Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Man Who Saw Through Time

When I was seventeen, I discovered that I had the ability to travel through time. Well, maybe travel isn’t the correct term. I don’t physically go anywhere. It’s more like a spirit walk, I become a ghost in the past, and while there, I can witness what happened as if it were really happening. I discovered this ability one day when in the shower after baseball practice. One of the guys was bragging about having had sex with his girlfriend the night before, and I didn’t believe him. Next thing I knew, I was watching he and his girlfriend fight with each other at her father’s house. It was obviously about sex, and how she didn’t want to. It ended with her kicking him out. When I returned to my senses, I was back in the shower, and it looked like nothing had happened. No one even acted like I was gone.

I kept the weird situation to myself, but later on that week, I did it again. This time, while taking a test. I was struggling, not having studied, and knew that I was just not going to make it. I once again found myself somewhere else. I didn’t immediately recognize the place, but it was obviously a study of some kind, in someone’s house. I looked down at myself to see that I was translucent, like a ghost. I could even walk through things. It was then than my teacher walked into the room. He took no notice of me, and went to his computer. As I watched, I saw him write the test. It took him nearly an hour, during which time I memorized the answers. When he was done, I disappeared and found myself back in my body, sitting in my desk, only a few seconds had passed. I quickly wrote all the answers I had memorized and turned in my test. The next day, I saw that I had passed.

I knew then that I had an amazing advantage over people. I could send myself through time to find secrets. At first, I used this information for selfish ends. I watched girls shower, and learned their likes and dislikes, and used this information to get girls to go out with me, and even to sleep with me. I even used the information to make some money. I’m not really proud of my behavior during this time, but what can I say? I was a hormonal teen.

It all changed, however, when I was in college. I was dating this girl, Christine, a pretty thing that I really had no interest in except for sex. Using my travel power, it was easy to see how to manipulate her, and so I did. One day, she came to me and told me that her best friend and roommate was missing. She had gone out the night before for her normal evening run, and then hadn’t come back. She missed all her classes the next day, and now it was night again and she still hadn’t come back. I tried to calm Christine down, but I could see that there wasn’t any way to do so. So, I agreed to help.

Christine went to sleep in my bed that night, and I set about using my powers in a way I never had before. I traveled back to a few nights ago, in Christine’s room. I’d found at this point that while I could travel to places I had never been to before, doing so was tiring. It was far easier to see places I knew, and I had been to Christine’s place many times. I got there in time to see Christine’s roommate, a woman named Marylyn, dressing. She was a little plumper than I normally liked my women, but it was still exciting to see her naked. A few moments later, she was dressed in a running outfit, said good bye to Christine and left. I followed, of course.

There is an upside and a downside to being a time ghost in cases like this. While in the past, I never felt hungry or tired, and so I could easily keep up with Marylyn while she ran. The downside to this was that I would feel all the extended energy I used to run when I returned to my body. Everything seemed okay at first, and it got a little boring just running with Marylyn. Another side effect of my powers is that the longer I viewed the past, the more tired I was when I returned. It was edging up to an hour, and was ready to call it quits when I thought of Christine. I stayed, and a few moments later was rewarded.

A man appeared on the path in front of Marylyn. She startled to a stop and then groaned in recognition of the man.

“Harold,” she said, her tone almost angry. “What the hell are you doing out here?”

“I knew you would be here tonight,” he said. “Running.”

Something about the way he said ‘running’ sent shivers up my spine. Don’t get me wrong, I used women pretty regularly, and I was well familiar with being a letch. But this guy… he was beyond just enjoying the idea of a pretty girl bouncing up and down while running. There was something perverse in his interest. I think Marylyn saw it too. She tried to turn around and run away, but he was quick and grabbed her. I witnessed something there that I had hoped to never witness again. I saw him rape her and then when he was done, he pulled out a knife and killed her. He stashed her body off the trail, by the river and then fled.

When I returned to my body, I felt like I was going to be sick. I had to bring this guy to justice. That morning, I organized a search party. I pretended to ask Christine questions about Marylyn. She left running that morning, where did she run? That trail she used was pretty common for runners we should start there. Look off the trails, see if there’s tracks or any sign of what happened. It didn’t take long, of course, for someone to find the body. I made sure it wasn’t me. The cops were called immediately. I convinced Christine to tell the police about Marylyn’s ex, and how creepy the guy was, and how upset he was with their brake up. Within the week, Harold was arrested and tried for the murder. I felt great. It was then that I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

I changed my major. I took every law and criminology course I could. I eventually graduated from the Police Academy and officially became a cop two years later. It wasn’t long before my ‘skills’ were rewarded, and I was eventually promoted to my current position, homicide detective. It’s a rough job, but I’ve been able to find and put away a lot of bad guys thanks to my ability. I stopped chasing women, too. My job, and what I saw as a result of my powers, were pretty gruesome, and I just couldn’t bring myself to burden another human being with it.

So, there I was, successful, but alone. Honestly, though, I was okay with that. At least, until this last case. It wasn’t all that unusual in that it started with a body. What was unique about this case was that the body was found in side the cooler of a butcher. Apparently, it had been hidden there for some time, and the coroner had trouble placing the time of death. A two-week period starting about a month ago was his best guess. Not a lot to go on. When I got a look at the body, I could see why.

It was a girl, probably in her late 20’s or early 30’s. ID on her said she was Donna Chesterfield, an office worker at SolarDyne Communications. She was beautiful with red hair and an athlete’s frame. No obvious signs of death. The coroner said that it looked like she died in the cooler. It’s likely that she was knocked unconscious somehow and brought into the cooler, where she died from the cold. Unfortunately, the cold also preserved the body, which is why marking the time of death is so hard. She could have been in there for several days before death. When I questioned how that was possible, I was shown the photos of the cooler she was in. It was apparently the third room in the cooler, and was used for the largest cuts of meat. The staff rarely entered it, and so she could have been trapped there for up to a week before anyone found her. And now the case was mine. Well, my partner, Alex, and me anyway.

We both agreed that the best bet would be to check out her apartment. We might find some kind of clue there as to who and why she was killed. The place wasn’t anything spectular, a typical apartment building downtown. It held probably a hundred units, in two styles, one and two bedrooms. Our girl rented a single on the third floor. We got the apartment manager to open up for us. He was unaware that Donna was dead. He seemed genuinely saddened by the news. Apparently, he hadn’t heard from her for weeks, and was worried.

Donna’s apartment itself wasn’t all that unique. Typical furniture, photos of her family, who all apparently lived in San Diego, no indication of a pet of any kind, clothing and magazines scattered about the place. She was obviously a long time bachelorette.

“I’ll start looking for a journal of some kind, maybe check out her computer,” Alex said. “You go… do that thing you do.”

I nodded. Alex was the only person that knew about my ability. I had to tell him after our first investigation together. He came in on me while I was still away, and started trying to wake me up from my trance before I returned. It freaked him out, and my explanation didn’t help any. I had to go back to his honeymoon and give details that no one else knew before he believed me. I have to say, it was a relief to tell someone. He’s been helpful in covering for me during my ‘trips’ on our cases.

I went into the living room, sat down on the couch and closed me eyes. I aimed for about a month ago. In seconds, I found myself sitting on the same couch, only now the TV was on, and a girl was sitting next to me. I looked over at her and saw that it was Donna. Then, the strangest thing happened. She looked up at me, and screamed, pushing herself off the back of the couch and falling onto the floor. I jumped up, freaked out. Did she see me?

“Who the hell are you?” she said, coming up holding a rolled up magazine.

I turned around to see if someone else was in the apartment, but there was no one there.

“Yes, you! Talk!” she said, brandishing the magazine at me.

“You… you can see me?” I said.

“Of course I can see you,” she said. “Your right there.”

“That’s not possible,” I said, backing away.

“What is that supposed to mean?” she said.

I looked back at her and confirmed that once again, she was looking at me. I freaked out, and did the only thing I could think of. I ended my visit to the past and returned to the present. When I arrived, I was panting like a dog. Alex arrived a few seconds later.

“Tony?” he said. “Are you okay? You look like you just saw a ghost. Jesus, man, what did you see back there?”

` “I saw…” I hesitated. “I saw her.”

“Right,” he said. “I figured you would. What happened?”

“She saw me,” I said at last.

He paused. “What?”

“She saw me, Alex. She spoke to me,” I said.

“How is that even possible?” He asked. “You said you were like a ghost.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s never happened before.”

“Did you at least find out what happened?” Alex asked.

“No,” I said. “I freaked out and came back here.”

Alex stopped for a moment and then turned to look at me. “Okay, look. If you don’t want to go back, that’s fine. This is an odd case, and us taking a little longer than normal to solve it won’t be weird. If you don’t want to go back, we’ll just solve this the old fashioned way.”

I paused for a moment, looking at him. It never occurred to me that I could just not go back. But, something unique was happening here. I had to try and find out why she could see me, and what that meant.

“No,” I said. “No, I’m going back. I just need a moment before I do.”

“Okay,” he said. “Take your time. I’ve discovered a journal of hers, which includes her password to Facebook. That should give me something interesting to do while you go back. Maybe I can find some clues as to who would want to do this to her.”

“Great,” I said. “I’ll let you know what happens in a few minutes.”

I took a quick step outside to get some air and figure out what I was going to say. I quickly came to the conclusion that my best bet would be to just tell her the truth. Nodding my head, I went back in side to try again. I thought about the day I saw her, and sent myself back there. This time, I stood in the kitchen when I went back. I found myself in the same kitchen, though without the smell, and could hear her in the living room. Slowly, I moved in, and saw her looking carefully under the couch and around the furniture.

“You’re not going to find me there,” I said.

She jumped up, banging her head on the table as she came up.

“Ow! Damn it,” she said. “Who the hell are you, and how the hell did you just disappear like that? What the fuck is going on here?”

“It’s not an easy thing to explain,” I said.

“Well, you had best start explaining, or I’m going to call the cops,” she said.

“There’s no need for that,” I said, reaching into my coat slowly for my wallet. I pulled it out and showed her my badge. “I am a cop.”

She came up and gave the badge a wary look. Then she looked up to me and seemed to noticed something.

“Why are both you and your badge hard to focus on?” she said.

“Well,” I said. “It’s because I’m not really here.”

“What?” she said. “Are you some kind of ghost?”

That idea seemed to excite her some, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Not quite,” I said. “Like I said, it’s difficult to explain.”

She sat down on the easy chair that faced the kitchen. “Well,” she said, waiving her hand. “Go ahead.”

“I’m a time traveler, from the future,” I said.

“The future,” she said. “So, is everyone from the future a ghost?”

“I said it would be difficult to explain,” I said. She waved her hand again. “I am from the future, but only a month in a future. I’m a cop, investigating a case.”

“So, a month in the future, cops will all have time travel powers?” she said.

“No,” I said, waiving my arms. “It’s just me. It’s a unique power that only I seem to have. But normally, no one can see me. I’m like a ghost, here, but not really.”

“Wow,” she said. “You should have stuck with the ghost story. I might have believed that.”

I sighed. “What can I possibly do to convince you?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Tell me something about the future.”

“I told you, it’s just a month,” I said. “It’s not like I…”

That was when I noticed that the TV was still on. It was showing the news, and the date was showing on the bottom of the TV. I realized right away that there was a way I could show her I was from the future.

“I have it,” I said. “Turn up the volume. In a minute, they’re going to break to show a surprise announcement from the city Mayor. He’s going to announce he’s resigning due to an unforeseen illness. They’ll even speculate that the illness is AIDS, but they’ll be wrong, because in about two days we’ll find out that he has cancer.”

She looked at me skeptically, then grabbed the remote and turned up the volume. Sure enough, within a minute the news announced a surprise press conference by the mayor. With obvious sadness in his eyes, he announced he was resigning due to illness and that deputy mayor would take over. She shut the TV off before he finished the statement. Slowly, she turned to look back at me.

“You’re… telling the truth,” she said. “You’re really telling the truth?”

I nodded.

“And you’re really not here?” she said.

“Not physically,” I said. “Here, it’s like I’m a ghost. I can walk through things, even.”

I walked through the couch, and she gasped, paling slightly.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” I said.

“Its just… a little much to take in,” she said. “So, you can travel through time, but only as a ghost that no one can see or hear. And what do you do?”

“I see,” I said. “I can see events that have happened, and find out who committed a crime at the time they committed it. It comes in very handy as a police officer.”

“I bet,” she said. “So, what, you’re here investigating a crime?”

I hesitate. “Yes,” I said slowly.

“Against me?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said again.

“And what?” she said, standing up, obviously angry. “You were just going to stand around and watch it happen? You were just going to let something happen to me and not doing anything about it?”

“What am I supposed to do?” I asked. “It’s not like I can stop anyone from doing anything in the past.”

“Why not?!?” She said.

“What am I supposed to do?” I said, anger rising in me now. I don’t like feeling like I’m being attacked. “I’m a ghost, remember? What can I possibly do to stop something from happening that’s already happened?”

“You could tell me what happened!” she cried.

I paused, my mouth open, about to make a counter argument, when I realized what she was saying. I normally couldn’t affect the past because I was, for all intents and purposes, not there. I couldn’t interact with anything or anyone. All I could do was watch and observe. But now, I was interacting. Donna could see and hear me.

“I never thought of that,” I said.

“Why the hell not?” she asked.

“It’s not like this has ever happened before,” I said. “Normally, no one can see and hear me, remember?”

“But, I can,” she said. “Just tell me what happens so I can avoid it.”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“What don’t you know?” she asked.

“Many things,” I said. “Can I even change the past by telling you something? I mean, if the crime doesn’t happen, how would I know to come back her to change things. Plus, were not really positive on the timing of the crime. It could happen anytime between now and the next two weeks.”

I stopped, realizing what I had said. I looked over to her, and saw the fear in her eyes. It struck me straight in the chest, as if I had been hit with an arrow. Ever since I had dedicated myself to helping people with my power, I hadn’t really been with a woman. I mean, I’ve dated and had sex, sure, but no real relationships, and never really felt attracted to a woman on an emotional level. But Donna? Seeing that look on her face I felt truly sorry.

“You don’t know when?” she asked. “That means I’m not there to tell you, doesn’t it? Am I dead a month in the future?”

“Okay, wait,” I said. “Well figure something out. What day is it for you?”

“Uh…” she said, still distracted. “Tuesday.”

“Tuesday,” I said. “Prefect! Tomorrow is when they announcing the winning lottery numbers.”

“Yeah, so?” I said.

“So, I play the lottery,” I said. “I know that no one wins this week, and no one won last week, making the winnings over a millions dollars. If I come back to you with the winning numbers, you can buy a ticket. If you win, we’ll know.”

“Know what?” she said quietly.

“If I can change the past,” I said excitedly. “If I can get you the winning numbers and you become a millionaire, we might be able to save you.”

“Oh,” she said, still in a seeming daze. “Oh, Okay.”

I watched her come out of it slightly.

“Look,” I said. “I’m sorry. I can’t tell you what happened… happens to you. Not yet. But, I promise that I will do everything I can to try and prevent it from happening.”

“Really?” she said, and I nodded. She seemed to perk up to that, and my heart got a little lighter.

“Okay, now, listen… I have to go,” I said.

“What?” she said, suddenly afraid.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I’ll do my best to be back as soon as I can. I just need to rest in my time. Doing this is exhausting. Plus, I need the winning numbers.”

“Okay,” she said. “You promise to be right back?”

“As soon as I can.”

She nodded, and I smiled at her. She smiled back, and I found myself wishing that I could reach out and touch her face. I just wanted to make her feel better. I knew I couldn’t though, so instead I closed my eyes and returned to my body. When my eyes snapped open, I was back in the kitchen, with the flies and the smell or unwashed dishes in the sink. I stumbled and grabbed the counter for balance. I knocked over a glass, which broke on the floor, which prompted Alex to come after me.

“Tony?” he said. “Are you back?” he came into the kitchen with a book in his hand.

“Yeah,” I said, pushing myself up. “I’m fine.”

“Jesus, you look like shit,” I said. “How long were you gone for?”

“Not long,” I said. “I shouldn’t be this tired.”

“Well, you are,” he said. “We need to get going, anyway. I’ve put in a call to the precinct. The computer guys are going to come down here and get everything they can off her PC, and I got her journal here. You’re in it, you know.”

“I am?” I asked, slightly paranoid that the captain should find out that I know the victim, and also curious as to what she said about me.

“Oh, yeah,” Alex said. “She said you were a ghost from the future that said some horrible crime was going to happen to her, but you wouldn’t say what. She said you told her you would be back with a way to prevent it from coming back, but apparently you never returned.”

“I came back to find out what I could about her murder here, try and narrow down the date,” I said. “It occurred to me that because she can see and hear me, I might be able to prevent her murder.”

Alex nodded. “I had that same thought while you were gone. Man, I hope you can make it work. In the mean time, I think this journal will help in that regards. I found a couple of strong leads in here. Turns out our girl was a supervisor for the trucking company that delivered to the meat locker we found her in. Just a few days before you went back to see her, she fired a driver for stalking one of the receptionists. Her last journal entry is a few days after you visited her. I’m guessing the two are not unrelated.”

“Okay, at least I have a time frame to work from,” I said. “I just have to go back and see her again.”

“Not now,” Alex said. “First, you need to go get some dinner and some sleep. Come on, I’ll drive.”

Alex was right, of course, and I felt amazingly better after dinner with him and his wife, and then back to my apartment for some sleep. I woke up at around midnight, threw on some pants, and fired up my computer to find out the lottery information I had thought of earlier. When I had it memorized, I closed my eyes, pictured Donna on the day I left her, and traveled back.

I was surprised to see that it was dark when I got there. All the lights were shut off, and everything was quiet. It was kind of eerie, to be honest. I saw, though, that Donna was still in her living room, sleeping on the couch, her arms wrapped around a baseball bat. I spotted the journal on the table next to her. She must have just written the entry that Alex saw about me. She looked so beautiful sleeping there, and I almost left without waiting, but I didn’t want to waist my trip. So, I got down close to her ear and, loud as I could, said her name.

“What?” she said, sitting bolt up right, the bat in her hands ready to swing. I laughed. She turned around and when she saw it was me, she glared.

“You!” she said. “Do you enjoy sneaking up on girls like this?”

“Not normally,” I said. “I just couldn’t think of how else to wake you up.”

“I wasn’t sure you were going to come back,” she said. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Detective Anthony Summers,” I said. “Although, I prefer Tony.”

She smiled, and my heart skipped a beat. “Well, Tony. I see that it must be late at night were you’re at in the future,” she said.

I looked down to realize that I only threw on pants before traveling to the past. “Sorry, it’s nearly midnight back home.”

“It’s okay,” she said, and when I looked at her, she flushed slightly and turned away. I couldn’t help but smile. I had to find a way to save this girl.

“I’ve got some information for you,” I said.

She turned to look at me. “Yeah?”

“Yes, and I think it’s good,” I said. I knew I had to be completely honest with her. “First, I have to tell you the truth. The crime I’m investigating?” she nodded. “It’s your murder. We find your body in a cooler, frozen to death. Apparently, one on the routs of your trucks.”

She gasped, and looked like she was going to pass out.

“So far, we think it might be the drive you fired a few days ago.”

She looked up at me again. “Jose? He was a little creepy, sure. He stalked Jenny for weeks. But a murderer?”

“Well, apparently, when you fired him, he gained motivation,” I said.

“Oh,” she said.

“We found some other information that could prove useful,” I said quickly, trying to keep her focused. “We discovered that your journal ends two days from now, so we think that’s when the attack happens.”

“My journal?” she said. “You’ve read my journal?”

“Not personally, no,” I said. “My partner did, though. It’s standard procedure when looking for clues to who killed someone.”

“Oh,” she said.

“Hey,” I said. “We can beat this. We know approximately when this happens, and we have a possible perp. I have a plan. But, first, some good news. I got the winning lottery numbers for tomorrow. You have until noon to get them. If you do, and then you win, we know we can change the future. Then, you just have to follow my plan.”

“Okay,” she said. “Lay it on me.”

“First, you call the cops,” I said. “Tell them that you think you’re being followed, and that the guy doing it looks like Jose. They’ll put a detail on you, and try to find out if Jose is really following you. That’s phase one. Phase two is that you not be here in a few days. If he attacks then, it’s better if you’re not here. But, you have to make sure that no one knows your not here. No one, not even the cops. Got it?”

She nodded, and I could see that she was afraid.

“Listen,” I said, once again wishing I could touch her. “It’s going to be okay. We’re going to do this. I have to leave again, but I’ll be back. I’ll be here with you to make sure everything goes smoothly. Okay?”

She nodded. I smiled at her in what I hoped was a reassuring manor. Then, I closed my eyes and went back home. Tired but sure that I had changed everything, I went to bed. The next morning, at my desk, I was shocked to see Donna’s file still sitting there.

“You went back again last night?” Alex asked as he came up behind me.

“Yeah,” I said. “I thought I had changed things. I thought I could change things.”

“Guess not,” he said. “Little miss millionaire still died. Shame too, she never got a chance to spend any of it.”

“Millionaire?” I said, looking at Alex.

“Sure,” he said. “Don’t you remember? She won the lottery just before going missing.”

“She did?” I said. “That means I did change the past. That means I can still save her.”

“Tony,” Alex said, concern showing on his face, “you’re frightening me.”

“Alex,” I said. “Yesterday, she was poor. I gave her those winning lottery numbers last night. I changed her past. Something went wrong with my plan, and she still got killed, but I can change that. If I can change her getting the money, I can change her death. I gotta go back.”

I ran out side to my car and drove back to my apartment. I got to my bedroom, and tried to calm myself down. I concentrated as hard as I could. I figured that if she was still dead, that means she didn’t leave her apartment. So, I went back there in the hopes of getting there before Jose did.

When I opened my eyes, I feared I was too late. The place was smashed up, lights were on the floor and even some furniture was upturned. I spun around, trying to find anyone, when I saw a large man with a Billy club in his hand. Jose.

“Donna!” I shouted.

“Tony?” I heard a voice call from another room.

“The name is Jose, bitch,” said the big man, moving off in the direction of the voice. “After I’m done with you, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. Which won’t be more than a few hours.”

“Move, Donna!” I said. “He can’t hear or see me, remember?”

I rushed ahead of the big man to try and find her before he did.

“He’s coming down the hallway, heading to your stairs,” I said, hoping to help her avoid him. “If you don’t have your phone on you, get to it now, and call 911.”

I found her a moment later, crawling across the floor, from her kitchen to her den. I nodded in appreciation. Jose was still moving towards the stairs. I wished there was a way to keep him up there, but I wasn’t sure what else to do besides watch.

“He’s going up the stairs now, call 911!” I cried. Then I walked through the wall and peaked in on her. She had the phone and was whispering into it at the time. I went back to check on Jose and found that he saw no one was up stairs. He was coming back down.

“He’s heading back towards you!” I cried. “Get out of here, go now!”

I poked my head through the wall and saw Donna get up and run, the phone still on the line. I could heard the 911 operator asking for Donna, and then stating that she would stay on the line while cops were on the way. I looked out the window and saw that there was still a cop situated outside on her watch, as I expected. They would be up quickly. Sure enough, a few seconds later, they were out of the car and on their way across the street.

“Cops are on the way, Donna!” I called. “Go now!”

She ran, as fast as she could, from her spot behind the couch to the front door. Unfortunatily, Jose was at the bottom of the stairs, and ran to the door to. He cut her off, and grabbed her by the hair, pulling her down.

“You are so not getting away from me, bitch!” he said. Donna cried out in pain. I tried to punch Jose, but of course my fists just went right through him. I looked down at Donna, who was crying, when I realized that she was lying between his legs.

“Donna, kick up. Kick up hard, and do it now!”

Her eyes still closed, she did. She was right on target, and the big man grasped at his crotch in pain.

“Now, Donna, get away!” I called.

She crawled out from under him and ran back towards the kitchen. He didn’t follow quite so fast.

“Bitch,” he said weekly. “I was just going to drag you to a cooler to die there, but now I’m gonna gut ya.”

Just then, the someone banged on the door. Jose froze.

“Open up, this is the police!” said a voice on the other side.

Jose swore and then headed towards the kitchen.

“Help!” Donna cried. “Help me please!”

It was just what the cops needed to hear. They busted down the door and rushed into the room, guns drawn. Jose froze again, and they faced him on either side, guns to his head.

“Freeze!” they said, and he did. “Hands on your head.”

I could fell my self being pulled away. I had time traveled more times in the past two days than I normally do in a week. I was pretty tired.

“Donna,” I said. “Everything will be okay. We’ll see each other soon, I promise. I promise!”

I woke up back in my apartment, my cell phone buzzing at my hip. I looked at it and saw that it was Alex.

“Tony, man,” he said, sounding relieved. “I’m so glad you finally answered. Man, you gotta get back to the station, the captain is going berserk.”

“Right,” I said. “I’ll be right there.”

I grabbed some food to eat on the way, and drove back to the station. When I got there, the captain gave me a dressing down for not showing up at work on time. I wasn’t quite sure I understood… I mean, I was there this morning, I clocked in and everything. I explained I was still working on the Chesterfield case, and he looked at me like I had lost my mind. He had no idea what the Chesterfield case was, or what I was talking about. I almost started smiling when he said that. In stead, he dismissed me back to my desk and promised me a double work load.

When I got to my desk, Alex came up to me.

“Hey you sly dog you,” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me you were seeing someone? I thought you kept women out of your life.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Please,” he said. “Good looking read head like that comes in asking for you, it has to be for one thing.”

I looked over and saw Donna at the front desk. She looked over and saw me, and froze. I rushed over to her.

“It’s okay, Charley, I’ll take it from here,” I said.

“Is it really you?” Donna asked. “You’re real, I mean? Not a ghost?”

“I’m real,” I say, and reach out to touch her face. With out any hesitation, I pull her towards me, and kiss her. I did it, I think. I saved her, and now my loneliness ends.

The End

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