The Brotherhood #11
By Mark W. Meier
Prophet of Death
Woods scowled at you. “Do you drive Uber, Mr. Reymond?”
“You’ve seen my car.”
“The thing is,” Woods continued, “there’s been a spate of odd deaths that seem connected to you. They happen all over the country, and all within a few days of you posting advice for the victim. That’s why it’s my case and not the local PD’s.”
You sat staring at Woods, eyes wide. If you were horrified before, you were frightened now. “Someone’s . . . I mean . . . how . . . .” You cleared your throat. “These deaths, I couldn’t have anything to do with them. I haven’t left Waterloo in a couple of years.”
Woods took out his cell phone and tapped a few times. “We have a statement by someone who witnessed you visiting the man you warned to stay out of his upstairs bathroom.”
“What?” It didn’t take a Brother to know you were befuddled.
“They say you stopped in while the man’s son was practicing bicycle tricks in his front yard.” Woods consulted his notebook. “You confirmed the address, then rang the doorbell. That two-story house is at the base of a bluff.” He looked up at you, gauging your reaction.
Of course it wasn’t you. I went there, in your form, to get someone to claim you’d been there. We used that ability sparingly to preserve it’s power. If Brothers did it too often everyone would be forever suspicious and never let down their guard.
“Where did this happen?”
“Vernon County in Wisconsin.” Woods glanced back to his notebook. “An hour later a cow fell from the cliff and smashed him to death in his upstairs bathroom.”
You laughed. “A cow fell on him and you suspect me?”
“There’s another witness that puts you at a home in New York State where a riding lawn mower rolled over, trapping a man beneath it. A jaywalker caused a driver to swerve and slam into a utility pole in Colorado. The passenger picked you out of a photo lineup.”
“What did the driver say?”
Woods glared daggers at you. “The driver died. So did a water park employee who had a water cannon explode a half-hour after you leaned up against it to catch your balance in Georgia. A baker in New Mexico was poisoned by licking frosting delivered by you. In Nebraska, a tornado siren malfunctioned after a sky blue Pacer with your license plates drove by. The next day a repairman fell onto a re-rod sticking up out of wet concrete. More than thirty deaths like this have happened since your Fired in Fairmont column – all within a day or two of getting advice from you.”
Flabbergasted, you sputtered wordless denials.
“Perhaps you’re doing it to gain credibility.” Woods heaved a breath and let it out slowly. “People are paying attention to your advice now. Your predictions are being read by tens of thousands, and in case you missed it, they’re from all over the country. Did you notice you’re being called ‘The Profit of Death’? Because you’re profiting from people dying.”
Your blood pressure spiked and your fists clenched. “It couldn’t be me! There’s no way I could even afford to drive around the country, much less pay for airfare. Someone’s framing me!”
“Calm down, Mr. Reymond.” Woods took out his note pad and pen. “How do you manage to pay for things? Did you inherit money from someone?”
“I don’t have money!”
“Have you been doing horoscopes for cash to pay for airline tickets? We have witnesses who say they saw you getting on and off planes here in Waterloo.”
“Get out of my life!” you shrieked. “I’m not doing any of this!”
Woods got to his feet. “You’re distressed now. I’ll be back when we know more.”
With that the marshal exited, while you declaimed your innocence. Calming enough to get back to work took hours, and an entire pot of caffeine-free tea.
Finally you retrieved a question that struck a nerve.
I got a friend who plays games all day and wants me to play too. Mom says it’s not good to play so much. But she’s gonna be out of town all weekend and won’t know.
Should I play with my friend?
Gaming in Greensboro.
You rolled your eyes because you still weren’t used to being called a “prophet.” If you knew the truth you’d be more upset than ever.
Since the thought of pestering you occurred . . . .
The tatters of your sanity snapped. You took a cinder block used to anchor your wobbly table and smashed it through your television. Then you threw open your only window and tossed the noisome appliance into the light snow, where it smashed through the windshield of a neighbor’s tiny discount car. Then it popped again.
You slammed your window closed and pounded out a reply.
The information you filled out indicates you are not yet even a teenager. You are a bit of a rebel, but there’s no reason you cannot play games with your friend. And what your mother never finds out won’t hurt you.
Just remember to eat and drink. Long gaming sessions can leave you hungry and thirsty. Remember to clean up any messes you make before your mother returns.
You closed your eyes and sobbed.
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