Chapter Thirty

Chris was having a tough time concentrating on his job. It wasn’t as though he needed to concentrate on it usually, but tonight he seemed to find himself stopping in front of unfamiliar mailboxes and staring at them for a moment before realizing the one he wanted was the next one down. At least the rain had finally stopped. It was dry and warm out and Chris was slightly ahead of his usual schedule despite having to correct an occasional missed or wrong delivery.

As he approached the final neighborhood of his routes and the sky began to light up, he watched intently for Kimberly. He had no idea how or what he was going to say to her, if and when he found her, but he was already sure that he was not going to let her out of his sight again until this mess was over with once he did find her. He wasn’t sure that even telling her the truth would convince her that she needed his full-time protection, or, given the truth, that his protection would even help, but he decided that was the only way to go. If he found her this morning, if he wasn’t already too late, he was going to lay all his cards on the table. It was time.

Chris pulled up to his last delivery, fifteen minutes earlier than usual, and sat in his idling van at the corner of Boardwalk Avenue and Pacific Avenue watching for Kimberly to arrive. It wasn’t five minutes before he saw her orange figure round the corner a block away and head straight for him. She was still alive. He wasn’t too late. He let out a heavy sigh of relief and realized he’d been holding his breath.

"Thank you," he said out loud, startling himself at the sound of his voice. He briefly wondered who the hell he was thanking. Certainly not the Priest.

Kimberly jogged right up to the driver’s side of his van and, still jogging in place, pony-tail swishing back and forth behind her head, smiled and said to him through his open window, "If I didn’t know better, I’d say it looks like you were waiting for me here."

Chris forced a smile. It wasn’t as hard as he would have thought.

"Indeed I was," he finally replied with mixed emotions. So happy to see her, to be looking at her, to be talking to her. Yet so worried about her, about what he had to tell her. And still so unsure if she would even be alive in a few days. He had no idea what to say next. He was at a total loss for words, but he knew that the next few he spoke were going to be crucial if she was going to have any chance of survival.

"Any particular reason?" she asked with a smile when she could see he wasn’t going to offer the explanation right away. "Or did you just miss me?" she added, still bouncing in place.

"Both," he heard himself say before he could stop himself. "I mean, I need to talk to you, seriously, um, about something." His smile waned as he looked into her deep, beautiful, questioning blue eyes.

She saw the concern in his face and stopped jogging in place. "This has to do with that dream of yours, doesn’t it?" she asked as she caught her breath.

"Yes. I’m afraid there’s more to it than I have told you," he said. "I mean," he stumbled over his thoughts, "I told you there was more to it already, but…um…time is…um…it won’t wait until Monday," he finally said. "Are you free tonight?" he asked, knowing ‘no’ was not an option.

"What’s the matter, Chris?" she asked without answering. "What’s going on?"

"I wish I had an easy answer for you," he said, "but I don’t. I have a lot to tell you. Carly said we could come to her place tonight, and I still have to confirm it with her. But I think I need to tell you about this even sooner than that. I don’t think we can wait any longer."

"Tell me what?" Now concern replaced her smile.

"The rest of the story behind the dream," he said flatly.

"Okay," she said. "We can do that. Let me finish my run and go home and shower and stuff and I can meet you somewhere around ten, if you like."

"No!" Chris said too quickly. "I mean, we have to talk now. I’m sorry, but you’ll understand after I explain. I would really rather we go to your place or mine right now. I don’t want to tell you out here in the street."

Kimberly put on a half smile. "Your place or mine?" she repeated. "Sounds like a come-on to me." Her smile then vanished and she added, "For some reason I get the feeling that it isn’t, but would be better if it were."

"I wish," Chris admitted. Then, "Can I drive you home?"

She looked at him for a long few seconds before answering. He knew she was trying to decide if he was sincerely worried about her or if he himself might not be the threat. Well, she thought, it wouldn’t be the first time she had jumped into his van. She nodded okay and walked around to the passenger side. "Should I be worried?" she asked as she climbed in.

"Not yet," he told her honestly, now that he had her with him. He was going to drive very carefully. She’d be fine for now, he’d make sure of it. "Where to?"

* * * * *

It wasn’t a long drive, just a mile away. Kimberly pointed the way as they went. Chris recognized her mailbox as she directed him into a driveway.

"Sunday only," he said.

"What was that?" Kimberly asked.

"Sunday only," he repeated. "You get the Sunday paper but not the rest of the week. This is the first street I deliver on one of my routes."

"You seem to know a lot about me," she said.

Not as much as I would like to, he thought, but didn’t say. And of course, what he wanted to know more than anything, not even she could tell him…how she was supposedly going to be dying soon. "Not really," he said instead.

He parked his van in front of her garage and they both got out and headed towards the house. She brought a key out of her sweat pants pocket and opened the door.

"I guess you can come in," she half-heartedly offered.

"I tried calling you all day yesterday," he said. "But I never got an answer. I wanted to meet with you then, but had to wait to find you this morning since I didn’t know where you lived. I don’t mean to impose," he added, feeling guilty, "but this really is very important."

"I was out celebrating with a friend yesterday," she told him.

"Well at least you are okay," he said.

She raised an eyebrow as she turned to face him. "And why shouldn’t I be?" she asked.

Chris looked at his feet. "It’s a long story," he said.

"Well I have nothing better to do today," she said as she led him into the living room. "Would you like something to drink?"

This wasn’t going well, he thought. He could sense a touch of antipathy in her voice, probably towards his insistence in her changing her routine. But he figured that might only be a fraction of what she might be feeling towards him pretty soon.

"You don’t happen to have any Dew, do you?" he asked.

"No. Would you like some orange juice?" she asked. "Or I have milk or coffee or water."

"Orange juice would be good. Thanks."

"It’s in the fridge. Glasses are next to it. Help yourself. I’m going to go take a shower and get into some dry clothes."

Hundreds of people a year die in their own bathtubs. Chris hadn’t solicited the thought. It just suddenly appeared in his mind. They slip in the shower, bang their heads. People can drown in two inches of water. "Be careful," he blurted out unintentionally.

She turned and stared at him. She looked like she was about to say something but then just turned away and walked down the hallway. Chris heard a door shut and went to the kitchen to find the glasses and the refrigerator. As he returned to the living room and sat on the couch in front of a coffee table, he heard the water from the shower turn on. He noticed he was holding his breath again and forced himself to exhale.

Fifteen minutes later, Kimberly returned to the living room, hair still damp, dressed in black jeans and a red plaid lumberjack shirt, and barefooted. Chris tried not to think about how good she looked.

"Okay," she said taking a seat opposite the coffee table from him. She leaned back, crossed her arms, then her legs, and said, "Start talkin’."

Lay the cards on the table, he thought. She has a right to know. "I have reason to believe," he said slowly, looking directly into her eyes as he spoke, "and I need you to also believe," here goes nothing! he thought as he paused briefly, "that your life is in danger."

It wasn’t the reaction he expected. Kimberly tilted her head back and laughed. "I got to hand it to you," she said. "This is the most elaborate and imaginative scheme anyone has ever used to get me to invite them into my house."

Chris didn’t say anything. He just sat there, looking disappointed. She noticed, as he hoped she would, and stopped laughing.

"You’re serious, aren’t you?" she asked, suddenly sober.

"I’m afraid so," he replied. He was content for now to just let her ask the questions.

"What do you mean my life is in danger? From who? How?"

"I don’t know," he admitted. "But you are in my dream and everyone in my dream," he paused, not wanting to finish, but knew he had no choice. "Everyone in my dream has died."

"What, are you some kind of psychic?" she asked. Then suddenly she lifted a hand to her mouth, "Oh my God! The gypsy!"

"What gypsy?" Chris asked.

Kimberly told Chris about the old woman and the tarot cards from the previous night, and how she had practically run away when the Death card had mysteriously returned to the table from her lap. A year ago, Chris would have written the incident off as a scam gone wrong, or even a bad joke on the gypsy’s part. But now it was just a very strong confirmation to Chris that time was short, that Kimberly was supposed to die.

But not if he could help it, he thought. The only problem was, he didn’t know if he could.

"I don’t believe it has to be true," he told her.

"Why do you think my life is in danger," she asked shakily.

Chris told her about the dream, Sherry, the fading, and about Benjamin, just as he had to her dreamland self. He felt helpless as he watched her eyes slowly get moist as he spoke. Her arms and legs were no longer crossed, her body slouched in a pose of resignation. At least she was believing him, he thought. That would help.

He didn’t mention the Priest.

This insanely fantastic, not to mention unbelievable, story Chris unfolded for her was not something she would normally have believed, especially coming from someone she had only just met. But she kept remembering how she had guessed his name during their first encounter. That had been even more eerie than the gypsy woman’s performance the previous evening. She didn’t want to believe him. She never would have believed she could believe such a wild tale. But she did believe.

"So there’s no hope," she said when he had finally finished his story, tears now rolling silently and abundantly down her cheeks.

"Of course there’s hope," he said quickly. "That’s why I am…"

"No," she interrupted. "I even have a second opinion. The gypsy. She confirms your diagnosis. I am going to die and come tornado or hurricane or maybe a meteor falling from the sky, it is apparently my destiny."

She was trying desperately to hold onto her composure. Chris stood to move to her, to comfort her, but she held up a hand to stop him.

"Don’t," she said, anticipating his sympathy. "You should just go. Let me die, if I must, in peace," she said, obviously trying to be strong.

"I can’t do that," Chris said, sitting back down. "I will not leave you until this is over. I have to try to help. You need someone with you. You can’t beat this alone."

"But what can you possibly do?" she almost shouted. "You couldn’t save Sherry, or Benjamin, or any of them! You have no idea what is going to happen! You have no idea what we need to beat! What makes you think you can change my fate?"

She buried her face in her hands and wept, no longer holding it back. This time Chris made it to her chair without her stopping him. He sat on the arm of the chair and placed a hand on her head, softly caressing her hair.

"Because I am here," he told her. "We may not know everything, but we know more than we’re supposed to. I am not going to leave you, Kim. I promise you," he said, then took a deep breath and made the promise he didn’t even know himself if he could keep. He put a hand under her chin, gently lifted her tear streaked face forcing her to look directly into his eyes. "I promise you," he repeated, "I am not going to let you die."

* * * * *

Chapter Thirty-One


Front Desk

Return to Author's Page

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