Bane of DeathA woman whose presence prevents Death from taking a person. She also can pass on the ability to see Death to others if she touches another while in the presence of Death.
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About the Story
At six o'clock Alicia was waiting by the church door, her hands in her jacket pockets and a blank expression on her face. She was looking at the park across the street, not really watching anything in particular by taking it all in at once.
Martin walked up with concern on his face. "Are you okay?" he asked Alicia just before he reached the door.
She turned her head slowly, and looked at him. "Oh, I'm fine," she informed him without audible.
He gave her a reassuring smile. "Come on."
She followed him into the church. They passed through the narthex and took stairs down to a hallway that lead underneath the sanctuary. A glance into the reception hall revealed the class that was meeting was some sort of exercise training. At least that was the assumption both made due to everyone being on their own small mat, performing the same stretching motion.
Martin and Alicia decided to use the meeting room. It was carpeted wall to wall, with one of it's walls being lined with bookshelves full of religious texts. The opposite wall had a school desk sized altar with a bible resting on it. A third wall had a row of simple windows. In the center of the room sat a hefty wood table which took up about three-fourths the length of the room. Around it where thirteen comfortable looking chairs.
Martin closed the door behind them, then gestured for Alicia to take a seat. After she chose a chair, he picked the one on the opposite side of the table from her. Once they were both seated, he clasped his hands and rested them in front of him on the table. "Tell me what happened."
Alicia exhaled audibly, looking down at the floor. "I had a set of bad dreams last night, about a fire. And D. All morning I couldn't stop thinking about what you had said, and about the times I've seen D, both outside of the hospital and the time I found out that's where she worked. Oh," both her hand and her head turned towards Martin. "I remembered the first time we met, D and I that is, if you're still interested."
Martin nodded. "Quite."
"I was on a field trip with my girl scout troop. That was back before it had been disbanded so I was about, twelve years old? Maybe thirteen? Ironically we had just completed a first aid course taught by the Red Cross a few days before." She shrugged, then realized it wasn't an ironic statement to Martin yet as he didn't know the rest of the story. "Anyway. We had gone to an amusement park, it was a reward for all the fund rasing and volunteer work we'd done that year. Sometime not long after lunch my buddy group had decided we were still hungry, so we were out searching for a cart with something that we could afford. We heard screams from one of the rides nearby. Not normal amusement park screams, these were screams of shock and pain. Of course we ran to see what was going on. It turned out- you know that ride where you get in the circular room that has no ceiling and stand right up against the wall, and then the room starts spinning and when it's going fast enough the floor drops and you're stuck against the wall 'cause of the centrifugal force?"
"You know how it has the suspended walkways all around it so the line winds up to the top where you watch those already on the ride, and then the line goes down to the platform where you enter the ride?"
Martin nodded again.
"Well what had happened was the one around the top of the ride gave way, and part of it fell on the platform next to the door, which then also gave way. There were a lot injured people, but the line hadn't been so long that there was already a crowd of people around yet. So we, the four of us in the buddy group, ran up to start helping people because we thought since we'd just finished first aid training we were qualified." She shook her head with a small smile. "Thankfully there was also someone there who had an authoritative sounding voice, who managed to keep things under control, and had those who had been in line and not injured help those who could were but move on their own away from the ride. My friends and I looked around for those who needed serious help getting up and out of the debris, such as support for walking or getting part of the walkways off of them. We did our best, and kept track of those who were unconscious or speaking gibberish so we could tell the emergency crew where to go first, as we didn't dare move anyone who couldn't tell us what was wrong with them."
Alicia pursed her lips for a moment, her eyes slightly glazing over as she visualized the events happening again. She nodded slowly to herself. "We got into the newspaper for that. 'Girls Scouts Save Lives at Amusement Park'." She looked to Martin. "I was always proud of that. Even after I grew up and realized we hadn't saved anyone's life, it was just a good twist on a bad story for the newspaper. Really we had only helped get the real help where it needed to be faster. But I figured maybe that had counted for something, made some difference." She feel silent for a moment.
Martin reached across the table to her, to pull her out of the past. "But you did save a life, didn't you," he said.
Alicia looked back to him. "At first just the park doctor arrived. And some park patrons who said they were doctors also showed up. But soon three ambulances where there too. We had lots of EMTs and doctors then. My friends and I directed as many as would listen to us to the places we knew they were needed most. I led one back around to a bunch of bushes I had found a few people lying in, who couldn't be seen unless you were right up at the bushes. When I turned to the EMT next to me to point the people out, I saw a doctor had followed us and was already making her way into the bushes."
"D?" Martin asked.
Alicia nodded. "The EMT checked the closest person, then the next, then the third which is the one the doctor had gone to first. I stayed next to the first one, so I didn't have to climb through all the bushes. I watched the EMT double check the third person, then shake his head and look up at the sky. He came back to the second person and started doing something for that one. The doctor... D... she stood up from the third person and looked around. I motioned for her to come over to the one I was by." Alicia paused, her face darkening a bit. Her head shook very slightly from side to side as she said, "She just looked at me. I couldn't believe it at first. She wasn't doing anything. I called out to her. 'Come help him!' She came only close enough so I could hear her without her having to yell. She said.... 'I can't.' And turned and walked away."
Alicia looked off out the windows. "I hated her for that. She didn't even try. She didn't even check him to see how he was. It was because of that moment," she tapped the table for punctuation, "that I stopped trusting doctors." She looked back at Martin. "So I stayed with him until the EMT had the second person taken away and came back over to check on us. Actually I stayed with him until they put him in the ambulance because after they had woken him up he didn't want me to leave him." She blushed slightly. "He called me an Angel."
Martin smiled. "I bet. You did save his life."
"But how would he have known?"
"Perhaps he felt himself slipping away, and then felt you bring him back?" Martin suggested
"Yeah, maybe." Alicia shrugged. "But it does make more sense now. The EMT had been really surprised when he came back and checked the guy. He had something about some rate for guy's being the same. He called for another EMT, and they put a bunch of needles in him that led to bags they held up above him, and put one of those breathing masks on him. A few minutes later the guy woke up, as I said. Only for a minute or two, but it was enough to get the EMTs to have a stretcher brought over for him."
Alicia leaned back. "So that's when I first actually met D. As in spoke with her."
Martin nodded. "Wow." He leaned back as well. "And... what happened today?"
"At lunch I decided to go to the hospital to get D to settle for me that you were insane, so that hopefully I'd stop dwelling on everything and could get back to work. Well, instead, she said you were right." She bit her lower lip for a moment, not quite able to bring herself to meet his eyes. "And once I realized she was being serious, I flipped out."
"It's okay, Alicia. I do understand how far fetched I must have sounded," he assured her, smiling again. "It's just, well, I was psyched it was true! After having actually met death, that was what convinced me."
Alicia cocked her head in curiosity. "What was true?"
"You!" he proclaimed as he gestured at her with his arms. His smile got wider. "Someone who can stop death!"
Alicia continued to look at him, narrowing her eyes somewhat. "How did you know?" she asked with a bit of reservation.
Martin nodded at her. "Believe it or not, you're not the first to have this gift."
That was a surprise. "I'm not?"
"Nope." He shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know very much about this either. All I know is what I was told in an unsigned letter I got. And what was happening around you."
Alicia's face changed to one of suspicious concern and she sat up straighter in her chair. "What was happening around me?" she questioned him. "Have you been following me? Is that why you started coming to this church?"
"No no, nothing of the sort," he said quickly with a wave of his hand. "My firm was hired to audit the hospitals records, financial and medical. That's what we do. Statistics on various different subjects: success rates of operations; turn around times in the Emergency Room; response times for each doctor; something was termed worker effectiveness for each employee; the percentage of patients that survive due to treatment; the success rates of various treatments; etcetera, etcetera."
Alicia relaxed slightly, but reserved judgement until having heard him out.
"We found an interesting anomaly in the hospital's death counts as compared to other hospitals. Actually, we almost missed it, but for the desire to know how shifts did in comparison to each other. Usually administrations only want to know how individual doctors or nurses are doing, or individual treatments or types of surgeries. But apparently this one had put together a specialist team last year that work a given shift, and they want a report on how that shift was doing compared to the other shifts during which standard sets of employees worked. You know, to see if the method that had been used to put that team together should be adopted in other areas."
"Okay, sure," Alicia commented.
"Right," Martin continued. "So my group decided we had to do the death statistics on an hourly basis if we wanted to get the most accurate numbers since that team worked a variable shift instead of a nine to five type shift. Well, we found that a few hours consistently had statistically lower rates than the rest of the hours of the day. When we plotted them weekly, we noticed those rates for those hours were consistently even lower on specific days. Care to guess which days and which hours?" Martin asked her.
"The ones I volunteer," Alicia realized. "That's why D was upset with me when I showed up randomly today off my normal schedule."
"That would make sense," Martin agreed. Then he went on. "It took a lot more work to figure out it was you, specifically. My company didn't go that far. We just reported the numbers and correlations. But I was super curious as to what was causing those numbers. They were clearly not random, something had to be causing them. I used my own time, an extra couple hours at the office every week, to compare our findings with those in other departments who were doing the numbers on individual employees."
"That's how you found me?" Alicia asked.
"Actually, I came up with nothing," Martin replied. "Except I had ruled out all the employees. So that left either some sort of environmental difference, which we weren't accounting for in any of our numbers, or, I soon realized, the volunteers, whom we also weren't doing numbers on." He shrugged. "I gave up the search for a while, until I got that note."
"What note?" Alicia asked.
"The one I mentioned a few minutes ago," he explained and waited for her to respond. After a few moments he held open his hands to indicate why hadn't she remembered yet, and added, "The same one I gave you this morning?"
"Oh!" Alicia felt like she got caught by her parents with her hand in the cookie jar right before dinner. "I, uh, I haven't read it yet," she confessed.
"Oh," Martin repeated, but sounding like that's not at all what he had expected. "I just assumed that you had gone to confront D because of the letter."
"No, sorry," Alicia said with an apologetic shrug. "I went because of all the memories that were taking on new meanings."
"Well, there wasn't all that much in it," Martin told her. "It said that the cause I had been looking for was a person. Someone special, with a special power. Who needed to know about the power, very soon. And it give a few specifics of what signs I should look for when I went to the hospital."
"And it said I wasn't the first?" Alicia added.
"No, actually, I figured that part out on my own. You know, it's had to just believe something without doing research into it first." He gestured with his hand, and added, "At least, it is for me. There's a lot of fiction out there, a lot of hearsay, and a lot of ghost stories and alien seers. But when I came across bits and pieces of recountings that matched the signs in the letter, my curiosity grew. Especially when I turned up several diary entries by a priest back in the eighteen hundreds. He had kept tabs on a member of his congregation that he thought was a little off, until he learned about the secret. He even had a few details of the gift's abilities. Which is why I wanted you to introduce me to D."
"Ahhh," Alicia said with an understanding nod. "Hey, can you show me those?"
"Sure," Martin replied. "I don't have them on me. But if you want I can give them to you tomorrow."
"That'd be great. You want to meet for lunch?" she suggested. Adding a mental note to herself to do some research of her own. If there was documentation of others like her, then perhaps she could get some guidance from them.
"That's sounds good," Martin agreed.
They both nodded, then fell silent.
After a minute, Alicia spoke up. "There's one thing that still bothers me."
"Only one?" Martin asked.
"Well, only one I wish to think about right now," Alicia admitted.
"Whomever sent you that note. If they knew about me, why involve you instead of telling me themselves? Why the anonymous tip off? And who was it? And why?"
Martin nodded. "I've asked myself those questions too."
"And?" Alicia prompted, hopeful for an answers.
"I have no idea."
The next morning Alicia puttered around the office, mostly just going through the motions of work. Which meant things that didn't require any thinking got done, such as filing and data processing. But in a testing facility the more important things were research and experiments, neither of which Alicia could focus on.
It didn't take long before Susan came around looking for Alicia. She motioned Alicia away from her desk, and without a word led Alicia back to her office. Once they were inside, she closed the door.
"Please, take a seat," Susan said, motioning to a chair as she walked around her desk to her own chair.
Both women sat.
"Alicia, you know how valuable you are to this company, right? I hope I've made that clear to you in the past. How much we like having you as an employee?" Susan started with.
Alicia wasn't sure where that line was supposed to lead, but it didn't sound like the great opener it claimed to be. "Yes," she replied cautiously.
"And I'm hoping you feel the same way about working here," Susan added, then paused to let Alicia confirm or deny.
"Oh, I do," Alicia answered with a nod.
"Good," Susan said with a satisfied look. "Then please tell me, what is going on with you?"
Alicia blinked a couple times, frantically trying to think of a suitable answer. "What do you mean?" she stalled with.
"Normally I wouldn't have said anything, at least not so soon. I would have waited several days to see if your sudden change in behavior corrected itself," Susan explained. She opened a drawer to her left and pulled out two pieces of paper with words printed on them. "But in light of a conversation I had earlier this morning with that hospital you volunteer at, I felt a more proactive approach was called for." She looked at the papers, quickly verifying their contents, then pushed them across the desk.
Alicia glanced down, then immediately back up at Susan. "Conversation? About me, I take it?"
"Yes." Susan sighed. "I wanted to talk to you first, before any of the other managers found out, especially David."
Alicia frowned. David was the big head honcho. His name rarely came up in this department unless it was something significant. She looked down at the sheets of paper and began to read them.
"The hospital called yesterday afternoon looking for you," Susan explained while Alicia read. "Melinda took a message that said they were simply checking up. I called them back after you called in for the rest of the day off, but no one at that time seemed to know why we had been called. I got a call back this morning. The woman I spoke to said you had some sort of nervous break down there yesterday, apparently while you were on your lunch hour. She said you were acting terrified. And that you yelled at first a wall and then the air. They were concerned. And honestly, so am I."
Alicia finished the papers. One was a paid time off request form. The other was an except of the company's medical benefits, the section on mental health coverage and services offered, including phone numbers for emergency help.
"What do you want me to say?" Alicia asked.
Susan's voice softened. "Look, I understand if you don't want to discuss things with me. That's why I wanted to make sure you had this," she said, pointing to the mental benefits sheet. "If you can tell me now that you believe you can continue to work without whatever is going on significantly impacting your performance, then take that, go back to work, and that will be the end of things. But if not, I suggest you fill out that form for however long you think you're going to need. And if you do, I won't pass on any information to the rest of the company until it becomes necessary." She smiled positively. "I hope it won't become necessary."
Alicia nodded slowly, thinking over her decision. "Can I see how the rest of the day goes, and give you an answer tomorrow?" she asked.
"Of course," Susan replied. She motioned to the papers. "Take them both, and return the form if you decide to use it."
"Thank you," Alicia replied with a small smile. She picked up both pieces of paper and headed out of the office. After closing the door behind herself, she closed her eyes for a moment and shook her head. Some part of her felt very relived. It was good to know she had an out if she needed it. Good to know she had a way to make sure she'd have a job on the other side of this bizarre roller coaster ride.
After the meeting with Susan, lunch time barely came fast enough. Alicia headed out to meet Martin as planned. Her research on the internet last night hadn't turned up much of anything useful, so she was eager to see what he had.
They met at a Panera Bread that was about halfway between each of their offices. If Martin hadn't insisted on ordering something to eat, Alicia would not have herself. She was anxious to learn whatever she could. Martin on the other hand seemed quite unfazed by the events of the day before.
After picking up their food, they chose a small table away from most people in the back of the restaurant.
"How can you be taking all this so calmly?" Alicia asked him once they were seated.
"I've had a lot more time than you to adjust to the thought of it all," he answered nonchalantly.
That made sense to Alicia. She took a bite of her lunch, but then pushed it aside. "Do you have it?"
Martin smiled and nodded. "Right here." He pulled out several sheets obviously xeroxed copies of a handwritten journal and handed them to her. Then he set about eating his lunch.
While he ate, she read. Most of the entries were about the priest's suspicious of the member of his flock, and his speculations on what the person might be. It seemed to Alicia that there were some entries missing along the way. And some were definitely unfinished, or perhaps it was just that the pages they were finished or started on were missing.
"Where's the rest?" she asked at one point, without looking up from her reading.
"Between the libraries I checked and the man's church, that's all I could find that was still legible," he answered apologetically.
"Mnnnn," she groaned unhappily.
When she was done reading, she turned the papers over a couple times to be sure she hadn't missed anything.
"Well this doesn't help me all that much. The only thing it says about what that Mr. Williams could is show others Death as a person and that he could stop death, but then it also says there were a couple times he couldn't prevent someone from dying."
Martin nodded. "And nothing else I've found has as much detail as that."
"So... what?" She threw the papers onto the table with disappointment as she slumped backwards in her chair. She looked off towards one center of the restaurant for a moment, as if seeking answers there, then shook her head. "I wish I knew what to do from here."
"There is one person, so to speak, who probably has the answers you want," Martin reminded her.
Alicia pressed her lips together, but nodded.
"You know what that means," he said as a statement instead of a question.
"I have to go see D again," Alicia replied with a tone that heavily indicated she did not want to.
"Would you like me to go with you?" he offered.
"After work?" Martin suggested.
Alicia checked her watch. "Yeah, that would probably be best," she replied with a sigh. "I should try to keep my work schedule as best as I can, for now."
Martin nodded in agreement. "And," he added, pushing her tray towards her, "you should try to keep eating."
She gave him an exasperated look. "Look, Mom," she strained the word for effect, "I'm simply not hungry right now."
He held up his hands. "Okay. I won't push." He paused for two seconds. "This time." He stood up from the table. "But if you don't eat anything tonight," he threatened, "I'm taking you out to dinner."
Alicia looked up at him, wondering if he was truly concerned or if he had just asked her out on a date. She decided it was mix, and to let it pass for the time being. She had bigger things on her mind right now.
They cleaned up their table, Alicia stuffing the copy of the journal into her purse, dropped off their trays, and headed out.
Martin offered to drive that evening. "Meet you at your place about seven, seven thirty?" he asked.
Alicia bobbed her head. "That sounds fine."
"Okay," he said to finalize the plan.
"See you later," they said together. They both 'Heh'-ed at the coincidence, then headed to their cars.
That evening Alicia made sure to have a piece of fruit on hand to bring with her, so Martin would see her eat something and not fuss at her again. She also had a better idea of what she was going to ask D this time.
Martin showed up a few minutes before seven thirty. He called up to her apartment, and having been ready for several minutes, she put her coat on and headed right down.
On the way to the hospital, Martin looked over at Alicia. Her head was leaning against the window. Her eyes indicated her mind was off somewhere distant. She looked both tired and worn. For the first time it occurred to him that maybe her gift wasn't as great as it sounded. He couldn't fathom why, but it was clear from looking at her that there must be a reason.
"What's wrong?" he asked as he turned his eyes back to the road.
She turned to him with a "Hmm?"
"I asked what was wrong," he reiterated.
"Oh, nothing I suppose," Alicia answered. She looked down at her hands for a moment. "I was just wondering...." She looked back at him. "Thinking about all the good I might actually be able to do."
Martin nodded slowly.
"It's just," she continued, shifting in her seat to be able to rest her head and still look at him at the same time. "It's just that, I don't know what I can do. Really do. I've always wanted to make a difference in the world. Help others. That's why I volunteer. But even that hasn't really felt like enough to me. It's hard to see how my work, either my job or at the hospital, impacts others for the better." She hesitated. Martin opened his mouth to replied, but she spoke again before he could say anything. "And now all of a sudden, I'm a natural life saver. And I don't even have to work for it? That's great! But... I have no idea...," her train of thought fell off and she shrugged. "I guess I'm just a bit overwhelmed."
"Of course you are," Martin backed her up. "How should you use your gift? Where? For whom? What can you really do? There are a lot of questions in your life now. Some, hopefully, will get answered shortly."
Alicia nodded with a small smile. "I'm not as worried about visiting D as I was this morning. Like you said yesterday, if she was going to do something, she would have done it by now."
It was Martin's turn to nod. "Assuming death could even do anything to you."
Alicia gave him a curious look. "What do you mean?"
"Well," he replied with a shrug, "if you can prevent death, it stands to reason you can prevent your own."
Alicia settled back in her chair. "Huh. I hadn't thought of that." She looked out the front window, and they lapsed into silence.
A few minutes later, Alicia's head jerked. Abruptly her hand was on Martin's arm and she was pointing at a figure on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. "Is that D?"
Martin turned his head for a glance, then quickly turned back to the road, tightening his grip on the wheel and sitting up straighter. "I think so."
Alicia gave him a puzzled look. "She wasn't wearing her uni- Martin! Look out!"
At the intersection in front of them a four by four coming from the left had run the light, and the car right in front of them was not going to have enough time to stop. Martin was already reacting, turning the wheel and hitting the breaks. Despite the attempt by the driver in front of them to weave, the two cars collided at near full speeds in the middle of the intersection, sending glass and car bits flying into the air.
All of a sudden time seemed to slow down for Alicia as she watched the events unfold. The truck that had run the light rammed into the side of the other car so hard it caused that car to turn on it's passenger side. She was watching the wreck slide into the right lane, where another vehicle that had been next to them a moment before crashed into the other two, when she felt Martin's arm relax and drop from the steering wheel. She whipped around to look at him.
He had the expression of a young boy who was meeting his favorite sports star for the first time. He grabbed her hand and said, "I believe in you."
His whole demeanor alarmed Alicia. She needed to find out what was going on, why he had let go of the wheel. She looked out the front window, and saw on coming traffic that was way too close, and not at all still. A glance in the rear view mirror told her a couple of the vehicles behind them had tried to avoid the accident the same way they had, and like them also were not stopped yet.
She screamed. "Martin!"
The initial head on impact with the car in front of them lurched them forward, but their seat belts locked almost instantly causing the shoulder straps to keep them in their seats. Surprisingly to Alicia she heard no sound. Not the crunching of metal and plastic, nor a loud sound of impact as there had been with the other automobiles. Not even the sound of the air bag she glimpsed deploying in front of Martin from behind her arms, which she was also surprised to find she had raised in front of her face.
The first pain she felt was the cutting of the edges of the shoulder belt into her chest. The second was her head whipping back into the head rest. After that it became a symphony of hurt all over her body as time came back to its normal speed, finally punctuated by a sharp stab in her right arm.
Once the car had stopped moving, and the world had stopped spinning, Alicia hazarded a deep breath. It caused the many throbbing pains she felt to increase, but otherwise she was able to inhale and exhale without issue. She opened her eyes. The evening sun was glaring to her watering eyes, but she forced herself to blink against it, to try to adapt. She slowly turned her head to look at Martin. Her neck cried out at her in pain, but it only caused her to whimper and slow her pace even more. She had to know if he was alright.
He was leaning back in his chair as if that was how he normally slept. Somehow the thing had taken up a new position that almost cradled him, though he was too close to the dashboard for his own good. His eyes were closed. Blood on his nose told her his air bag had done its job. But the bottom of the steering wheel against his stomach told her he wasn't going anywhere for a while. She could see the glass from window beside him was gone, but thankfully she couldn't see where it had gone.
"Alicia?" Martin whispered, his eyes still closed.
"Yes?" she replied, her voice laden with relief but strained by passing through gritted teeth.
"I feel... like a punching bag," he told her weakly. "But.... But, I'm okay. Go... see to others."
Alicia stared at him for a moment. Then her mind started working again and she realized what he was saying.
"There may still be time, for them," he continued slowly, sounding as if he was either very relaxed or very drunk.
The instant she started to nod, her neck lit up in pain again, forcing her to stop. A short cry escaped her lips. Her eyes started to tear up from the intensity. "I'm not sure I can." She moved her eyes instead of her whole head this time, searching for the door's handle. "But I will try."
She unfastened her seat belt with her left hand, and slowly let it retract. So far so good. When she went to reach for the door handle was when she discovered her right arm was broken. The pain of that was quite different than that of the whiplash. More intense, but easier to bear as it didn't shoot up into her head. She reached over with her left, and pulled the handle. The door opened as if there was nothing wrong.
She used her left hand to tuck her right arm against her torso. Carefully she moved each leg on at a time, testing for pain first as they bent at the knee, and then as she put her feet on the ground. She did her best to take care of her neck by moving her shoulders and her head in conjunction, and keeping her head up straight. She had to lean some and slide out of the car to make it work, but the reward of minimal hurt was worth it.
As quickly as she dared, Alicia moved between the vehicles to check on their occupants. Most people, all those in the cars around the initial two, were banged up, but conscious and seemingly stable. Two men were already out of their SUVs, also moving around to check on others. Some children were crying. One person was hyperventilating, but that meant she was breathing. And even if the woman passed out from it, she'd still breath, her body would see to that.
One of the men, on the down side of the hill age wise but still sturdy looking, tried to get Alicia to sit down and stop moving. "Miss, you're not alright," he said to her more than twice.
"I have to try," she informed him, trying to push him away with her good arm.
"Please, miss. You don't want to see that," he insisted.
She looked him in the eye. "I have to."
The man may not have understood why, but he understood she had need to see the center of the accident. He trailed her as she carefully made her way.
Alicia didn't have to approach the truck to see how the driver was. He was laying half out the front windshield in an extremely unnatural position, shock fixed firmly on his still face. Seeing no one else in the truck, Alicia turned her attention to the car on its side.
The other man who had been out checking on people was currently pulling a car seat out through the back side door that was facing the sky. The child in it was screaming as hard as it possibly could. A good sign. When Alicia finally reached the car she found an older child crying on the ground, calling for his parents between sobs next to the man fishing out his sibling.
Alicia leaned against the roof of the car, and peered in the now upside down car, from her perspective, through the driver side window.
The woman in the passenger seat looked to Alicia. Tears were streaming down her bloodied face. Her hands where clutching the unconscious man in the driver's seat. "Please help us," she begged. "Please. He won't wake up. Please help. My children.... Pleeaase."
"That's why I'm here," Alicia replied calmly. She reached out and placed her hand on the woman's, and partially on the man's arm at the same time. "You children are alright. You will be too."
"Please help us," the woman continued to implore Alicia, apparently not having heard or understood Alicia's words.
Alicia resorted to making a soothing "shhhh" and patting the woman's hand softly. Soon neck started to no longer allow her to hold up her head. She oh so slowly turned her head and rested it against the distorted window frame as best she could so that she didn't have to leave the couple.
On the nearby corner she saw D standing. D wasn't moving at all, simply standing and watching. But the odd part was D wasn't wearing a doctor's coat or anything else Alicia had always seen D wear. Instead D was wearing what Alicia pictured a serial killer would wear. Alicia stayed as still as D was, except for her hand which occasionally switched between stroking and patting the hand of the woman still stuck in the car.
Not much later sirens were able to be heard. Alicia was grateful, for she wasn't sure she was going to be able to get herself up from the position she was in, and she could feel things were getting worse as muscles tightened on her. She kept watching D. As the sirens came closer, she thought she saw D getting lighter. Once the EMTs from the first ambulance started to swarm the car on its side, D started to back away.
They helped Alicia off of the side of the car first. She wouldn't have let them take her too far away, not that she had any recourse with which to stop them. But thankfully they wanted to examine her before moving her any more. They had only taken her off the car because she had started to move herself and so that those inside, who appeared worse off, could be reached sooner.
Right quick a neck brace was put on Alicia, which made her feel significantly better. After that she was turned over to the older man who had shadowed her to be carefully led to an ambulance while the fire department worked with the EMTs to get the man and woman out. Only after Alicia checked all the corners for D and did not see D anywhere did she let herself be guided away.
The next hour was a blur to Alicia as everyone who needed to be was cut out of cars, the police took witness reports, and those who needed medical attention were taken to the hospital. The same hospital she and Martin had been heading for. She and Martin rode there together in an ambulance, but didn't share anything more than a knowing look. Alicia decided once they reached the hospital she would stay as close to the man and woman as possible for as long as possible. Considering that's where D worked, she was sure to be around also.