I need to get out of here, that much is certain. The problem is; I’m the only one who seemed to feel this way.
Johnny is happy. During the day he’s painting the most beautiful landscapes. And at night, we make love.
It’s been 14 days. I think I might be pregnant. I’m just not sure with what. And I have no one to go to for help.
“Angelina, Remy needs you to take his next patient,” Syren shouted from the main floor.
“Comming,” I replied as I struggled to get dressed and get downstairs. As a nurse, I knew in my heart something was seriously wrong. My legs felt weak, tired and I felt genuinely sick to my stomach.
Syren snickered as I approached. “Someone could use some tea.”
“What room is the patient?”
“Room Power, Gail Myers: a seventy-five-yearold female with back issues.”
Instead of numbers or letters, the rooms of the temple/clinic were given inspirational names; “Hope, Power, Love, Compassion, Truth, and Destiny (the room I was staying in.)”
“Yeah, and she requested a female.”
I took a glance at her paperwork. This elderly woman had traveled all the way from Montana and didn’t even want to be treated by Remy, the holistic prophet of medical cannabis? I knocked on the door as I entered the room. The lights were off and Gail was sitting up, facing a window which overlooked the parking lot.
“We’re not safe here.” The voice was the same one as before; female, young, and not coming from any direct source.
I walked to the window, closing the blinds. “Miss Myers? Gail?”
Her eyes looked milky. As she blinked, the color started to radiate- like a projector bulb. “I’m sure Mrs. Meyers won’t mind if we borrow her for a moment.”
“Who are you?”
“If you haven’t figured that out yet, perhaps you don’t need to know.”
“Whatever.” I considered leaving the room when the woman’s eyes started to project a silent movie on to the blinds. “Is that Johnny with Syren?”
I had to ask since it looked like Johnny was having sex with a woman with bird wings whose face was not visible from the current angle.
That angle changed really quick as the cameraman put down the camera, the joined in on the action. Syren gave oral to Remy while Johnny continued doggy-style.
“Turn it off.”
“Why?” The voice asked in a calm, mocking tone.
“Because it’s sick,” I replied in a whisper, choking back tears. Was this a scene of something that was going to happen? did it already happen? Or was it happening as I stood there like an idiot?
“Because you love him?”
I fell to my knees in pain. I had to be sick. There was no way I could feel such physical agony over an image. “How do I save him?”
“What would you give?”
“Screw you and your dumb-ass riddles.” I picked myself up and walked out the door, fully intending on washing my face in the nearest bathroom. But passing by the glass door to the garden I spotted Syren (in her human form), sitting with Johnny. She appeared to be braiding his hair.
I opened the door. I had to know the truth. “Hi, Johnny.”
Johnny stood up, pushing Syren off him. “Angel?” He lovingly cupped my face. “Have you been crying?”
There was nothing but innocence and love in his eyes. That was the truth; the image, the sexual corruption never happened. “I-I don’t feel well.”
Syren stood up, dusting off her jeans. “And the patient? Did you just walk out on Miss Myers?”
“I-I…” I looked at Johny nervously, hoping his face would hold the answer.
“Syren, maybe You can check in on her?” he suggested. “and I’ll get Angel back to bed.”
“Sure,” Syren said with a shrug. “I need to get back to my post anyway.” She stuffed her hand in her pocket. I knew she had to pass me, to get back indoors so it came as no surprise when she shoved my arm forcing a small object into my hand. “There’s more than one way to drink the tea.”
I tried to ignore her comment. “Johnny please take me back to the room.”
“Of course.” Without even asking he scooped me up in his arms and carried me like a bride back to our bedroom. He placed me on the bed and cuddled close, stroking my cheek. “do you need to go to a doctor? I mean a real doctor- not Remy and his holistic crap.”
His words made me smile. “You think it’s crap?”
“I man, I like it here. I feel calm, at peace. I- feel safe. But I don’t believe in what he believes in.”
I turned to Johnny, looking into his eyes. “I think you should go back to school.”
“Remy says he’ll give me the van, he just wants me to stuck around a little longer.”
“I think he wants me to convince you to stay. But…” Johnny’s voice trailed off.
“I kinda want you to come with me.”
“I need you to take me to the hospital. I need to know for certain why I’m sick.”
Johny drove me into town, to the emergency room. The first thing the asked was if I was pregnant. I guess I just looked like the type. “Maybe.”
The nurse sighed and gave me a urine test. It came back positive. “You mentioned you don’t have insurance, but if you’d like I can give you a follow-up appointment for an ultrasound.”
Johnny had his hand on my stomach. “No thanks, maybe another time. We’re actually from out of town.” He spoke, fast and nervous as he dragged me back to the van. We left so fast I’m pretty sure we didn’t pay the examination fee.
I got in and attempted to close the door as he peeled out of the parking lot. “Johnny?”
“The baby, it’s Remy’s.”
It was more of a statement than a question, but I felt the need to respond. “I’m so sorry, I’m a piece of shit.”
“No, you slept with him before we met, right?” Johnny’s voice was trembling. “I felt their spirit.”
“They? As in two?”
“No, ‘they’ as in I can’t tell a baby’s gender telepathically!” Johnny slammed on the gas, boosting the van forward like the world’s weakest rocket.
“I’m sorry.” I started to sob uncontrollably this wasn’t fair.
Johnny slowed the van and pulled to the side of the road. His hands were trembling as he spoke. “Marry me?”
“Come with me? We can move back to California.”
“I-I don’t have any family in California.” It was the truth, it was why I had been willing to leave with Remy. My parents were estranged, and the one sibling I had lived somewhere in Europe.
“Then we can go to Canada! I’ll protect you,” Johnny turned to me, looking into my eyes, “I just want to be with you.”
I screamed as the truck came barreling towards us. The collision was head-on, but for whatever reason I was thrown forward, my head crashing through the windshield, allowing me a ‘soft’ landing in the tall grass. I opened my eyes. My arm was in pain and I could barely breathe, but that was more terror than anything else. “Johnny!”
My legs were in too much pain to stand, but I could crawl. The driver of the truck was already dead. I knew this because he had no head. And this wasn’t a matter of him getting decapitated in the accident. There was little to no blood, and his head was nowhere to be found. “Syren! Where the F–k are you?!”
She had to be with Johnny. I crawled as fast as I could. The van had been knocked on its side. Since the van was so old nothing was automatic so I was able to open the door.
Johnny was not pinned to the steering wheel but he was unconscious. My focus was on getting him out, so I didn’t hear what must have been the sound of Syren’s wings until she tore the side of the van off. “I just wanted to make things easier.”
Hearing her human voice with her eagle form was jarring, but I assume that was the point. “You did this?”
“Yup,” she said casually. With one swift motion, she stole Johnny’s body from my arms. “When I told Remy that you were going to the emergency room, he advised me to follow you. And boy am I glad I did. I mean I thought you were going to get an abortion.” Syren cradled Johnny’s body like a child. “But no, this innocent little angel, he wanted to do the right thing.”
“How ironic,” said a chorus of spirits. “Care to make a wager?”
“What kind of wager?”
“One that will please both you and your master,” said the female voice from earlier. It was the same woman who had possessed Gail Meyers. It appeared she was their leader.
Syren chuckled. “I’m all ears.”
“A life for a life, a soul for a soul.”
I gasped for air. “I can’t, please. I can’t.”
Syren laid Johnny’s body in front of me, before transforming back into her human form. She stroked his cheek and glanced at me. “But, wait,” she said in her little-girl voice. “Angel’s knocked up with Remy’s baby.”
“You may bring Angel back to the temple to birth the child if that is the life she chooses to keep. If not, there is a chance Remy will fall in love with you and you will give him the child who will heal his soul.”
It was clear by her wicked smile, Syren was down with the idea.
I looked at Johnny’s motionless body. From the way his head sat at such a harsh angle, it was clear how he had died. I wanted to fix his neck, to position his face to look up at me, instead of away.
“My little blue jay,” said the spirit.
Johnny’s mother? I was certain he told me his mother was still alive.
“I am alive,” the spirit said, replying to my unspoken question. “I’m speaking to you from a place of great power.”
“Than why can’t you save him?”
“I never could. I watched as his father beat him without mercy; destroying his confidence, and crushing his dreams. He needs someone truly selfless, someone, willing to risk their soul.”
“My soul?” I knew what she meant. Johnny would not want me to kill an innocent child. Hell, he was willing to run away with me and help raise Remy’s child. “Remy’s child…” This was Remy’s baby, how truly innocent could it be?
What kind of mother would I be? I would be alone, or worse forced to raise the baby with Remy as a partner? This child, this life would tie me to Remy for all eternity. The choice was clear.
I reached for the closest piece of metal that looked like it could get the job done. I knew I had to do it in one swift motion before I changed my mind. ‘One, two, three!’ In the blink of an eye, my hand was now deep inside my abdominal cavity, carving at my organs with the sharply serrated chunk of metal. As I slowly removed my hand to get a look at what I had done. It was clear the silver painted chunk of metal had been part of a door, or perhaps the frame of a windshield. Either way, it now held my baby’s tiny dismembered body. I had read about women who got abortions and later found pieces of the fetus on their maxi pads or even in the shower drain. I could never imagine the level of fear and disgust. This was a human life. I felt numb from the chest down, as if my body was simply shutting down like a computer.
At that moment I wasn’t afraid of dying: I was afraid of eternal damnation. “I killed my baby. I killed my baby!” Tears filled my eyes as blood dripped down my lips.
I needed Johnny. I needed someone. As I fell forward I landed face to face with his body. With what little strength I had left, I moved my hand, to turn his face for one last kiss.
His lips were still warm. I felt his mouth opened ever so slightly, allowing me to gift him my last breath.
I awoke in darkness with a heavy moist sensation caressing my skin. I could feel my skin, that meant I had skin, muscles, nerves, maybe even bones. I willed my body to sit up. dirt fell from my shoulders, neck, and face. Apparently, I had been buried in a shallow grave. I blink my eyes to adjust to the sunlight. “Where am I?”
Was I dead? My hand drifted to my stomach, giving me my answer. There was nothing there, literally. It felt like a portal, or maybe a black hole. I, of course, wanted to stick my hand in.
A gust of wind knocked me over. As I stood up on my weak, shaky legs I was now facing a church.
“Don’t touch your stomach, not yet.” The spirit of Johnny’s mother stood before me. She looked like a naked woman made out of glitter and light.
“Just think of it as a cosmic eject button.”
“Oh.” I followed her since she was already moving towards the entrance of a church.
The church hadn’t been there a second ago. Looking down at my feet, I was now standing on pavement. The shock was more than a little disorientating. I figured this must be what video game characters must feel like before the level backgrounds render in.
Out of the abyss came Remy’s van, pulling in to a parking space. Johnny stepped out of the driver’s seat. He stretched his back in the warmth of the sun.
I cupped my hands over my mouth at the sight; the van was undamaged, but more importantly, Johnny was undamaged.
He ran his fingers through his hair and chuckled as he looked up at the sun.
The sound of retching could be heard, as Remy vomited out the passenger side door. “You drive like a freakin’ maniac.”
“No one asked you to come along,” Johnny replied. “Syren would have kept me safe.”
“Syren’s not the one selling you the van.”
Syren was here? I watched as she got out of the van, putting her arm around Remy’s slumped shoulder. “You ok, baby?” Wearing a simple denim jacket and shorts she looked genuinely sweet. but her eyes were anything but innocent.
“Can she see us?” I asked the spirit.
There was no reply.
Syren locked eyes with me and giggled. That was my answer. Remy and Johnny couldn’t see me but she could, and she was planning on enjoying the show. “Just remember, Johnny, you are always welcome at Rain Down Temple.”
Remy stood up and shook Johnny’ds hand. “You’re family and family means everything. I want to help you find your path; if you want to go to art school, I’ll make it happen.”
“That’s very kind of you, but I truly believe this is where I belong. I’m going to apply for the youth ministry scholarship, go to a trade school, maybe become a paramedic or nurse.”
The way he said ‘nurse’ made him smile. It was as if it brought back a memory.
“Well don’t forget your sketchbook,” Syren said as she picked up the book from the floor of the van and started to flip through the pages. “You have such a fertile, vivid, imagination. Like this one for example- such a pretty girl.”
It was the picture of me.
Remy glanced over with a noticeably awkward chuckle. “Is she one of the spirits in your head, little cousin?”
“No, actually I don’t know why I drew that. I guess she’s just my dream girl.”
I cupped my hands over my mouth, to emotional to speak. I needed so badly to hold him. I approached Johnny, first caressing his cheek, then his shoulder.
He seemed to be moaning. “Oh, the sun feels so good today.”
He could feel me. I threw my arms around him, my tears soaking the back of his t-shirt. Just as quickly the scene started to fade away. “No, please no!”
“This isn’t for you. your sadness is only making Syren stronger.”
“Can you at least tell me what happened, I-In this reality?”
“You never made it to North Dakota. Remy raped and killed you, abandoning your body in the South Dakota badlands.”
That explained why seeing my image in Johnny’s sketchbook made the creep nervous. “How did Johnny know my face, if we never met?”
The spirit shrugged. “As he said, you’re his dream girl. Here, I have something for you.” Her hand caressed mine, leaving behind an iPhone. “That phone is your last chance to tell your story. how and Where you tell it, is up to you.”
And when I’m done, I press the escape key?
“Or enter key, it depends on how you want to look at it.”
“Can I at least go back to North Dakota?”
That brings us to today.
Johnny, standing in front of a mirror in the communal bathroom, was cutting his hair. It wasn’t as clean as it could have been but it looked more ‘medical student’ and less ‘artist.’
“Can you hear me?” I place my hands over his.
Johnny’s hands are trembling. He puts down the scissors and makes the sign of the cross over his chest. He’s afraid, but he’s strong.
Time to say goodbye.
I hope someday you’ll find this; I love you Johnny… and yes, I would have married you.
this concludes Angel’s story but-
The adventure continues in Dakota Son, available on Amazon