The Brotherhood #44
By Mark W. Meier
You wanted Him to leave you alone. That’s why I can use you as I wish.
Amy remained stock still for a full minute, staring at the spot where two individuals had vanished. Then Andy’s vacant stare intruded and spurred her into action. She dialed her cell phone.
“9-1-1, what is the nature of your emergency?”
Amy swallowed past the lump in her throat. “He’s dead. I think he . . .” Words failed her. Andy was gone. The pain and horror of his final moments were still frozen on his face. She turned to the wall to avoid looking at him.
“Who died, ma’am?”
“Andy.” The hollow echo of Amy’s voice returned from the grubby, pockmarked sheetrock. “My friend Andy.” Tears trickled down her cheeks. She’d been sure they would have a significant relationship. Now . . . nothing. Like so many others in her life, he was dead.
“Can you give us your address, ma’am?”
With a quavering voice the words and numbers spilled from her.
The dispatcher’s androgynous voice told her to stay on the line. “An ambulance is on the way. Have you checked to see if he’s breathing?”
Amy screamed at the operator, “He grabbed his chest and collapsed! But no, he’s not breathing.”
“Have you tried CPR?”
“I’ve never been trained.” Amy vowed to fix that oversight. Andy was dead and she couldn’t even try to save him.
Unable to stay in the same room with Andy, Amy stepped from the apartment into the hallway, which, like the apartment, smelled of days-old cooked grease. The odor of fried food reheated in dirty microwave ovens became a miasma. Something else, though, drove her from the efficiency where Andy had fallen.
Amy slid down the wall, sagging to the stained carpeting, listening to the background chatter of the dispatch center. Indistinct voices spoke in businesslike tones. One emergency after another swam through her overwhelmed emotions, none staying. The dispatcher wasn’t talking to her so it didn’t matter.
Andy was dead.
A sob choked Amy. So many deaths in such a short time. And this one happened at The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. She put her free hand over her mouth to muffle her weeping.
“Are you okay, ma’am?”
“I’ll – I-I’ll be fine. How much longer?”
A radio in the background muttered incoherently. “A patrol car is pulling into your parking lot now. Officers will be on your floor in a couple of minutes.”
Baraqijal watched in disbelief, invisible to the mourning woman. He didn’t know what he’d expected, but a simple human death seemed anticlimactic. Nothing more than a death.
“Sometimes I wonder why I bother.” He departed. A little sightseeing could be excused before going back to the Brotherhood for his next assignment.
The oppressive feeling Amy experienced lifted. Sure, the smell of greasy air was the same, but somehow her mind sharpened. The dulling effect on her emotions ended and she knew what was going on.
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