Chapter Eighteen

"You back to haunt me some more?" Kimberly asked as her eyes fell on Chris standing over her. "I see you shaved. I must be getting better at this creative dreaming stuff."

"You don’t remember seeing me today, do you?" Chris said more than asked. "While you were jogging. On Boardwalk." Benjamin hadn’t remembered, Sherry hadn’t remembered, he knew Kimberly wouldn’t have either, but there had been that moment when their eyes locked that he’d thought she almost did.

"No. Should I?" she replied nonchalantly. Apparently she wasn’t afraid of him anymore. Apparently she had convinced herself that this was in fact just a dream. Why else would he appear changed from one night to the next and even more according to her tastes, minus the facial scruff and hair trimmed up off the shoulders? He certainly didn’t look as menacing as he had the previous time when he popped in with the ominous news of her upcoming premature death.

"You waved," Chris told her. "I thought for a moment you might have recognized me. I was delivering papers when you jogged by. You slowed for a second, but then went on without stopping."

"It’s not good form to stop when you’re jogging," she said indifferently. "You gotta keep your rhythm going. So when am I supposed to die?"

Maybe you should be asking Him Chris thought, glancing up at the solemn figure chaperoning this conversation. But he knew she couldn’t see him. He wished he couldn’t see him. The only good thing, Chris thought, was that the tall figure in black seemed content with being an observer. He hadn’t interfered in his questioning Benjamin, which Chris had thought he might, as if he had been breaking rules of some kind. Maybe he was just an eerie backdrop Chris’ mind had created for this macabre scene after all. Though deep down, Chris couldn’t quite bring himself to actually truly believe that.

"I don’t know the why’s, when’s or how’s of any of this," Chris confessed. "I just know from the others that your life is in danger. I wish I could tell you more."

Chris looked down at his hands, fidgeting his fingers together nervously in front of his waist. It hurt his heart to look into her eyes. Such blue eyes. Her long, silky black hair tied back in a pony tail tonight, curving around her slender neck and over her right shoulder. She was wearing a blue one-piece swim suit this time that matched her eyes and hugged her firm, neat body. Her toes at the end of her long legs, he noticed again, were always in motion as she talked and listened. He figured maybe this time her backdrop for her dream was at a pool or a beach. Once again, he wished he were meeting her under different circumstances, in the real world, maybe at that pool or beach. Anywhere but here.

"What others?" Kimberly asked. Then, "Oh yeah. You said yesterday that you make a habit of invading people’s dreams. But then you also said this wasn’t a dream, didn’t you? So what it is then?"

She certainly remembered their last dream encounter well, Chris realized. Chris decided, as long as the Priest wasn’t going to object, and it appeared he wouldn’t, he might as well tell Kimberly the whole story and try to get her to believe. He couldn’t help her if she didn’t believe she needed help.

But he wasn’t sure he could help her even if she did believe. In fact, telling the whole story would make it sound like there was nothing that could change the outcome, given belief in the past outcomes. And that would only make matters worse for her. Carly and he had discussed this very thing at great depth, and had come to the conclusion that Chris simply could not change things. But that was, at the same time, contradictory with their other major conclusion, that fate did not exist. Suddenly Chris didn’t know what to believe anymore. He felt like his mind had been running in circles on high rev, getting nowhere fast.

His head ached from the questions he couldn’t answer. His heart ached for Kimberly. How could she possibly deserve this fate? He had to help her. He had to try.

"I am going to tell you everything I know," Chris finally conceded to himself as he spoke. "It’s not easy to believe," he warned her, "but if we have any hope of defeating this…this…whatever it is, you have to believe me. And we have to get together when awake. You have to trust me. I am only trying to help."

"Well I am anxious to hear your story," Kimberly told him. "But I’m reserving the right to believe and trust for afterwards. No promises."

"Fair enough," Chris smiled, though it quickly faded. He couldn’t help but like her. It had hurt deeply when he had heard of the tornado sweeping through Kansas, when he realized he had failed Benjamin despite the success he had had in making contact with him. He knew he was setting himself up for a much deeper hurt if he failed Kimberly too. And she was here, local, closer, within his reach. He knew that if she even somewhat believed the story he was about to tell her, he would get her phone number, he would meet her, he would have time to get to know her, and in the end, he would probably lose her in some way that neither of them could have possibly seen coming. But what choice did he have? He had to try.

Chris began with the fateful bungee jump with Sherry and his first dream communications with her, and continued with an abbreviated version of the months that followed. He left out the details of the backdrop to his dream. He didn’t feel the need to reveal to Kimberly the grisly fact that she appeared to him in a supposedly predestined casket. Nor did he feel comfortable talking about the Priest and his band of mourners while they stood and silently listened.

Kimberly listened to Chris’ story patiently, not asking a single question. Occasionally he would glance up at the Priest as though looking for insurance of getting a detail right, as if the Priest might jump in with a correction, but the Priest didn’t appear to care how Chris told his story. His gaze, as far as Chris could tell, and the gaze of his company, never seemed to rise from the coffin before them once it had opened.

As he finished describing his encounters with Benjamin, the phone contact with his father, the visit from the police, the tornado that finally put an end to his visits to Chris’ dream, Chris noticed concern in Kimberly’s eyes. He knew she didn’t want to believe this wild story that she had unwillingly become a part of, but that she was beginning at that point to consider the possibility that it was true. But she still remained silent until he finished up with his sighting of her jogging that morning.

"So now what am I supposed to do?" she asked Chris when he fell silent. "I don’t think any tornados are going to come along here in Minneapolis, but if I get what you are saying, anything could happen." Her lower lip quivered a bit as she spoke. A tear had formed in her right eye and was slowly sliding down her smooth cheek. Chris knew she believed. He hated himself for causing that tear.

"I have no idea what we can do, Kimberly. But we need to be able to discuss this in person. I mean when awake," Chris corrected himself. "I told you about the fading. You are not fading, so I think we have some time to maybe figure something out. Maybe you could give me your phone number and I can call you."

He knew she would give him her phone number. She hadn’t wanted to believe, but she did. But she wouldn’t remember giving it to him.

She began rattling off her phone number but Chris wasn’t hearing it. He was already thinking about the call. What could he say to the conscious Kimberly to make her take a phone call from a total stranger and then agree to meet him? He couldn’t tell her that they had met in a dream and she had wanted to meet with him to discuss saving her life.

Then he thought of Carly, his idea before about trying to get her to help, to get her to make the initial call, maybe even join them at their first meeting. She might feel less threatened, less like he was simply trying a new, though certainly original, come-on line to get to meet her if Carly were to break the ice.

Chris knew she would remember none of this, but he explained his idea to her anyway.

"I have a friend," he told her, "her name is Carly. She knows what is going on, too. You won’t remember any of this and I will have to explain it to you all over again. Right now, here, you had to listen to me. You couldn’t just hang up on me because what I have to say is not pleasant. But given the choice, when I call you, it is likely that you might not want to listen. I want to have Carly call you first. I need to talk to her first, too, and then I will have her call you tomorrow and try to set up a meeting for all of us, if Carly can do it. What do you think?"


"Good. What’s your phone number."

Kimberly repeated her phone number to Chris who repeated it out loud to himself, committing it to memory for when he wakes up.

"Okay then," Kimberly said hesitantly, "I guess I’ll wait to hear from Carly."

Chris didn’t want to let her go. He wanted to talk more with her, but he knew she was going to be cutting whatever connection they had now. Benjamin had "gone back to sleep" once at will. Sherry had chased him out of her dream once, as Kimberly had actually done the day before, Chris realized, now that he thought about it. He didn’t seem to be able to end his dream at will; he had tried before. But his guests appeared to be able to do so. However they couldn’t remember the dreams, and he could.

More questions raised. No new answers. His head ached as he suddenly awoke without saying good-bye to Kimberly.

* * * * *

Chapter Nineteen


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As Fate Would Have It

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven