He noticed how the news just kept getting worse everyday. The latest threat on the news was the deaths, in hundreds, of people all over the country. Doctors could neither save anybody nor determine how the epidemic was spreading.
It was miserable. But he knew a calm walk could soothe anything. At least it would get such fearful stuff off his mind.
So, that evening, he went where his feet took him; he found himself taking in the calm air of the suburbs, which soon turned into the fresh, moist air of the countryside.
For an hour he walked in thoughtful silence before turning back homewards. He admired the flowers growing by the road; they had turned wet with evening dew.
He plucked one, gently wiped away the dew and inhaled its tranquil scent. It was a sudden rush of bliss he experienced. Oh, how divine were the sights and sounds and auras of nature!
That night he slept uncomfortably. He twisted and turned in his bed, groaning. He felt sick. He felt suffocated.
Early the following morning, he breathed his last in his sleep. And the flower played silent witness from the mantelpiece opposite his bed, all the deadly poision sublimating innocently from the little dew still left on the flower petals.
He brushed the tyre to the curb as he reversed out of the driveway.
“This has happened before.” He told himself, not wanting to believe it.
Once out of the gate, he shifted the stick and accelerated straight into the junction. As he looked at the streets, hoping traffic would clear for him. He could not be late. His friend was in the hospital, dying. He had been hit by a taxi.
As he took a left turn off the next junction, a motorist skidded past him, regained balance and glared at him as he continued past.
“That has happened before.” He told himself.
The world had often chided him for being what they called a careless driver. They said he never watched the traffic, but now it was him they had to look for for assistance.
A fellow driver gave way to him and started honking wildly. “Moron!” He heard the man shout from the window.
“That,” he said to himself, “has happened before.”
Some called it déjà vu, some called it a dream. Others thought it eerie.
As he looked at the hospital in the distance, thankful that he could make it in time, he noticed the traffic light turn red.
‘I can make it!’ He thought and stepped on the accelerator.
Suddenly, the vehicles on his right began to come at him all at once. He had to make it past them. He nervously stepped on the accelerator. He crossed a car, and another, and then a rider, a bus. Beside the bus was a black taxi.
“This has all happened before.” He swore.
This happened every night. The rider was glaring at someone else, the driver shouting at someone else. But the taxi? That was a few inches short of his door now. And that was real.
Then it struck him: this happened every night. No wonder nobody noticed him on the street. He was nowhere on it.
The taxi made contact, shattering the window on his right.
The moonlight shined on the man outside the large mansion. It was his job at night to watch the house.
‘These rich men,’ he grumbled, ‘they hardly work.’
And he disappeared into his little room just outside the gate.
As he went in, two men slipped past him into the compound and stealthily made their way up the driveway.
“Karl,” one of them said, pointing to a window on one of the the upper floors. “There, that one.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Yes, that’s his bedroom, I know.”
“No, I meant, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Stop fretting about! He brought us out to the streets. He threw us to the dogs. We have to repay him.”
“I know, but… we did owe him money. And he even overheard us planning to slip away. I—I think we deserved it.”
The other man held Karl by his collar. “Don’t mess with me. We’re here for a job, we’re going to do it. I paid for the guns and the bullets and I won’t see it go waste. We have two bullets, let’s make it count. And it’ll be fair revenge for both of us.”
Karl sighed and kept on the other man’s heels as he led the way to the foot of a concrete pipeline that ran the length of the house. Karl climbed up first and the other man followed right behind him. In less than a minute, they were at the window.
Karl looked inside. There was a figure on the bed, motionless, perhaps fast asleep. He turned around, looked at the other man, slid open the window and hopped in.
The curtain flew as a gust of wind shook the stillness of the room. The man on the bed grunted, half awake. Karl froze in his spot, but the other man jumped across the bed with agility, and shot at the sleeper’s head, muffling the noise with a pillow.
The man slumped dead. Then, the killer turned to Karl. “Your turn.” He said.
Karl’s mind raced. Was this right?
“No.” He took a step back. “I can’t.”
“Karl, I shot him. I killed him. You’re only going to shoot at a dead man. It doesn’t matter. Take your revenge.”
‘Revenge isn’t right.’ Karl found him speaking to himself. ‘Nobody should learn of this.’
He looked up at his friend, now a cold-blooded murderer. “This isn’t right.” He said. “Revenge isn’t right. And this story should die with me, which means one of us is going to die now. I have a bullet left.” He held up his gun to his temple.
The other man took a step back. “You’re out of your mind! You’ll kill yourself?”
“That’s right. Why me?” Karl reached into his pocket. “Let’s be fair. We’ll let the coin decide between us.”
Outside the mansion, the watchman stepped out of his little room, all dressed up. Just as he began closing the gate, a soft bang sounded from one of the rooms and a little yellow light flashed.
‘Another bulb goes bust, eh?’ He huffed. ‘They’ll replace it, these rich men. They’ll pay for it.’