The first one I saw was in the hospital when I was eleven.

I was the pitcher for our little league baseball team, The Minneapolis Mosquitoes. Billy Ruttman, my next door neighbor and life-long best friend, was the catcher. We were a great team that year, Billy and me. We’d been tossing the ball back and forth in our back yards for as long as I could remember. Through the years, me being stronger and he being smarter, it didn’t take too long before he traded in his fielding glove for a catcher’s mitt. I had the stuff; the curve, the slider, and the fast ball. Billy would squat down in his back yard and flash a one, two, or three between his legs and then put his glove where he wanted me to hit it and I, throwing from my own back yard, rarely missed his spot. Neither one of us were very good at putting a bat on the ball, but when we were out on the field together, neither was the entire other team.

It was the last game of the season, in fact, the last game we ever played together, when I pitched a fast ball that came straight back at me even faster, hitting me in the side of the head and knocking me out cold. I didn’t regain consciousness until later that evening at the hospital, my parents and Billy waiting patiently at my bedside for me to wake up. The doctor said I had suffered a mild concussion and had actually been in a coma, but thankfully, a very short lived one. He told me that my brain had bounced off my skull from the impact, was probably just a mild bruise, and that I could most likely go home the next morning. I was put in a room with three other boys about my age, all of us in the final recovery stages of our particular injuries, all planning on being sent home within the next day or two.

I couldn’t sleep in the hospital. The room was too big. None of my familiar posters were on the walls. I couldn’t hear my parents watching TV beyond the door. And the boy with the new cast on his leg in the bed to my right was snoring. I had no brothers or sisters so I wasn’t used to sleeping in a room with other people. Sure, Billy and I had spent many a weekend night together having sleepovers at either his house or mine, but we never slept. We’d sit up all night telling each other ghost stories or jokes or talking about girls, whispering so that our parents couldn’t hear us, smothering our laughter in our pillows, and finally falling asleep for a few hours as the sun started to chase away the darkness.

The light from the hospital hallway that seeped through the gaping crack between the door and the floor reflected off the white walls and white ceiling enough that the room was only dim instead of dark. I was wishing I had taken my Mom up on her offer to bring my Walkman for the night’s stay, but I was sure I’d be leaving in the morning and at the time felt it more fuss than it was worth. I thought about turning on the TV to help pass the time, but didn’t want to wake my roommates. I wasn’t at all tired after having spent the afternoon and most of the evening in a semi-coma after getting my bell rung in the baseball game.

I decided I could mute the TV and just watch the pictures for a while. Maybe I could bore myself to sleep. I reached for the remote sitting on the white bedside table. That was when I saw it.

At first I thought there might be a fire somewhere close by and a nurse would be racing into the room any second to usher us to safety. Grayish purple smoke was seeping into the room from under the door. But as quickly as it started, it stopped, and a cloud about the size of a beach ball hovered in front of the door as though assessing the room it had just entered. Looking at it more intently, it didn’t look like smoke at all. It appeared more like a cloudy mirage, swirling within itself, constantly in motion, while staying stationary at the same time. I slowly brought my arm back to my side and lay still, watching the vaporous form from the corner of my eye as it crept toward the first of the beds. Hovering over the first boy, it moved in close to his face as he slept. It stayed there for a few seconds and then moved on to the next bed. I was in the fourth bed, next to the window, trying to decide if I should signal for the nurse. I didn’t know what it might do if I moved, so I remained as still as I could and held my breath.

Again, the cloud hovered over the next bed’s occupant for a few seconds, as if studying him, and slowly moved on to the third bed. It didn’t seem to be doing anything. It floated inches above each boy’s face and then moved on to the next one. When it started to leave the snoring boy’s bed next to mine, I closed my eyes and silently prayed that it would leave me alone, too. It was nearing the end of August and the room was air conditioned, but I suddenly felt my face grow a few degrees colder and I knew the cloud thing was directly over me, observing me. I told myself I was being foolish, a silly scardy-cat. I didn’t believe in the bogeyman and vaporous cloudy mists can’t see. But then, they don’t move with purpose either, as this one seemed to be doing.

Seconds that felt like minutes slowly crept by until I could stand it no longer. I opened my eyes, hoping that the cloud had moved on. It hadn’t. In the center of the smoky cloud, I saw what appeared to be two eyes. They were just slits in the mist with a little red dot in each that appeared to serve as the pupil, and they were definitely focused on me. They shifted back and forth slightly in the constant motion of the purplish haze. It was like looking at the eyes in a Picasso painting, not quite aligned right, except these were alive.

The eyes blinked.

I screamed.

The eyes in the purple haze suddenly became as wide as my own as I cried out for the nurse, its look of surprise as great as mine had been. It quickly rose away from my face towards the ceiling. The hospital door flew open and a nurse ran in to see who had screamed. The other boys had been awakened and were now propped up on one elbow, groggily looking my direction. I looked up towards the ceiling where the oddity had retreated, but it was gone.

With all the boys looking at me, the nurse made her way straight to my bedside. "Are you okay?" she asked. "Did you have a nightmare?"

It was obvious that the nurse hadn’t seen the cloudy form as she came in or it would have certainly drawn her attention. It wasn’t the type of thing one sees every day and it had still been rising away from my face when she burst in. I didn’t understand how she could not have seen it.

I didn’t want to say that I had a nightmare in front of the other boys, even though I knew I’d probably never see any of them again. But there was no way I could tell her about the eyes of a floating mist that had hovered over each of our beds checking us out, either. That would be even worse than admitting to a nightmare. I picked the lesser off the two evils.

"I guess it was just a dream," I said, trying to sound braver than I felt. I even tried for a moment to convince myself that I had been dreaming and had awakened from my own scream. But I knew better. It had not been a dream, or a nightmare. It had been real. I didn’t sleep a wink that night in the hospital.

I didn’t tell anyone about what I had seen, not even Billy, at least not at first. Having graduated from the sixth grade, I started middle school a couple of weeks later with new classes and teachers and friends to keep my mind busy. The memory of the cloudy mist thing became more like a bad dream with each passing day.

It was at a pep rally for the basketball team a month later when I was reminded that it had not been a dream. Billy was sitting next to me. We were on the top bleachers in the gymnasium watching the cheerleaders go through their rehearsed routine when I saw two of the cloud things drift out of a vent in the high ceiling.

"I think I’m going to ask out Debbie," Billy said, jabbing me in the side with his elbow and pointing to the bouncing girls on the basketball court below us. "She’s the one on the end there. She sits next to me in my English class."

I didn’t even hear him. My eyes were glued to the ceiling.

"Hey," Billy said, when I didn’t respond. "What’s with you? You look like you saw a ghost or something."

I pointed to the two purple clouds hovering over the center of the gym. One was the same size as the first one I had seen in the hospital. The other was no bigger than a basketball. "Do you see those?"

"See what?" Billy asked, trying to follow where I was pointing.

"Those purple things. Two of them. They just came through the vent up there."

"Nothing there, dude. All the action is down on the floor," Billy said.

I watched as the two cloudy forms separated, the smaller one traveling toward us while the larger one was moving toward the opposite set of bleachers across the gym.

"One’s coming our way," I said, trying not to sound panicky.

"One what?" Billy replied, following my eyes and searching the ceiling.

Glancing around at the two hundred or so students packed in the gym, I saw that no one else was pointing up at the ceiling. There were no screams coming from squeamish girls. No one was racing toward the exits in a panic, which is exactly what I felt like doing. Apparently I was the only one that could see them.

"Nothing," I said quickly, but kept a careful eye on the one that was headed toward our side of the gym.

"She lives only a few blocks from us," Billy said.

"Who does?" I asked, as the cloud thing descended and began hovering right in front of the face of a boy a few rows in front of us.

"Debbie! Man, you’re out of it. You okay?"

"Yeah, fine," I said, not sounding very convincing even to my own ears.

The purple cloud moved on to the next student, and the next, hovering in front of each of their faces for four or five seconds before moving on. I couldn’t see the little eyes with the red pupils from where I was sitting, but I knew they were there, floating unevenly in the middle of the mist, studying each student as it hovered in front of them. When it advanced up a row instead of down, I stood up grabbing Billy’s arm. "Let’s get out of here."

"Hey, man! What’s your problem?" Billy protested. "This is the best part. We can go after the cheerleaders are done."

"Now!" I said, no longer hiding the panic that I felt. The cloud-thing that was a few rows in front of us seemed to notice me as I stood up. It slowly began to glide our direction and I pulled Billy up out of his seat. "Let’s go!"

Billy stood but didn’t move. I wanted to run, but the bleachers were too crowded. There would be no quick escape. The cloud thing reached us a second later. I froze. Billy was still standing next to me, staring at me like I had lost my mind. I watched as the cloud thing hovered in front of Billy’s face for a second or two and then it turned to face me. Remembering how the first one I had seen in the hospital reacted when it realized I could see it, I pretended to be watching the cheerleaders while it floated in front of my face. I could see right through it while trying to focus on the cheerleaders, but I could also still see those little red dots checking me out. My face felt a slight chill and my stomach did a couple of somersaults while I tried desperately to ignore its presence. Three seconds later, it moved to the boy seated on my other side, and then to the next, slowly making its way down the aisle, pausing in front of each student as it went.

"Alright, alright," Billy said, shaking his elbow free of my grip. "Let go of me. People will think we’re fags or something. Let’s go. But you better have a good explanation. Are you sick or something?"

While we walked home, I told Billy about my hospital experience. It sounded just as ludicrous as I had thought it would when hearing it out loud. Billy kept looking at me as we walked as though he thought I was crazy, but he didn’t interrupt. Then I told him what had just happened in the gymnasium.

"And you think one was right in front of my face?" he asked, when I had finished. "I didn’t see anything."

"Apparently I’m the only one that can see them," I said. "But, yeah, it was there. Didn’t you feel your face get a little colder for a second?"

"No. I didn’t notice anything. Just you acting like a pansy."

We walked the rest of the way home in silence. I knew Billy wanted to believe me. He was my best friend and we knew each other’s deepest secrets and desires. We arrived at his driveway, mine being a few yards farther up the sidewalk, where we usually parted from our daily walk home to go inside our respective houses and put away our books and grab our mitts or a football to toss around in the backyard until called in for dinner, and he paused. Swiping a hand through his stringy brown hair getting it out of his eyes to see me better, he said, "Look, I don’t know if what you think you saw was real or not, but I’ve never seen you scared before and right now you look terrible."

"It was real," I said. "I was beginning to doubt the first one was, but now I know for sure. They’re real. I just don’t know why I’m the only one that can see them."

"Just lucky, I guess," Billy said jokingly, trying to make me smile.

"Yeah, well this kind of luck I could do without." I said. "You gotta believe me, man. I’m not going crazy."

"I believe you, I guess. But I also think you’re crazy." Billy said with a smile, and a playful jab at my shoulder. "Go put your stuff away. I’ll meet you out back."

I went up my own driveway and into the empty house, my parents not home from work yet, and threw my books on my bed. I wasn’t up for catch. I was still feeling a bit shaken from the second sighting, but I was glad I had told Billy about them. It made me feel less alone even though I was apparently the only one that could see them. I left the mitt and balls where they lay and headed out to the backyard with my head down and my hands stuffed in the pockets of my jeans. Billy joined me a few minutes later carrying his backpack with him. "Tree house," he said.

It wasn’t really a tree house. There was a big oak tree that separated our yards. A rope ladder hung down from its lowest branch about fifteen feet up, leading to a heavy flat board that we laid over the branches and nailed a few supports to. It was only about seven feet across the board in any direction, but provided plenty of room for a couple of kids to move around on and plenty of privacy for us to share our secrets. I followed Billy up the ladder.

"I brought a couple of my Dad’s books," Billy said, after I pulled myself up over the edge and sat down next to him. "He’s always been into weird stuff. Wizards, witches, demons, old myths; things like that."

"I never thought your Dad was weird," I said.

"He’s not," Billy laughed. "He just thinks a lot of the things people have believed in are fascinating. It’s not like he believes in them. I think he uses them for ideas when he’s writing. I like to look at the pictures. There’re some really cool looking ghouls and demons in these two. I wanted to see if you thought any of them looked like what you saw."

I immediately started leafing through the books but I couldn’t find anything even close to what I had seen. We did find a lot of things that looked a lot scarier than the purple clouds with eyes, and a lot more dangerous, too. But just as we were closing up the second of the books, Billy’s Mom stuck her head out the back door and hollered for Billy to come in and wash up for dinner.

"Has your Dad got any more of these?" I asked him, as he put the books back into his backpack.

"Yeah. He’s got a ton of them. Maybe you can sleepover this weekend and we can look at more."

"I’ll ask my Mom," I told him, and we climbed down the ladder to go join our families for dinner.

My Mom said it was fine if I spent the night with Billy that Friday night and we looked through a ton more of his Dad’s books all night long, freaking ourselves out with mythical grotesquities of the past, but we didn’t see anything that looked like what I had described. Nor did I encounter any more purple clouds hovering in front of anyone’s face over the next several years. Billy and I brought up the subject less and less frequently and before long it was no more than an inside joke, though Billy always thought the joke a bit funnier than I did.

The summer before we were changing schools again, about to become freshmen in high school, Billy and Debbie and Janice and I were out swimming in the lake a few blocks from our homes when something happened that brought the subject to mind once again. Billy and Debbie had been holding hands in the hallways between classes for almost two years and I was trying to work up the courage to ask Janice if she’d be my steady.

The four of us were in the middle of the small lake sitting on the wooden float that gives rest for those strong enough to swim out to it. Billy and Debbie were chatting away while Janice and I shyly looked anywhere but at each other, me wondering if I could ask, she wondering when I would ask. I was never as smooth with the girls as Billy was. Billy gave Debbie a wink and nodded towards Janice and me with a devilish smile, indicating that they should give us some space, both already fully aware of my intention to ask out Janice, and the two of them dove off the platform and began racing each other to the shore. Both were strong swimmers.

A few silent, uncomfortable minutes passed while I summoned my courage. Just as we both started to speak at once, we heard Billy yelling at us. I turned and saw him standing alone on the beach, running back and forth along the water’s edge.

"Where is she?!" he screamed. "You see her?!"

Then he dove back into the water and I knew instantly there was trouble. Janice and I both dove in too, swimming as fast as we could towards Billy. We all met in the middle where Debbie was floating face down. Billy got her turned over and we saw a gash on her forehead leaking blood. She was unconscious as the three of us got her to shore and laid her on the beach. Billy put his head on her chest.

"She isn’t breathing," he said. "I think she went too low and hit her head on a rock or something."

Billy was smart, quick to act, and always ready to take control. He was a natural leader and never panicked.

"Sean, go get my bandana by my towel," he said to me, in a steadier voice than I could have mustered at that point. "Tie it around her head to stop the bleeding. Janice, go find a house with someone home and call an ambulance."

"Is she going to be alright?" Janice asked, tears welling up in her eyes.

"Maybe. Just go! Hurry!"

I returned with the bandana and Billy was already administering CPR like he’d done it a hundred times before, pushing twice on her chest, then putting his mouth over hers while holding her nose shut and forcing air into her lungs, then starting over again. I was tying the bandana around her head when it happened. A little yellowish pink cloud the size of a baseball appeared to leak out of her eyes. I jumped back.

"Tie it tighter," Billy said when he saw me jump back. "You need to stop the bleeding!"

"Did you see that?" I asked. It had looked just like the purple clouds except it was smaller and much brighter.

"See what?! I’m trying to get her breathing again," he yelled at me. "She’s swallowed a lot of water. Get over here!"

"I’m on it," I said, pushing aside the memories of the purple clouds that had just come flooding back.

"Still not breathing," Billy said. He put a hand to her neck. "I can’t feel a pulse."

I thought he was going to give up, but then he pounded on her chest hard once, twice, and I was about to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing to her when she suddenly coughed up some water and started to breathe again while still struggling to cough up a little more of the lake. She moaned and Billy turned her on her side and more lake water spilled out of her mouth.

Just then, Janice was running back to the beach with two adults and announced that an ambulance should be arriving in less than five minutes. The paramedics arrived even a minute faster than that and we had to step back getting out their way. The adults from the house whose phone Janice had used gave us a ride to the hospital. When we arrived, Debbie had already been taken to a doctor and the paramedics were walking out the emergency entrance.

"So who applied the CPR?" one of them asked as he saw the three of us approaching.

"He did," I offered, pointing to Billy.

"Well," he said, walking toward Billy with his hand out, "I’d like to shake your hand. I think you saved her life. It’s good to know that there are young folk out there like yourself that know what to do in a crisis. I’ve seen too many that don’t. She wouldn’t have stood a chance if you three had waited for us to arrive."

"She’s going to be alright, then?" Billy asked.

"You’ll have to ask the doctor, but I’d guess yes," the paramedic said, and then adding with a smile, "Thanks to you."

We went into the hospital and found where she had been taken and waited for the doctor to come out. A half an hour later, he finally did.

"She took a nasty bump on the head and is having a little trouble remaining conscious right now," the doctor informed us. Then he smiled. "But I think she is going to be fine."

The doctor then also praised Billy for his quick responsiveness, repeating how he had saved her life with his CPR knowledge and quick actions. I had almost forgotten about the little yellow-pink cloud in all the bustle and worry. But since Debbie was apparently going to be okay, I decided not to mention it to the doctor. I didn’t think he’d have any answers for me if I did, anyway.

As it turned out, she wasn’t alright. For a while, everyone blamed it on depression, having a near death experience, or some other psychological mumbo jumbo. She seemed to have no joy left in her. She didn’t leave the house after getting out of the hospital until school started. Once in school, she was never the bubbly, light-hearted person that she had been before. She had been a straight-A student before the accident, now her work was just passable, nothing that reflected much thought or care. It was as though she was just regurgitating information. She more closely resembled a living robot, going through all the motions, smiling only when others smiled, responding only to questions, never contributing with a thought of her own. She quit hanging around with all her friends and never looked for Billy between classes. He always had to find her.

One afternoon when we were walking home after school, I asked him if he thought she had changed.

"Well, yeah," he said gloomily. "She doesn’t seem to care about anything anymore."

"Is she sad because she almost died?" I asked.

"That’s what’s weird about it," he said. He stopped walking and turned to face me. "She doesn’t seem sad, but she doesn’t seem happy about anything, either. She used to be very emotional. She always spoke her mind. It was one of the things I liked about her. It was who she was. Now it’s like she doesn’t even have any thoughts. I can’t explain it really. It’s like she’s lost her personality"

"She hasn’t told you anything about why she’s been so withdrawn?"

"Not a word," Billy replied. "I mean, I figured I’d earned a few brownie points and maybe even free passage to second base by saving her life and all, but she won’t even talk anymore. But it’s not like she tells me to go away or anything. She doesn’t act mad at me. She let me kiss her once, but it was like kissing my sister or something. No feelings. She just sat there. And her eyes don’t shine anymore. I used to love her eyes." He paused, thought for a second, and then added, "I asked her if she still liked me and she said, ’sure, why not’, like I had just asked her if she wanted a pop or something. It’s like she doesn’t even care. I don’t know what’s up with her, but I’m about to ask her if she wants to split up. And the way she’s acting, I half expect her answer will be, ’sure, why not.’"

Later that evening, in the tree house, I told Billy about the pink cloud I saw slip out through her eyes.

"What do you think it was?" I asked him.

"I don’t know," he answered. "But it doesn’t sound good."

Debbie’s reply when he broke up with her a week later was very close to his prediction. He told me that he was going to do it when we were on the way to school that morning and said he felt really bad about it, but he was giving up trying to find the spark in her that had apparently been extinguished due to the accident. But I think he felt even worse when she simply responded "Okay," and then walked off to class as though it had made no difference to her either way.

A month later, the trouble began. Billy told me that she refused to take a test in their math class and started swearing at the teacher. Then she started throwing everything she could get her hands on at him. It took the math instructor and the science instructor to physically restrain her and haul her down to the principal’s office. She didn’t come back to school. No one I knew ever saw her again. A year later, we read in the newspaper that she had killed her parents before turning her Dad’s gun on herself.

"What do you think happened to her?" Billy asked me the next day. He wasn’t expecting an answer, but I had thought about it a lot too and had one for him anyway.

"I think she died at the lake, Billy. I think that pink thing I saw come out of her eyes while you were giving her the CPR was her life force or something. Then you brought her heart back to life, but that was after she had already lost something important."

"What, like her soul or something going off to Heaven?" he asked sarcastically, not giving my thought much credence.

"Yeah," I said, unable to meet his eyes. "Something like that."

"But what made her go bad all of a sudden a couple of months later," he asked.

I didn’t have an answer for that one.

He continued, talking to himself as much as to me. "I mean, she killed her parents, for God’s sake. I knew her. She would never have done something like that. She once told me she had the best parents in the world. But that was before the accident. Afterwards, I guess nobody knew what she was thinking, but she didn’t seem to care enough about anyone in the first place anymore to actually kill them."

"At least not until that time she went berserk in class," I reminded him.

"Yeah, that was really weird. So what the hell happened? What made her crack?"

Billy had been that way as long as I had known him, since we were little kids. He always had to know the answers. That’s why he was so smart. He hated not knowing the answers.

For a while, Billy couldn’t let it go. He started reading books about different psychoses and forms of insanity. He was determined to try to figure out what had happened to Debbie, almost obsessive about it. Being his best friend, I was the one he bounced his ideas off of.

"I was reading about serial killers," he said to me one day while we were hanging out in my backyard. We didn’t use the tree house anymore. We were too big and heavy for the board that served as the platform. "Look at this list I made." He handed me a piece of notebook paper on which he had compiled a list of about twenty names, each accompanied by two dates. I recognized a couple of names, but not many.

"So what are the dates for?" I asked.

"The first date is the date of their first known killing," he explained. "The second date, which is always earlier than the first one, represents some near death experience or major injury that they had."

"Just like Debbie,"

"Yeah," he nodded. "Just like Debbie." Then he asked, "You ever seen any more of those purple cloud things you saw at the gym that time?"

"No, I haven’t. Why? What are you thinking?"

He pulled out an old looking book. "I found this at the library yesterday," he said, opening it to a page he had previously set a bookmarker in. "The county library, not the school one. It talks about the soul and how the eyes are ’the windows to the soul’. It reminded me of when you told me a few days ago about seeing something cloud-like leak out of Debbie’s eyes while she wasn’t breathing. I think you were right. She had died and I brought her back, but I was too late."

"That would explain her initial change," I said. "But it doesn’t explain why she suddenly cracked a couple of months later, or why she killed her parents and herself after that."

"I know," Billy said, "but this might." He opened the other book he had brought outside with him, also bookmarked. "This book describes old American Indian rituals and beliefs. One of the shorter chapters is about the Demon’s Eye. They say that the Demon’s Eye can’t be seen by the human eye but that it travels the world looking for people that have lost their soul and then it moves in and lives in the place that the soul had left vacant. They say it is pure evil. They would try to destroy the demon by gouging out the eyes of the person that it had inhabited."

I was beginning to see where he was going with this. The pieces were beginning to fit together. "You think the pink cloud I saw was her soul escaping through the eyes and the purple ones were the Demon’s Eye that book talks about and they got into Debbie?"

"Yeah, that’s exactly what I think. But no one can describe the Demon’s Eye because no one has ever seen them. Except you."

"Why me?" I asked, not expecting an answer.

"Brain damage. The first time you saw one was after getting your brain knocked around. And you saw them in a hospital," he added. "What better place to find a person who had died and been resurrected."

"So why did it take two months before Debbie was infected? She’d been in the hospital for a week after the accident."

"Maybe there aren’t many of them around. Maybe they are always traveling around looking for soulless people but don’t stay in one place and stake it out. I don’t know. But you see them and you’ve only seen three of them in more than three years so I’m guessing there aren’t a whole lot of them out there." Then he looked me right in the eye and said, "I’m serious Sean, if I ever lose my soul, don’t gouge my eyes out, just kill me."

"I hear you," I said. "Same goes for me. I don’t want to become a serial killer."

Time is the most natural and efficient of healers. Time allowed Billy to forget about Debbie and move on. Time, and avoiding hospitals and large gatherings of people as best I could, allowed me to forget about pink and purple clouds and uneven eyes with red pupils. He had several girlfriends during the remainder of our high school days. I had a couple. We both applied to, and were accepted by, the University of Minnesota. He was studying English, already working on his first novel, wanting to be a fiction writer like his Dad. I was a business major. We were roommates our freshman year, still and forever the best of friends.

Then it happened.

We had just left our favorite diner in Dinky Town, the university’s shopping and dining area, when a drunk driver hit a car in the street. The car it hit veered of the road trying unsuccessfully to avoid the collision and struck both of us. I had only been grazed by the side of the car, breaking my leg and my hip. Billy had been a few feet closer to the street, directly in the car’s path. As we lay there on the sidewalk side by side, I turned my head to look for Billy just in time to see a small pink cloud exit through his open, but expressionless eyes. The last thing I remembered before passing out was hoping that he had died.

Billy was in surgery all night. By morning, his doctor told me that he was in serious, but stable condition. I asked if I could see him but had to wait three days before I was allowed to talk to him. I wheeled myself to his room. He was in one of those observation rooms with the glass wall. He was just lying there, staring at the ceiling. It was hard to miss the purple cloud that had just descended over his face. I watched in horror as the purple mist seemed to get absorbed by his eyes. A second later, the cloud was gone.

I didn’t go into see Billy that morning. I was released with crutches the following day. I went to the pawn shop and had to wait three more days but finally my background check was approved and the owner gave me the gun I had purchased. I went back to the hospital, walked right into Billy’s room. He looked at me, yelled at me telling me to get the hell out, and without hesitation or saying a single word, through my tears, I shot him in the chest.

I tried to explain to the jury that I hadn’t killed Billy; that he had died in the accident. I told them that I was doing for him exactly what I would have hoped that he would have done for me; that I had only done something that he had asked me to do several years earlier. My lawyer tried to cop an insanity plea when I told the jury and judge about the soul I saw leaving him at the scene of the accident and then about the Demon’s Eye I saw enter him in the hospital. The trial was put on hold while I went through a psychological evaluation. I was deemed sane, as I knew I would be because I am indeed quite sane. The jury said I knew what I was doing. There were right about that, of course, but I had never really expected them to believe my motivation.

Billy was my best friend. He was a good man. He will always be remembered fondly by those that had known him. I know that killing him was the best way I could thank him for the great friendship we had shared.

I asked for the death penalty, but got forty years instead. It turns out one really can get anything one desires in prison if you have the money. Apparently the guards don’t make enough. One of mine was more than happy to supply me with a knife. He didn’t even ask who I was going to use it on. I’m hoping when my soul starts its journey that it will find Billy waiting for me. I can’t wait to see him again. He’s my best friend, forever and always.

April 16, 2024

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