The Watchmen Part VIII – A Thriller Novella

If you missed the previous chapter you can find it here:

It creeps along at a lingering pace, the blast barely moving a handful of feet at a time. I desperately want to move, but I know they won’t allow that. Not until they have wrung every ounce of pain from my body. I’m hoping through my own experience that I am able to convey the message convincingly enough that the people watching may listen. ‘May’ being the key word here. It’s almost beautiful watching the buildings bend around the blast radius, the pieces wrapping the dome of smoke and fire. My survival instincts kick in as the blast gets less than a hundred feet from me. I can’t scream, mustn’t scream I tell myself over and over. I want to believe that I can somehow trick my mind into not trusting what I see and feel. I have no clue as to how long in real time I am here. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? I know that it has to be less than an hour until the restaurant closes. I secretly hope that they don’t close and have to drag my catatonic body out of here as I stare lifelessly, or worse, screaming my head off. Not that I would have to worry about losing my job but upsetting or freaking out Devon seems far worse than any of that. As the expanding light draws closer I think about how many days we all have left. Four days after today. I have been trapped in this vision for so long that I am worried that I have lost a day between now and this morning. It definitely feels like it has. The blinding light is less than fifty feet now, making everything in sight look disjointed and blurry. I should have felt something by now, or at least some sort of sensation of being torn apart─ my apprehension grows as I realize what must be happening. These ghastly beings are showing me what it means to defy them and worse still, the pain that they promise to inflict. Whether all of this will keep happening to me now or perhaps what may come of all of this, I am not sure. What I do know is that I can’t take much more of this─ let alone four days worth. I need to reach out with a live-stream soon. If I can just give people a fighting chance with more time, maybe I can save those that are willing to listen.
The fire charges toward me until it envelopes my body. I choke back a whimper as the heat blasts across my skin. The pain is so unimaginable that it steals the breath from me. My skin peels back from my fingers, arms, chest, and then face. The muscles along my bones turn from red, to purple and then black. An in-human gurgle escapes from my throat. I know it isn’t real and I know it isn’t really harming me but at this moment I want the agony to end. I fall to the ground, my legs and spine shattering into fragments against the pavement. I can feel every blow, every splinter as I slowly dissolve. A second wave, and then a third wave blasts me apart and finally I am released into sweet nothingness.


Devon carries me over the threshold as I cry against his shoulder. My arms are secured tightly around his neck. I can’t seem to shake the chill from my body and shiver uncontrollably. He says nothing and lays me on the couch. He disappears for a moment and then returns with a blanket from my room. He drapes it over my shoulders, pulls up a chair, and then places my head in his lap. He moves my hair to the side and runs his fingers through it as we sit quietly. Devon’s touch is soft, careful not to pull hard on any tangles. He must have had sisters─ or a wife. That thought makes me very uncomfortable but I’m trying my best not to jump to conclusions. Besides, I have never felt this loved before. The only thing that comes to mind is how my mother would rub my back and neck when I was sick. I snuggle against the blanket as my sniffles subside. The wetness around my eyes and cheeks have dried. I’m feeling way better than when we walked in. It should be weird laying here with a man I barely know touching me intimately. I should cringe and pull away─ my skin should be crawling at the invasion of my personal space. I should be feeling a lot of things right now and yet here I am as Zen as a monk. He applies light pressure to the bridge of my nose between his thumbs and then applies pressure from my forehead all along the ridge of my head. He continues this motion for several moments. I can feel the tension in my neck and shoulders melt away. I nearly let out a soft moan but stifle it─ not wanting to make it sound sexual. I shift in his lap now very aware that he can see my face in great detail. I feel exposed and insecure, like he may be judging my every imperfection. I turn my face to the side placing the blankets under my ear like a makeshift pillow. My eyes open and I stare at the course, blue denim of his jeans. Our time of silence is over and we both realize it. Devon has seen me bawling like a child, screaming like a mad woman, and jumping at every little thing. I had at least managed to make it out of the restaurant bathroom with my dignity still intact. Thankfully everything had happened before they closed. I had hoped that I would make it home without another incident. My brain, however, has other things in mind. The instant that I saw his face as he stood by the booth I disintegrated. The staff had watched me collapse and worst of all, Devon. How many times can I do this in front of him before he decides to abandon me as a friend and a coworker? My breath hitches and my chest tightens just thinking about it. “Devon, I─” my voice falters.
“Shh,” he says, continuing to stroke my hair, “don’t worry about anything except here and now.” We relax into each other’s company, his hand caressing my head and then running them through to the ends of my hair. His voice is soothing, “Zedd had his moments, like this, for the past several months. He was starting to get much better just a few weeks ago.” He pauses and then looks down at me, “you want to know something that really strikes me as odd?” I stay mute, listening to him. “Zedd once brought in a sheet of paper, just like you and had me look it over. It was blank and he shrugged it off, much like you. But there was something there in his eyes. In a word, I would call it haunted.” My eyes betray me and I have to stare at the back of the couch, trying not to show what I’m feeling. “Kate, I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t want you to end up like Zedd.” He rests a hand on my shoulder. I want to believe that I can stay strong and keep quiet─ but I can’t anymore. I’m so tired.
I push myself up and swipe at my face. “You’re right about me hiding things from you.” I whisper. “I know,” Devon says, “but I was waiting for you to tell me.” There’s an uncomfortable pause between us, “The thing is,” I bite my lip trying to decide what to say. “Even if I told you everything, you wouldn’t believe it.” He’s quiet for a minute and then says, “I think that whatever you are going through is real, just like it was for Zedd. I know it was bad enough that he took his own life.” My lips quiver and I hug myself, running my hands along my arms. “I don’t think that you are the type to make things up and I think that what you and him went through is somehow connected.” I nod and wipe away fresh tears. “Yes, it is. I honestly thought that I was going crazy until Zedd approached me that day. We talked over dinner but I swear to you, he gave me no hint of his─” I look at the ground “intentions.” Devon’s hand slides under my chin and he tilts my face toward his. “I know you didn’t. That was his choice.” His voice is raw and his eyes tear up. We’re now inches from each other and I’m struggling to breathe. He leans dangerously close to my lips but veers to my ear instead. His whisper sends chills down my body, “tell me what you’ve been through. I want to hear it.” My chest rises and falls quickly, it’s too much and all of my senses are in overdrive.
He senses that something is off and pulls away, giving me space. I’m thankful, but at the same time, I want him to be close. I’m so confused. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” My face is on fire from his words, “I no, well,” I clasp and unclasp my hands, “words.” I offer lamely and then try again, “I like you.” “Duh.” Devon says, cracking a smile. My eyes grow wide and then I lose it. Despite the situation we both can’t help ourselves. It feels good to let it go─ the tension, the pain, and heartache. “How did you know?” I ask after a few minutes. “I didn’t, but I do now. I’ve been told I’m sort of clueless on signals.” He says, scratching the back of his head. “Damn it,” I mutter, “I’m so horrible at this.” He pulls me into a hug “I like you too, dummy. If it wasn’t obvious.” My grin grows wider at his words and my heart flutters. I can’t believe that he feels the same as I do. My shoulders sag and I lean into him. I want to capture this moment and remember it until I’m gone. 



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