Something for Halloween

“The worst curse that can be visited on any human is to know the future, whole and unfailing, and know there is nothing you can do to change it.” (anon.)
“Tomorrow is the day.”
With that thought, Dave jerked awake. He’d dozed off at his computer, trying to find a flight out of O’Hare, a flight to anywhere as long as it was away from where he was. After all, he thought, if he wasn’t here, he couldn’t die here….and he’d already seen himself die here, in this very room.
Dave had known from an early age that he was ‘different’. For as long as he could remember, he’d had what everyone else had called “hunches”. He’d known not to tell anyone just how detailed his hunches were, how he’d known that if he didn’t skip the bus ride home from school, he’d have been injured with the other kids when the bus driver was distracted and driven into a car parked along the road. He’d known his parents would divorce long before they began to shout at each other. He’d known the group of guys who’d tried to convince him they were his friend were actually hoping to get him alone so they could beat him to a pulp for telling on them. When he was ten, he finally understood: Dave could see the future, in every detail, and there was nothing he could do to change what he saw.
He knew, because he’d tried so hard, so many times. To get his parents to see the things they fought about were nothing. To stop the bus driver from playing with his phone before getting on the bus. Nothing he did could change what he’d seen happen, and that was why he knew he’d die in this room, tomorrow.
He hadn’t wanted to see his own death, any more than he’d wanted to see any of the other things he’d seen, both horrible and pleasant. But one day he’d fallen, and fallen hard, for a new girl in his school. She was sweet, and cute, and most important of all, she knew nothing of the stories that the children who’d grown up told about him. More to the point, she’d acted like she liked him, and that was something Dave had ever experienced before in his life.
So Dave had been an idiot, and he’d actually tried, just once, to see the future he knew he and she would share…and that was when he’d seen it. This room, with this furniture, even with this same calendar hanging on the wall behind him. He hadn’t even wanted the calendar, hadn’t bought it, but some friends had paid him a visit, but seeing his wall bare, had brought a calendar on their next visit…the one he’d seen in his vision. Dave had seen the wall behind this very desk splattered with his blood. He’d felt the breath leaving his body. Seen the world go dark around him. He would die here.
Dave had left town as soon as he’d graduated from high school…and been drawn back home when first his mother, then his father, had begun suffering the effects of advancing Alzheimer’s. They still lived…if you could call sitting in chairs drooling living. He wanted to leave, to just run, but he couldn’t abandon them, even if it meant facing his own death. So he stayed.
His plan was a simple one: to take a flight, go to New York and visit an online acquaintance. To fly to San Francisco and see the sights. Just to get away. What he hadn’t seen, what he should have seen, was the snow storm that had barreled out of the Plains to smother Chicago and everything around it in snow. Even the roads were closed, blocked with drifts chest high in spots. He could go nowhere. He could do nothing. He was trapped, and he would die.
Dave slammed his fist down on the desk, hard, and heard the faint but familiar “Thunk!” of the old snub-nosed .38 his father had always kept in the top drawer as it bounced from the impact. Dave knew he couldn’t escape, knew there was no way out…or was there?
Dave opened the drawer and drew out the old pistol. He wouldn’t let Fate rule him. He wouldn’t just wait to death to come for him. He looked at the calendar again. It’s garish red date reading the 27th. “No, I won’t let my vision rule my fate. I won’t die tomorrow.” Dave pressed the barrel to his chest, wrapped his hand around the grip, pulled the trigger… The bullet hitting him felt like the worst punch he’d ever received amplified a hundred times over. The pain as it tore through his chest was indescribable. Dave had closed his eyes, not wanting the sight of this hateful room to be the last thing he saw…but the impact threw his head back, and his eyes had popped open of their own accord. He saw his blood spattered across the wall behind him…and saw how one splash had struck the calendar. The bright red of his own blood joined with the red of the number, closing the seven, making it look almost as if it were an eight…and with his final breath, Dave knew he hadn’t escaped his vision, he’d simply fulfilled it.

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