I felt the cold, wooden floor of my workshop against my face. Once my mind had cleared, I sat up to find Edith lying beside me. It was morning and snow had blown in through the gaping hole in the wall, caused by the Frenchmen’s cannon. I guessed that it was the morning after we had left for the future, as the odor of sulfur still remained.
Edith slowly rose to her feet. She dusted the snow off of her dress and smiled. I began to help her but gasped when I noticed her violin was not with us.
“Your violin!” I pulled my hair in frustration. “We left it in the future!”
She laughed and took my hand.
“It’s all right, Conrad. We can buy another one. Besides, it would be nice to start over. I don’t have many fond memories of that instrument . . . Let it rest with my past life.”
I frowned. I understood completely. Her violin would only serve as a relic to remind us of our vile past. It would have brought us nothing but grief if it were to remain.
“Let’s go.” I said sternly. “We need to find our uncle. Perhaps he will know where our father is.”
We left my workshop and went into Leipzig. It was strange to see our world again, functioning just as it was before. These people had no idea how easily they could be destroyed. Why would they expect such a thing during a time of great prosperity like this? My outlook on life had changed dramatically. Nothing in this world was invincible and we least of all.
As we walked through the streets, we received several judgmental glances. They must have thought that we were still dark, embittered people. I felt no shame and of course Edith didn’t. If anything, I pitied these people, for they had never seen the Omega Point as we had. In fact, most of them had no personalities of their own. They were like the engineer, blindly serving the Reich without a thought for what lied outside their country. These poor men and women had no idea of the beauty that our world truly held.
Eventually, we found our uncle in his own workshop. His eyes lit up when we entered.
“Conrad, my boy, is that you?” He exclaimed. He bounded over to us, shoving his employees aside.
It was strange to hear German again. It brought with it such a distant feeling, despite being exposed to it my whole life.
“I heard that you had been attacked by a French spy. I went over to your workshop this morning, but neither of you were there. I also noticed that your dirigible was missing. Tell me, did it work? Did you travel through time?” He asked, his eyes wide with concern.
“It worked, Uncle, but I’m afraid I’ll have to spare you the details. We’re looking for our father. Do you know where we can find him?”
Our uncle was quite taken aback. Slowly, he sat down in a nearby chair.
“You’ve changed, Conrad, and it’s not just your clean face.” He laughed and glanced at Edith. “You both have . . . What happened?”
I stepped forward. “Excuse me, Uncle, but we have to see our father. It’s urgent!” I exclaimed.
He held out his hands. “Calm down, lad. Your father’s in Berlin. I’ll buy your tickets, but you’ll have to explain everything on the train.”
I nodded. “All right. Let’s be off then.” I said and promptly left the workshop.
“Wait! This classy, old gentleman doesn’t have the vitality he used to!” He shouted, running after us.
The train ride to Berlin went much smoother than I expected. My uncle is still known today amongst the scientific community for his open-mindedness, but the ease at which he accepted everything I told him was baffling. He even grasped the Omega Point theory without asking a single question. In fact, he was much more concerned with us rather than scientific breakthroughs beyond our time.
“I see . . . Well, I’m very proud of you both for moving forward like this, but please, don’t be too angry with your father. He’s a good man, but good men can make very poor decisions.”
I sighed. “Thank you, Uncle. Will you be accompanying us?”
He shook his head. “No, this is a matter that the three of you must settle together. I will wait outside the manor.”
“Manor?” Edith breathed.
Night had already fallen by the time we had gotten off the train and arrived at our father’s manor. What a quaint term—manor. No, our father lived on an estate just outside the city. As we walked through the garden, we were in awe of how wealthy our father was and of how he had spent none of that wealth to help us in the slightest. I must admit that it made me furious. I couldn’t imagine how Edith felt.
Our uncle stopped as we approached the gate to the inner courtyard.
“You two go on ahead. I’ll wait here.” He said and sat down on the edge of one of the fountains.
We hesitated and he motioned for us to approach the gate. We obeyed him and were greeted by a care-taker.
“Welcome to Hartwin Manor. How may I be of service?” He asked and bowed deeply.
I introduced ourselves, “I am Conrad Hartwin, and this is my sister, Edith Hartwin. You’ll let us see our father now.”
His eyes flashed with anger. “Excuse me? No one is permitted to see my master at this hour.”
Edith stepped between us and pulled the man down to eye-level with her.
“You’ll let us through that gate or we’ll just let your screams wake him and bring him out here.” Edith said with a sinister smile.
The man clenched his fist. For a moment, I thought he might strike her, but he quickly relaxed.
“Ruffians!” He scoffed. “If Lord Hartwin is your father, I’m surprised he never taught you proper manners.”
The man opened the gate with little inclination.
“He never taught us a thing”—I smirked—“sir.”
He immediately closed the gate behind us. We approached the entrance to the manor and stopped. Above the massive, iron door, it read,
Anselm Hartwin, 1824
It was our father’s name along with the year of his birth. Despite the bitter cold, I could not bring myself to enter. My hand touched the handle, but it simply would not pull. How could I face this man who had been like a shadow over me all my life? Why had he left us? Did he hate Edith for killing his beloved wife? None of it made any sense to me, but that was fine. All I wanted was to forgive him and leave that evil man I once was behind me. Edith and I were bound in chains of hatred. Now it was time to sever those chains and finally move forward into the future.
I opened the door. The squeaking of the hinges made my heart race. I stepped through the doorway with Edith. I couldn’t believe what I was doing. I felt that once I entered that ghastly manor, I would never leave it. Edith’s calming presence was all that kept me going.
I jumped as the door slammed shut behind me. Edith gripped my hand tightly. A man was already seated in the main hall. It was indeed the man I saw on that day, four years ago when I became the engineer. He had slightly gray hair, a well-trimmed beard, and wore a very expensive looking coat. I couldn’t believe what riches he squandered on such luxuries while we lived in squalor, before and after our uncle saved us. Though, after he took us in, it was a different kind of filth—the filth of hatred. He sat in a chair at the far end of the room, uncrossed his legs, and leaned forward when he saw us enter.
“Forgive me, but my sight is not as strong as it once was.” He squinted. “Is that you, Conrad? My brother sent a wire earlier, notifying me of your visit.”
I was too stunned to make a reply. He slowly rose to his feet and walked toward us. He gasped once he was close enough to see us clearly.
“Oh, my . . . You’ve both grown up into such respectable adults.”
I wondered just what he meant by respectable, for I knew that we were far from any sort of decency. He obviously didn’t know us if he thought otherwise.
“You have wisdom beyond your years, Conrad, and what a fine young lady you’ve become . . .” He faltered. “Oh, what did you name her, Conrad?”
I felt Edith shutter. I had forgotten that our father hadn’t even bothered to name her before he left.
“I named her Edith”—I sighed—“after our mother.”
He smiled. “Oh yes, of course. She looks just like her . . .”
“Y-you didn’t even n-name me?” Edith’s voice trembled.
He looked down at himself and murmured, “I’m sorry, dear.” I couldn’t tell if he was apologizing to Edith or his wife.
“Do you hate me for killing mom? Is that why you left us? If it is, then why didn’t you just leave me? Why did you have to make Conrad suffer too?”
I gasped. “Edith!”
He held up his hand. “No, she has every right to be angry with me. It’s true that I did blame her for Edith’s death. There was nowhere else to turn, and I couldn’t raise both of you on my own.” He smiled. “I don’t know why I left you with her, Conrad. I think it was your mother’s spirit that made me do it. I went into hiding for many years and was nearly driven to madness, for she haunted me and I could find no respite. Eventually, I came to my senses and sent a letter to my brother. I knew that he had a workshop in Leipzig, so I implored him to find you both and adopt you. Even after you opened your own workshop, Conrad, I could not bear the guilt of seeing you again. It wasn’t until you nearly died that I went and visited you.” A lone tear streamed down his face. “But when you awakened, you didn’t even recognize me and I thought you better off for it.”
I began to sob furiously.
“Why would you ever think that? How could I be better off not knowing my own father?”
Edith stroked my back. “Oh, Conrad . . .”
“We still love you, dad!” I cried. “And we always will, no matter how great your folly!”
I ran to my father and embraced him. He gasped and slowly reached his arms around me. I could feel his entire body trembling with emotions. Eventually, he began to weep bitterly.
“What are you doing, son?” He sniveled. “I don’t understand.”
I smiled and wiped my eyes with my handkerchief. Mary knew that I would need it. I handed it to my father and he used it as well.
“Please, dad, I don’t care what you did. I just want to start over.”
I don’t think he quite understood, for he was still in shock.
“Son, I-I don’t know what to say . . .”
Edith ran and leaped into his arms, burying her head into his chest.
“You don’t have to say anything, dad”—she sobbed—“We just want you to know that we forgive you because we’ll never stop loving you!”
I’ve never seen a man so broken as my father was that night. He fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around Edith’s neck.
“Oh, my girl!” He choked out.
I observed the sight and smiled in amusement. What I saw before me was no different from what I saw as the countless families were reunited at the Omega Point. Our own family was now whole again. I could feel the hatred dissipating from my mind. We had utterly destroyed the darkness that had once filled us. Now, our father too, could love the world and see its beauty. There was no longer any need for him to continue suffering. We were a family now and we would never allow anything to come between us again.
Our father arose with Edith still in his arms.
“Please, if there’s anything the two of you need, tell me and it will be yours!”
Edith smiled brightly.
“I would very much like a new violin.” She laughed embarrassedly. “Well, if it’s not too much to ask.”
“Of course not, dear! That’s wonderful that you play the violin! I’ll buy as many as you’d like.”
“Oh, just one is fine.”
He took her hand. “Then I’ll buy you the best one in all Berlin!”
With that, we left the manor and met up with our uncle. He smiled and said nothing, but joined us in our walk. My thoughts drifted to that world ten thousand years away. Gael and Anwen must be having a similar walk with their mother right now. Perhaps they’re even going to the Rhiannon to come and see us. Daiva and her brother must be out, experiencing everything that she always wanted to do with him. I can hear their laughter even now. And of course, Mary is lying with her father under the shade of a tree. She’s telling him stories of her life and all of her scientific achievements in the Lowerverse, or maybe she’s simply by his side, enjoying the bliss of the Omega Point. Whatever my friends were doing right now, I was certain that they all shared one thing: A smile.
When we had returned to the manor after purchasing Edith her violin, she played a very familiar melody. It was God’s Symphony; that beautiful music from the Omega Point played as a solo on that pristine instrument. Though, it sounded as though the song came from her heart, not the violin.
I laid down on one of the sofas and began to drift away to that beautiful world and the girl that awaited me there. I took the photograph of Mary out of my breast pocket and gazed at it in wonder. This picture was all that I had taken with me from that future. I had failed to return with a single piece of technology to aid the Reich. I did not care in the slightest, for this picture was worth more than anything science could ever give me.
When I awakened at the Omega Point, I found myself sprawled out on a rolling hillside. If Mary had not been lying next to me, I would have thought it merely a dream. I gazed in wonder at the billions of stars that filled the night sky.
“I carried you here.” She whispered. “I wanted this to be your first sight when you awakened.”
Of course, I had forgotten that when I was conscious in the Lowerverse, my body was merely unconscious at the Omega Point. To her, I would have merely been asleep.
“Where is your father?” I asked.
“Not here,” was her reply.
I should have expected as much from her, for I could tell that she had become very carefree since her death. Though, there was nothing wrong with her attitude. Anyone who is able to feel concern or anxiety in a world of such bliss must be paranoid indeed.
“Do you miss your family at all?” I finally asked.
She didn’t even look at me. Her eyes were fixed upon the cosmos overhead. Slowly, a lone tear rolled down the side of her face and fell, shimmering, onto a leaf of grass.
“I often do”—she smiled—“but I know that I will see them again. I doubt that my mother will rest until she finds a way to reach the Omega Point herself. They’ll all be here before long . . . I’m certain of it.”
I could not argue with her. With all those notes her father had left, I’m sure it was just a matter of time before her entire family joined her, and who knows how many would follow after that.
“But right now, it’s just the two of us, and I want to cherish these moments before you leave.” She said and embraced me tightly.
I must admit that she was quite intimidating. It was as if her wisdom had surpassed all human understanding. She seemed to share a deep intimacy with the universe, as if she had become one with it. When I stared into her eyes and saw the stars reflected in them, I felt like I was gazing upon an angel. Though, perhaps that wasn’t very far from reality. This world was quite divine.
I then realized that I would be spending a great deal of my time here at the Omega Point. Every night, I would go to sleep with eagerness so that I could be with her in this world of my dreams.
Mary spoke no more, but simply remained by my side. She looked as though she would stay there forever, and I did not doubt it. This was how we would spend the rest of our lives: Loving and wanting for nothing. We were so close at that moment, and yet so far apart, for I would soon have to leave. Though, I did not dread my departure. Why would I when another world of beauty awaited me? Indeed, there was a world far more glorious than Earth or the Omega point that was still calling for me. I would go there rejoicing and without fear. That was all that kept me from staying with her forever.
When I awakened, we returned to Leipzig with our uncle. On the trip back, Edith revealed something that surprised both of us: “Conrad, I think I’m going to live in England for a while.”
I nearly fell out of my seat. “What? Why would you want to do something like that? What could you possibly want in England?” I scoffed at her.
“To see Mother’s grave . . .”
I gasped and looked away in guilt. I had forgotten that our mother had been English. She was buried there with her family, since our father became a recluse after her death. Perhaps that was why Edith had taken such interest in its languages, even the ancient ones.
“Edith, dear, are you sure you’ll be all right living on your own?” Our uncle asked concernedly.
“I’ll be fine.” She assured him. “A few months ago, I received a letter offering me a job as a translator. Sorry I didn’t tell you, Conrad, but I was afraid that you would want me to take it. At that point, I didn’t want to leave you.”
“And you want to leave me now?” I sighed. “Edith, we were just reunited with our father, and now you’re going to go away for months, perhaps years? I don’t understand!”
“I know that.” She smiled. “I just want to give you some space.”
“Oh . . . I see.”
I sat back in my seat and pondered the situation. This was a pivotal moment for my sister. I suppose this was just her way of moving forward. Perhaps she felt as though she must apologize to our mother for taking her life. I would have felt the same way.
“I understand, Edith.” I said and managed a smile. “I promise I’ll write to you every week.”
She nodded. “Thank you. Be sure to tell me all about Mary.”
I laughed. “Yes, of course.”
We returned to Leipzig and helped Edith prepare for her journey. Our uncle was kind enough to buy us tickets to Hamburg as well. From there, she would make for England. I had no idea when she would return, but I didn’t care. This was her decision and she would do whatever she thought best.
Edith embraced me as she prepared to board the steamship.
“Promise me that you’ll spend as much time with Mary as you can.” She said sternly.
I laughed amusedly. “Of course. She’s my wife after all.”
Edith smiled and picked up her suitcase in one hand and violin case in the other. “I’m going then. I’ll tell Mother all about you. I’m sure she’ll be very proud.”
I was surprised at how composed she was. Edith hadn’t shed a single tear since preparing for her departure. She had become such a strong girl. In a way, it saddened me. I would miss taking care of her and tending to her needs. Though, that dark girl was gone, replaced by this brave and peaceful woman who stood before me.
“Stay safe. If you need any money, just write to me.” I didn’t have to say it. I knew that our mother would guide her.
She nodded and boarded the vessel. As she stepped onto its deck she also stepped out of her darkness and finally began to live again. It was good to have my sister back.
Before I returned to Leipzig, I watched as the ship disappeared down the river. By the time I entered my workshop, night had already fallen. I lied down on my bed and closed my eyes, eagerly waiting to fall asleep and see Mary again.
I was utterly content, for I had reached the Omega Point, but as to what that is, I will allow the reader to decide.
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