The four of them sat in silence, each of them on one side of the square kitchen table, daring someone else to speak first. Maggie stared across the table at Daniel. Geneva looked across the table at Bart. No one blinked. No one said anything. Maggie started to count in her head. Somewhere around nine hundred and thirty six, Geneva sighed and leant back in her chair. Of course she would be the first to break—she was the only one with a spouse and children at home—or at least the only one with a spouse and kids at home without the ability to manipulate time. She’d want a solution to this for certain before she headed home.
“Someone has to do it,” she offered, as if they didn’t already know that.
“But who is going to do it?” Bart asked, leaning forward, elbows on the table, “Who is going to be willing to make that sacrifice?”
Maggie and Daniel exchanged a look, with a careful silent conversation, before agreeing that Maggie should be the one to say it.
“King will do it,” Maggie said carefully, “I’ll ask him, and I’ll tell him it’s important, and even if he understands he’ll still do it for me.”
“But Maggie,” Bart leaned even further on the table, “Maggie, that means that Arthur will…” he trailed off, unwilling to say it.
“Are you volunteering to take his place?” Maggie raised an eyebrow.
“God no, of course not.” Bart looked sheepish as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He’d said it too quickly, and everyone knew it.
“Okay, then I’ll ask King. He’ll do it. That’s that.”
For a moment, they all sat and considered what they had become. That Maggie had just signed her boyfriend’s death warrant, and that only minor protests were being made in response.
But they had to convince themselves, all of them, that they were doing it for the greater good. The rest of the world wouldn’t know they had sent him to his death. They would see a tragic accident, and never know just how close they were to complete destruction. They would see a good man dying to save a few people, and never understand that everyone else had hung in the balance.
And that story would stick, just as long as the four of them kept their mouths shut.