Steven and I had been married for four years. He was against me running for Sheriff, and I regretted it deeply as soon as I put the uniform on. Brooks County was a small, lightly populated, very closed little county. But the people liked me, I liked them, and the retiring Sheriff supported me. I thought the fact I knew the job better than anyone else, I had been a deputy in Thomas County for five years, would mean something. I thought they would accept someone who worked hard and was honest, even a woman.
Was I losing my mind because of the position? Was the job stress killing me? It certainly wasn’t helping my marriage. Now this, me coming and going in some alternative world where aliens were attacking Earth, yes, in fact, I was losing my mind, I had to admit it.
“Steve, I need help, I’m hallucinating, passing out, seeing things, hearing things, and I’m going to have to resign from the county to take better care of myself,” I blurted this out over spaghetti and red wine.
“I have to admit the episodes are a little strange,” Steve said more nonchalantly than I could have under similar conditions. “But don’t bail on your job until a doctor tells you there’s a reason. Or not a reason. But what have you been seeing and hearing?”
“Okay, remember you asked,” I replied, drained my wine glass, refilled it, drank half of it, and told Steve everything. I didn’t leave out a single detail, but the man didn’t interrupt me or flinch.
“Let’s do this,” Steve began, “okay, this sounds insane, but at the same time you have no history of anything like this. Let’s try a simple experiment.”
“Okay, what?” I wondered if he meant an MRI or some sort of scan.
“If none of this is real then there shouldn’t be any connection between the other world and this one. If there is a connection that means you aren’t crazy, which I think might actually be worse.” Steve poured more wine and smiled at me. I felt better.
“What do we do?” I asked.
“Call Harlow, tell him to meet you at the office first thing tomorrow morning. And then do your job given the evidence of a crime, Sheriff.” Steve had a way with words. I picked up my cell and called Harlow.
The next morning, I felt strange and surreal. What I was about to do was going to alter my reality, one way or the other, and neither felt good. Harlow had Ronnie Rogers in the conference room when I arrived. I sat down and hit the record button on the video without so much as a good morning.
“Deputy Rogers, this interview is being recorded, you’ve been read your rights, and at this time, would you like to have a lawyer present?” I asked. Rogers was sitting across from me with Harlow beside him.
“I don’t need no lawyer,” Ronnie snarled, “I ain’t done nothing.”
“Okay, you have waived your right to have a lawyer present. Both Deputies Spells and Clarey have filed complaints about you. They charge you drugged my water bottle in an attempt to discredit my office. At this point you are going to be charged with two felonies, assault upon a peace officer, and possession of an illegal substance with the intent to harm, other charges will follow, I am sure. Do you have anything to say?” I asked and leaned back in the chair.
“It was a joke, that’s all, listen, I didn’t mean to hurt nobody, I like you, I think it’s great you got the job, I was just playing a trick on you, I swear it,” Ronnie was sweating.
“You’ve been protecting some of the pot farmers, and they paid you to come after me, didn’t they?” I asked.
“I ain’t done that!” Ronnie was scared now, and it showed.
“You know what’s going to happen to you in prison, Ronnie?” Harlow asked. “You got a purty mouth, boy.”
“I ain’t, I ain’t done nothing with no pot farmers, listen, I done wrong by you, I admit that, but I’ll make you a deal; I’ll quit, I’ll quit right now.” Ronnie stood up then sat down again. “I’ll turn in my certification.”
“I want the names of the people who were backing you, Ronnie, and if you don’t give them to me, then you are going prison. But one question, what did you spike my water with?” I tapped my foot on the floor and it seemed very loud.
“That angel dust stuff, just a little, I swear I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Ronnie began sobbing.
“You are under arrest, Mr. Rogers, stand up, put your hands behind your back, please,” Harlow said and he reached over and took Ronnie’s gun and handcuffed Ronnie.
“Harlow, let’s bring Spells and Clarey in, I want to know how deeply involved they were in this,” I said.
“Wait!” Ronnie said, “you mean, they ain’t told you nothing?”
“No, we knew you’d fold up so there was no need,” I said sweetly. “You really ought to study the handbook on interrogation more often.”
Later that day, I was with David, drinking wine, yeah again, to celebrate. Arresting a deputy meant the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would come visit us, but I felt like the case was strong enough I didn’t have to worry.
“There’s a problem,” I said to Steve. “Now that we know.”
“No, there’s only a solution,” Steve replied. We were both naked on the sofa, having not made it to the bedroom.
“If all of this is a drug induced hallucination, then how did I know about the plot?” I asked.
“It’s not just a drug induced hallucination, Baby, it’s all too real,” Steve said. “I thought that from the beginning.”
“What? Why?” I asked.
“Because you were in uniform when we found you on the floor the other day, you had left for work, were gone for a couple of hours, then you were back here. If you hadn’t gone to work then the note I left on your windshield would still be there. I checked. It was gone.” Steve slipped beside me and poured more wine. “Somehow, you went to work, but then you were back home before you left. That’s something that is deeply strange and has to involve something out of this world.”
“You believe there’s aliens who call themselves Peacekeepers and they’re out to destroy the earth, and all you’re doing is pouring me more wine?” I sat up. “Now you’re the crazy one.”
“Wanda, let’s look at what’s happened so far,” Steve said. “You were given a pretty strong drug, one of your prisoners has committed suicide, and you’ve had serious interactions with some sort of force that messes with time and place. Yet given all this, nothing and no one has really been hurt, except for Dernmond hanging himself, that was real. But the school bus incident didn’t happen.”
“I called Mental Health services to go talk to Travis when I realized it wasn’t real,” I said getting up and pacing.
“I think I have an idea that will end this,” Steve said, “but we’re going to have to find someone with some real smarts. But first we’re going to see Travis Kems. He’s a serious drug addict. I’m betting if we get to him quick, we can save the world next.
End part Five.