|James Biedlar heaved a sigh of
relief as he leaned back in his battered old plaid
recliner and, popped a cold one, which is how
he referred to having a beer, or maybe even two, after a
hard days work.
His friends called him Jimmy or Big Jim, down at the
welding shop where the Arizona heat turned the place into
an oven for seven or eight long months of every year.
Jimmy loved to daydream of the time when he could retire,
and spend his summers in the high mountain pines. His
ability to visualize himself trout fishing on a cold
clear stream was all that got him through these damned,
horrible, hot days every summer. Just a few more years,
and he would be able to spend the winters at his valley
residence, and his summers where he wished.
Ellen, his wife of thirty-four years was putting the
finishing touches to her, slow cooker,
dinner. That cooking device had turned out to be a
godsend when she had taken a part time position with the
local Red Cross chapter. Working four to six hours a day,
she found the work satisfying, as well as helpful in,
keeping the wolf away, an old expression she
had learned from her dad that meant; staying alive,
paying your bills, and eating regularly. Thankful that
Jimmy didn't mind eating the electric crock meals, as long as she
didnt use it exclusively. She worked with casual
efficiency while humming the bouncy tune that had been
playing on the radio while she was on the way home that
day. Jimmys smile of contentment seemed to
evaporate into a brow-furrowing frown, even as she
watched. Ellen knew he had been having some very strange
and scary dreams nearly every time he went to sleep, for
nearly a week now. This was so unlike him, she had begun
to wonder what was going on. Jimmy sat in his recliner
and seemed to be transfixed by something that was
apparently beyond her ability to visualize.
Jimmy was just finishing his first beer when the dream
that had awakened him that morning, came tumbling back
into his mind like a thousand tiny bits, that quickly
coalesced into a vision that was every bit as clear as
the news commentator droning away on the tube.
He seemed to be standing on the tall mountains that were
located on the south side of the huge metropolis that was
spread out for tens of square miles below him. Gazing at
the panorama below, Jimmy could see the lights stretching
from horizon to horizon. Just a little way up the winding
road, he could see the spot where he an Ellen used to
park, back when they were going steady, and it was the
very place where he had proposed to her on a clear fall
evening, so many years ago. Suddenly, nearly every light
was gone! Not a few here, and a few there, but all at the
same time. Homes, skyscrapers, street lamps, and most of
the autos, all black in an instant! Unconsciously holding
his breath in wonder, he watched as a battered old truck,
with its lights on, wound its way up the
lovers lane and slowly come to a stop right next to
him. Unable to see the driver clearly, he started when an
ancient, bony hand came snaking out of the window, and an
emaciated finger pointed to the valley below.
Best get your self an old one, before you end up
like those folks down there!
Turning to follow the direction that the trembling fore
finger was pointing, he saw a large fireball erupt, as a
jumbo airliner slammed into the city far below them.
He was still shaking and sweating when Ellen sat on the
arm of the recliner next to him.
Same as the others, Hon?
You know it, but even more realistic, and this time
I was awake!
Gently massaging his tense shoulders, Ellen had a
suggestion. Honey, why dont you call Danielle
and see what she can make of all of this. If you want me
to, Ill place the call and see if shes home.
Then you can get on the line and fill her in on
whats been happening around here. You cant go
on like this forever. We both know that weve got to
find some answers, and I think she will be our best
chance of finding one.
You know I dont like to put my problems on
anyone elses shoulders, especially my
daughters. She has her own life to live, but
Im really starting to sweat this weird stuff. It
was making sleep a frightening prospect, and now it has
invaded my waking moments. That doesnt leave me
much room to maneuver, does it?
Do you want me to dial her number?
I guess so. I really dont have much of an
option, do I?
You just get yourself together as much as you can
while I get Danielle on the line.
She heard the connection being made, and at the end of
the third ring the sound of the receiver being picked up,
came across the line.