Chapter Seven

After hanging up the phone, Chris returned to the Internet White Pages he had been using the day before to try to locate Worthington households around the neighboring states. Using Benjamin’s phone number as his ‘search’ criterion, he was able to find the listing for Thomas Worthington, 619 County Rd. L, Mulvane, Kansas. Copying the address, he then visited MapQuest, a website that creates maps. By entering in his own address and the Worthington’s address, the website put together not only a detailed, street by street, doorstep to doorstep list of written directions, but it also showed a map of the suggested route. By then highlighting any portion of the route map, one can zoom in on that particular area. After highlighting and zooming in four times, Chris had learned that Mulvane was a small town about ten miles south of Wichita, and the spot marked with the red ‘X’, 619 County Rd. L, was on a rural highway with no more than two lots per country block.

Chris felt a chill as he realized the impact of what he was looking at on his computer screen, who he had just spoken to on the phone, and what it was he was trying to do. He was looking at the place where a boy he had only dreamt about was actually living, and was supposedly soon going to be dying. He had just spoken to the father of the boy in his dream thanks to the phone number obtained in the dream. And he was trying to work against whatever force was making these predictions come to him in his dreams. He no longer doubted for a second, however, that his dreams were anything but very, very real. The ‘guilty conscience’ theory for his dreams long since thrown out, Chris had come to accept as fact that he had entered a portion of reality that most humans were lucky enough to never discover.

Chris book-marked the map page with Benjamin’s location and address and closed out his Internet service.

In almost three months since Sherry’s death, since he had mentioned to the nurse how Sherry had contacted him about her dilemma, he had kept his daily nightmare to himself, telling no one else about his recurring dream. Now hearing the whole story out loud for the first time as he recounted the last three months for Thomas Worthington, he had to give Benjamin’s dad credit for not hanging up on the outlandish tale half way through.

There was still hope.

Chris had agreed because there was no logical reason not to, but he was not looking forward to having to repeat his story yet again for whomever Mr. Worthington was going to have visit him. He thought there was a good chance, too, that it could have been a bluff, that Officer Worthington was just looking for a reaction. But it had been no bluff. Inside of ninety minutes from hanging up the phone, two plain-clothed detectives showed up at Chris’ door.

Chris gave the detectives a shorter, more condensed version of the tale that he had told Mr. Worthington. But even the short version had given them enough to haul him down to the asylum if they chose. Their main purpose, Chris was told, had not been to judge his sanity, but rather whether or not he might pose a threat to society, or more specifically, to Officer Worthington’s son in Kansas.

They were apparently satisfied that Chris was not going to be a threat to anyone. After listening to his tale and asking what sounded like a couple of token questions that had little to do with the matter at hand, the two detectives shook his hand, thanked him for his time, and asked him to stay in Minnesota for now.

He assured them that he had no plans to travel any time soon. He could tell they hadn’t believed his dream held much stock in reality and that it was just his character they had been concerned with. But Chris didn’t care if they had believed him or not. He hadn’t tried to convince them as he had Thomas Worthington. They had nothing at stake, no reason to question reality as they knew it. He hadn’t expected them to believe him. He was just doing as Benjamin’s dad had asked, for Benjamin’s sake.

* * * * *

Looking up from the bottom of the small hill, Chris watches the familiar scene play out. The Priest stops reading from his book, folds it closed and moves it to his chest. His attention, and that of the mourners at his side, turns towards Chris as he approaches his party. The coffin lay closed awaiting his arrival.

As Chris joins the others at the edge of the hole, he studies the Priest. Again he wants to ask the Priest who is in the coffin. He knows the Priest knows. But it is what he doesn’t know about the Priest that scares him enough to remain silent.

The coffin begins to creak, announcing that it is proceeding to open and Chris holds his breath. He had worked very hard while delivering his papers not to build any false hopes for this moment. He wanted to see that Benjamin was no longer the coffin’s resident, to call Mr. Worthington tomorrow and hear that Benjamin is still alive and healthy and fine. Then he would know, at that point, that Benjamin had escaped his untimely, premature death. But he hadn’t allowed himself to believe that that had all been so easily accomplished with just one phone call.

Getting to know Benjamin over the last two weeks, Chris had learned that Benjamin lived in a large family. He had said that he lived on a big farm. The farm belonged to his father’s brother, Uncle Patrick. Benjamin’s family helped with the farm’s chores in exchange for rent. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters himself, but his aunt and uncle had provided him with four cousins close to his age who he’d grown up with just like any natural brother or sister. So the household, in all, contained four adults and five energetic children under the age of ten. With so much family around and a dad who was a cop and trained to deal with unusual situations, not to mention the fact that they lived in a rural area eliminating hundreds of other variables present in a big city environment, Chris couldn’t help but to think that the scale must be tipping back in Benjamin’s favor.

While delivering his papers all night, he continually assured himself that even if Benjamin was still his morning host when he returned, it didn’t mean he had failed him yet. But when the lid to the coffin did finally come open and Benjamin peered out from within, Chris felt his heart sink with a heavy thud and realized he had not squelched back his hopes as much as he thought he had.

"Hi, Chris!" Benjamin said.

"Hi, Benjamin."

"Are we going to McDonald’s?" he asked with a smile. "Did you talk to my dad?"

Apparently, Chris figured, Benjamin forgot his dreams the way most people do upon awakening. This would be why he didn’t recognize Chris’ name when his dad asked him about it. Chris was probably part of just one of hundreds of dreams Benjamin forgot about once he awoke each morning.

Chris wished he could forget each morning.

"Yes, I did talk to your dad, Benjamin. Thanks for giving me your number yesterday. We’re trying to work it out," Chris said, and then added, "You have a great dad. He cares about you very much."

"Did you see the Power Rangers yesterday? The Power Rangers rule!"

"No. I missed them yesterday," Chris replied.

Benjamin then filled Chris in on all the action he had missed out on during yesterday’s episode. This was the usual fare for their visits during the two previous weeks. Chris tried to listen attentively, as he always did, but while Benjamin described the deeds of the day by the Rangers, Chris couldn’t help but notice that not only was Benjamin obviously still in Sherry’s coffin, but his fading had gotten worse…much, much worse. His eyes had lost all but the faintest hint of color. His skin seemed to be growing thinner. His time was getting close. Too close. He knew he would have to be even more convincing when he called Mr. Worthington again. He knew that so far, despite his efforts, he had changed nothing yet. But he wasn’t giving up.

* * * * *

Chris woke up a little after noon and went through his usual morning ritual of shower, toast and juice. He then called Thomas Worthington to inform him that the danger was still present, that Benjamin was still fading. No one answered the phone. The answering machine was also apparently turned off. He figured he would try again later in the afternoon when everyone started gathering for dinner. For now he decided to try to take his mind off things he couldn’t control and wrote his bi-weekly email to his own parents and surfed aimlessly around the Information Super Highway to pass the time.

At four o’clock there was still no answer.

At five o’clock there was still no answer.

Six o’clock, no answer.

Six thirty, seven o’clock, seven-fifteen, still no answer.

It wasn’t until ten o’clock that night, and eight more phone calls with the same results, that Chris learned why the Worthingtons were not at home. Their home was no longer at home. Apparently, according to the lead story the anchor for the ten o’clock news was reading, a rare early March tornado had run through central Kansas shortly before noon. Tornado season in Kansas usually didn’t begin until late April. The news reported that the tornado had been responsible for eighteen deaths, at least seventy injuries and several billion dollars worth of damage in and around the small communities just south of the Wichita area. Pictures coming in from their news-copter showed several farm houses that had been leveled to the ground. Chris knew at that moment that Benjamin would not be returning to his dream the next morning.

* * * * *

Chapter Eight


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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