Greg Sanders remembered her asking him, “Would you want to know when you were going to die?”
A man and his friends pass a psychic window front. They’re carefree and laugh loudly. They turn back and go inside. The old, withered woman invites them back for their future reading one at a time.
He thought about it and then answered, “I heard or read a story about a man that learned when he was going to die....
They laugh over what they’re told. They don’t take it serious.
...It was going to be soon...
The man goes last. The old woman is very serious, very stern about what she has to say.
...His wife was going to do it...
The man doesn’t laugh about what she tells him.
...He could have killed her to prevent it from happening...
The man goes home. His wife is in the kitchen. His hand reaches out and pulls out a butcher knife from a block of knives. He walks up behind her.
...But he wasn’t a murderer...
The man hands over the knife so she can cut up the vegetable she has on the cutting board.
...So instead, he did everything he could to make her happy...
He suddenly grabs her, pulls it away, and kisses her. The next day he brings home flowers. He takes her out, they dance, and he adores her – all out of fear. The woman doesn’t see it. The attention only makes her love him more.
...One morning he suggested they go out for breakfast...
His wife is in the kitchen starting breakfast but he suggests they go out instead. He motions outside. She smiles and nods.
...He decided to pick up the paper from the driveway...
Dressed the man goes out to the driveway and picks up the newspaper. He goes to the end of the driveway, his back to the house, and opens the paper.
...She went into the garage to pull the car out...
The wife comes out, opens the garage door, and gets in.
...He waited at the end of the drive, reading the newspaper...
The woman pulls out. She’s a careful driver. The man glances back, moves to the edge of the driveway to wait.
...Out of nowhere, a bird smashed into the back window...
A black bird slams into the back window. Startled, the wife turns to look.
...It startled the wife...
Her foot jams down on the gas. The car speeds backwards.
...The man’s wife hit him with their car...
The man turns. He doesn’t have time to escape his fate as the car smashes into his body. The newspaper flies everywhere.
He couldn’t have stopped it if he wanted to.”
Greg’s consciousness slowly shifted from the memory of the story, to a liquid dripping on his face, running across his nose, and dropping off the side. Whatever it was, it had dried there. One of his arms was pinned under him, pressed into something firm and cool. He felt a hand lying limp on his side. It was hard to breathe; the air around him was stuffy and perfumed with salty-sweet smell of blood. He felt pain through his entire body but couldn’t tell which spot hurt worse.
Something lay on top of him, pinning him down. He turned his head and hair brushed across his face before his cheek came to rest against something fleshy, firm, and cool.
He opened his eyes. For a few seconds he wasn’t sure he had opened his eyes. All he could see was black nothing. On his right a thin line of light no bigger than a sewing needle flashed. Despite how small it was, the light made his headache flare. Greg closed his eyes. He couldn’t remember where he was or how he’d gotten there. The last memory to appear upon request, and even it was fuzzy, was watching the evening news. It felt like that had happened years ago, even though his logic tried to convince him that it had only been hours or days at the most. But he didn’t know how he got here, wherever here was.
“Hello?” Greg quietly called out to the people under, near, and on him.
They didn’t answer. They were dead. He knew that without being able to see them. His instincts told him he was supposed to be dead too. Whatever happened to make his head and body hurt so badly should have killed him.
Greg tried to get to his feet. A wave of dizziness swept in from nowhere and settled behind his eyes. He closed them, waiting for it to pass, but instead it worsened until he passed out.
Listening to the phone ring and ring did nothing for Catherine’s frustration level. The voicemail came on, and cheerily Greg’s voice told her ‘You’ve reached Greg’s cell. I take payments in all forms. Leave a message’ before it went to a beep and then nothing.
Catherine reached for her coffee sitting on the hood of her Tahoe. “Greg, where are you? I’ve been calling you for two hours; dispatch says you’ve been at 3123 Roper for almost four hours. I have five more calls I need you to work, so you’d better have one hell of an excuse for why it’s taking you so long. Call me.” Catherine hung up.
She glanced up as her hand brushed her coffee cup and knocked it off balance. It hit edge of the hood, exploding the lid off, and spilling hot coffee down her pant leg. In response to the spilling hot coffee, she jumped back and grimaced. Her phone began ringing. She looked at the screen as Nick’s picture appeared and then answered it.
“Have you heard from Greg? I’ve been calling him for the last forty minutes. I need help on my scene.”
“I’ve got to take a door and it’s just me and the officer here. He can’t touch it and I can’t get it down by myself.”
“Call Hodges or Wendy. They’re cleared to work crime scenes. Or check with Sara or Ray. See if they can stop by.”
“Sara picked up three more of Greg’s, Ray is picking up anything new coming in, Hodges is helping David and Robbins with bodies. I gave Wendy my Tahoe so she can start collecting evidence and we don’t have to stop moving. She should be getting to you any minute now.”
“How are you getting to crime scenes?”
“I’ve designated a uni as my chauffer for the night.”
She was impressed by his delegation, considering the night they were having. “Wow. I leave you in charge for an hour and you make me look bad.”
“I’ll sign off what I can to Wendy and we’ll come help you,” Catherine continued. “Then you and I are going to go find out what the holdup is at Greg’s scene. As many times as he’s ignored my call, he’d better be dead!”
Nick chuckled. It helped to relieve her stress. “Let’s hope he’s just being Greg or doesn’t have cell service. With as much work as we have tonight, we need him alive and well.”
“Well, maybe not dead. How about a really good sprained ankle?”
“There ya go. We can still make him work with that.”
Catherine saw Wendy pulling between two police cars and parking behind her Tahoe.
“Deal. See ya soon.” She hung up.
Catherine walked toward Wendy, watching her hop out.
“Evidence taxi has arrived. Where do you want me?”
Catherine smiled. Wendy’s good mood was too contagious for her to keep cussing Greg out in her head.
Greg opened his eyes but his senses took longer to catch up. He smelled the blood again. He felt his hand in a pool of the sticky liquid. His memory of what happened the first time he regained consciousness returned so he moved slower, feeling his way around the enclosure. He felt at least four bodies, coats hanging from a bar, an umbrella, and a mound of cloth he couldn’t identify. He ran his fingers across the wall as he slowly stood. When he put weight on his legs and back the pain was searing, but desperation made him clench his teeth and bear it.
Overhead he felt a shelf and bar. He guessed he was in a closet or wardrobe. He found a gap and followed it with his fingers, realizing it was a door. He pushed on it but the door didn’t budge.
“Hello?” Greg called.
He waited, hoping for an answer.
“Hello?” he called louder.
He heard something. Footsteps? He held his breath and listened. He heard something click outside the door and in the seconds that followed, his mind screamed ‘GUN!’
Greg dropped back onto the bodies as bullets riddled the door. The pain from jarring his injuries made his head swim and momentarily paralyzed him, but he knew he had to protect himself from the flying bullets. He grabbed the nearest body and pulled it over him. Most of the bullets went into the back wall, but a few ricocheted. One whizzed past Greg’s cheek, searing the skin as it passed. He closed his eyes, waiting. The gunfire stopped.
Greg held still, listening. The footsteps retreated. Greg let out his breath. He tried to push the body off him but found he had no strength left to do it. Suddenly the shooting started again. Greg gasped when something burned into his and then spine. A strange mix of numb and pain swept him from head to toe. His senses went into a tailspin that released him suddenly into unconsciousness.