Flash Fiction: First Comes the Murder

OOh, it’s been awhile since I posted a Flash Fiction story. This week’s challenge was to go to this Inspirobot site, find an affirmation, and write a story. Mine was “First comes the murder, then comes the apocalypse.” I banged this one out right away, then sat on it for four days. I’m not sure it works, but decided to put it up anyway.

“First comes the murder, then comes the apocalypse. First comes the murder, then comes the apocalypse. First comes the murder, then comes the apocalypse.” Jensen mutters under his breath over and over, the words tumbling out of his mouth like pebbles over a waterfall. He paces back and forth as well, working his hands as if he’s praying.

“Jensen.” He continues to pace and mutter, oblivious to everything around him, nearly bumping into Maddy before he pivots and walks the other way.

“You see that? Goddamn idiot nearly knocked me over! You need to lock him up!” Maddy stalks over to me, pointing at Jensen as he continues his vigil. “You can’t let crazies like him just walk around! You hear me?”

“Yes, Maddy, I hear you,” I sigh, grasping her wrist and gently pulling her hand back down. I steer her towards the counter and hand her a dose cup. “Here are your pills.”

Maddy takes the cup and examines the contents closely. “There’s no Ativan. I need an Ativan. Especially after being nearly run down by him.” She swallows the pills dry and hands the cup back to me, sticking out her tongue.

“Okay, Maddy. Just let me hand the rest of these out, and I’ll get you an Ativan.”

“Good. I’ll wait right here.” She takes one step to the side, crosses her arms, and glares at Jensen. I take another dose cup and try again.

“Jensen. It’s me, Chloe. The nurse. I have your meds for you.” I try to hand him the pills, but he knocks my hand away.

“NO! You’re trying to make me forget. I can’t forget. I have a mission. First comes the murder, then comes the apocalypse.” He tries to walk past me, but I grab his upper arms, stopping him.

“Jensen,” I say in my calmest, most soothing voice, even as I feel my patience begin to crack. “No one is trying to poison you. I just need you to calm down. You’re making the other patients nervous.”

“They should be nervous. They should be terrified. The apocalypse is coming. I was sent to stop it, but instead I’m stuck in this looney bin.” Jensen’s blue eyes bore into mine, clearer than I’ve ever seen them. Then, his intense look softens; he almost looks sane. He sighs, the same sound I made just moments ago with Maddy. “Chloe. I’m not crazy. I’m here to stop a murder. A murder that will bring the end of the world.”

“How do you know?” I ask, without thinking.

“Because I came from that world. I was sent from the future to prevent it. To prevent the one murder that starts it all.” I drop my hands and take a step back.

“Jensen, we’ve had this discussion before. There’s no such thing as time-travel.”

“In your time, no. But in my time—”

“There is no ‘your time’. You’re not here from the future, sent to prevent the apocalypse. You have an illness. An illness we can help treat—”

“I’m not crazy!” He runs his hands through his sandy hair, already wildly sticking up in all directions. He looks like he is about to resume his pacing, but he looks at me instead, cocking his head to the side. “What’s the date today?”

“It’s July 23.”

“July 23, July 23. What happens July 23?” Jensen mutters to himself, rolling his eyes up as if remembering something. Then he pauses, meeting my gaze again. “What if I could prove it? Prove I’m from the future.”

“How are you going to do that?” I don’t even know why I am indulging his delusion, but curiosity wins out over professionalism. He grabs my wrist, towing me towards the lounge. Once there, he grabs the TV remote and flicks it on, rapidly changing channels until he finds the national news. He scans the ticker at the bottom, then turns back to me, eyes flashing.

“Watch.” He releases my wrist, shoving his hands in his robe pockets and rocking back on his heels. I stare at the screen for a few moments; it shows some politician waving toward the camera and getting into a large black car. I turn back to Jensen to ask what I should be watching when I hear what sounds like fireworks, followed by screaming. I whip my head back to the TV, wide-eyed.

I can hear shrieking and yelling in the background, but the screen is a blurry grey. After a few moments, a reporter appears, blonde helmet-hair in disarray, sweat sheening through her layers of foundation.

“We have not had confirmation, but it appears that the Secretary of State, Tex Willerton, has been shot. All we know at this time is that several shots were fired. Secret Service are present and we have all been moved away from the scene. We will update as more news develops.” She pauses, her face still for several moments, apparently waiting for the cameraman to stop filming. He mutters something, then her cheeks flare. “What do you mean, you’re not coming with me? Don’t be such a goddamn pussy! If we get this, we’re looking at an Emmy.” Then the camera cuts out. I turn back to Jensen.

“Is that—”

“What, him? No. He’ll be fine. Well, he won’t walk so good for a while. Gets shot in the leg.”

“Then why did you have me watch it?”

“Don’t you see? I knew it was going to happen before it happened.”

“Okay.” I close my eyes, not believing what I’m about to say next. “Say you are from the future. You just said that guy, the Secretary of State, doesn’t die. He just gets shot. How is that so important that you would remember it?”

“It’s not. Not really. It’s just one of several events. Before.” He seizes my wrists. “Does this mean you believe me?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.” I look up, meeting his piercing gaze. “Why do you care if I do or not? Whose murder are you trying to prevent? Who’s so important you went to all this trouble?”

“You. You are.”

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