Time Of Our Death
By Paul D Aronson
The sirens were getting closer, but not close enough. We had no idea where Kev was going. All we could do right now was tag along. It was obvious to me he was heading somewhere to dump the body. You don’t just ride around with a dead body in your work van for long. He made a turn onto a road that was all too familiar to us.
“He’s going to the river,” Kelly said.
“Yeah,” Lori agreed. “Dump the body with the rest of us.”
I looked around the van. Kev had turned on the radio and was starting to sing again. It really irritated me because he was ruining a perfectly good Cinderella song. From now on whenever I heard it, it would always remind me of this moment, riding in the back of a serial killer’s van.
“Somebody save me!” he belted out, sounding like Janis Joplin swallowing a bunch of loose pebbles. “I lost my job and fallen out of my tree!” It wasn’t the exact lyrics I knew, but he wasn’t wound too tight anyway.
“We’ve got to do something,” said Brian. “This bastard’s got to pay.”
“Yes, I agree. We need to slow him down so the cops can catch us.”
“I’m on it,” he replied, moving towards the front of the van.
“Hey, where is Donald?” Lori asked.
I looked around. In all the excitement, I hadn’t been paying attention who was here and who was not. “I guess he’s still back at the house.”
“His fat butt couldn’t keep up,” Brian said, as he knelt at the floorboard right at the killer’s feet. In fact, Brian’s hands were going through the guy’s feet . He put both of them palm down on the brake and pushed. There was a screeching of the tires as the van skidded across the pavement. Lucky for us that we were ghosts. Otherwise we probably would have all slid to the front and been pressed to the windshield. As spirits we were more able to control the laws of physics and gravity for ourselves. Still, instinct made us all brace ourselves.
The braking of the vehicle caught Kev by surprise, but he didn’t utter a word as he fought to control the van. He pressed on the gas as far as it would go, and the engine revved, trying to break free of the engaged brakes. He turned the wheel every way he could to try to get the tires to grab pavement and go. The brakes squealed and whined so much, smoke was rising up from the friction on the pavement, but we still weren’t going anywhere.
“Come on, you bitch,” he growled. “Let go!”
Suddenly, the brakes released and the van shot forward with a screech of its tires. Brian was nowhere to be seen.
“Oh my god, Where’d he go!?” Kelly screamed.
Looking out the rear window, I saw Brian laying in the road behind us. He had fallen straight through the van’s floorboard as if it weren’t there. “I think he’s out of energy,” I said.
“Oh my God, No!” Kelly went through the van like vapor and emerged onto the road. Gaining her footing, she sprinted towards her fallen lover, while Lori and I were still in the rolling death machine with our killer.
“Is he going to be alright?” Lori asked.
I nodded. “I think so. I think he just ran out of energy like you did the other night.”
“Hell of a time for that to happen.”
She was right. Fate could throw all kind of wrenches your way, but we needed to throw it back and soon. Kev was pushing the van as much as he could, and sure enough, Kelly had been right. He was taking us to the river. We were already on the river road and five minutes from Bay Bridge. I didn’t want to go off the damn thing a second time. Even if it couldn’t hurt me much now, I was beginning to think that God, or whomever, had a sense of humor and wasn’t afraid to laugh a little at our expense.
The sirens were getting closer, but not close enough. The river road was a long stretch of pavement with very little curves. Behind us, I could no longer see Brian and Kelly, but I could see the beginning flash of lights. At the current rate of speed however, the cops would never catch up to the van. I charged to the front and grabbed the steering wheel, hoping I too would not run out of energy. If I did, our killer might get away.
I jerked the wheel and the van swerved into the other lane of the road. The killer cursed and swore, but fought the wheel. Despite being a ghost, I was still just a kid. A skinny teenager against a muscle bound full grown man. I couldn’t hold the wheel against his strength. He got us back in the road without too much problem. I tried to jerk it again, but he was prepared this time, and as the guys in Cinderella sang, “Somebody Save Me!” I dove through the van’s engine, grabbing wires and hoses as I went. I jerked them free, hoping I was pulling something that would make the van stall. I was in luck, the engine made a clunking sound, I popped back into the van’s interior and grabbed the wheel once more.
Kev was in a serious panic now, the engine was cutting off, and the only thing carrying us along was the forward momentum from the speed at which we had been traveling. Distracted enough by this dilemma, I was able to jerk the wheel free of his grasp and turn it hard. With a huge thunk the engine locked up and the van flipped over on its side, skidding across the pavement and tumbling over and over down an embankment. It landed upside down in the shallow bank of the river. Water came in through the windows but it wasn’t enough to completely submerge the vehicle.
Kev was trying to open the door, but the tumble had jarred it. The river was rushing in to slap him in the face, and he ended up swallowing some of the murky water. Lori rushed forward. In her hand she held a tank of some kind. At first I thought it was oxygen, but then she pulled the trigger and a thick liquid hit him square in the mouth. Swallowing water was one thing. Ingesting industrial bug spray was another. He began to gag and twist in his seat. I grabbed hold of his seat belt and buckled him in so he couldn’t escape. Lori gave him another jet of bug spray, this time in the eyes, and as he opened his mouth to scream, the onrushing water filled him up. Hanging upside down, the river water was filling the cab, submerging his mouth and face where no air could reach him. Lori dropped the spray tank and suddenly the driver’s side was wrenched open. The calvary had arrived and a Sheriff’s deputy was trying to pull Kev’s body out of the van. With quick thinking, he released the seat belt and hauled the big man to freedom.
“I got him,” he yelled, as other deputies came down the embankment.
“Is there anyone else in the van?” One of them asked.
“I don’t know. This guy is..”
Kev’s body thrashed around on the ground. The poison and water had filled his lungs and he couldn’t rid himself of it. We stood there and watched, wondering what was going through his mind in these last moments. His eyes were red and unfocused. He spasmed, his back arching in agony. For a split second, his eyes seemed to focus on us, and all that was there was rage. I don’t know if he actually saw us or not, but he cast a defiant glare in our direction as his body jerked for the very last time. We didn’t turn away. The death of this child murdering, woman killing monster, meant absolutely nothing to us. We were as cold as death itself with no remorse or guilt for what we had done.
“We lost him,” a deputy said. “Somebody tell the sheriff he can stay at the guy’s house, no need to come out here.”
Lori and I turned from the scene and went up the embankment. Neither of us said a word to each other, as we got back on the road and started walking back to where we’d last seen Brian and Kelly.
They were no longer in the road. Kelly had dragged her boyfriend to a tree on the bank overlooking the river. She had leaned her back against it and was cradling Brian’s head in her lap. She looked up as we approached.
“Did they get him?” She asked.
I shook my head. “No, he’s dead.”
“Did you kill him?”
There was no use lying. “Yes, we did.”
She nodded. “Good.”
I looked down at Brian. His eyes were closed, but the way his chest moved I knew he was asleep, completely exhausted by the loss of energy. “Don’t worry, Kelly. He’ll be okay.”
She looked at me, eyes full of worry. “Are you sure?”
“Something similar happened to Lori. She just slept it off and was good as new. He’ll be okay by morning.”
She still didn’t look convinced. “Are we going to die now?”
I wanted to remind her we were already dead, but I knew that wasn’t what she meant.
“We righted the wrong,” Lori said.
Kelly nodded. “Does that mean it’s over then?”
“I guess,” I replied. “It doesn’t look to be an instantaneous thing though. I suppose we just have to wait it out, see what happens.”
I sat down next to Kelly and Brian. I too leaned against a tree. Lori sat down on my lap, curled her legs under her, and rested her head on my shoulder. I held her to me, as an ambulance drove by on its way to the crashed van. I noticed it didn’t have its siren on. I closed my eyes, and kissed Lori’s forehead. She lifted her head and looked at me.
“If this is the last one, make it one to remember,” she said.
“I wonder if we will even have memories after…”
“Shut up,” she said, and pressed her lips to mine. I closed my eyes again and surrendered to the bittersweet abandon of her kiss. A warmth seemed to envelop me. It was organic and pure, and encompassed all that I perceived me to be. It washed over me like the rising tide of a summertime beach, chasing any cold feeling I had within me into the furthest reaches of my existence. It was as if our kisses were melting across each other’s mouth, fusing us together into a new form of being. One where there was not a Chris. Nor a Lori. But something new and wonderful, a combination of both of us swimming through the ether of night.
My eyes snapped open. My back was still against the tree. Lori still in my lap.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
“I..I think I was dreaming.”
She snuggled closer to me. “Was I in it?”
“Forevermore,” I replied.
At some point in the early hours of the morning, as the sun was just beginning to peak it’s head over the trees, Brian awoke.
“What are we doing sitting by the river?” he asked.
“You needed rest, baby,” Kelly said.
He looked up at her, his head still resting in her lap. “Nice,” he grinned.
“How do you feel?” I asked him.
“I feel good. Am I supposed to feel something different?”
Kelly looked at him and said grimly, “We fixed it.”
At first he seemed confused, then looking at all of us he realized the truth. “He’s dead?”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
He smiled. “So why all the glum faces?”
Lori looked to me for answers and then said, “If we fixed the wrong that was done to us, everything should be setting itself to right again.”
“Then why are we still here?” He asked.
I had been thinking about it and the more time had past the more it looked like another piece fell into place before we could be at eternal rest. “I think it has something to do with our physical bodies. As far as we know they haven’t found them yet. I think that’s the key to all this.”
“So you’re saying it doesn’t matter that we got the guy who killed us?”
“Im not saying it doesn’t matter. The guy was a killer, and from the way he was talking neither us or the flower lady were the first. We did something good. We saved other people from a similar fate. That has to mean something.”
Brian seemed to like this idea. He grinned. “So I guess we’re like super heroes then, huh?”
I had to smile. “Yeah, I guess. But don’t let it go to your head.”
“Too late,” he laughed. “Im bored. Let’s go save someone else.”
“How about we go find Donald first? Last I saw him he was back at the house. We just left him there.”
“More like he left himself there. If were going to be superheroes we can’t be dragging him around behind us all the time. He needs to keep his fat ass up.”
“I see sleep didn’t make you any nicer,” Lori said.
“Should it?” He asked, raising an eyebrow with his usual smart ass look.
She sighed. “No, I suppose not.”
“Hey, what’s that?” Kelly interrupted.
The sound of outboard motors was coming down the river. We all looked and saw a group of small boats moving downstream. Some dragged nets behind them. A man sat in one of them, a pair of binoculars to his face, scanning the shoreline. Recovery operations had resumed.
+++music for riding in a van with a serial killer…just sayin+++