An Original Short Story: The Last Ride Home

Phoebe hated taking the subway. If she could avoid it, she would. But since her car was at the workshop and she didn’t trust Uber enough to use the service, her only available option was the subway.

Her hectic job as a lawyer employed at one of the biggest firms in New York meant that her day almost always starts in the morning and ends late in to the night. When she had her car with her, she’d always leave the office at a time that suited her – which usually meant close to midnight. But since she had to take the public transport now, Phoebe didn’t have the luxury of flexible timing.

It’s not that she lived in a bad neighborhood, it just felt safer to be on board with the working crowd.


Phoebe closed the manila folder and looked at the time – 11:45pm.

Shoot, she was supposed to leave at 9pm.

As she gathered her things, ready to take the subway home; she heard a light knock on her door. She looked up, surprised to see her colleague, Danielle, smiling at her.

“Elle, I thought you left for the night.” Phoebe said.

Danielle shrugged and entered Phoebe’s room. “I wish. The Cruz case is keeping me here. I won’t be able to leave until tomorrow morning.”

“But didn’t you let Giselle leave?” Phoebe asked, gesturing at the table where Danielle’s intern sat.

Danielle shook her head, “Oh, I let her ‘leave’ to get us some food. If I’m not heading home, she’s not going anywhere.”

Phoebe laughed as she picked up her cellphone. “You’re a mean boss.”

“And you’re paranoid.”

Danielle leaned against Phoebe’s desk. “Still not going to take a chance with Uber? You missed your curfew for the subway.”

Phoebe stuffed two manila folders into her document bag. “Yes, I know but no. I am still not taking that dreaded service even with my missed self-imposed curfew. After all the horrific accounts I’ve heard about Uber, I’m not taking a chance.”

Danielle crossed her arms in front of her chest. “How is it any different from taking the subway this late? There are worse things that could happen on a subway than with Uber.”

Phoebe shook her head. “No. There are a lot of worse things that could happen on either transport. But I feel like I have a better chance with the subway.”

Danielle rolled her eyes and stood up straight. “Whatever you say, hobo.”

Phoebe merely smiled as she stood up from her seat with her bags in tow.

“You know, you could take my car home and return it to me tomorrow morning since I’m clearly not going anywhere tonight.” Danielle said.

“Normally, I’d take you up on the offer. But, if I remember correctly, the car you drove in today belongs to your socialite boyfriend. Not going to take a chance at being thrown into the scandal pot.” Phoebe said, switching off the lights to her room.

Danielle put her hand to her chest in mock offense. “And here I was helping my friend out.”

Phoebe rolled her eyes and put a hand on Danielle’s arm. “Good night, Elle. Don’t work too hard.”

Danielle pat her hand and the two walked over to the office doors where they bade each other good-bye just as Giselle entered.

“Oh! Ms Bowery, I got you some supper.” Giselle said.

Phoebe smiled. “Thank you Giselle. I’ll take mine to go.”

Giselle nodded and handed a takeaway bag to Phoebe, who took it from her as she called for the lift. Having just emptied the young intern onto their office floor, the lift dinged open and Phoebe stepped in. She gave both women a smile and said a final good-night before the doors closed.


Phoebe arrived at the station in 10 minutes, relieved to see several other office executives waiting for the subway. As the subway pulled into the station, Phoebe made for the last empty car when she felt a hard tug on her arm that stopped her in her tracks.

She turned to see a woman not much older than her with red hair and green eyes looking at her intently. “Don’t take the last car. It’s not safe… Follow me.”

Puzzled but not wanting to create a scene, she followed the woman into the second last car and the both of them sat down.

“I’m sorry to have tugged you so rudely just now but it was important that you don’t enter the last car.” She said.

Phoebe frowned. “Why?”

“Is this your first time taking the midnight subway?”

Phoebe kept silent and the woman nodded, her red hair moving with each nod. “Would explain why you don’t know about the last car.”

“What do you mean? Is it haunted or something?” Phoebe asked.

The woman sighed. “In a manner of speaking. Some say it is haunted while others claim its cursed. Either of these guesses are bad enough.”

Phoebe shook her head. “Is this some prank? Am I on some late night subway prank show?”

The doors to the subway opened as they pulled into the next station. The two women watched as new passengers took their seats.

The woman turned to Phoebe, “It’s not a joke, miss. I’ve heard stories about car 11 where people turn up dead. You shouldn’t take this lightly.”

Phoebe had a retort but as she studied the woman who was dressed in designer clothes with a limited edition Hermes bag on her lap; she couldn’t find a reason to refute this woman’s claim. She wanted to think this woman was probably a loony but someone dressed as well as this woman couldn’t possible be spouting nonsense, could she?

“You can choose to believe me, or choose not to.” The woman said. “But I’ve done my duty in warning you about car 11.”

She looked at Phoebe. “Unless you want to end up dead; it will do you good to listen to what I said.”

Before Phoebe could inquire further, the train pulled to a stop and the woman stood up. “This is my stop. Have a good night, miss.”

Phoebe nearly nodded as the woman made her exit. As the train doors closed and the subway slowly left the station, Phoebe looked in the direction of the last car. Was it true what she said? She looked back around her and noticed that her car was starting to look slightly crowded while car 11 remained empty.

Was this some unspoken knowledge for midnight passengers?


After the tele-meeting she had with her client, Phoebe looked at the clock on her computer – 5.30pm. She had another Skype meeting with a client in Dubai and she still had to run through the notes a law firm had sent her about the
settlement. While she was aiming to leave at 7pm; her to-do list was not making that possible.

She sighed and pushed herself away from her table, leaning back against her chair as she closed her eyes to rest. Suddenly, her mind had wandered back to the night before.

Car 11 on the N Train.

Phoebe stood up from her desk with lightning speed and hurried over to Giselle’s desk.

“Hi Giselle.” She greeted.

Giselle stopped what she was doing and looked up. “Hi Ms Bowery, how can I help you?”

“Are you currently busy with any of Elle’s task?” Phoebe asked.

Giselle shook her head. “Nope. Ms Lanchester told me that I can leave at 6pm. Is there something you need?”

“Yes, well, Elle told me that you’re pretty good with research so.. I was wondering if you could help me with a case?” Phoebe said.

Giselle nodded and picked up a pencil and memo pad; ready to jot down the information.

“I need information regarding the N Train… specifically anything to do with car 11 at midnight.”

Giselle mouthed the words as she penned them down onto the memo pad. Phoebe felt a little silly asking Danielle’s intern to assist with something that was just hearsay but something about it bugged her out. While she had hoped that last night was the only time she had to take the midnight train, it looks like tonight was another lucky night. And if she had to steer clear of car 11, she needed to know exactly why.

“So that’s anything I can find on the midnight N Train, car 11?” Giselle repeated in her own words.

Phoebe nodded. “Yes, exactly that.”

“I should be able to pass you the information in an hour.” Giselle said.

“Oh-you don’t have to…”

Giselle smiled politely. “It’s no problem, Ms Bowery. I don’t have any plans after work so it’s alright if I stay another half hour or so.”

Phoebe smiled back gratefully. “Thank you, Giselle. You can leave the information on my table when you’re done.”

Giselle nodded and looked back at her computer as she started on the task given to her.

Phoebe returned to her office, relieved that she would finally have some answers. Earlier, the autoshop had called to tell her that her car should be ready the next day, so she just needed to get through her last ride that night.


Giselle gathered the papers from the printer and secured them with the clip binder. She looked at her watch to see that she was just 20 minutes behind the expected duration she had given Ms Bowery. As she held the stack of papers in her arms, she walked over to Ms Bowery’s office.

She knocked once before opening the door to an empty office. Hearing someone talking loudly in the meeting room, Giselle stepped back to glance in that direction. Ms Bowery had her back facing Giselle as she spoke in front of the projector screen. Knowing better than to disturb her, Giselle stepped into the office and left the research she had done on Ms Bowery’s table.

Satisfied with where she had left it, Giselle stepped out and closed the door behind her.


Phoebe sank onto the meeting room chair and heaved a loud sigh of relief. After two hours with her client over Skype, she had to admit she was exhausted. It was bad enough that her client was getting a divorce but going through the list of assets was worse.

Her assistant, Greg, looked at her. “Would you like me to get dinner, Ms Bowery?”

“It’s fine, Greg.” She said. “You can head on home. I’ll just finish up some paperwork and head out.”

He nodded and picked up his documents. “Have a good night, Ms Bowery.”

She smiled. “You too Greg.”

Once Greg left the meeting room, Phoebe sat up straight, diving back into her work. A text message eventually broke her trance and she looked at her watch – 11.30pm.

Great.

She hurriedly gathered her things before making her way back into her office. She stuffed the files and papers into her document bag and swiped her laptop along with her handbag off the table before making a quick exit. Giselle’s research continued to sit near the other manila folders, forgotten.


Arriving at the subway station, Phoebe noticed that there were more people than usual at the platform. Feeling exhausted from the day, all she wanted to do was go home and run a nice bubble bath before heading straight to bed.
She could afford to sleep in and head into office at noon tomorrow.

The sound of the subway pulling in had everyone ready at the doors’ position. Seeing no one heading to car 11, Phoebe shrugged and walked right in.

It wasn’t that she didn’t remember what the woman from last night had told her. But whatever it was, it is just rumors and Phoebe was way too exhausted to care. She wanted some peace and quiet for her ride home and car 11 was just the place to get that.

Phoebe picked a seat by the entrance and smiled as the doors closed. While it really was empty, the quiet car was a trade-off she was willing to take.

She closed her eyes as the train started to move.

Phoebe was startled awake a few minutes later when she felt someone settle into the seat next to her.

“I thought I told you not to take car 11 on the midnight train.”

She blinked a couple of times until the woman turned to face her.

It was the woman with red hair and green eyes.

Before Phoebe could reply, she felt a sharp pain in her stomach that grew more intense. She dropped her bags and looked down to see her light blue dress slowly turn red.

“Wh-What…”

Phoebe couldn’t get the words out as the woman with the red hair and green eyes pulled out the knife from Phoebe’s stomach only to plunge it into her the second time round.

Phoebe tried to speak only to let out a bloodied gurgle as she watched her assailant smile.

“It’s always the pretty ones who don’t listen.”

Phoebe turned to see that the subway was pulling into the next station and as she tried to stand up, she fell back down. She clutched the pole next to her in an attempt to get close to the exit but the woman stopped her. Using her
gloved hands, she grabbed Phoebe’s hand and placed it back down onto her lap. Phoebe tried to fight but her severe injury and blood loss were draining her fast.

“Why-”

The woman shook her head, her red curls moving. “I already told you. Car 11 is where people turn up dead. You were warned, weren’t you?”

The train pulled to a stop and the woman smiled at Phoebe – the last thing she ever saw before she closed her eyes.


“Alright Murphy, you’re up.”

The guy shook his head as he put his bottle of water into the placeholder in the front control room of the midnight N Train that just pulled in.

“Did you do a sweep?” Murphy asked.
“Nope. I didn’t see any stragglers.” His colleague replied.

Murphy did a sweep of the screens until he spotted the document bag on the floor of car 11. He pointed at the screen, “What’s that?”

“Must be something someone left behind.” His colleague said.

Murphy shook his head as he got out of the control room and headed down towards car 11. His colleague followed behind, hoping to prove him wrong that it was just someone’s forgotten item. As they neared the doors of car 11, they noticed a person sitting by the doors.

Murphy looked at his colleague. “You were saying?”

His colleague kept mum as the two of them boarded car 11. They were just about to ask her to leave when they saw the pool of blood around the vicinity of where the woman was sitting.

“What the fuck?!”

Murphy gritted his teeth as he surveyed the bloody sight before him. He’s only seen this that other one time which swore him off taking on the midnight N Train duty. If it wasn’t for the trip he was planning to surprise the missus with, he would have never taken the available shift.

“FUCK!” His colleague shouted. “Oh my holy Fuck. Shit! Fuck! Murphy – is she… is she dead?”

Murphy pulled up the walkie-talkie he held in his hand and radioed into the main control room.

“Station, this is Murphy.”
“This is Station. What seems to be the problem, Murphy?”

Murphy sighed heavily into the walkie-talkie. “You better get the NYPD down here… We’ve got another body.”


“Hey, Greg, have you seen Phoebe?”

Greg looked up from his papers, “No Ms Lanchester… Not since last night.”

“That’s strange… I texted her a couple of times.”

Danielle was just about to head back into her office when she spotted a small crowd gathered at the television by the pantry. She walked over out of curiosity and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw her colleague and friend’s photo on the screen.

“T-Turn up the volume.”

The receptionist with the remote control nodded.

“…The body of 28 year old Phoebe Bowery was found at the N Train depot at 1.30am this morning. Bowery was found to have sustained 2 stab wounds in the abdomen which eventually led to her demise. This is the 16th case in a string of murders that has happened since late February in car 11 on the midnight N Train. With unavailable video footage, the NYPD has not been able to determine how or when the perpetrator strikes. Internet sleuths has coined this ‘The Haunted Murder Car’ and have advised the public not to enter car 11 unless they wanted to meet their own death. While the NYPD continues to investigate the case, they have asked for the public to step forward with any information they have pertaining to Phoebe Bowery or the 15 related cases.”

Giselle hurriedly made her way to Phoebe’s office and picked up the stack of papers that had been left untouched. She made her way back to where Danielle was was sitting after registering the shock. She hastily handed the research over to her.

Danielle cleaned away her tears. “W-What is this?”

“It’s the research that Ms Bowery had me do.” Giselle explained. “I thought she would have seen it but she didn’t.”

Danielle frowned a little. “She asked you to do this? Why?”

“She said it was for a case… But I’m starting to think that it was for her own purposes.” Giselle said.

Danielle looked through the research as Giselle continued. “If I had passed it to her in time, it might have served as an additional reminder not to enter car 11.”

Danielle shook her head. “It’s not your fault.”

Seeing a theory from an internet sleuth, Danielle stopped and pointed it out to Giselle. “What’s this theory about?”

“Oh, I’ve read several articles about this one. Some believe that there is someone.., a woman, taking the midnight N Train, warning people off riding in car 11. She usually picks her victims based off the way they look because she would assume their appearance… But it’s just a theory. Nobody has been able to prove it.”


She flicked her new strawberry blond hair over her shoulders as she waited for the train to arrive.

It was such a relief to finally change her hair colour and contacts. It has been almost a month since her last change and it was already getting on her nerves. She could only pull off that red hair, green eyes look for so long. Being a redhead was such a damper to her mood.

Now a strawberry blond with her own natural blue eyes was a change. It is comfortable, a hint at who she really is though nobody would know until it hits them. It helped that the recent one had good taste in brands too. Affordable but chic.

She adjusted the Kate Spade tote on her arm as she looked at the small number of people at the platform.

Definitely not the men.

Oh no! – DEFINITELY not that frumpy woman with the Uniqlo attire and Jansport backpack. Ugh, poor tasteless woman!

Nope. Nope. Hard pass…

Ah – Bingo.

Auburn hair with brown eyes and dressed in J.Crew… Haven’t done that before.

She smiled to herself as she quietly said, “She’ll do.”


She was just about to reach the doors to car 11 when she felt a hard tug on her wrist. She pulled out one side of her Apple AirPods as she turned to see a woman with strawberry blond hair and blue eyes looking intently at her.

“Don’t take the last car. It’s not safe… Follow me.”

 

Original short story: ©Jasmine Ong

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Random Friday Ramblings: 2.45AM

She rubbed her eyes once, letting the short relief of closing her eyes wash over her.  After having stared at the screen for a good four hours working on her next story that was due the next day, she knew she needed to take a break or she’d suffer temporary blindness.

Getting up from her desk, she walked over to the kitchen where she poured herself a cup of cold coffee.  Taking a sip, she cringed; forgetting that the coffee was steaming hot three hours ago but had now turned into stale tasting, cold coffee.  She took another sip before pouring the rest of it from her cup into the sink.  She had another one-third of a story to finish and cold coffee wasn’t going to help her.  She threw out the rest of the coffee in her jug before proceeding to prepare a fresh pot.  This time, she was going to make sure the pot accompanied her at her desk.

Having sometime on her hands before the coffee was ready, she walked over to her couch where she switched on the television.  She flipped the channels until she found AMC.  They were replaying an episode of The Walking Dead.  Sweet.  She was just about to get comfortable when the phone rang.  She reached over to the side table and picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

She waited a few seconds for the person on the other end to answer.  But there was no response.

“Hello?”

She waited again, this time checking the clock on her wall to see what time it was.  2.45am.  Who would be calling her this late?  Feeling slightly annoyed, she decided not to be patient anymore.

“Whoever this is, listen carefully. It is lame to prank call someone at an hour that clearly doesn’t bother them. So, your plan failed. Good-bye.”

Just as she was about to move the receiver away from her ear, she heard a voice on the other end.

“Hello? Please don’t put down the phone.”

She frowned as she moved the receiver back to her ear.

“Who is this?”

“My name is Darius. I can’t remember how I got this number but please don’t put down the phone. I am not a prank caller.”

“Okay… Wait. Are you in danger?”

“Danger?”

“Yeah. Like the movie with Kim Basinger and Chris Evans?”

“Oh… Right. Cellular.”

“Yes! That! You’ve seen the movie?”

“Yeah. But no, this isn’t the same situation. No one has kidnapped me.”

“Right. So you have no idea why you’re calling a stranger at 2.45am in the morning and it so happens it is a lady on the other line?”

“Would you believe me if I said I can’t remember?”

“Well, no. Obviously. For all I know, you’re a part of an elaborate plan my sister put together.”

“Your sister?”

“Yeah.”

Hearing the click of her coffee pot, she stood up.  She brought her phone into the kitchen as she readied her fresh cup of coffee.

“But you’re still not putting down the phone.”

She smiled to herself.

“Well, Darius, I must say.. I’m intrigued by this call. I am a journalist you know.”

“Journalist, huh? Which paper do you write for?”

“The New York Times. You might have read my articles. I’m Eleanor Tyring.”

“Tyring.. Interesting. I know a Tyring. Lizzie Tyring.”

“Lizzie? That’s my sister!”

“Oh! That’s a coincidence. I don’t recall her telling me she had a sister…”

“She tends to leave me out of conversations because I don’t want her hooking me up with one of her friends.”

“People like me.”

“Yes, people like you.”

“Yet you’re still on the phone with me.”

“Well, like I said. I’m a journalist. If you turn out to be a creep, it would make for a good feature story.”

She hears his throaty chuckle and unknowingly smiled.

“Listen, I have to go now. Thank you for not hanging up on me.”

“You’re welcome?”

She hears another chuckle before the line went dead.  Eleanor moved the receiver away from her ear and held it in her hand as she looked at it.  That was such a strange phone call.  She thought about those reports where people tend to have their transmissions crossed and end up speaking with someone they have never met.  Perhaps this was one of those incidents. Maybe he was a Marine trying to call home but ended up in a phone conversation with her.  She shrugged and put the cordless phone back into its receiver before heading back into the kitchen to carry the pot and cup of coffee with her to her desk.


“Wake up, sleepyhead.”

Eleanor jolted awake at the sudden sound of her sister’s voice.  She looked around and realized that she had fallen asleep on her desk.  Her gaze landed on the computer screen in front of her which showed her that her story had been sent off to her editor.  She sighed with relief, glad that she has one less thing to worry about.

Her sister stood next to her. “You slept at your desk again.”

Eleanor looked at her sister. “You let yourself into my apartment again.”

Lizzie rolled her eyes and moved to pick up the coffee pot and cup that was on Eleanor’s desk before walking to the kitchen.  Remembering last night’s mysterious phone call, Eleanor decided to ask her sister about it.

“Hey Lizzie…” Eleanor said.

Her sister put the pot and cup into the sink before turning to look at her. “Yeah?”

“I was wondering… Do you have a friend named Darius?” Eleanor asked.
“Yeah… I did.” Lizzie replied.
“You said ‘did’.. What do you mean by that?” Eleanor said.

Lizzie sighed. “He passed away last year on this date. Don’t you remember? He was the one I tried to set you up with.”

Eleanor frowned. “Set me up with?”

“He was Mitchell’s friend. We figured it would be nice for the two of you to hang out. He was into the things you liked. We gave him your number before we left.” Lizzie said. “After that… One of those long-haul trucks collided with Darius’ car and he died on the spot.”

Eleanor stepped back, her head whirling.  Now that her sister’s told her about Darius, the mysterious phone call wasn’t what she thought it was anymore.

“What-What time did the accident happen?” Eleanor asked.

Lizzie thought for a bit. “Oh, 2.45am.”

Eleanor felt light-headed and held onto the kitchen counter to stop herself from falling onto the ground.  Lizzie touched her sister’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”

She didn’t know what to tell her sister.  So she merely nodded before moving towards the couch.  She sat down and looked at the phone on the side table.

Did she really talk with Darius’ spirit last night?

Random Friday Ramblings: Satisfied

He tossed left and right until he could find a comfortable spot on his bed.  He was tired and felt sleep beckoning but each time he closed his eyes, he would find himself with his eyes open.  He wanted to try taking sleeping pills but was worried he might suffer some sort of side effect later in life.  Finally giving up, he sat up in his bed.

He looked at his night table where his alarm clock sat.  In bright neon green, it read: ‘2.45AM’.  He sighed thinking about what he could do to fall back asleep.  He could run around his apartment and tire himself out.  Or he could do the cliche thing of closing his eyes and counting sheep.  As he was just about to get out of bed to Google ‘ways to fall asleep’, he felt his stomach growl.  Realizing that the reason behind him not being able to sleep could do with his hunger, he swung his legs off his bed and got up.

He padded over in the dark towards his kitchen and put his hand on the refridgerator door, pulling it open.  The light from the fridge illuminated the near surroundings.  He leaned down a little to get a good look at what’s inside.  Expecting to find some cheese or ham lying around, he felt disappointed seeing only a milk carton sitting in his rather empty fridge. Sighing, he picked up the carton and drank it.  Tasting the sourness of the milk on his tongue, he immediately rushed to the sink to spit out the milk.  Glancing at the expiry date on the milk carton with the light from the fridge, he felt stupid for thinking it was fresh milk.  Having been busy for the past week, he never had enough time to get to the supermarket to restock his kitchen.  Annoyed, he threw the carton in the bin and was just about to close his fridge when he spotted a flyer stuck on his fridge.  Pulling the edge of the flyer, it got loose from underneath the magnet that was holding it up.

Using the light from the fridge, he got a good look at the flyer which read: ‘No time to shop for groceries during the day or after work? Or did you just realize there is nothing in your fridge? Come on down to the new 24-hour Supermart! We do things fresh and you’ll never leave here unsatisfied!’

A 24-hour Supermart sounded like an answer to his current problem.  Motivated by the prospect of groceries in his kitchen, he closed the door to his fridge and padded over to the front door.  He picked up his keys from the bowl and took his hoodie that hung from the rack positioned by the door.  In exchange with his bedroom slippers, he slipped into a pair of comfy TOMS and headed out.

~ * ~

From the address he memorized from the flyer, the 24-hour Supermart wasn’t far away.  In fact, it was just three blocks down from where his apartment was.  As soon as he was out of his apartment building, he hurriedly put on the jacket hood to prevent his face from icing off when the cold wind blew.  It wasn’t Winter yet but when the night came, it almost felt like Winter wanted the night shift until its rightful turn.

The walk to the 24-hour Supermart was fairly quiet and the more he walked, the more tired he felt.  This might just prove to be an effective method to fall asleep.  But just as he seemed to find a solution to one problem, another one started.  His hunger grew a little more and he cursed himself for choosing to take the healthier option.  Salad-schmalad.  So much for trying to stay lean and healthy.  Those few pieces of chicken in his salad clearly didn’t provide the much needed weight to keep his stomach happy.

After an internal rant with himself, he looked up to see the 24-hour Supermart directly opposite him.  He smiled from relief; happy that he could finally get his late-night snack and get out of the cold loneliness from his walk.  He crossed the street walking twice as fast and reached the entrance of the 24-hour Supermart.  He picked up a basket from the mountain of baskets by the entrance before walking in.

As he passed, he spotted a couple of cashiers sitting by their cash registers – 3 to be exact.  One had his earbuds plugged in and was apparently catching a wink while the other 2 cashiers; one male and one female seem to be in very deep conversation with one another.  Figuring that’s probably what they do every night (since there wasn’t much of a crowd), he headed straight for the biscuit aisle.

~ * ~

Brand after brand of biscuits lined the shelves, making it hard to choose. He had never seen a collection that big before.  He was surprised that the Supermart didn’t have more people since they seemed to have a large variety.  Feeling kind of special that he was the only one, he took his time, walking up and down the biscuits aisle, picking up different boxes to read their contents.  He eventually settled on his favorite brand… Deciding that he wasn’t feeling that adventurous.

He was just about to leave the aisle when a young woman with platinum blond hair stopped him.  Looking at her, he noticed that she looked rather bright and cheerful for a time like this.  It was about 3 in the morning but she looked like it was 10 in the morning and sunlight replaced the darkness outside.  He gave her a small smile and was about to bypass her when she spoke.

“Hi there!” She said. “Welcome to the 24-hour Supermart! My name is Kayley.”

He gave her a polite smile as a reply since he really just wanted to get the items he need and head out.

“I see you’ve got a couple of biscuits you’ve selected from our wide variety. I just have a few questions to ask you.” She said.

Realizing he didn’t have much of a choice, he replied. “Yeah… You’ve got a wide variety here.. But I kinda just want to get the rest of the items on my list and head home. It’s pretty late.”

“I understand. But these questions will only take you a minute or two.”

Feeling slightly annoyed, since he was feeling tired – the kind that could effectively give him a good night’s sleep, he decided to answer the questions to get her off his back.

“Fine.” He muttered.

She smiled widely. “Great! Are you satisfied with the Supermart on a whole?”

“Yeah… It’s pretty big.”

“Are you satisfied with the services rendered by the staff?”

“Uh.. I’m not sure how that applies?”

“Are you satisfied with the selection we have?”

Looking at Kayley, he realized that she was just asking the questions but not noting down his responses.

“Yes.. Um… Kayley, right? Look… I’ve got an early morning tomorrow and I just wanna purchase my items and head home. Maybe I’ll do your survey some other time, ok?”

Not waiting another second for Kayley to respond, he hurriedly walked past her towards the dairy products.  He pulled out a carton of milk and turned around to see Kayley right behind him.  Surprised, he dropped the carton of milk and it fell to the floor, spilling open as it lay on its side.

“Shit! You scared me!” He said. “I told you that I don’t have time for your surveys!”

“I just had one more question.” She said. “Are you satisfied?”

Frowning, he shouted. “No! No! I’m not satisfied!”

Kayley straightened and smiled. “Thank you for your comments.”

Feeling pissed off, he put his basket down and was just about to leave when he realized the Supermart had gone quiet.  He looked back at Kayley who was still smiling creepily at him.

“I’m afraid you can’t live until you’re satisfied.”

“What-”

~ * ~

“Morning! Welcome to the 24-hour Supermart! We’ve got some fresh meat that just came in a few hours ago and somemore new male apparel. Trust me when I say you’re never going to leave here unsatisfied!”

She smiled widely at the morning crowd entering the Supermart and followed after them.  As she walked past a mirror, she noticed a drop of blood on the top of her eyebrow.  Worried, she wiped it away with her thumb before putting a wide smile back on her face as she headed to approach a housewife.

Random Friday Ramblings: Sleep

It’s been two weeks since I moved into my new apartment.  Since then, I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in my bed.  I was either doing overtime with the other writers in the writers’ room or coming in at 4am in the morning.

Today was different.  We managed to finish the episode and the writers were dismissed at 8pm.  Having skipped the celebratory drink session, I hurried home to take a nice shower before turning in for the night.

I sat on my comfy bed and put on the hand lotion that sat on my bedside table.  I lifted the covers and tucked my legs underneath before laying down on my pillow.  Pulling the covers up to my chin, I relished the thought of having one good night’s sleep.  Finally.  I wasn’t going to go into work tomorrow, looking like a truck just ran me over… Twice.

Just as I was about to let sleep take me, I heard a loud thump come from above.  I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling, almost daring the thump to sound out again.

‘Thump.’

I figured I’d only take action if it started again.  So, I waited for another minute. Nothing happened.  I let out a sigh of relief and was about to close my eyes when I heard it again.

‘Thump.’

“That’s it!” I muttered.

I threw back my covers and got out of bed.  Putting on the pair of TOMS that lined the door, I opened my front door in a hurry and headed upstairs.  I walked straight to the apartment that was directly above mine and knocked on the door.  But once my hand hit the surface of the door, I realized it wasn’t locked.

I hesitated a little. “H-Hello?”

No answer.  Curious, I opened the door a little wider.

Light from the corridor streamed in and as soon as my eyes focused on the first thing I saw on the floor, I hurriedly ran down the stairs to find the guard on duty.

~ * ~

“Miss Gordon! Calm down! I can’t understand what you’re saying.”

I took a breath and tried to calm myself down.  After seeing the blood-stained carpet, I was so freaked out I had to run down 12 flights of stairs to where the guard was.

“Okay.” I said. “I was about to go to sleep when I heard some sort of thumping noise coming from the apartment above me. I thought that they were doing some sort of furniture moving so I decided to go up and ask that they do it the next day. So, I went up there and knocked on their door, which wasn’t locked. That was when I saw the blood on the carpet. I think something bad happened to the people in that apartment. We need to call the police.”

The guard stood up. “Alright, alright. Miss Gordon, I’m going to accompany you up there okay?”

I nodded as the guard gestured to the doorman that he was heading upstairs.  We took the lift instead of the stairs because time was of the essence.  He led the way towards the apartment while I followed behind.  The door was still left ajar; the way I left it when I high-tailed it down to the lobby.

The guard turned around. “Miss Gordon. Stay here. I’ll go check it out.”

I nodded and waited one door down as I watched him head into the house.

“Hello? Is there anyone here?”

The next thing I knew, I heard the guard yell in surprise and the sounds of scuffling ensued.  Worried that he was in trouble, I hurriedly ran to the apartment entrance.

As soon as I stood in the doorway, the apartment lit up.

“SURPRISE!”

Shock and confusion were the only expressions I wore as I looked at the faces smiling at me in the apartment.

“What the-”

The guard smiled. “Welcome to the building, Miss Gordon!”

I shook my head, unable to grasp the reality of what was happening in front of me. “What?”

The couple to my right smiled at me.

“Welcome to the building, Miss Gordon!” The wife said. “We knew we had a writer in our building and my husband said he’s seen your name on the Law and Order: SVU opening credits. So, what better way to welcome you then with a staging of a murder!”

I blinked, refusing to believe this was indeed happening.

“So, the blood..?” I said.

The husband beamed. “Ketchup! I’m so glad the smell didn’t give it away.”

“So everyone was in on this?” I asked.
“Yup. We had this plan for a long time but you were always either never home or you were back late. So, we decided to spring this plan into action the moment you came home early.” The wife said.

An Asian lady came up to me, holding a platter of mozzarella balls. “Would you like one?”

In that split second, I had to decide.  Was my sleep more important then the platter of mozzarella balls in front of me?

“Screw this.” I muttered to myself.

I smiled at her. “Don’t mind if I take two!”

I reached forward and took two servings off the platter.  Smiling at the mozzarella ball, I stuffed it into my mouth and smiled as I tasted the cheesy goodness hidden by the fried batter.

So what if I was going to look like crap tomorrow morning?  Since my neighbors were committed enough to staging this amazing bait to a surprise party, I had to appreciate the efforts they went through – which includes polishing that entire platter of mozzarella balls.

Now, where did that Asian lady go?

Random Friday Ramblings: Tornado

He walked into the bar, unsure of the new place he had just entered.  Coming to visit his friend from out of town, he was given instructions to arrive at this bar which was the meeting point.

He sat down by the counter with his back facing the other seats. A tall, rugged looking guy walked up to him.

“What can I get ‘ya?”

He thought for a bit. “Um.. Could I get a beer?”

“Sure.”

The bartender reached down to pick up a beer bottle and opened the bottle for him.  He placed it on the counter.

“You from out of town?” The bartender asked.

He nodded. “New York.”

“New York… Fancy schmancy place.” The bartender said. “What brings you down to Nashville, Tennessee? Here to chase your country singin’ dream?”

The New Yorker laughed. “I wish I had a voice for country but no. I’m here to meet a friend.”

“A friend, huh?” The bartender smirked. “A lady friend?”

“Nope. It’s a he.” The New Yorker replied.

The bartender nodded. “Well, I suppose I’ll keep ya company before he gets here then.. Name’s Dougie.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Dougie. My name’s Scott.” The New Yorker said.

Just as they continued with their conversation, the door to the bar opened and the customers in the bar turned to see who joined them.  Almost as soon as they looked up, everyone couldn’t help but keep their gaze on the pretty blond who entered.

She wore tight black shorts with a black tank top along with a pair of black leather ankle boots.  Her boots were decorated with fringe running from the left and right side of each shoe.  Of all the people gathered in the bar in the afternoon, she looked the most out of place.

Scott had no idea he had been staring until she locked eyes with him. Only then did he immediately turn back to face the counter.  For a moment, he thought he was doomed.  She was going to come over and she was going to start a flirtatious banter with him; which was an issue.  All his life, talking to a girl had been a struggle.  He had gone on a few dates but none started with him initiating the talk.  They had all been dates set up by his parents.

Yes, he lived in New York which shouldn’t have been a problem.  But, no.  His parents were lawyers working in New York so by default, he lived in New York.  If personality had played a part in accommodation placement, he would probably be living in Alaska.

He waited for another minute or so before turning to look.  Lucky for him, she was talking to someone else – an older looking guy with a sleazy smile.  He let out a sigh of relief and was about to take a swig of his beer when Dougie held onto his hand.

“Listen. Be careful of that girl.” Dougie said.

Scott put the beer bottle down. “What do you mean?”

The bartender merely shook his head as he continued cleaning the glass mugs. “I like you, Scott. You’re a good kid. Just be wary of her.”

~ * ~

The next day, Scott had a flight to catch in the afternoon so, he decided to hang out at the bar once more before he left to try and get some answers with regards to Dougie’s warning.  He liked a mystery as much as the next guy but this was freaking him out a little.  Why did Dougie’s warning come off as something someone would say to a person courting death?

He pushed open the door to the bar and saw most of the guys gathering around the counter where the television was.

Scott walked over to the counter. “What’s going on?”

“It happened again.” Dougie said, gesturing to the television.

Scott turned to face the television as the male reporter continued.

“Colin Atkins was found three days after his family filed a missing report. His body was discovered by a farmer while he was out on a routine crop check.”

The visual changed to an old man being interviewed.

“I was doin’ my usual check round them crops when I noticed my field had an extra scarecrow. Now, I sure didn’t make another new one so I figured it must have been those pesky youths out to prank another farmer. But when I got closer, I realized it was a body. His shirt was all bloody from those puncture marks on his body and he was wearing this necklace in the shape of his girl’s name. Must have been a gift from his girlfriend. I can’t imagine the pain he must have gone through… God rest his soul.”

Scott looked away from the screen and turned to face the counter.  That was some pretty gruesome news.  Thank goodness his weekend trip was coming to an end.

“They call her the Tornado.”

Scott turned to his right to see Dougie sitting down next to him.

“W-What?” He said.

Dougie rested his elbows on the counter. “Remember what I told you when you saw her enter?”

“Yeah.. You told me to be careful of her.” Scott replied.

“And now I’m giving you the reason why.” Dougie said. “That girl is known as a Tornado. She helps angry ex-girlfriends go after their cheating ex-boyfriends. She gives them a good time and bam! The next thing you know, you’re dead and you have the name of your ex-girlfriend hanging round your neck.”

“And nobody’s ever caught her?” Scott whispered. “She’s a murderer!”

“Well, nobody really knows for sure if it is her. A cop once tried to follow her and track her whereabouts. But he couldn’t do it. It was as if she never existed.” Dougie said.

Scott shook his head. “This is crazy. Isn’t there someone around who might have seen her and could give the cops a description of her?”

“And risk meeting a grizzly end if them cops don’t believe ya? Listen Scott. You’re not from around here so I won’t fault you for tryin’ to do good for this town. But no one’s ever tried to stop her before and no one ever will… Upset nature and you’ll regret it.”

Dougie pat Scott’s shoulder before getting off the stool to head back behind the counter, leaving him to process the information he was just given.

~ * ~

Scott left the bar shortly after recovering from the shocking discovery to the answers he had come to the bar to seek.   He was just about to board a cab he just hailed, when he saw the same girl from yesterday talking to a man who was straddling his motorbike.  A part of him almost wanted to yell out to the guy to ride off while he still can but another part was telling him to mind his own business.  He shook his head, thinking it’s best to mind his own business.  Scott glanced in their direction once more and this time, he was greeted by her reciprocation of his observation.

Not wanting to stay out in the open another second longer, Scott hurriedly opened the cab door and threw his luggage in, jumping into the cab after.

“Where to?” The taxi-driver asked.

Scott took a second to catch his breath. “The airport please.”

The taxi-driver nodded and Scott sat back as the vehicle moved.  This had been a rather weird weekend in Nashville and he was planning to forget everything that happened… Only, it wasn’t going to be easy.  The silent exchange between them from a while ago kept replaying in his mind.

She had looked over at him and instead of the expression she gave him the day before, she smirked at him.  It was a knowing smirk that sent chills down his spine.

One that said, “Catch me if you can.”

Random Friday Ramblings: Letter

Packing up the attic was my least favorite thing to do when it comes to moving houses.  This was the only part of the house that had no windows or cool air; which wasn’t an ideal setting for a day in the summer heat.

It has been 10 years since I moved out from this family home and two years since Dad passed away.  Mom had called me back for the weekend to help clear out the house before she moves in with my sister’s family.  In all honesty, I’ve never once returned home for longer than a few hours.  The main reason was due to the broken relationship I had with my mom – one that had never been repaired by either party or rather tried to but failed.

I picked up my high school yearbook and opened the cover.  Nostalgia filled the room as I felt the edges of the yearbook.  Just as I was about to flip to the next page, I heard the attic latch open and my sister’s blond hair peek out.  She opened the latch fully before climbing out of it.

“Hey.”

I closed the yearbook and looked up at her. “Hey.”

“How’s the attic treating you?” She asked, with her hands on her hips.

I looked around and shrugged. “The usual. Hot. Stuffy. Don’t want to be here.”

She sighed. “Oh come on, Rosswick. You used to love playing in the attic.”

“I did. But not packing the attic.” I replied.

She reached over to a box and started pressing down on the lid before she moved to sit on it.

“Look… I know attic duty isn’t exactly ideal but it had most of your stuff.” She said.

I shook my head. “You don’t get it Rosalyn. It’s not the attic duty. I just don’t want to be here.”

“How long do you intend to stay mad at mom?” She asked. “It’s been 10 years. Surely you’ve outgrown the anger?”

I looked at my sister with an incredulous expression.  She’s kidding, right?  My mother made my life the way it was.  Without love, without explanation to why the girl I was engaged to left me.  I tried many times to get the information out of my dad but each time I was inches away from learning the truth, my mother finds a way to stop it from happening.

“Until she explains why Leila left me; no. I will never outgrow my anger.” I said. “She knows something but she isn’t telling me.”

My sister looked at me with a stern expression. “Rosswick. You were in a coma for 2 months since that car crash.  We were all busy looking after you.”

“Even so, Leila would have at least left me a note to tell me why she wasn’t around. Dad was so close to telling me what happened. But thanks to our mother, she didn’t want me to find out where Leila went.” I gritted my teeth. “No wonder dad chose to leave first.”

Rosalyn stood up in shock. “Rosswick!”

I know I sounded spiteful but I couldn’t just stand here while she thought of ways to defend our mother.

She shook her head. “You have no idea how much mom has done to help you. That was a low blow.”

I shrugged.

“I’ll leave you to your hateful clearing.”

Not even bothering with a comeback, I looked away as my sister climbed back down the ladder.  As soon as I heard her pad across the second level floor, I let out a breath.  I knew the moment I said that, I was going to regret it.  I let the anger control me and said the nasty remark about the reason my dad passed on.  Rosalyn is definitely going to hate me for the next few months until I apologize or something.  But I didn’t have to worry about it since I will only be seeing her during Thanksgiving.

I was just about to put the yearbook back into the box when a letter slipped out from between the pages.  Placing the yearbook back in, I bent down to pick up the letter.  In cursive handwriting, almost like Leila’s, it was addressed to me or at least the nickname Leila gave me.

To: Rossy

I frowned a little.  If this was a letter from Leila, why was it hidden here?  It looked yellowish and pretty old so I can only assume it was put in the same year I got the yearbook.  I flipped the envelope to the back side and just as I was about to open it, I hesitated.

Did I want to know what was written inside?  Could it really be a letter from Leila or is this just my imagination?

Urgh.  Screw it.  It’s been 10 years, why wait now?

I opened the envelope and took out the folded piece of paper inside.  Unfolding it, I felt the anticipation explode within me as Leila’s beautiful cursive writing danced off the paper.

Rossy,

I’m not sure when you’ll get this letter but by the time you do, you would have noticed my disappearance.  The process to getting this would have been hard or easy, depending on how severe your accident was.  I know this sounds crazy with my prediction but I know what you’re like.  The day you and I found out I had leukemia was the day I knew I had to prepare both of us for what’s to come.  You never were good with handling your emotions well and when the day I finally leave you comes, you’re not going to be able to handle it.

I know that day is near.  As I write to you now, my parents are outside listening to the doctor tell them that the chemo is still taking time to work but I know it isn’t.  It’s my body.  Who else can give the better diagnosis?

So, when the day comes, I know you’re going to be your reckless, silly self and do something terribly stupid.  If you’re reading this before it happens, great!  But if you’re reading this years from now, I want you to know that what happened to me isn’t your fault.  It’s nobody’s really.  There was simply nothing anyone could do.  At least now I can head up and ask the Big Man why he gave me such a ‘lucky’ life.

Just know this Rossy.  I love you ever since I met you and I will continue to love you even after I’m gone.  Don’t leave your life in the past.  Carry me in your heart but move forward with your life.  Find someone who loves you like me or even more than I did.  Cause I can tell you, she would be a keeper.  🙂

Till we meet again, Rossy.

Always yours,
Leila

P.S: Don’t blame your mother for this, okay?  She saw me slipping this into your yearbook and I told her not to tell you because I want nature to take its course.  When it’s time for you to know, the letter will fall out.

Lost in her words until the end, I only felt the wet streaks on my cheeks get damper and damper.  As I held the letter tight in the grip of my right hand, I felt a headache coming on.  I didn’t know what it was from but the the intensity of the pain escalated and the next thing I knew, my vision turned black.

~ * ~

I woke up in the guest room on the bed with two pillows behind my head.  I looked up at the ceiling as I thought back to what happened in the attic.  Only now, the blank space that once became a permanent fixture of my memory filled up.  I remembered hearing the news of Leila’s passing and grabbing the keys to dad’s sedan as I rushed to the garage.  Driving like a maniac while sobbing at the wheel were the reasons why I drove off the road, hoping to meet Leila half-way.

I sat up, about to get out of bed when I noticed my mother sleeping in the chair she had brought up from the living room.  She must have been keeping watch in that thing even when it’s the uncomfortable one she had always hated but kept since my dad loved it.  I looked out the window and noticed the sky colors changing to those seen in the evening.

My mother stirred and immediately opened her eyes in time to see me with my feet on the floor; about to stand up.

“Rosswick!” She exclaimed. “Don’t you dare get out of bed! You passed out for more than 5 hours. Oh… It must have been the heat up there in the attic! I should have-”

I looked at her worried expression and couldn’t help but feel guilt for not being a better son.

I held back my tears. “M-Mom… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been mad at you for so long… What happened wasn’t your fault. I know that now.. Can you forgive me?”

I saw the tears well up in her eyes.  Not saying anything yet, she got up from her chair to sit on the bed next to me.

She smiled and lightly touch the side of my face before embracing me.

“There is nothing to forgive. I was never mad at you, Rosswick.” She said. “You are my son and I will always love you, no matter what.”

From the corner of my eye, I see Rosalyn standing by the door frame and she smiled.

She cheekily mouthed, ‘Don’t cry baby bro. I forgive you.’

I merely smiled back and hugged my mother tighter; making up for lost time and letting go off everything that held me back from fixing the relationship with my beautiful and wonderful mother.

Random Friday Ramblings: Ticket

“And for Justin, I leave this ticket.”

He looked up at the lawyer seated at the table, wondering why his name was called.  Sure, he used to be close to Aunt Sally but he wouldn’t have expected her to leave him anything.  Ever since his parents passed away, he stopped visiting his Aunt Sally so that he wouldn’t be reminded of his mother’s memory.  And that had been three years ago.

The lawyer pushed a sealed Ziploc bag towards him with a yellow-stained ticket inside.

He heard his cousin laugh.  “Aunt Sally sure was kooky. She left you a ratty old ticket from one of her super old amusement park dates.”

“Shut up, Gene.”  He heard his Aunt Betty hiss at his cousin and smiled triumphantly inside.

Aunt Sally had her quirks but Justin would never say she was weird. He often found her behavior endearing, like a replica of his mom.

“Justin?” The lawyer asked. “Do you accept?”

Everyone waited impatiently for Justin to reply.  He wasn’t even sure if he should accept it.  Maybe someone with more attachments to Aunt Sally should have it.

“Well?!” He heard Aunt Marge say.

“Maybe someone else should have this?” Justin said. “I don’t think I deserve this.”

“Because you think you deserve her plot of land or something more?” He heard his Uncle Bill’s thick Southern accent coming from his left.

The lawyer pushed it closer to Justin. “Unfortunately Justin, Miss Mckeller insists that you have her ticket.”

“Take it, sweetie.”

He felt his Aunt Presley’s hand on his as she guided his hand over to take the Ziploc bag.  Once he picked up the bag, the lawyer nodded once and started to re-arrange his documents.  Justin got up from his seat and walked out of the room. He wasn’t sure why he did but he just couldn’t take sitting in there for another minute more.  He wasn’t here to fight for any of Aunt Sally’s bigger inheritance.  He was here to fulfill Aunt Sally’s last wish of the family being together in one room.

Justin sat outside on a couch not far from the meeting room he had been in earlier.  He looked at the Ziploc bag and at the ticket inside.

‘ADMIT ONE – GONZO’S AMUSEMENT PARK’

He smiled.  Gonzo’s Amusement Park. He heard of that name before, when Aunt Sally was in her nostalgic mood.  She had spoken of this particular theme park – bringing back memories of when she took a job at the amusement park.  He remembered passing by the amusement park of the same name recently, and wondered if they were the same.

Justin stood up and looked at the closed door of the meeting room.  They looked like they were going to be in there for a long time so why wait outside?

~ * ~

Justin got out of his car and looked at the amusement park.  It looked like any ordinary amusement park except it had vintage looking banners hanging around the premises.

He walked over to the ticketing counter and pulled out his wallet.

“One ticket please.” He said to the girl at the counter.

She smiled. “Sure, Justin.”

The girl pulled out a ticket and passed it to him.  Justin was about to pay her when she pushed his hand back towards him. “On the house.”

Justin frowned a little, unsure of what to make of the ticketing girl knowing his name and giving him a complimentary ticket.  So he did the only polite thing to do.  He gave her a small smile and took the ticket from her hand.

“Thanks.” Justin murmured.

He made his way over towards the turnstiles and just as he was about to head in, he heard a familiar voice from behind him.

“You’ve got it!”

He dropped his ticket to the ground and turned to see his Aunt Sally standing there.  She looked the same as he last saw her only that she was now alive and well, looking younger than before.

“Hiya Justin!”

He blinked once. Twice. “A-Aunt Sally?”

“I have been looking everywhere for this.” She said. “How did you get it?”

“You-You gave it to me.” Justin said.

“I did? Oh! I did!” She said. “But I didn’t expect you to come visit so fast!”

“Wha- Aunt Sally, what is going on?” Justin asked.

“Listen. I know you’re still hurting and you’ve never stopped hurting since your parents passed. But you should know that your parents are still watching over you and they will never stop making sure you are safe.” Aunt Sally said. “It’s time you let go of your grief and pick yourself up.”

Justin tried to swallow the emotional lump that had suddenly wedged itself within his throat.

“I’m sorry I never visited you after their funeral.” Justin said.

Aunt Sally gave him a smile. “I understand, J-dog. Just know that I never blamed you and you were always my favorite nephew.”

Justin felt a wet warmth run down his cheeks and his Aunt reached forward to wipe the tears away.  She cupped his face and leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek.

“Till we meet again, Justin.”

~ * ~

“Sir! Sir! Can you hear us?”

Justin blinked once, trying to turn his head to the voice but unfortunately, he couldn’t. With his eyes still closed, he tried to move his arms but were met with a sharp pain.

“Don’t move, sir! We’re going to get you out now.”

He felt two pairs of arms around him as they slowly pulled him out of his car and put him onto a stretcher.

“Can you hear me, sir?” The paramedic asked. “What’s your name?”

Justin nodded. “Yeah… I can hear you. My name’s Justin.”

“Good. You were very lucky, sir.” He said. “Your car was hit by an out-of-control truck. I don’t know what happened, but the truck didn’t do any major damage. You’re going to be alright.”

“Justin, I need to take this out of your hand, okay?” A female paramedic said.

She pulled a Ziploc bag out of the clenched fist of his right injured hand and showed it to him. “A vintage ticket, huh? Must be important.”

Justin couldn’t help but smile a little. “You have no idea.”