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It was three months ago when my hellish story started. I’ve been framed for something that I didn’t do. I’ve never killed, I’m not the villain. Hi, my name is John Stevens and this is my Nightmare Wasteland.
Knock! knock! “ Hurry up Vladimir, it’s your first day of school.” I yelled thru my 16 year old son’s closed door.
“ Ok, hold your horses!” he replied sleepily.
Storming into the room, “Watch your mouth mister. Why do you have to be so rude and disrespectful?”
“ Sorry. I’m just still tired.”
“ Get up. Get up. Come on you need to get up.” I said gruffly.
“ Alright, I am getting up. Can you please leave so I could get ready? “ he groaned.
“ Ok, but be ready and in the kitchen in ten minutes. Oh and don’t forget to come out of there clean.”
“ Ok fine, fine, I’m getting on it. I’ll be ready.” he answered.
I waited until I heard that Vladimir was getting ready for school, then I went to the kitchen to make breakfast.
While I was cooking the omelets, I caught a whiff of a sweet aroma of vanilla scent. I felt warm, gentle arms wrap around me. Then, I heard a sweet harmonious voice. It was the voice and arms of my beautiful wife, Kelly.
“ Hello honeybun,” I said. “ how are you this morning?”
“ Hello sweetie,” she replied softly. “ I am doing well, how about you?”
“ I’m still tired.” I said. “ I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
Yawning I said, “ I’ve been having bad dreams lately.”
“ What? You’re kidding, right? You’ve got to be kidding.”
“ Well, I’m not.”
“ What? What do you mean by that?”
“ The nightmare always begin and end the same every night.” It goes like this: Bang! Bang! Then I felt a sharp pain in my left calf. I stumble down and touch my leg. I feel something wet and oozing flow down my leg. Right before I wake up I see the outline of a person walking to me, then I hear eerie laughter echoing around me. That’s when I wake up with sticky, slimy, sweat all over me.
“ Oh. Is it always the same?” she asks after I was done with the story; knowing how ghastly the dreams are for me.
“ Yes the same. Always the same…”
“ Have you thought about trying to get some sleep during the day?” she questioned.
“ No, I haven’t” I replied sheepishly.
“ Why don’t you try that today before you go to work. Ok?”
“ Ok, I’ll try but it might not help me any.” I answered reluctantly.
“ Thank you.”
I finished breakfast in silence. After breakfast, I went back upstairs to try and take a nap before I had to go to work. As I laid down in my bed, I heard everyone leave for the day. It seems that just as I closed my eyes, I was jarred awake by a loud noise.
Knock! knock! “What was that?” I muttered sleepily to myself, I rolled over thinking that I was still in Dreamland. Knock! knock! the sound was a bit louder this time.
“ Not again.” I said. I stumbled clumsily out of bed to see who was at the door.
“ Hold on, I’m coming!” I yelled at whoever was knocking at the door. Fumbling with my bathrobe, I unceremoniously stumbled down the stairs. Finally arriving at the door, I opened it to find a UPS guy standing there. He held out a package to me - later did I realize that it was unmarked.
“ This is for John Stevens.”
Curiously, I answered, “ That’s me.”
“ Be careful. It is kind of heavy.”
“ Thank you for the warning, Mr.-”
“ Warren. The name’s Albert Warren. “
“ Thank you for the warning Mr. Warren.” I said taking the box from him; realizing that he wasn’t lying…
“ Is there anything for me to sign saying that I got it?”
“ Ok, have a nice day.” I replied warmly.
“ Woah guy, look I just deliver packages yo. But you too.”
He replied something incoherently that sounded like “Bye.” I turned around to see what it was that he had said, but he was already getting into his truck. Shrugging, I went back inside the house. I shut the door then tripped and stumbled. After rising up and cursing to the blue sky,- the ceiling- I became aware of overwhelming nausea and dizziness. Then an excruciating migraine started. I set the box down on the couch and went to get some Aspirin from the downstairs bathroom medicine cabinet.
When I got back into the living room, I happened to hear a faint ticking noise. Before I decided whether or not it was coming from inside the box, I went to check to see if it was coming from a clock from another part of the house.
Stepping out of the living room, I noticed that the ticking had stopped. When I went back into the room a second time, the ominous faint ticking started up again.
“ Hmm, I wonder where the noise is coming from. “ I said to myself. Stepping back out of the room, the ticking ceased. Ticking..no ticking! ticking... no ticking! Just to check if this would happen again, I jumped in and out of the room a couple more times until the phone rang. Finally giving up, I left the room to go answer the call.
“ Hello.” I said when I picked up the phone.
“ Hey John, you need to hurry up and get over to the station, pronto!” an agitated Lilly Evans replied haughtily.
“ Ok, ok, I’ll get there as soon as possible.” I said trying to reassure her.
“ You better, or else.” she said threatening.
“ Or else, what?” I asked teasingly.
“ Just get over here now!” she said, ending the call.
Alright, I thought, I wonder what’s wrong with her. She seems edgier than usual. Did I say something wrong?
I went into my bedroom to get dressed. I grabbed my uniform to go iron it then went into my bathroom to put it on. As I finished up, I reached over my bed towards my bedside table for my watch, but as I touched the table, I realized that the watch wasn’t lying there.
Then I looked at the bedside clock and saw that I was almost late on getting to work, so I decided to look for the watch later. I raced downstairs, grabbed my keys, and rushed out the door.
I rushed through traffic but it seemed like it took an eternity.
Finally, when I got to the station, I happened to notice our secretary, Brian Howard. If you haven’t seen him; he is 5’9’’, always wears a suit, and always has a smile on his face even on his bad days, his bright green eyes looked eager, his brown mane flowed in the wind as he headed toward the building.
As I got out of my 2012 Hummer to go talk to Brian, I felt a tremor underneath my feet. I thought that it was an earthquake.
At first I pondered nothing; just then I was greeted with a whiff of smoke. As it was happening, I was already near enough to Brian for conversation.
“ Hey John, how are you today?” he asked in his southern accent.
“ I’m in a hurry right now, sorry, “ I replied out of breath. “ Lilly just called me and said that she needed me as soon as possible, so I hurried down here to see what it was that she needed.”
“ Oh, ok. Did you feel that tremor in the ground just now? “ he asked me.
“ Yeah, I just thought that it was my imagination and was about to ask you the same thing.”
As we were talking, we entered in to the station. I then noticed that we were busy today, busier than we normally are.
As we stepped into the office, I saw that Lilly was talking to an officer on duty. I glanced sideways at Brian and saw the excitement gleaming in his eyes. He’s always wanted to be an officer.
Then Lilly stopped talking to the officer when she noticed us. Walking towards me, she said, “ Hey, there you are. What took you so long?” having a faint smirk dancing on her lips that was hardly noticeable.
“ For your information, I hurried as fast as I could with traffic being so busy this morning.” I muttered sourly.
“ Come on. Can’t you take a joke!” she complained.
“ Don’t you know that there are times when you can joke around, and then there are times when you need to be serious. This is a time to be serious. Understood?”
“ Okay, fine.” she sighed heavily.
“ Now that we’re on the same page; tell me why it is that you needed for me to get here so fast, now.” I asked.
“ Well, we just got a call in from that penitentiary up in Arlington. They said that there was a break out at around 8:30 p.m. last night.” she informed.
“ Do we know who broke out and if they had any help, whether it be from the inside or the outside?”
“ We know that the convict who broke out is Albert P. Warren. Does that name ring a bell for you? I don’t recognize that name.”
“ No, but do we know if he had any help?”
“ No, not yet.”
“ May I have a file pulled up to see if I can recognize him?” I asked.
“ Sure thing, here it is.” she replied handing me a file that was overflowing with info on him.
“ Wow, he must have been sentenced in jail for life. With the amount of felonies that he was charged for on his criminal record. Robberies, murder, manslaughter, et cetera. This guy’s been busy.” I said whistling.
“ You don’t know how wrong you are about him. He was not sentenced for life. Over all, they only sentenced him for 6 years.”
“ What!” I almost yelled. “ That… That can’t be right. What about the other felonies? It says right here...Oh.”
“ Yep. He apparently bribed and made excuses that convinced everyone to let him go.”
“ He shouldn’t be able to bribe like that. It’s against the law of justice, the law of morality, the law laid down by the government, even the law of reasoning.” I replied hotly but I thought, as soon as I get my hands on the weasel I’m going to make him pay for the time that he didn’t serve that he should have!
Lilly broke my train of thought, “ I don’t know why he did it, but here is some more information about him. Oh, and his file photo.” she said handing more paperwork and several pictures.
I set aside the pictures on the edge of my desk for now, and looked through the other papers that were handed to me.
“ It says here that he’s six foot one, has blue eyes, bleach blonde hair, a crooked nose, possibly a bodybuilder considering his frame, oh and he is 29 years old.”
“ Oh” she said when I mentioned that he had muscles.
Oh s***, I thought, if I don’t snap her out of her trance, she will stay in Fantasyland for a long while.
“ Hey Lilly, you need to snap out of it; this guy is a criminal that we’re talking about, not one of your fantasy guys.” I said snapping my fingers in front of her face several times. Finally she snapped out of it with a, “What were we talking about again?”
“We were talking about.. oh never mind.” I replied in disgust. “Please just hand me the pictures.”
“Here we are, the photos.”
“Hm, these photos do look familiar. Where have I seen this man before?” I thought long and hard. Even went down Memory Lane. “Uh oh.”
“ ‘uh oh?’ what do you mean by ‘ Uh oh?’ ”
“ What I mean by ‘uh oh’ is that he’s the one who murdered my mother two years ago, that’s why he was in jail until last night. It all fits together; him being in jail until recently was because of me, and now that he is out of jail he is trying to get revenge!” I said realization clear on my face. “ He’s the one who gave me a box this morning, right before you called. I’m pretty sure the box he gave me had a time bomb because it kept on ticking while I was there. And I left it at my house thinking about messing with it when I got back this afternoon.” I said with agitation.
“ Oh no.”
“ Oh now is right. Now I have to go back to the house.” I said while thinking, How can I be so stupid not to realize what was in the box.
“ Ok drive home safely.” she said shooing me away.
“ Ok, thank you.”
“ No problem. Now GO!”
“ Ok. I’m going. BYE, talk to you later.”
I ran to the door and rushed down the flight of stairs to the ground level. I jumped the last four steps and on to the linoleum. Finally I bolted out the front door and into my car.
I drove like a maniac but the drive still felt long. As I got on to North Valley Mills Dr., I happened to look up and see smoke coming from my destination. I also noticed the emergency vehicles rushing towards the same direction as I was.
When I got closer to the scene, I saw the fire blazing wildly. Our next door neighbor’s house was already burned down to the ground.
I got out of the car and started walking to the nearest person, which happened to be the Chief of the fire department.
I asked her, “ What’s going on? What happened?”
Replying, “ What’s going on here is that a fire started around 7:30 this morning. A neighbor called and said that he woke up and smoke and saw the fire spreading from across the street.”
“ Is anyone hurt?” I asked anxiously wanting to know.
“ We brought out Mr. and Mrs. Jones from their house just before it collapsed. They took too much smoke and their condition is critical so they might not make it. We don’t know yet.” she informed me.
“ They might not make it?” I said with shocking surprise. Hearing a loud THUD! behind me, to assess the damage and saw something just as shocking: my wife’s car was parked in our driveway. The driveway that has a house collapse in the background just seconds ago.
I thought, Oh, no, no! this can’t be happening. I was sprinting towards what’s left of the house and at the door before two firemen knew what was happening and stopped me from going inside to try and save my wife.
“ What are you doing, you can’t go into there?” one asked.
“ Let me in there.” I said.
“ I’m sorry sir, but you can’t go into there; it’s just too dangerous.” replied the first fireman’s partner who bared my way.
“ I have to go see if my wife is still in there, if she is, then I have to try and get her out of there.”
It took several tries before they would let me pass. Finally when they did, I rushed into the blaze and started calling out to Kelly. After what seemed like an eternity, I found her in the wreckage and fire that used to be our bedroom. She was covered in a suit that was burned in some areas, had broken nails. It looked like she collapsed right behind the door before it burned away.
I became excited about finding her that I started to cry. As I was crying, Kelly opened her eyes and asked hoarsely, “why are you crying?”
Answering her, “I’m crying because I’ve found you.”
Cough! “You shouldn’t have done that; I ready to die.”
“No. Don’t say that. Please don’t say that; you’re all that I have.” I sobbed.
“I’m not all that you have. You have Vladimir and the family. And you will always have me in here.” she said pointing at my heart.
After a few more minutes, she finally breathed her last breath.
My eyes began clouding over. My mind raced frantically. Maybe this was one of my nightmares and when I woke up, Kelly would be getting ready for work. Yelling at Vladimir like she did every morning. She would be there, I try to tell myself, but I can feel wetness hit my cheeks, but at first I’m not exactly sure where it’s coming from. Then I realize that my eyes are dropping tears down onto my shirt.
Someone is squeezing my hand, but I can’t tell who it is. Everything feels like it’s in slow motion. I feel absolutely numb. My beautiful, wonderful, Kelly, is dead.
I stayed with her body until someone gently took her from me. I got up from the ground and went to my car. I was thinking of having to tell Vladimir what happened.