The next morning, I got up, ate breakfast with Steve, and then stepped out of the door and fell a million miles. I landed in a very strange place.
“You left, District Manager Wanda Louise Alexander Morrison, without choosing, and now you see what has happened?” The Peacekeeper asked. I was standing alone on the island in the table, surrounded by the aliens, or whatever they were. They all looked the same, but some of them were slightly larger, some had different shaped heads, and one of them, instead of the flat black coloring of the face, was slightly brownish. They all made odd hooting noises, as if they were laughing at me.
“I’m not sure you are real,” I replied. “I think I’m dreaming, or going insane.”
“You live in a world where you lock people up, there they die and call this insane?” The peacekeeper nodded vigorously. “Yes, we are both here and not here, both real and not real, both dream and not dream, but you still must choose.”
“What this time?” I asked.
“Here, I show you something we see,” the peacekeeper waved a paw in the air and a screen appeared.
It was the breakroom at the office. Three of my deputies, Ronnie Rogers, David Spells, and Ben Clarey were there.
“I’m telling you, the Cunt has lost her mind, passed right out from what Harlow said, hit the floor, then started talking nonsense, it’s time we ended this,” Ronnie said.
“Ronnie, you don’t even know if she’s going to run again, it’s just two more years, and then we can run you and it will be a breeze,” David spoke as he got up for more coffee.
“Putting that dope in her water bottle was a bad idea, Ron, and you know it,” Ben shook his head. “I never agreed to be a part of anything like that.”
“I ain’t done it,” Ronnie snapped. “I just said I might and I ain’t.”
“Well, you let this play out and I’ll help, but I ain’t putting up with you hurting nobody just so you can get to be Sheriff. Just be cool. Nobody likes her being behind the desk, and the commissioners ain’t gonna back her.” Ben said.
“She done busted too many pot farms and that’s gonna get somebody hurt,” Ronnie growled.
“We need to shut up about this while we’re here,” David warned. “Just shut up, Ronnie.”
The screen disappeared.
“You see, I show you what happens in back of you,” the peacekeeper said, “and you can choose.” The other peacekeepers hooted loudly.
“That’s no reason to have them killed,” I replied. “I could fire them, or not fire them, but spiking my water and protecting dope dealers isn’t an execution offense.” I stared at the black space in the air, willing the screen to reappear. I knew the men hated me, but had it gotten that bad?
“But it makes choice easy for you?” the peacekeeper asked.
“Why bother making me choose?” I replied. “Why go through all of this at all? We can’t stop you from doing whatever you want. Why the dog and pony show? Why not just take what you want, kill who you want, and not put me through this? Do you get some sort of entertainment value out of watching us suffer?” I knew better than to mouth off at them, but I was angry, and I was hurt.
“We watch you suffer without us, yes?” the peacekeeper said and he nodded, “And without us you suffer and you choose. Now we come and we tell you to choose and that makes you suffer more? I am asking. I already know, but you do not.”
“Okay, it makes it worse when you make us choose, even if we have already fucked things up for ourselves, is that what you wanted to hear?” I was trying not to cry but I felt myself losing control. What was happening to me? Was this a nightmare, some drug induced hallucination, or was I truly going insane?
“Here, I show you,” the peacekeeper said.
There was smoke everywhere, thick, acrid, and black. The office was on fire and the emergency lights weren’t working.
“Sheriff!” I could hear Harlow screaming so I tried to move towards the sound. The hallway was filled with debris and I stepped on a body. I grabbed an arm and pulled the body with me as I headed towards the front door.
“Fuck!” said the man I was dragging said and I realized it was Ben.
“Sheriff!” Harlow said as he met me in the hallway, “we gotta get out of the building.”
“What’s happening?” I asked. “Get Ben out of here.”
“They’re attacking,” Harlow’s face was covered in soot. “They’re taking out all the city and county buildings. They’re hitting the squad cars with some sort of projectiles. We’re trying to fight back but bullets aren’t helping. I got reports they’re herding people into some sort of black hole that’s on Washington Street. Whadda we do?”
“Use tear gas, push them away from people or push the people away from them, either way it works.” I saw a flash of light in the sky that looked like some sort of plane, or aircraft. “If bullets aren’t working then stop shooting at them. Try to block them with trucks if you can find any. But we have to get people away from them as fast as we can, then try to fight them if we can. Go.”
“Yes ma’am!” and Harlow was gone.
“You know, Sis, you’re under a hell of a lot of stress,” Karen said as she came out of the building.
“Karen?” I couldn’t believe she was there.
“What’s for dinner?” Karen asked. “Do you smell smoke?”
“Shit!” I had turned the oven on too high. Steve liked his garlic bread dark and I had left it on too long.
There was a thin line of smoke rising from the oven. But the house was the same as it had always been.
“You drive through downtown?” I asked. I was wearing my uniform which was neat and clean.
“Yeah, why?” Karen asked. “Are you okay?”
“I think I need a brain scan, or an MRI,” I replied. “I might be losing my mind.”
End part Four.