I was afraid if I closed my eyes that I would never wake up. That’s called dying. FYI. Also I wanted to close my eyes and go to sleep more than anything I ever wanted before or since. I felt coldness in my bones worse than a Chicago winter spent without a home. I wondered if I was already dead. The way I felt didn’t seem like a way a possible way living person could feel.
The door to the shitty break room was open and there were people in the diner. That didn’t seem right. There had never seen other people, customers I mean, in the diner before. It was wrong.
The woman in the Velvet Revolver shirt with the wrist tattoos was standing over me. Her shoes squished in my in my blood. She looked exactly the same as the other time I saw her. Exactly. She asked me if I wanted help. I said that I did.
“There will be a price” she said. I nodded and she said “You have to say it.”
I said that I would pay the price and I was fine. She didn’t cast a spell. She didn’t do anything. There was no flash of light, no sensation, nothing. My wounds were just gone like they had never existed. It was such a sudden shift that I got confused. Had I ever been injured? Did I dream that?
“Wait here” she said “don’t touch the couch”.
She walked out of the room leaving bloody footprints that stopped once she passed the threshold of the doorway into the diner. I didn’t touch the couch. I sat in one of the chairs. I felt numb or blank somehow, like I wasn’t fully in control of myself.
After some period of time I noticed there was someone sitting on the couch. A skinny dark skinned guy wearing a flat cap and a navy jacket over a tattered Johnny Cash shirt. His eyes were low and dim and he looked bone-weary.
“Are you Raymond Pine?” I asked. He shook his head. “I used to have a shirt like that. Johnny Cash is a singer right?”
His voice was lyrical and feminine, much more than mine is “If you survive your battle with masacurraman go to 12 Mile Swamp in Saint Augustine to pay for what you have received.”
“Is that the monster that just ripped me open from snatch to tit? How can I defeat it?”
Before the question was all the way out of my mouth I wasn’t there anymore. I was standing by my car, which looked like it had been crashed into blades first by a helicopter. There was a disturbing amount of my blood on the seats and dash and steering wheel. You see that much blood you assume the person it belonged to is dead dead dead.