Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter Thirteen

Ever since he’d heard about the two strange guys that broke into his house but didn’t steal anything, or even make much of a mess, Thomas had been on the road.  It’s hard to catch a moving target, and he was anything but ready to be caught.  He was still having a hell of a good time.
He’d discovered that people no longer noticed him, unless he got right in their face to talk to them.  Even then, whoever he was talking to usually developed a strong urge to get away from him.
Which meant he could do, more or less, whatever the heck he wanted.
Unfortunately, the thrill of getting away with misbehavior wore off pretty quickly.  He’d stolen a lot of stuff, peeked in windows, once lurked in a women’s locker rooms, messed with people by rearranging their belongings while they were looking away, and discovered that it really wasn’t all that entertaining, even the first time.  
The last time he checked, his employer was still sending him paychecks, despite not having been in to the office in weeks.  So when he was so inclined, he paid for whatever products and services he wanted.  Most of the time, though, he just grabbed what he needed or wanted and walked off with it. 
Since then, he’d developed a bit of an obsession with Death.  How was she able to get around so quickly?  Did she actually play a role in the deaths, or just wait to collect the souls?  And where did she get that motorcycle.
He’d used the copies of her notes to go and watch her in action a few times.  Well, several times.  He’d let her see him once, but she didn’t react favorably, so he decided it might be best not to do that again for a while.
In the meantime, he’d righted a few wrongs done to him, and otherwise spent a lot of time driving around without a real goal or destination.
Until the other day, when he’d decided it would be interesting to try and warn people who were about to die in preventable ways.  There wasn’t much point telling someone who was going to die from cancer the exact time they were going to die.  However, the people who were going to die in accidents or from violence might like to know about it beforehand.
He’d already warned a construction worker who was going to fall on to a bunch of rebar.  The day after that guy was supposed to die, he’d checked all the newspapers in that city for word about a guy dying in a gruesome rebar related accident.  There hadn’t been anything about him, so Thomas assumed he’d gotten away unharmed.  
He’d saved a life.  Now that was success!
He decided it would be an excellent plan to try and clue in as many of the other deaths he had documentation for.
Today, he was going to talk to Darryl Andersen, 29, broken neck.  It looked like Darryl was going to crash his motorcycle, alone, and slam head first into a tree.
Maybe it would be good for Darryl to stay home today, or consider taking the bus instead of riding.  Sometimes the conditions just aren’t right for riding.
Thomas checked his watch, and realized he needed to get a move on if he was going to catch up with Darryl before he hopped on his bike and went to meet his fate.  He got into his car immediately, and took off.  He checked his watch again, then Darryl’s address.  It was going to be a close call.
Darryl lived in a mobile home park.  He had just locked the door to his RV, and was walking over to his motorcycle when Thomas pulled up at the end of the gravel that served as his driveway.  Darryl barely noticed that a car had stopped nearby.
He was fiddling a bit with the bike when Thomas walked up.  
“Hi, could I talk to you for a minute?” Thomas said.
“I’m not interested and I’m on my way out, if you don’t mind,” Darryl said, without looking up from what he was doing.
“I’m not selling anything, and I won’t waste much of your time.  There’s just something I need to tell you,” Thomas said.
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“You’re going to die today.”
Darryl looked up.  “What?  Is this some kind of helmet awareness thing?  Man, I don’t have time for this.  Go away.”
“No, I mean you’re really going to die today.  You’re going to lose control of your bike on a right-hand turn at Fillmore and Extension, and tumble head first into a tree.  You’ll break your neck and die.”
“You’re sick, man.  Take a hike.”
“I’m not sick.  I’m not even going to try to talk you into wearing a helmet.  Just, don’t ride today.  You can make up for lost mileage tomorrow.”
Something in Thomas’s tone of voice made Darryl stop what he was doing and think for a moment.
“How the hell could you even know that?”
“If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.  Just don’t ride today.”
“Just today?”
“Just today,” Thomas said.
“Well, dammit if I’m not superstitious.  OK.  I won’t ride today.  Now, is there anything else you need?  Because if not, I’ve got things to do.”
“That was it.  Have yourself a good time living through the day.”
“Uh huh.”
Thomas got back into his car and drove off.  He figured out how to get to the location of Darryl’s now-averted death, and drove there.  After he’d scoped it out, he parked his car a few blocks away and walked back to the scene.  Now all he had to do was wait and see if Death would show up.
About five minutes before the time specified in Death’s notes, he heard a motorcycle’s engine rumbling, getting closer.  He was momentarily worried that Darryl hadn’t taken his advice.  When Death rolled into view, then pulled over and stopped on the far side of the road, Thomas breathed a sigh of relief.
This should be interesting, he thought.
Death pulled over and stopped about twenty feet away from where the wreckage from Darryl Andersen’s crash would likely end up.  She got off her bike, and stretched a bit before getting out her clipboard and stop watch.  At the appointed time, she started her stop watch, and paid attention as a few cars drove by, and a few kids crossed the street.
To Death’s surprise, Darryl did not show up at the right time.  She waited a few minutes longer, still watching attentively, before cursing under her breath and stopping her stop watch.  
“Son of a bitch!” she said to herself.  
How could this happen again so soon? she wondered. Someone’s fucking with me, I know it.  They’re not going to like it when I find out who they are.  Now I’ve got to track this guy down and see to it that he dies too.
She checked the time. 
And I’ve only got fifteen minutes, she thought.
She got back on her bike, started it, then focussed on finding Darryl, where ever he was right then.  It took a minute, but she was able to sense where he was.  She put her bike in gear and roared off to catch up with Darryl.
Thomas watched Death ride away, and was filled with excitement.  Woo hoo, another one saved! he thought.
Since he wasn’t going to be riding that day, Darryl decided it would be a fine day to take the RV and wash it.  He was not aware of it, but Death had pulled in and parked nearby just a few minutes after he’d gotten the RV parked in the washing stall.  She watched him as he searched his pockets for dollar bills to change for wash tokens.  Still unnoticed, she watched as he pressure washed the RV.
Once Darryl was satisfied that his RV was clean enough, he climbed back in and fired up the engine.  He pulled his RV out of the wash stall, and out into the street.  The car wash was right on an intersection.  The light was against him, so he stopped.  
Death, as always, watched and waited.
The light changed, and Daryl slowly accelerated into the intersection.  He didn’t see the cement truck barreling towards the intersection without slowing.  He’d almost made it through the intersection when the cement truck slammed into the back end of his RV at forty five miles per hour.  It managed to hit the rear axle of the RV, so rather than tear clean through, it spun the RV halfway around, and tipped it over.
Darryl could hear gas rushing somewhere behind him.  That was a hell of a propane leak by the sound of it.  She struggled to get out of his seatbelt, but it was impossible to work the latch with the seatbelt supporting so much of his weight.  Something sparked, and the RV turned into a fireball.
The driver of the cement truck had not been injured, and was hurrying towards the RV to see if he could help when it burst into flames.  He leapt backwards and fell.  He was screaming curse words, but appeared OK otherwise.
Sometimes a cement truck is a very handy thing, Death thought.  She saw Darryl’s soul standing near the wreck, watching his RV burn.  She stood up and walked over to Darryl’s soul.
He looked at her and said, “Man, I was supposed to die on my bike today.  Some guy told me to just not ride today and I’d be fine.  Now look at this fine mess.”
Death had been extending her hand to Darryl, but put it down when she heard what he’d said.
“Sorry, did you say someone told you not to ride today?”
“Yeah, some guy come up to me this morning, said I was going to crash at Fillmore and Extension, break my neck and die.  He said if I didn’t ride today, I’d be fine.”
“Who was this guy?”
“I don’t know.  I can’t even really remember what he looked like.  I thought he was a salesman or handing out Chick tracts or something when he first started talking to me.”
“And he told you that you were going to break your neck and Fillmore and Extension?”
“I guess.  So, what happens now?  Who’s going to clean this mess up?  Aw, fuck.  I had some stuff in the RV I really would have liked for my brother to have.”
“That’s not for you to worry about anymore,” Death said.  She reached out her hand and said, “Would you walk with me?”
When she got back to her bike, she was very concerned.  She was fairly certain that Thomas was the one who’d clued in Darryl, even though she didn’t have any proof.  It was bad enough that the guy had figured out a way to hide from her.  Did he have to interfere with her work as well?

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