November 11th post of Dead-Alive for NaNoWriMo08

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With the help mostly of Talya, I told Jeffrey about the last six months of my life. He seemed a lot more sympathetic that I had thought police investigators to be, and wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that I was Reena’s friend. Whatever the case, I was happy for the nice treatment.

After I was done with my tale, Talya told him about our ‘investigation’ and we tool him to the dining room to show him the files. He took a long time perusing them, so long that I started fidgeting.

“This,” he finally said, his finger tapping the topmost file, “is quite impressive.”

“Thank you,” I said. “I couldn’t have done it without Talya or these guys.”

He threw an absent-minded smile at us. His mind was clearly somewhere else. “Look. I wish I could say that I don’t think anyone would be stupid enough to claim that you had something to do with these murders, but it is more than probable that they will, even more so that you don’t have an alibi for all of them.”

I stifled a sigh. “But?”

“Although I could be considered to have conflicting interests in this case, as you are my cousin’s co-worker, I am still going to ask to be the investigator in charge. That in itself will be helpful in that I believe your story. It’s too impossible to be a lie.”

I breathed a sigh of relief, then winced at a sharp pain.

Jeffrey smiled. “And I don’t think someone would throw themselves in front of a car so as to prove a lie,” he added.

Talya smiled. “Thank you so much for taking this up,” she said. I could tell she was relieved; her back was a little less ramrod straight. “What do we do next?”

“I’d like to borrow these,” Jeffrey said, putting his hand on the pile of files. “I’ll have copies made and returned to you within a couple of hours.”

“Of course,” I said. It bothered me a little to give these files to him – after all, even if he was Reena’s cousin and a nice guy, he was still, first and foremost, a stranger.

“Then you are going to have to give me a few days to look everything over. I’ll be in touch with you to let you know what is going to happen.”

I nodded. “What if I have another dream? Should I just report it to you?”

“You definitely should report it, but feel free to continue making files and looking things up,” Jeffrey said. “Even if we are going to check the facts ourselves, I think that after having these disturbing dreams, the best form of therapy might be to write them out and look them up.”

“I guess so,” I said, unconvinced. What no one knew was that after six months of witnessing these horrible events, I had, more than once, had disturbing thoughts about death and dying. I sometimes wondered if I shouldn’t start taking anti-depressants or sleeping aids so as to get a break from the dreams.

Jeffrey and the rest of the gang soon left. Reena was still getting some dirty looks from Connor, David and even Talya (I didn’t know my wife had it in her to give dirty looks – she usually likes to stick to the ice queen look). I decided to step in and prevent an escalation of the tension while avoiding another potential unwanted Reena-meddling.

“Listen, Reena, I wanted to apologize for badly reacting when you first told us about Jeffrey,” I said.

Reena smiled, relieved. “Wasn’t he great? I knew it wouldn’t be a problem and that he would only help us.”

I held my hand up. “Even if it went really well, I really don’t think you should ever do something like this again without consulting at least with Talya and I,” I firmly said. “I am grateful that this went well, but I still feel a little disrespected that you went ahead with your decision without consulting with any of us. This situation is, first and foremost, mine, then Talya’s, then yours,” I gestured towards Reena, David and Connor.

Reena’s lips tightened. “I though we were a team,” she said, snatching up her purse from the couch.

Connor signed. “Don’t be like that, Reena. You know he’s right. All’s well that ends well, but you should have talked to them first.”

“Not you too,” Reena said with a sneer.

“Yes, me too,” Connor said. “There is no reason for you to get upset. We all appreciate what you did…”

“Then why are you ganging up on me?” Reena snapped. “It’s always like this. I do something that helps people and then you are act as if I committed a crime. If you don’t want me to help, then fine – count me out of this thing.” She stormed out of the house, not responding to us calling out her name.

“Let her be,” David said, picking his coat up. “I’ll go talk to her. Thanks for everything, Talya, and see you on Monday, guys.” With a wave, he was out of the door.

I exchanged a stunned glance with Connor. “I can’t believe she just snapped like that,” I said.

“I can,” Talya said. She started picking up the various items scattered on the coffee table. That in itself showed what state my wife was in, since she never tidies while there are still guests in the house. She considers it a lack of hospitality to focus on anything else but the guests while they are inside the house – except maybe the kids. “Reena is a child, who, while kind hearted and with the best intentions, does things for people to be appreciated. And when she isn’t appreciated, she throws a temper tantrum.”

I threw another stunned glance at Connor, but this one wasn’t reciprocated.

“She’s right,” Connor said. “While Reena might be very mature in many ways, her less than stellar relationship with her parents make her look for approval in other places.”

“This doesn’t make me feel any better,” I said.

Talya shrugged. “It’s not meant to make you feel better, Sean. It’s just stating a fact. You are going to have to deal with it yourself on Monday.” And with that, she left the dining room.

Connor picked up his coat and was soon on his way. He didn’t seem particularly distraught over anything that had happened that evening. Sometimes I got the feeling that the only two people who weren’t dealing well with this entire situation were Reena and myself. It wasn’t a nice feeling.

Maybe it was because I had spent more than the usual amount of time thinking about it. Maybe it was because we had analysed it so much in the last couple of days. But that night, I was oddly enough kind of aware of getting out of bed. I knew I was sleepwalking, and yet couldn’t figure out how to get out of the state.

The good part was that I was aware of my surroundings. While I knew I was asleep, I also knew where I was, what I was doing and where I was going. It was unsettling, but also a relief – at least this time I would know how to get home.

At one point, I wondered if I could take my car. But the young woman who came to ‘pick me up’ shook her head; we were going to walk it, yet again. Good think I had had the presence of mind to put on a comfortable pair of shoes.

Then I realised with a start that this young woman had always been there, in every single one of my dreams. It felt good to know that I had never really been alone during any of this.

She had woken me up with a smile and beckoned me to follow her. When I had paused at the door, shivering from the cold, she had somehow communicated to me that I should go back in to put shoes and a coat on. While we were walking, she a couple of steps in front of me, I couldn’t help but wonder who she was. And, just like that, I knew the answer – she was a sort of ghost, sent to guide me to these places so that I could witness these events and report them back in the name of justice.

“But why me?” I asked.

Again, even before I had finished asking the question, I knew the answer: we are only tested to the limits of our capacity, and I was the only person deemed strong enough to bear the brunt of such an ability.

I snorted. “You haven’t met my wife, had you?”

It was unsettling, how, again, I knew the answer before I had finished talking. While Talya was strong in many ways, she was too strong to bear with such an ability; she would probably break under the pressure, whereas I would gracefully bend over, letting it glide over me, without breaking. The proof of this was in my reaching out, first to Talya, then to my coworkers, to ask for help.

I think I then went into some kind of trance, I’m not quite sure; because the next thing I remember is entering, of all place, my university campus. I know that many murders had occurred here since the university was built. It didn’t make me happy to be here, because were I to ‘see’ the latest one that had happened, I would be in trouble – it happened while I was working and I had no alibi other than being at home with my wife and kids.

Lo and behold, I entered the building where I work – wait a second, when had I slipped my pass card in my pocket? I walked up the familiar stairs up to the office I shared with Connor, David and Reena. Cold hands griped my shoulders and I froze; I didn’t want to go any further, I didn’t want to see what had happened in my office, because I knew for a fact that nothing had happened in the five years this building had been built and it meant that something had happened since I left it yesterday afternoon.

But I had to move. I couldn’t turn around – I wasn’t allowed to. I tried, numerous times. I would lift my foot up, and try to take a step back – but the only place I could move it was forward. It was a horrible feeling and I didn’t care for it.

God only knows how long I stood there, hesitating, wondering what I should do. Maybe if I stood here long enough, morning would break and someone would finally step into the office. Then I remembered that it was Saturday night; I would have to stand here, kind of asleep but not quite, for over 24 hours before someone would save me.

An overwhelming feeling of helplessness and anger shook the cold hands off my shoulders. I didn’t deserve this, and could only think of a handful of people who did. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want to go in that office. Only people I knew had ever worked there.

Something – the young lady? – gently pushed me forward, towards the inevitable. Why were there horrible people on this planet who made people like the victims whose deaths I witnessed suffer? Who made all their friends, family and coworkers suffer? And now, who made me suffer so? This wasn’t fair, this wasn’t right, and this was inevitable. I took a stiff step forward, then another one and another one until I was standing in the office, Reena’s bleeding body lying on the ground at my feet.

There was only one thing I could do: I started screaming.

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