“You okay?” the voice was vaguely familiar but slurred as if an old friend had called me on a three day bender.
“Yeah,” I replied and my own voice sounded like that of an old-fashioned telephone, deep in a well, far away and faint.
“Let’s get you up,” and I realized Steve was helping me off the floor. I looked at my hands and realized there was no blood, there was no blood on my body, and for that, I was thankful, but I wasn’t sure to who.
I was still in my uniform, still at home, and I felt curiously light, dizzy, as if I wasn’t quite back yet.
“What happened?” it was a woman’s voice, my sister, Karen, and I almost cried. They knew about her, knew my family, but for anyone I loved to be in the same area code meant they would use that person against me if they could, and they could.
“What do you remember?” asked Steve
“I was here, I had just gotten dressed,” the memory was perfectly clear now, and I told them about it, “then I was gone. I was awake, conscious at least, then I landed somewhere, not anywhere around here, you can bet that. There was a circular table, and I was standing with other people in the middle on an island in the middle. There were dozens, maybe a hundred of the creatures, all bulky and dressed in that black shimmering stuff, I don’t think it’s their real skin, but they were all talking, speaking some alien language but I could tell what they were saying. It was food, all about food, not food because they were hungry, but food because it tasted good, like when you eat junk food, or go out for pizza.”
“But pizza is real food,” Steve protested.
“Hush!” Karen told him.
“And they seemed happy, delighted to see me and the other people in the island. I recognized Peters from Lowndes, Berry from Cook County, and Jimmy Stiles from Thomas, a a few others, but there were people there I didn’t know. We were all terrified.” I felt the world spinning but had to keep going.
“One of the creatures came through the table, floated through it as if the table wasn’t real, it wasn’t either and stood over us, leering and drool started coming out of its mouth.”
“You, Sheriff Wanda Louise Alexander Morrison,” it said, “you choose one of these, or they choose five from their districts. Go!” And with that it waved it’s hand in the air and screens appeared.
“Wanda?” Steve asked. “What in the hell are you talking about?”
“Sis, are you okay?” Karen put her hand on my forehead.
“Yeah, they didn’t hurt me,” I replied, “but it’s going to get a lot worse from this point on.”
“Baby, what was the last thing you remembered?” Steve repeated.
“They somehow got me out of there, and then I woke up on their ship,” I said, and something wasn’t right.
“Who?” Karen asked. “What ship?”
“The Peacekeepers, they took me . . .” I tried to stand and couldn’t.
“Peacekeepers?” Steve asked.
“Sis, I’m calling Doctor Smith, I think you might have had a stroke or something.” Karen raced out of the room before I could stop her. The room spun and I blacked out.
“Wanda?” It was Steve. The room was a hospital room. There was a flat screen on the wall that showed a photo of the president talking about the latest fire in California.
“Steve, what happened? Do you know?” I asked. The news switched over to the World Series, where a game had been cancelled because of the fire.
“We found you on the floor,” Steve said. “Then when you came to you were babbling about a dream you had.”
“It wasn’t a dream,” I said, but Harlow was there, looking at his cell, and he looked up and smiled.
“You okay, Sheriff?” he asked. “We’re talking about baking a cake for you but no one at the office can cook worth a damn.”
“Give me the remote, please,” I asked and Steve handed it to me.
“You know, you have that thing on the rail you can use now,” Harlow offered. “Don’t have to raise your head, hey!”
I got out of the bed, trailing the IV tube behind me and scrolled through the channels. There was a fishing show, a movie, another news channel with a video of a storm in the Midwest, and the weather show that was saying it was going to be the hottest year on record. But nothing, not one mention of the Peacekeepers, or what they were doing.
“Wanda?” Steve asked.
“Hey, go back to the fishing show!” Harlow said.
“Take me to the office, I have to go there right now,” I remanded, and ripped the tube out of my arm.
It was a surreal scene back at the office. The door was in its rightful place, the walls were undamaged, and everyone was happy and smiling, I mean, as much as they always might have been.
“What’s the status of Dernmond?” I asked Harlow, who treated me as if I might fall to the floor without warning.
“Uh, didn’t want to upset you but he committed suicide yesterday, I was headed to your place to tell you when I saw the ambulance. Hung himself with a sheet.” Harlow said and he turned red.
“Suicide watch means you make sure they don’t not make sure they do, Harlow,” I snapped at him.
“You know damn well we’re better off with him dead, Wanda,” Harlow replied, and I couldn’t help but stare at the wall. It was whole and in one piece. How could this be? Why was there no blood on the ceiling and wall? There was no way it could have been cleaned up, much less repaired in that sort of time.
My cell went off. A call about a shooter in a school bus with a gun. We rushed out, Harlow with me, riding shotgun, and when we got to the bus it was Travis Kems. He had taken the whole bus hostage. I walked in to see rows of terrified children with the driver dead in his seat. That was old man Sears, who had driven a bus forever.
“Peacekeepers sent me Wanda,” Travis said, “they say you left the party early.” Then Travis put the barrel of the gun in his mouth and blew the top of his head off.
End Part Three