Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Fly in the Web-- Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The third day

The third day was a weekend and passed quietly away. She worked in her garden. She scrubbed her floors. She watched television. And it seemed that nothing bad could happen to her that day.

Then a friend called and invited her out. Some of them were going to a local place and having food and beer and did she want to come out. She considered this seriously for some minutes, wondering if she could avoid the danger the fairy had foretold. Would it come to her if she went out? Or would it come to her if she stayed in? So far the fairy had been correct in her prediction, and the woman feared what would come next. She had a foreboding feeling in her stomach that said this time there would be the worst of trouble.

She looked at the clock and saw there were 3 hours left until midnight, when the day would be over and she would be safe. She thought of her options. The first to remain home and jumping at every shadow, watching the clock, and fearing for her life. Or the second, to go with friends where she would have warmth and support and the comfort of company and laughter. Not to mention she had yet to celebrate her new promotion. She even had yet to tell anyone of it. She agreed to go out and said she would meet her friends at the restaurant.

It was the sort of night that only comes once or twice a year. The moon was down and the stars shone brightly. Meteors fell from the sky leaving sparkling trails like rockets. The air had that indescribable smell of freshness that only comes in spring, and the night was warm enough to be comfortable and cool enough to refresh. The woman walked along, trying to enjoy the perfect evening, but she found it hard. She looked around every corner and eyed every person she passed, wondering if this was the danger that would come. She hurried along, as if something unknown were chasing her, going somewhere between a walk and a run until she saw the light of the restaurant and her friends in a group, talking in the light from the outside sign. She ran to them then, feeling safer in the group and they laughed that she was out of shape because she was breathing hard, not knowing she had nearly run the entire way.

They went inside. The little place had only a few tables crammed inside a little space and their group was large enough they took up two. Their waitress was the owner's granddaughter, who had only just turned 18 and was still learning to get used to the wider, womanly hips that seemed to have suddenly appeared on her. She had been born here, and knew three languages, English, the native tongue of her family, and Dutch because she had just come back from being an exchange student in Holland. She was working in the restaurant for the summer and looking forward to starting college in the fall. The owner came out of the kitchen to greet them and admonish them and give them grief for being such children and she should tell each of their mothers that they were out so late and they all groaned and laughed. The grandmother had never learned English and so remained in the kitchen as the other family waited tables. She knew everyone and always had a piece of candy or two in her purse to sneak to little ones in church. Everyone in their group had gotten a candy from her more than a dozen times growing up.

The woman looked around for any sort of trouble, but only saw the comforting walls and posters. The usual music playing. The people she had always known. They ordered their food and beer and ate and laughed, staying after the official closing because the grandmother had accounts to do and since she was up, she let them.

The woman began to relax and feel safe. She looked up at the clock and realized they'd been there for hours and it was now 10 minutes to midnight. Her friends got up and said it was time to leave and a sudden fear struck her. Outside suddenly no longer seem fresh and beautiful but like a dark and dangerous place. An open place where she would be alone and anything might come up from all sides.

No, she begged them. Not yet. One more beer. They hadn't yet celebrated her promotion. At the mention of the promotion everyone clamored to hear more since she hadn't said a word about it. They all sat down and someone called to the grandmother to come hear, that she had gotten a big promotion.

The woman glanced up at the clock. Seven minutes to midnight. She began to tell her story, beginning with explaining the important presentation. But she kept her eye on the clock. Five minutes to midnight. 4 minutes to midnight. 3. 2.

The door broke open with a crash. Some screamed. Some ducked. A man wearing all black and carrying a gun stepped inside. He had greasy blond hair and cold gray eyes. He spoke and said some things that are horrible to say and will not be repeated here. He blamed them all for all his troubles, even though not a one of them had ever seen him or met him before. He yelled at them obscenities and abuse and finally said, "If you won't go back to your own goddam country I'll get rid of every one of you." And with that he started shooting.

He shot towards the little granddaughter who had been too frightened to even move. The bullet missed her and sank into the wall. He shot at the group of friends who minutes before had been breathlessly hearing about good news and only succeeded at hitting the floor. He stepped closer and shot at one of the woman's friends.

This time he hit and her friend collapsed with a sad groan and began to bleed on the floor but he was not dead. The man stepped closer with full intent to finish his murder. The woman instinctively flung herself between the gunman and her friend, wishing to shield him from further harm. The man held the gun steady and for a moment she looked straight into the barrel of the gun and she could never be sure but she thought she saw something in there, where her eyes shouldn't have been able to see anything at all. Her eyes went to the clock, just above the gunman's shoulder and saw the second hand tick. 15 seconds to midnight. 14. 13. The man aimed right between her eyes and pulled the trigger.

 There was a bang and a shriek.

No one ever could figure out how it happened. Even the gun experts were stunned, saying they'd never heard of anything like it. When the gunman pulled the trigger, the gun exploded into a million billion pieces. It blew off the man's hand and burned his face and neck. It seared his eyes, blinding him, and bits of metal lodged themselves in places where doctors could not take them out. The man spent the remainder of his days blind and in pain.

But, and this was something else no one could understand, no one else was injured. They were showered with slivers of metal that never cut and tinkled as they stood up and the metal fell off of their clothes.

The friend was fine. The bullet had gone cleanly through, barely scraping a bone. Many years later he would show the scar to his grandchildren and tell them how he was saved by the grace of god and the miracle that no one was hurt but the man pulling the trigger. The scar was big and round enough to be impressive and yet small enough to never be a bother and when he died the incident was even in his obituary, telling how he was the one who had been shot that night.

After the police and the ambulance had come and statements were taken and events gone over and everyone had mostly stopped quaking and holding hands, the woman went back to her ordinary home. There she found her ordinary dog dancing about, desperate to go out for a walk. She hurried, letting him out into the yard to relieve himself. Then she called him back. She was still too scared to take him for a walk. But the dog wouldn't come back. Instead he started to bark joyfully and spin in circles as if he were seeing a long lost friend again. The woman called him inside and this time he came, trotting along as a large cricket hopped beside him.

She opened the door and the dog went in, happy and expecting his treat, as was the nightly custom. But the woman wasn't going in and heading to kitchen to get the treat. She was still standing at the door, holding it open for the cricket. "Won't you come in?" she asked. And in two hops, the cricket came inside.

Part 5
Part 6

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