His greatest challenge is here and he’s getting cold feet. His mind takes him away again, and he’s standing on a mountain top.
She is here. Not the woman waiting for him, but the goddess, the one from whom he can never escape, no matter how hard he tries. Though, if he’s honest, he never tries that hard.
‘You love her?’ She asks.
‘Then why are we even here?’
‘I… I wanted to tell you.’
She laughs, though there’s no humour in the sound. ‘Here for hundreds of years and you still don’t get it. You wanted to tell me. Why?’
‘I thought you deserved to know.’
‘Yeah, well, next you time you think I deserve something, send me a text first, alright?’ She turns from him and marches away into the snow. He watches her go and tries to figure out what the pain in his gut means.
He blinks and comes back to the church. She’s standing right before him and a million more thoughts rush through his alien mind. Then he lifts her veil and every memory and every doubt is swept away as he stares into her eyes.
The vicar clears his throat. There’s something about the sound that takes him away again. He sees his arch nemesis just before he vanished. He sees the evil curve of his lips and hears his laugh. His gut clenches tight again but he keeps his smile in place as the ceremony begins.