Vass landed soundlessly from the ventilation shaft behind two officers guarding the hallway to Phoebe’s room. The disinfectant smell hit her nose as she quietly entered the Intensive Care Unit of Red Hill General Hospital. They would let her in if she had gone through them, but that meant two more loose ends to tie. The officer would recognize her and she couldn’t have that. She also didn’t want to have to kill more people than she absolutely needed to. When all this was over, she would still love to have her job on the force. Lucky for her, the nurse’s station was empty. She tip-toed across the waiting area and found Phoebe’s room.
She laid on the bed, unconscious and motionless, to the tune of the heart monitor by her head. Her freckles were the only colours on her face. Tiny cords passed under her hospital gown to her body and one supplied oxygen to her nostrils. Vass brought out a bottle of morphine and drew out the entire liquid into an injection syringe. The sliding door cut into the beeping sound of the heart monitor.
“Who are you?” a voice demanded from the door.
Vass hid the injection in her jacket pocket and turned to the voice. “Oliver,” she forced a smile.
“The officers said no one is in here,” he said, pointing back to the exit.
“Really? They must be mistaken.”
“Both of them are mistaken?” he sounded leery.
Vass let out a phoney giggle. “Oh, I can recollect now, nobody was there. They must have been on a break,” she waved her hands to dismiss Oliver’s query. “Anyway, what are you doing here?”
Oliver was not convinced. He knew Vass was lying, the reason was what he didn’t know. “I came to check on Phoebe.” He pulled a chair beside the white single bed Phoebe occupied and lowered himself on it. She was clothed in the long-sleeved hospital gown which was why he could afford to touch her arm. He resisted the temptation to touch her bare hand for the fear of seeing her death vision again. There were so many variables. So many things he didn’t know about his ability. Maybe if he had embraced it earlier as Eden said and he had mastered it, he would be able to figure out how all these would end. Phoebe should have died according to the vision he saw at the safe house, yet here she was. Eden had managed to pull off a miracle that they had no means of knowing its end. Granny Wess still died, but Lessie was alive. What variables existed between them? Why was the outcome of changing Granny Wess’s fate different from Lessie’s? Or maybe it wasn’t. Perhaps, Lessie would still die the way he had seen in his vision. Maybe they just delayed the inevitable like with Granny Wess. If that was the case, Phoebe might still die. Crap. “I hope she pulls through,” he spoke more to himself than the audience.
“Because she is the only one that can tell you where Eden is?” Vass asked.
He scoffed. “No, not that.” Phoebe had been through a lot, they all had. Dying now, when he could feel the end coming won’t be fair to any one of them. “We shouldn’t have separated after that day,” he said, observing Phoebe’s long lashes. “We should have stayed together. After the blast happened in the tunnel, I passed out and woke up at the hospital. When I asked for my friends, they took me to Eden first. She didn’t recognize me. That broke my heart more than what Black made us do. How could she not remember me after what we just went through together? My parents wanted to protect me, so they prevented me from seeing any of the others.” He sighed and shifted his foot, holding Phoebe’s arm with both hands. “The explosion… Micah and I were so close to it. It was a miracle we survived it. We walked past each other a few times at the hospital before his parents moved him. Phoebe’s parents left with her not long afterwards too. We never said anything to each other. I guess talking about it scared us, reinforced the fact that it happened.” He shook his head. “I don’t know. It was when we woke up and learnt about Fred’s death… everything we went through with Black traumatised us.” He cleared his throat and tucked Phoebe’s arm under the grey blanket. “And I had my own issues then.”
“Well,” he rose to his feet, “I had… hallucinations.” I don’t trust her, his mind whispered to him.
“The explosion could have caused the hallucinations.”
“Humm,” he nodded and inhaled. “What are you doing here?” he asked with sudden curiosity that startled Vass.
“Oh, uhm, I was following a lead a few blocks from the hospital. Decided to check on her,” she glanced at Phoebe.
Oliver was with the team when Eden activated her tracker. Phoebe was found less than fifteen minutes later, without Fred and Eden. Why did he suddenly leave without even making sure Phoebe was dead? he wondered. Fred had to have known that they were coming. Oliver studied Vass; there was no doubt she was hiding something. He began to wonder if he could trust Detective Kress and his team or if it was just Vass. Maybe Vass’s death would give him an answer. Instead of seeing people’s death vision, he wished he could read their memory or mind.
It was a good thing Vass had been absent for most of the investigation, so she didn’t know about his ability. Hopefully, Kress didn’t tell her. “You’ve got something on your face.” Oliver drew closer to Vass and placed a hand on her cheek.
Vass sucked her lips as Oliver brushed his fingers over her cheek. He stared into the distance for a split second before he winced and dropped his hand.
“Thank you,” she said coyly, tucking her hair behind her ear.
Oliver blinked and swallowed hard as he forced his lips to curve in a half-hearted smile. Vass was shot in the chest four times in the vision he just saw. That was how she died or would die. She was wearing the same clothes she wore in her death vision. That could only mean she would die that same day. Now, where would it happen? She was outside a cabin bordered by dried leaves and trees. He wished he could see the shooter.
“I gotta go,” Vass announced. “I will see you later at the station.” She made for the door.
She was probably going to where she would die. And why would she die like that? Before he decided to try to save her or not he had to know more, see more.
“Wait!” His abrupt order made Vass turn. His eyes darted sideways as he thought of a lie— an excuse to touch her again. “Areeee…. Are you taking the elevator back down?”
“May I come with you?”
“Me? why?” she smiled.
“I am claustrophobic. I don’t take elevators alone.”
She cocked her head thoughtfully. “You are claustrophobic?” Oliver nodded too fast. “You own one of the tallest buildings in Red Hill. Surely, you take an elevator to your office.”
“Never alone. I always ride with somebody.”
“Uhm,” she exhaled. “Uhmm, okay. Let’s go,” she shrugged.
The officers at the door exchanged stunned expressions when they saw Vass walk out of the room with Oliver, but didn’t talk.
Inside the elevator, Oliver offered his hand. Vass regarded him with a questioning look. “I hold hands with the people I take an elevator with,” he grinned.
“Oh.” She slowly took his hand and pressed the ground floor button.
Oliver was in the visionscape again. As he did the first time, he tried to see beyond Vass’s body plummeting to the grass of withered shrubs. Vass grunted and shot her face to Oliver’s hand as it gripped hers tightly.
“What kind of crazy phobia is this?” she muttered, trying to get her hand out of his grip.
Oliver squeezed his eyes and clenched his teeth in severe distress. The elevator door split open on the ground floor but he held on, groaning as blood oozed out of his nostrils.
“Oliver!” She sought to pull her hand free but it was hopeless. Onlookers waiting by the elevator watched with curiosity and confusion, trying and failing to guess what was going on. Sweat washed down Oliver’s face in minutes as though he had been under the sun for hours.
“Oliver!” Vass shook him with her free hand.
He widened his eyes suddenly and released her hand with a sharp inhale.
“Are you okay?” She moved closer but he stumbled back, colliding with the elevator wall. He was panting as if he just finished a marathon.
“I am okay,” he shot his arm out, stopping her from coming closer. He had seen more than enough.
He touched his upper lip and it felt wet. He brought his fingers back and saw blood. “Damn it,” he muttered and pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket. The throbbing headache was back too. He staggered out of the elevator, wiping his nose.
“Wait,” Vass called. “Where are you going? You need to go to a hospital— oh, we are in a hospital,” she said to herself.
“I am fine,” Oliver muffled through the handkerchief. The small crowd paved for him as he stumbled between them.
Eden grabbed a jar of sugar on the kitchen table and tossed it at Fred as he charged at her. Her last revelation to leave him threw him into a fit of rage. He shook off shards of glass and sugar dust as he prowled towards her. He raised a fistful hand which she was able to deflect, knocking a blow of her own into his jaw. His head flung left and he brought it back with reddened eyes and a deep growl. He came with another blow aimed at Eden’s cheek. When she tried to counter the punch, Fred clutched her arms, lifted her and tossed her over the kitchen table. She rolled over to the other side and landed her ribs on the wooden floor. She hissed at the pain that shot up her chest and pushed herself up almost immediately. She braced her feet and moulded her hands into a fist.
Fred chuckled, amused. “You are good and strong.”
“My father trained me to protect myself from predators like you,” she scowled. “The least I can do is make him proud by breaking a few teeth.” She dashed at him with a blow, spun and elbowed his left face.
Fred grunted painfully, twirled her and held her arms in a cross. “It is pointless to fight me E.J.” He tightened her arms.
She inhaled deeply and flung her head back with her exhale, slamming her forehead on his nose. “Shit!” He lost his grip and tripped back, examining his bleeding nostrils. “Why don’t you love me?!” he cried. “Why can’t you choose me? I love you.”
He said the last line as if it was supposed to mean something to Eden. It merely irritated her and the disgust showed on her face.
“I could have taken care of you,” Fred went on with his declarations. “Take you around the world. Two doesn’t even love you. He doesn’t know you,” he screamed between sobs. “Why not me?”
Good thing Eden was not the type of person to be moved by tears. “Because you are a murderer,” she yelled at him, dropped down and scraped his feet from under him. He hit the back of his head on the blunt edge of a wooden stool and didn’t move. Eden couldn’t care less if he was dead. In times like this, she was happy being a sociopath. She dashed out of the cabin without sparing Fred a glance.
She sprinted around the woods for a while, without the faintest idea which way led to where. Every angle of the woods was the same to her. She couldn’t tell north from south or east from west. God! She had gotten rusty. She could find north under the ground before. She kept running, stomping across the woods until cramps clasped around her calves. She bent over, lips apart as she gasped for air.
She lifted her head and scanned around the woods, hoping a second survey would give her a way out. It didn’t. It was all trees, dried shrubs and nature sounds around her. She tried hard to remember north. Her dad said, ‘North will lead you home’. Which way was north again? She slapped her neck as a fly buzzed on it. Confused, she scratched her scalp and took a wild guess. She had just taken her ninth step when a piercing pain forced itself into her nape. Her body went limp and rigid instantly. Her legs melted like butter on a hot pan and dropped her weight on the cushion of grass. Her eyelids followed, suddenly weighing a ton. Before she was out completely, she heard the approaching footsteps as they rustled through the bushes. The black boots came into her view moments before she lost the battle of will with her heavy eyelids.
Eden inhaled and exhaled with a groan, slowly opening her eyes. She sat up, suppressing the need to fall back down and sleep. Fred sat by the window, overlooking the wood. A squared piece of bandage covered what Eden guessed was the cut he sustained when he hit his head on the stool. Her eyes trailed to the tranquillizer gun beside him and she instinctively rubbed her nape.
“Did you tranq me?” she demanded.
Fred turned to face her. “You are awake.”
“Perfect deduction,” she chaffed, pushing her hair back with her cuffed hands. “You used a tranquiliser on me?”
“It was either that or I shoot you with a gun.”
“I can think of a better choice, let me go,” she suggested, though it sounded more like a threat.
“I can’t do that.”
She stamped her feet on the ground and sprang up from the seat. “What do you intend to do with me then?” she asked through gritted teeth.
“Calm down,” he motioned
“How long was I out?”
“About an hour.”
Eden shifted on her feet, God how long will this take? “You can’t keep me locked up forever.”
“It doesn’t have to be forever. It will only be until you are happy staying with me.”
“I will never be happy with you. Don’t you get it? You kidnapped me and took me away from my family, and my friends. You kill people—
“I will stop. If you agree to stay with me, I will stop. I won’t even kill Two and I will leave Four,” he affirmed desperately.
“Vass is already going to kill her.”
“I can call her back. If you promise not to try to escape and,” he ran his hand through his hair, “ try to like me, I will leave all of them.” He took three steps closer to Eden. “I will move back here,” he gestured to the cabin. “We can start a family here, have a life together—
“Oh brother,” Eden said in her mind, rolling her eyes aside.
“I will protect you—
“I don’t need protection,” she assured him.
“I will keep you safe here,” he insisted.
“You will keep me locked up,” she rephrased his sentence the way it sounded to her. “This can’t work.”
“I can try to be like Two,” Fred pleaded.
“Ah, God,” she exhaled sharply, slapping her forehead. “Nothing is going on between Oliver and me. I can’t even call us friends,” she shrugged. “We became close after I moved to his house because you sent Black after me. I don’t–” She couldn’t say she didn’t love Oliver at all. She hasn’t gotten to the capital L-word but she definitely felt something for him. Something that has grown bigger since she started recovering her memories. It was like fanning an old flame, she just wouldn’t go as far as using the L-word just yet. “We are not together like that.”
“You are lying to me,” he shook his head.
“Don’t lie to me!” Fred clenched her shoulders. “You can lie to yourself but not to me. You have feelings for him. I can see it in your eyes.” He bore his eyes into Eden’s and stroked her hair. “It was the same look you had in your eyes twenty years ago when you chose him over me. For once, choose me, please.”
Urgh. Fred was close to tears. She needed another strategy. “Okay. I will stay if you promise to call off Vass and leave Oliver alone,” she lied perfectly. Another score for being a sociopath. She was an excellent liar that could convince anyone, even herself when she lied.
Fred beamed like an idiot. “You promise?”
She smiled and rubbed his shoulder, gagging at the gesture in her mind. “I promise,” she said. Fred swallowed her lie like a pudding. “And you promise not to kill anybody else?”
“I promise,” he nodded. “You promise not to run away?”
Eden paused to sigh. “I do.”
“Okay, I will call Emma.”
Eden watched him call Emma Vass and instructed her not to kill Phoebe. Eden regretted not knowing he had a phone when she escaped earlier. Even if she still wouldn’t have made it far, she could have called for help.
“She wasn’t able to do it,” Fred informed Eden when he ended the call. “She is almost here.”
Eden smiled and nodded. “Can you take the cuffs off now?” she jiggled her wrists.
Fred scratched the side of his head, reluctantly.
“You don’t trust me?” she asked with a coy smile and an equally coy voice she wasn’t aware she could make.
“No, not that,” he quickly said. “But, erm,” he itched his nape, “I will change it to cable wires so it won’t hurt your wrists so much.”
She saw an opening the second he turned away from her to open the drawer in search of a cable wire. She lifted the mahogany stool; the same one he hit his head on earlier and wrapped her fingers around it as tight as she could.
Fred found a cable wire inside the drawer and picked it up. “This will be much—” The side of his face was greeted with a sudden bash that made him see spots of colour. The deafening impact of the stool against his temple resonated in his head and made his ears ring.
“You were right not to trust me.” Eden kicked him on the floor.
While Fred bled on the floor, groaning in pain, Eden frisked his pockets for the key to the cuff and found it. She unlocked it, picked up Fred’s phone and made for the door.
“Wait!” Fred wiped the blood off his face and staggered to stand on shaky feet. “Don’t go,” he pleaded and this time, Eden nearly felt sorry for him.
“God, you are relentless.” She turned to him. “You said Oliver doesn’t know me? Well, neither do you. If you do, you will know that no matter how many times it takes, I will never stop trying to escape. If I stay, this will eventually end when I escape or you kill me. I am not the little girl who was kidnapped and wouldn’t stop crying anymore. I don’t need protection anymore. Thank you for standing by me during that awful time but that was twenty years ago. A lot has happened and a lot has changed. I am not a little girl anymore.” She opened the door, “I don’t need you to protect or love me.”
Eden waited for him to respond. All she got was Fred staring at her soullessly, so she turned to leave.
“If that is the case,” she heard his voice and stopped halfway through the door, “if I can’t have you, no one can.” Fred picked a curtain rod.
“Oh, come on,” Eden threw a hand up, “don’t be that guy.”
He roared and ran towards her, pointing the rod forward. Eden dropped down as the rod closed in on her skull and swiped her feet across the floor. Fred tripped and fell face flat on the cabin steps outside.
“Argh!” he grunted, crawling down the steps as Eden descended past him. He turned to face the sky. His nose bled profusely and blood poured out of the deep cut on his forehead.
“Damn! You’re slow,” Eden shook her head and dallied Oliver’s number. He would be faster than 911 and she was sure he would be with Detective Kress.
As the phone rang, Eden found herself thankful she listened when Oliver forced her to memorise his number in case of emergence. On the second ring, Oliver picked up. “Oliver, I—
The echo that came first ploughed through the woods. Birds flew out of the trees, fluttering their wings. The air around her seemed to freeze, and then came the sharp, paralysing sting that came from her tummy. It was snaking up to her heart.
“No!” Fred shrieked, staggering to his feet.
Oliver’s voice droned on over the phone, shouting hello repeatedly. Then somehow, he guessed his caller and started screaming Eden’s name. She was in too much shock caused by pain to speak and had lost strength in her hand a few seconds ago when she dropped the phone.
Eden’s eyes dropped to the source of the growing pain on the lower right side of her tummy. It was wet, red. She moved her fingers over the wetness and brought it back to her face, smeared in thick crimson-red liquid. She looked behind and saw Vass, pointing a smoking gun at her. “That motherfucking bitc—” Eden’s legs buckled and she slumped to the ground.
Fred rushed to her side and cradled her. “E.J! E.J!”
Eden groaned as a type of pain she had never felt before gripped her entire muscles.
“Why did you do that?!” Fred yelled at Vass.
“What?” she shrugged. “I thought she was going to kill you,” she said uncaringly.
“Help me get her in,” he said, panicking.
Vass walked to them and looked down at Eden as she bled out. “Why? She is going to die anyway.”
“Help me get her in!”
“Fine!” She holstered her gun and bent to help Fred.
Seeing Vass look down on her pissed Eden off exponentially. Getting even was her forte and she would get even. It might be the last thing she did, but she would die peacefully knowing she dragged Vass’s ass to Hell with her. Eden mustered all the strength and feeling she could get back in her body. Time to go nuclear.
Her arms around Vass and Fred, she slammed their heads together before they lifted off the ground completely. She dropped back to the ground and while they groaned and staggered, she rolled twice to the curtain rod that fell out of Fred’s hand when he stumbled on the steps. She picked it up and rolled on her back. Vass pulled her gun out of her holster. Eden wasn’t going to wait for her to aim it at her. She swung the rod at Vass’s hands, knocking the gun out of her hands before she could fire it.
Adrenaline surged through Eden as she twisted off the ground to her feet and kicked Vass’s gut. She ran after the gun with Vass on her heels. She slid to the ground to reach the gun and turned to aim it at Vass. Without blinking or thinking, Eden squeezed the trigger four times at Vass’s chest. Her body dropped to the ground, but Eden was far from done.
She swung her head at Fred and her arms followed her gaze with the aimed gun, as though she was being controlled.
Fred saw it- that same emptiness he saw in Eden’s eyes the day she set Black ablaze. Her face was devoid of emotion as she fired at Fred mercilessly. He ran away from the rainfall of bullets as they ricocheted off the water tank beside the cabin. Eden pushed herself up. No escape for Fred. She was determined to make his death permanent this time. She was only able to take three steps before sirens blared around her and several police cars surrounded them.
Their cars had barely responded to brakes when the officers poured out, pointing guns at Fred. “Freeze! Freeze! Stop moving and put your hands in the air!” The officers barked orders at him.
Fred hesitated, weighing options he didn’t have. Eden wished he had hesitated for a little longer, long enough to give her an excuse to squeeze the trigger she had her finger readily on. Fred raised his hands and fell to his knees as three more squad cars and two ambulances appeared.
Detective Kress, Oliver, Lori and Jax scuffled out of a Navy blue Ford.
“Eden!” Oliver yelled and ran to her with Kress behind him, while Jax and Lori arrested Fred. “Eden, are you okay?” he asked, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. Eden held the gun pointed at Fred and didn’t bring her hands down even as he was being escorted into a squad car in a cuff. Her eyes were fixed and empty in a scary and determined way. The look on her face reminded Oliver of the night she torched up Black. He was worried she would still pull the trigger and kill Fred while the cops had him in custody. “Eden,” he gently squeezed her shoulder. That was when he got a sign that she was listening. She looked from Oliver’s hand to his face.
“Eden, it’s okay.” Kress placed a hand on the gun and slowly lowered it before taking it from her. “You’re okay?”
“No,” she said curtly and looked over her shoulder at Vass’s body. “She shot me,” she snarled.
Both brows shot up, he shouted, “You were shot?” Oliver inspected her and saw the bloodstain that marked her lower tummy to the edge of her tank top.
“Medic!” Kress shouted.
Eden grunted as the pain came back in three folds. The rush of adrenaline wore off immediately and she collapsed.
The white puffy clouds and summer beams reflected on the tall glass buildings that flanked the street. Eden glanced down at pedestrians from her favourite spot at the cafe and wondered if people remembered the news headlines from four weeks ago, which caused an uproar. Serial Killer Captured with his Protégé.
“Here is your order,” Alvin placed a mug on the table.
“Thanks,” Eden sipped the content of the mug. The sour sensation that pricked her inner cheeks brought her face to a knot. “Alvin, dear, I ordered a Frappuccino. This is lemonade.”
“Oh, I am so sorry,” he said with a sincere look and took the mug from her.
“You said you studied engineering but took this job because you couldn’t get a job, right?”
“How did you graduate from engineering?”
Alvin got the joke and folded his lips to restrain his crackle.
“He mixed the orders again?” Makayla appeared behind him and sat opposite Eden.
Eden smiled. “What is new?”
“Sorry,” Alvin said, “I will get your cappuccino—
“Fa… Frappuccino,” Eden corrected.
“Right,” Alvin flicked his index finger and turned away.
“You are too nice to keep him here,” Eden told Makayla when Alvin was out of hearing. “I would have fired him.”
“He is just as weird as Rodney, I don’t see you firing him,” Makayla countered.
“Hum,” she twitched her brows. She was right.
Makayla crossed her legs under the table and locked her fingers on the table. “Now, tell me. I have been patient enough. I didn’t ask you anything when you were at the hospital—
“It must have been tough,” she smirked.
“I told you I will ask when you are better.”
“I am not better,” Eden protested. “I was shot,” she pointed at her gunshot wound. “Have you ever been shot? Damn thing hurts.”
“I am sure it does,” she held both palms up, “but you were discharged today. I want to know everything. You are lucky I kept it away from mum and dad.”
“Oliver kept it away from mum and dad.” Oliver made sure no news outlet published his name, Phoebe’s or Eden’s in any of their articles of Black or Fred. Who said that money wasn’t power?
“Whatever,” she tossed a hand aside, “I want to know everything. Your story had holes in it… lots of them.”
Makayla would not stop asking. Eden had avoided telling her about Oliver’s ability, which made a lot of dents in her story of what happened four weeks ago. “Okay,” she brought her body forward, “I will tell you, but you can’t tell anybody.”
Alvin came back with Eden’s drink. She waited till he left with the empty tray and then began. She told Makayla everything from the beginning.
Makayla listened without interrupting her baby sister. When she was finished, she was both pissed and sad. Pissed because of what she and the other children went through and the fact that Black and Fred had the nerve to upturn their lives again. She was sad because she wasn’t there for her sister. She was supposed to protect her little sister. And Oliver— “Wait, he can see when people will die whenever his skin touches ours?” she asked with obvious unbelief.
“Well, he can’t exactly see the when, just the how. Like their dying moment.”
Makayla did not believe her, so she told her how they saved Granny Wess—before she died again—and Lessie.
“That is a strange power to have,” Makayla said with a locked face. “He couldn’t choose the ability to fly or walk through walls so we could rob a bank?”
Eden laughed. “He didn’t choose it. It just happened. He was near the explosion at Trench Valley twenty years ago. When he woke up, he had the ability. I guess the trauma of seeing Black murder all those people, forcing us to do it and the brain trauma from the explosion caused a glitch in his brain that triggered the ability.” She shrugged an arm and sipped her coffee, “I don’t know. It’s unexplainable, like all supernatural weirdness. I don’t think science can explain this.”
Makayla sighed sadly. “I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for him to go through all that and wake up with a scary ability like that? Damn, it must have been hell for him. How is he able to still smile and act like everything is alright with him?”
“He has always been strong,” Eden said over the rim of her coffee mug.
Makayla rested her chin on her palm. “But seriously? A man who can see the moment of people’s death?” she muttered to the air.
“Kayla, I know that look.” Eden dropped her mug on the table. “Don’t start.”
Makayla slapped the table and rose. The sudden movement caused Eden to bounce back in her seat. She knew what Makayla was going to do next. “Kayla, don’t do it.”
Makayla inhaled and exhaled. “I am doing it—
“Please, don’t. You will scare the customers.”
“I need to do it,” she affirmed and left the table.
“Oh, God,” she pinched her nose bridge.
Behind the counter, Makayla played Micheal Jackson’s Dirty Diana from the stereo. As the song came on through the speakers in the café, she started twisting and swaying her body in what she called dancing.
One by one, the attention of Thea and more than a dozen customers in the café shifted to Makayla’s awkward dance. It was like watching an inflatable man sway.
“Uh-oh,” Thea said under her breath. She knew the song and what always made her mother dance to it. She weaved through the tables to Eden. “What did you tell her?” she queried in a high-pitched voice.
Eden rubbed Thea’s shoulders and pulled her close, embarrassed as Makayla wobbled her body, ignoring the peering customer giggling at her
Lessie and Oliver walked in and spared a glance at Makayla before going to Eden.
“What is wrong with your sister?” Oliver asked her, watching Makayla whirl and frolic behind the counter. None of her employees looked stunned. They exchanged small laughs and continued their normal business. He concluded it wasn’t her first time dancing like she wanted to perform an exorcism.
“What did you tell her?” Lessie sat as Oliver pulled a seat for her. “Thank you.”
“I told her about Oliver’s ability,” Eden answered.
“Ah,” Lessie nodded, “that will make her dance to Dirty Diana.”
“Why? Why should that make her dance… that way?” he jutted his chin at Makayla.
“Anytime Makayla is faced with something… challenging or difficult to accept, she dances to Dirty Diana,” Lessie explained. “She said dancing to it makes her feel more confident that she can handle anything. Something about her life not being as bad as Diana.”
“When she divorced Thea’s father, she danced to it like a hundred times,” Eden added.
Thea shook her head with a sigh. “Don’t even remind me of that time,” she slapped her forehead. “I heard the song in my sleep for months.”
“But why Dirty Diana?” Oliver asked, still confused. “Her name is not even Diana.”
“Her second name is Diana,” Eden replied. “Makayla Diana Johnson.”
“Can we even call that dancing?” Thea looked at her mother and clicked her teeth.
Makayla stopped dancing when the song finished playing and joined the table. “Oh! It’s Mr Supernatural,” she smiled at Oliver, slightly out of breath.
“Hi, Makayla,” Oliver drawled with a smile.
Makayla imagined the trouble of dealing with the knowledge of knowing when people around you would die and wondered how Oliver could be chirpy. She twitched her lips thoughtfully and circled Lessie to him. She stood beside him, staring down at him like she was about to beat him.
“What?” His eyes darted sideways.
Makayla suddenly bent and wrapped her arms around him. She made sure her skin didn’t touch his as she hugged him. Eden, Thea, and Lessie gasped softly in surprise. Makayla was not the mushy-huggy type and she was not the type to hug people she wasn’t close to. Oliver’s jaw simply fell, too stunned to reciprocate the hug or reject it. Though he must confess, it felt nice to be hugged. He rarely did that for the fear of his ability.
Makayla let go of him and tapped his shoulder. She pulled another chair to the table and sat with them. “What?” she shrugged at the faces peeled at her.
Eden knew that was the best way she could comfort Oliver and smiled. Lessie and Thea also giggled.
“I am so thirsty,” Makayla took Eden’s coffee.
“Who told you to dance?” Thea said.
“It makes me feel better.”
“Who sang the song by the way?” Makayla froze her hand, holding the coffee mug halfway to her lips. “I have always wanted to ask,” Thea said.
“You don’t know who sang Dirty Diana?” Eden asked Thea and she responded with three nods.
“My daughter,” Makayla dropped the mug, “I have been playing this song all this time and you don’t know who sang it?” she cried.
“You don’t know Michael Jackson?” Eden asked Thea.
“Michael Jackson?” Thea scratched her ear. “Is he an actor?”
Eden and Makayla gasped, hands on their chest. What an abomination! Blasphemy.
“You don’t know Michael Jackson?” Makayla asked her daughter with a creased forehead. “I have failed as a mother.”
“I have failed as an aunt,” Eden chimed in.
Oliver and Lessie giggled.
“It’s not a big deal not to know Michael Jackson,” Oliver said. “He died how many years ago? Before she was born. I am sure she knows other artists.” He gestured to Thea. “Who is your favourite artist?”.
“Emi—” she swallowed air, “good Lord,” Makayla pushed her hair back.
“What? Eminem is a good artist,” Oliver said innocently.
“Did Eminem win eight Grammys in one night?” Makayla jutted her face at Oliver.
Oliver looked sideways before answering, “No.”
“Does he hold the record for the best-selling album of all time?” Eden questioned.
Oliver was starting to feel cornered. “No,” he answered with an invisible question mark.
“Yea, I didn’t think so.”
Lessie tapped him and shook her head, telling Oliver not to try to win this argument with the Johnson sisters.
“Althea, come with me,” Makayla stood up. “It’s time to introduce you to my King of Pop library.” She left the table with Thea.
Ian, Lessie’s husband, entered the café. Like Lessie felt him, her face wandered to the door. She waved at him and he waved back elatedly.
“Ian is here,” Lessie said, picking up her bag. “We are going for a check-up.”
Lessie had been staying away from subways which pleased Eden. She didn’t know how long she had left with her friend but she fully intended to help her cheat death for as long as possible. She would be due in three weeks and Eden would be the godmother. “Be safe,” Eden smiled at her. “And remember, subway–
“Is my enemy,” she finished Eden’s sentence. “I know, I know.” She replied with a wink. “Bye,” she waved to them and left.
Eden and Ian waved to each other as he left with his wife. They met Phoebe outside the café, she greeted them and entered.
“Hey guys,” she said gaily. Her curls dangled on each side of her face as she embraced Eden and Oliver.
“How are you?” Eden asked as they sat.
“Me? I am fine,” she waved. “You are the one who got shot. I was surprised when you told me you are home already.”
“I was discharged today. I am getting better. I still need to go back for dressing and check-up though.”
“Good.” She turned to Oliver. “What about you?”
“Oh, the usual, nothing out of the ordinary.”
“When are you going back to work?” Eden asked.
“Actually, I am grounding myself for the next few months,” Phoebe answered. “I took a job as a ground staff at Queens Air. I became a flight attendant because I was running. I guess I always knew Black wasn’t dead, that he was lurking in a dark alley waiting to get me. But now that he is in custody, I can finally stop running.”
Oliver and Eden were pleased and it showed on their faces. Phoebe looked so much better, happier and freer.
“I got an apartment too,” she added.
“Good for you,” Oliver smiled. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you, guys, for everything,” Phoebe said. “I just wanted to see both of you,” she prepared to leave. “I am meeting with the real estate agent to sign the contract for my apartment.” She slung her arm bag over her shoulder and faced them. “Uhm, don’t be a stranger,” she said to them.
“Are you kidding? We are coming for your house warming,” Oliver laughed.
Eden nodded in agreement.
“Okay, good. Come with big gift baskets and a fat envelope or a slim one with a cheque of lots of zeros.” They laughed and began to walk to the door as Thriller played through the speakers.
Eden looked back and saw Makayla teaching Thea the Thriller dance. She smiled and exited the café.
“Oliver and I are going to the detention centre to see Black and Fred,” Eden said as they descended the stairs. “Don’t you want to come?”
“Don’t you have anything you want to say to them? Fred tried to kill you,” Oliver said.
Phoebe smiled. “I am happy knowing that they are not on the street.” She shrugged, “I don’t have anything to say to them. Now, I can live without fear.”
Eden rolled her eyes. “You are too nice for your own good.” She hugged Phoebe, “Don’t worry, I will tell them you said hi.”
Oliver hugged Phoebe. Once again, he was tempted to see her death vision but decided he’d rather not know. She was alive for now, why ruin the mystery? “See you around?”
“See you around.”
Eden flagged a cab for her and she got in. Once seated, she waved back at them and they waved back until her ride disappeared in the traffic.
Oliver inhaled and turned to Eden, “Shall we?”
“Please, I thought you would never ask.”
The series finale is next week Saturday, guys. What do you think of the story so far? Kindly drop your comments. Thank you