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Somewhere Between Life and Death

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by bulba_boy, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. {This is just a simple short story.}

    Todd felt the ring in his pocket one last time as he made sure it was still there. His fingers closed around the small metallic band, pulling it from its hiding place and holding it up to the setting sun. The diamond sparkled in the fading light as he slowly turned the ring this way and that. He chuckled at the thought of how odd he must look right now — lifting his hand up in front of him as he stood on the bridge walkway, the cars passing underneath him.

    "Todd!" a voice called out from behind him.

    His fingers fumbled with the ring for a moment as he quickly tried to conceal it within the folds of his coat. Hiding it just in time, he spun around and looked into a pair of deep blue eyes.

    "Janie." Todd said with a smile as she wrapped her arms around him, nearly knocking him over. Her head nuzzled in close to his chest as she breathed in deeply. Todd returned her embrace and lightly kissed the top of her head.

    "I missed you." Janie finally said.

    "I missed you as well." Todd replied, "It made me realize just how much I can't stand to be without you."

    Janie flushed as she looked down, but Todd gently took her chin and brought her face back up to his. Her blushing cheeks and bright smiled warmed him in the evening air. It was a feeling he wanted to hold onto forever.

    "So," Janie said, slowly releasing her hold, "over the phone you said you had something important to ask me when I got back, but why did you want me to meet you here?"

    Smiling, Todd asked, "Does this place look at all familiar?"

    "Yeah, it's where you took me on our first date," she said as she looked around, "Neither of us could afford to do anything else so we walked here and watched the sun set. It was the simplest yet sweetest date anyone had ever taken me on."

    "That's why I chose this spot." Todd knelt down on one knee holding the ring up.

    "Todd," Janie stammered as her cheeks began to glow red, "You had better be serious because if this is a joke I will throw you off the edge of the bridge."

    "No babe, this is for real. The past two years that we've been together have been amazing. I love you and I want us to spend the rest of our lives together." He delicately took her hand in his as he stared up at her, "Janie, will you marry me?"

    Janie's eyes sparkled as her cheeks flushed the most brilliant shade of red Todd had ever seen. He waited eagerly for her answer, almost missing it when the whisper escaped her lips.

    "Yes." Her hands shook as Todd slipped the ring onto her finger and stood up. His arms wrapped around her as their lips met in a long deep kiss. Janie pulled Todd in close, nuzzling her head against the warmth of his chest.

    "I love you." Todd whispered resting his chin lightly on the top of her head.

    "I love you too." Janie said, though Todd could barely hear her over the whine of a car horn and screeching of tires.

    The ground shook as the furious sound of metal crashing against metal thundered through the air. Todd and Janie struggled to keep their footing as the section of walkway they were standing on began to sway awkwardly. Before they even knew what was happening, it had collapsed beneath their feet. Todd pushed against Janie with all his might in hopes that she would catch the edge of either the walkway or the road below. Tumbling backwards through the air he was unable to avoid striking his head against a jagged portion of concrete. His limp unconscious body plummeted into the dark river below.

    ~*~

    Todd opened his eyes slowly; an impenetrable darkness surrounded him on all sides. Numb with cold he tried to sit up but struck his head on an unseen surface. Panic set in as he reached out with his arms only to discovered similarly smooth surfaces on all sides. The last thing he could recall was the bridge and the horrible sound of crunching metal but how had he ended up here.

    "Hello!" he yelled, pounding on the surface above him, "Is anybody out there?"

    His ears strained for a moment, listening for any sign that someone had heard him. Slowly the steady rhythm of footsteps began to echo just outside his small cold prison. They sounded distant at first but steadily grew nearer.

    "Help me! Please, help me!"

    There was a soft click as a hatch near his feet opened. Light flooded into the space he occupied revealing walls of stainless steel all around him.

    "You're loud enough to wake the dead," said a low voice.

    Todd watched the small room pass by him as he slid out on some sort of tray. Blinking several times his eyes tried to adjust to the bright room he was now in. Again he tried to sit up, this time shifting his weight in an attempt to stand. Just as he began to put weight on his feet, a hand grabbed his shoulder.

    "You should remain sitting for now. It usually takes quite some time before people can stand again." It was the same voice from a moment before.

    Looking over his shoulder, Todd surveyed the person who had just released him from the strange container he had been lying in. It was a man, tall and slender with thick curls of black hair falling about his face. He was casually dressed in a plain white t-shirt, worn blue jeans, and a pair of leather sandals which came together in a rather simple and out of place look. Shifting his gaze down at his own legs, Todd realized he was wearing some sort of pale blue hospital gown.

    "Are you a doctor?"

    "No," was all the man said.

    Todd glanced back over at the stranger, "Who are you then?"

    "My name does not matter in this world," he answered, crossing the room and sinking silently into a chair, "but for now, call me Alan."

    "Right…" He wasn't sure how else to respond.

    The two sat in silence as Todd began looking around. It appeared that his hatch was not alone - several similarly small doors littered the wall in regular intervals. On one side of the room were several large steel tables, a few of which had large black bags resting on them. He studied them for a moment before it dawned on him what they could be. They were body bags.

    Todd felt very uneasy as he turned to look back at the wall cluttered with hatches. Each one was large enough for an average sized adult to fit through. Unsure of what was going on he felt the need to get away from here. Panicking, he tried to stand but his legs buckled beneath the weight of his body causing him to crash hard on the floor below.

    "When I said it would take some time, I meant longer than a few minutes." Alan said, making no indication he was going to help Todd up.

    Todd nursed his legs as he struggled to make sense of everything, "What's going on?"

    Alan smiled. "You're being given a second chance."

    "What do you mean?" Todd asked.

    The smile immediately faded from Alan's face. "Maybe you're not all I had hoped after all. If you haven't figured it out by now stand up and look where you were sitting."

    Todd made several unsuccessful attempts to stand before finally managing to hold himself up. His stomach turned; there was a body lying on the tray where he had been.

    "I was sitting on a dead person!"

    "Look closer." Alan instructed.

    The body belonged to a young man who appeared to be Todd's age and about the same build. How had they both fit on that small tray together, in such a small space, without him realizing it was there? Nausea gripped his stomach as he looked at the face; nose, ears, eyes, hair, and jaw line — they were all the same.

    "It's…" Todd couldn't find the words.

    "Yes, it's you." Alan seemed unimpressed.

    Todd struggled to speak but no matter how deep he breathed he just couldn't get enough air. His chest tightened and his legs felt as though he could no longer support himself. Mentally he was in worse shape as his mind tried to grasp his death. Every thought brought questions he couldn't even begin to fathom. A dark madness began to creep within the back of his thoughts devouring everything it came across. Just when he believed it would engulf everything he was a hand grasped his arm.

    "Don't lose yourself." Alan's voice was low and uncaring.

    Even so, it gave Todd something to focus his thoughts on. Slowly the darkness receded until his breathing had returned to normal. He opened his mouth but still found it difficult to speak. All he could do was watch as Alan slid the body back into the hatch and fastened it shut. Then he led them out of the room and to a bench a short way down the hall.

    "I'm dead?" Todd finally broke the silence.

    "Yes." Alan said looking away.

    Todd's eyes began to water. If he hadn't seen his own body lying in there he wouldn't have believed it. Taking a deep breath, he used the sleeve of his gown to wipe his tears.

    "So…" Todd began as he looked at Alan, "Does that make you an angel?"

    "You could describe me as such," Alan responded.

    "Then can you tell me what happened on the bridge?"

    Alan sighed. "A man lost control of his car and crashed into the support column holding up the portion of walkway you were standing on. Without anything to hold it up the section collapsed. Plain bad luck if you ask me."

    "Why am I here?"

    Alan finally turned to look at Todd, "Because you did something no one has done in a long time. You caused death to waver."

    "I did what?" Todd asked confused.

    Alan sighed again, "Allow me to explain. Your love for that girl was so strong that your thoughts and actions in those last moments were not for yourself but for her. Death itself could not help but be awed by such powerful devotion as it overtook your body. When that occurs, the person in question is given a chance to change their fate."

    "How can I change my fate?" Todd felt a slightly overwhelmed.

    "You will be given as much time as needed to decide that for yourself. Though if it helps, you can think of it as being a single wish that I will grant you." Alan paused, "Just know that there are many things you could choose to do, but not all of them are within my power. Until then, I will help you to the best of my abilities and answer any questions you may have."

    Todd took a deep breath and nodded, "Alright, but first I want to see Janie."

    Alan tilted his head as though he were studying the young man, a curious smile etched across the angels face.

    "Then follow me," Alan rose and briskly walked down the hall.

    Todd painfully rose from his seat and limped as fast as he could to catch up.

    "Can we slow down?"

    "No."

    Todd gritted his teeth, pushing through the pain. He wasn't sure what to make of Alan. Everything he heard about angels didn't seem to fit with this man. No wings. No halo. Nothing. Worse yet he seemed to enjoy watching Todd struggle both mentally and physically. But if he really were here to help, then Todd would endure it.

    At the end of the hall was a stairway leading up several floors. Each step was agony but Todd followed as best he could. When they finally reached the fifth floor Alan gave him a chance to rest.

    "Why does it hurt so badly?"

    "You've never walked without your body to hold you up." Alan answered as he stared at him, "It will take awhile to get used to it."

    Todd looked down at his legs again; the way Alan constantly stared at him was unnerving.

    "Where is Janie?"

    When he received no answer, he looked up and asked again.

    "Where is —" Todd looked around, "Alan?"

    Alarm shot through him. He was alone in the stairwell. Struggling to his feet, he looked around for any sign of where the angel had gone. His eyes fell upon the exit. With a little effort he managed to open the fifth floor door.

    "Alan?"

    He peered down the sparsely lit hallway. Doors lined both sides of the long hall. Most were partly open with small plastic door stops keeping them in place. The lights in each room were out; though Todd noticed a few rooms had a soft glow and hushed voices as though a television were on.

    At the end of the hall were two large wooden doors, one was firmly shut. The other was wide open and revealed a large waiting room with chairs, couches, and a row of windows with the blinds drawn. Directly across from him was a counter with two nurses working behind it. The one closest to him was hunched over a stack of papers while the other held a clipboard and appeared to be waiting on the first.

    "Alright," the first nurse said as she finally looked away from the stack of papers and rubbed her strained eyes, "It looks like they might be able to spare some AB Negative on the third floor. Tell Margery I sent you and what we need the blood for."

    The second nurse nodded as she walked out from behind the counter and rushed over to an elevator that Todd hadn't noticed when he'd first entered the room.

    "Excuse me," Todd said as he slowly approached the nurse still standing behind the counter, "I was wondering if you could help me?"

    When the woman didn't acknowledge him he tried again.

    "Excuse me; I could use your help."

    The nurse continued to stare down at the pile of papers. Frustrated Todd reached out to tap her on the shoulder.

    "I wouldn't do that if I were you." Alan's voice came from behind Todd, "They cannot see or hear you. And unlike inanimate objects, you'll pass right through another human being if you try to touch them; the sensation can be very unpleasant."

    Turning, Todd saw the angel standing beside the elevator.

    "Where did you go?" Todd asked, frustrated.

    "Where I had to go," Alan answered, "Had I known you were going to wander around in the I.C.U. by yourself I would have told you to stay put."

    Todd was about to retort when he realized what the angel had just said.

    "Janie's in the I.C.U.?"

    "No," Alan walked over to another set of double doors by the nurse's station, "But they will bring her here if she survives the surgery."

    His gaze dropped, "She's in surgery?"

    "Yes, now follow me."

    Todd did as he was told, following Alan through the doors and into another hallway. As they neared the first door he could hear muffled voices and the sounds of metal clanking against metal. Todd could feel a foreboding gloom hanging in the air. When they reached the door Alan motioned for Todd to open it. Trembling hands pushed the door open. Several doctors and nurses rushed around the room while a few remained stationary — standing over what appeared to be an operating table. Slowly he walked around to the edge of the table to get a better look.

    If it hadn't been for three pieces of metal sticking through her back and protruding out her chest, Todd might have thought Janie was sleeping. He reached towards her but remembered Alan's warning. Fighting back the tears, he withdrew his hand.

    "It's ironic," Alan said as he entered the room and leaned against the wall, "that your selfless act to save her would actually be what brought her here."

    "What are you talking about? I didn't do this to her!" Todd could feel anger welling up alongside the tears.

    Alan chuckled, "Oh but you did. You pushed her as hard as you could, hoping she wouldn't follow you off the bridge. In doing so you sent her tumbling backwards and onto a jagged patch of rebar, knocked loose from the wreck."

    "Shut up." Todd whispered.

    Alan ignored him and continued, "You were lucky enough to get knocked unconscious while you fell, allowing you to painlessly drown in the river below. She on the other hand suffered greatly as she struggled to breathe, unable to call for help. It's a wonder she's even still alive. Maybe if you hadn't-"

    "I said shut up!" Todd rushed towards Alan and pinned the surprised angel against the wall. "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

    "Take your hands… off me!" A burst of wind knocked Todd backwards and pressed him hard against the ground.

    "What's wrong with you?!" Todd shouted in anguish, "Why do you enjoy watching me suffer?"

    Alan opened his mouth to answer but was cut off as one of the monitors began to emit a long high pitched squeal.

    "We're losing her!" One of the doctors shouted, "Get the defibrillator!"

    Alan seized Todd by his shoulder, pulling him from the path of a nurse as she rushed past them. Overcome by his emotions, he felt the darkness once again taking over his mind. Just when he thought he'd lose himself, a scream brought him back to his senses.

    He looked up slowly and saw Janie, wrapped in a pristine white gown, standing over her own dead body. Her face contorted in fear and confusion as she looked around the room. Alan was upon her, quickly pulling her out of the doctor's way but in fright she broke away and ran towards the door. She stumbled, her legs too weak to support herself. Todd caught her in his arms and held her tight, though she struggled to get away.

    "Let me go you monster!" she cried.

    "Janie," he whispered, "It's me, Todd."

    She stopped struggling and looked up into his face.

    "Todd!" Janie wrapped her arms around him and began to sob, "What… what's happening? I… I saw me…"

    "I know," Todd said, "I know. I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but I am going to fix this."

    "Clear!" The doctor shouted.

    In that same instant Janie disappeared and the high pitched squeal ceased, replaced instead with a steady rhythmic beeping.

    "Alright, she's stable for now," The doctor said, "We have to get those things out of her now, we can't risk waiting for blood. If we have to we'll use the O Negative until they bring us more AB Negative."

    Todd couldn't bear watching as they cut into her. He left the room but stayed just outside the door sitting against the wall with his arms wrapped around his knees. Overcome by everything he had endured thus far, Todd finally allowed himself to cry.

    ~*~

    "Todd, wake up." Alan said softly as he placed a hand on the young mans shoulder.

    "What…?" Todd mumbled as he slowly opened his eyes, wiping them with the back of his hand.

    For a moment Todd was unsure where he was or what was happening. When he looked up and saw Alan crouching over him everything from the night before came flooding back.

    "Get away from me," Todd said as he pushed Alan's hand off his shoulder and looked away from the angel.

    "Todd," Alan began as he sat on the floor in front of him, "I am sorry."

    "You know, for some reason I don't believe you," Todd's words dripped with venom.

    "For that, I don't blame you," Alan said, "But, I truly am sorry and you deserve an explanation."

    Todd turned his head back towards the angel, "Well, let's hear it then."

    Alan nodded, "You see, there were others who came before you. Similarly, they all died trying to save someone they cared for but their dying acts turned out to be flukes. Once the situation was explained to them they chose to be brought back to life without ever questioning whether their loved one was alright."

    "So? What do they have to do with me?"

    Alan looked down as he sighed, "Because all of them acted in such an unforgiving manner I began to lose faith in your kind. I should have been happy when you showed signs that your attempt at sacrifice was genuine, but instead I found I had set myself against you. For some reason I was determined to push you towards making the same mistake your predecessors made. When you attacked me last night I realized what I was doing to you…"

    The angel looked into Todd's eyes, "I am sorry for the pain I caused you."

    "You brought me to Janie; let's say that makes up for what you did." Todd paused, "I assume this means you're going to stop then?"

    "Yes." Alan nodded, "I'm going to help you as much as I can from this point on."

    "Alright then," Todd said feeling a little relieved, "Let's start with what happened in there last night. Why could I see Janie?"

    "She died, if only for a few minutes, during which time her soul was free to move around like yours."

    "But she's fine now right?"

    Alan hesitated, "Yes, she is alive, but there were complications."

    "What kind of complications…?"

    "When they finally managed to resuscitate her, she had gone too long without oxygen. Currently she is brain dead with only a series of machines keeping her alive."

    Todd closed his eyes, "Then I want to use my ‘wish' on her. I want her to be healthy, awake, and unharmed."

    Alan sighed, "As admirable as that is, I'm afraid I cannot do it. Your choice must pertain to you specifically."

    Todd cursed in frustration, "I can't choose my own life then, I'd never be able to live with myself knowing I put her in the condition she's in."

    "Even if she was fine and you choose life, there would still be a high probability of her dying. The balance would find a way of correcting itself." Alan said.

    "The balance?"

    "Yes," the angel nodded, "Your fates became intertwined on the bridge when you died. If you chose to bring yourself back to life then one of the other two would have to die in order to maintain that balance."

    Todd thought for a moment, "Why did you say the other two? Isn't it just Janie and I?"

    "No," Alan answered, "When the wreck occurred, the lives of Janie, you, and the driver of the car who wrecked all became intertwined. Your decision will affect all three of you in some way."

    Todd's mouth slowly curved into an uneasy smile as he realized there might still be a way to save Janie and himself.

    "Alan, is it possible for you to send me back before the wreck occurred?"

    The angel tilted his head, "Yes, you wouldn't have very long though… What are you thinking?"

    "To save Janie and myself," Todd said slowly, "I just have to make sure the events at the bridge play out differently. I have to make sure the two of us are fine and that the driver of the car dies…"

    An uneasy silence permeated the air until Alan finally spoke.

    "Frankly, I'm surprised you'd consider that as an option."

    "I'm not entirely sure I like the idea." Todd stood up, "But don't expect me to be very forgiving towards the person who killed me."

    Alan crossed his arms as he rose, "How do you propose to carry out such a plan? At most I would only be able to give you a minute."

    "I'm not sure yet, but I'll think of something." Todd doubted his own words. "If you'd watch over Janie for me, I'd like to go see the driver before I decide if this is right thing to do."

    "Of course," Alan said, "You'll find him on the second floor; his name is Ethan."

    "Alright," Todd nodded as he made his way down the hall, "If anything changes with Janie, come find me. Ok?"

    Alan nodded, "I will."

    Todd tried to smile but couldn't find one in him. With a shove he pushed open the double doors to the fifth floor lobby. Sitting on the nearest couch were two people he immediately recognized - Janie's parents. They were speaking to her doctor but Todd couldn't quite hear them. Deviating from his path, he made his way over to the couch.

    "…the machines are currently the only things keeping her alive." The doctor said.

    Sandra, Janie's mother, wiped her eyes, "Is there any chance she'll recover?"

    "I'm afraid the length of time she went without oxygen, factored in with the amount of trauma she suffered… the chances are not favorable."

    Bill wrapped his arm around his wife as she buried her face in his shoulder trying to keep herself from crying, "So you're telling us she'll be like that forever then?"

    "Well," the doctor explained, "If you choose to leave her on the machines then yes, she'll most likely remain that way."

    A loud sob escaped Sandra as she dug her face in deeper, as though she intended to hide from the world.

    "So we have to decide whether or not to leave her on the machines?" Bill asked, a tear rolling down his cheek.

    "Yes, I'm afraid so."

    Bill nodded, "Do we… do we have to decide right this moment?"

    "No, take as long as you have to," the doctor stood, "If you need me or anything else, just ask one of the nurses."

    "Thank you," Bill said as the doctor left.

    Turning away, Todd saw Alan standing behind him.

    "I had come to tell you what I overheard the nurses in Janie's room talking about," the angel said, "but it appears you found out on your own."

    Todd nodded, "Yeah..."

    "I'll head back to her then." Alan said turning to leave.

    "No, wait."

    The angel turned back, "Yes?"

    "What happens if Janie dies before I make my decision?" Todd watched Bill stroke Sandra's hair, her body shook with muffled sobs.

    "Then no matter what your decision is, two of you would have to die for the balance to be maintained."

    Todd shifted uncomfortably and turned to face Alan, "I won't let that happen."

    "Even if it means killing the driver?"

    "Just tell me if anything changes…" Todd stood, ignoring the question.

    "You still plan to see him even though you have already decided against him in your heart?"

    He pushed past Alan, "I know what you're trying to do. Stop it."

    The elevator opened as a few nurses stepped out and turned to go down the hall. Todd hurried into the small room and away from Alan's gaze. So what if he had already made his decision? He couldn't find any reason why Ethan, the man who killed him - the man who was ultimately responsible for Janie's condition, should be allowed to live while everyone else suffered.

    When the elevator reached the second floor the doors slid open as silently as they had shut. This floor was far more crowded than the fifth had been; Todd had to hug the wall to avoid touching anyone. He began to wonder how he would find Ethan in this mess of people.

    "Excuse me ma'am? I'm Officer Clyne, I was wondering if you could assist me in finding Ethan Weatherfield's room?"

    Todd turned at the name, though he wasn't sure if it was the same Ethan he was looking for.

    "Weatherfield?" another nurse replied, "I was heading there just now, you can follow me."

    The Officer and Todd followed the nurse to the end of the hall. She grasped one of the door handles and held it open for the Officer to enter. Before entering herself, the nurse set a rubber stopper at the base of the door keeping it partly open. Todd waited until she was done then followed her in.

    Ethan's bed was empty; instead he sat in a chair as he stared out the window, a mournful expression etched across his face. With the exception of a large bruise on his forehead and a sling around his arm, he looked perfectly fine. If the man had heard the three enter, he chose to ignore them.

    "Mr. Weatherfield," the nurse said strictly, "we've told you twice now that you're not supposed to get out of your bed unless it's to use the restroom."

    Ethan shrugged though he didn't turn around or make any indication that he planned on getting back in bed. The nurse sighed as she walked over to him and checked his temperature, pulse, and the feeling in his finger tips. Both Todd and the police officer waited patiently near the door.

    "Everything seems good," the nurse said once she had finished, "You have a visitor."

    Ethan turned quickly but frowned once he saw the police officer.

    "Mr. Weatherfield, I'm Officer Clyne." He said, "Would it be alright if I had a few words with you?"

    Ethan looked down at the floor and nodded.

    "I'll be down the hall if either of you need anything," the smiled as she left the room, shutting the door behind her.

    Officer Clyne sat down on the edge of the bed as he produced a small notepad and pen. Ethan waited silently as the officer situated himself.

    "Ethan, can you tell me what happened last night?" he asked.

    "Uh, yeah." Ethan began, "I'm not exactly sure what happened when I wrecked, but I remember I was on my way to the hospital when someone stepped out in front of my car… I swerved to go around them but I lost control, then I think that's when I wrecked. The doctor said my head struck the windshield and I was in and out of consciousness for several hours…"

    The officer scribbled a few things into his notepad before setting it down beside him, "We've reviewed the security cameras that were on the bridge. Also the doctors said your blood tested clean. All of that in conjunction with what the eyewitnesses saw fits with what you just told me."

    Ethan continued to stare down at the floor, "Am I going to be charged with anything?"

    "At this point I would say it doesn't look like it, but if anything did come up the most you'd have to worry about is community service or possibly having your license temporarily revoked." He paused, "You're lucky, the video evidence is solid proof that the whole incident was an unfortunate accident. And even then, people sometimes still see jail time."

    "Yeah," Ethan said though his words were hollow, "Um, is it alright if I ask you a question officer?"

    Clyne nodded, "Go ahead."

    "I heard the nurses talking earlier, about the people on the walkway… about the young woman's condition and about what happened to the young man…" Ethan's voice was barely a whisper, "What were their names?"

    The police officer shook his head, "I'm sorry but I can't release any information as to their identities at this time."

    "I understand," Ethan nodded and then looked up, "Thank you very much anyways."

    Ethan turned his gaze back towards the window as the officer gathered up the few items he had brought. As he opened the door to leave he hesitated and glanced back over his shoulder. For a moment Todd wondered if the officer had forgotten something. Finally grabbing his notepad, the policeman flipped it back a few pages.

    "The woman's name is Janie Bullock and the man was Todd Graham." Officer Clyne said before leaving the room.

    Todd watched as Ethan silently repeated the names back to himself. He wondered what Ethan could possibly be thinking and feeling. For the first time, Todd was unsure if what he planned to do was right.

    "Ethan?"

    Both Todd and Ethan turned towards the door to see a woman in a wheelchair, a bundle of cloth in her arms.

    Ethan's face was a mixture of happiness and apology, "Angela… I am so sorry I couldn't make it in time last night, I-"

    "No," she said, "It's ok; the nurses told me about the wreck, I'm just glad you're alright."

    The nurse who had wheeled Angela into the room smiled, "I told her we're not suppose to do this, but once the doctor gave them both a clean bill of health Angela insisted. Your wife is a very determined woman Mr. Weatherfield."

    With restored vigor, Ethan crossed the room and knelt down by Angela. He peered into the bundle of cloth before smiling up at the nurse.

    "Thank you for bringing them to me, thank you so much."

    Slowly Todd approached the group and peered into the bundle of cloth. A small baby, barely a day old, slept soundly within the tightly wrapped blanket.

    "It's a boy," Angela said smiling.

    With his uninjured arm Ethan reached out and placed his hand softly on his child's cheek, "Hi there little guy."

    "We still have to name him,"

    Ethan looked at the baby for a moment, "I like the name Todd."

    "Todd," Angela repeated, "I like it too."

    "Yeah, Todd Weatherfield…" A tear rolled down the side of Ethan's cheek as he leaned in and kissed his son's forehead.

    No one noticed the door silently open as Todd let himself out. Once he was in the hallway he leaned back against the door. Everything had fallen apart in those last few moments. Attempting to manipulate events so that Ethan would die instead was no longer an option. He regretted ever considering it. Todd began walking down the hall, unsure if he'd ever figure out what to do.

    For a moment he stopped by the elevators, but instead of taking them back up to the fifth floor he sat down in a vacant chair near the nurse's station. Resting his elbows on his knees and burying his face in his hands, he let out a defeated sigh.

    "Where are you going?"

    Todd looked up and saw one of the nurses leaving the desk.

    "I got a message from Dr. Peterson," the nurse said to her coworker, "The Bullocks have decided to take their daughter off life support but none of the nurses up there have any experience with this, so they asked if I could help."

    Todd didn't wait to hear the rest of the conversation as he jumped to his feet and rushed towards the elevator. Without thinking he entered the elevator the moment the sliding doors opened. At the same moment a single man stepped off, Todd passed through him effortlessly.

    For a moment Todd couldn't move or breathe, and then all at once his body grew limp as it was racked with intense pain. He fell backwards out of the elevator and struck his head hard on the linoleum floor which only added to his suffering. Through clenched teeth he tried to call out for help but it was useless. Tears began to build around the edges of his eyes, not from the pain, but the realization that he had failed Janie. Because of him she would die.

    "Todd!" it was Alan.

    The angel knelt down and placed his hand on Todd's forehead. As quickly as it had struck him, the pain receded.

    "Janie! They've given up on her, they're going to-" Todd started to say as he struggled to his feet.

    Alan placed his hand on his shoulder, stopping him.

    "I know," Alan said, "Don't waste your thoughts or energy. Janie only has moments left and if you still wish to save her you must make your request now."

    Todd looked the angel in the eyes and without hesitation said, "Take me back to before the wreck happen, with as much time as you can give me."

    Alan nodded, "What will you do?"

    "The only thing I can…" Todd's voice trailed off.

    "At most you may only have seconds," Alan warned as he stood, "You can't save everyone and even if you could the balance would just-"

    "I know." Todd smiled.

    "Very well then," Alan said as he placed his hand on Todd's shoulder.

    An explosion of light enveloped the two, forcing Todd to shield his eyes. Alan's grip on his shoulder loosened slowly until he let go all together. Someone else was there now, holding him tightly. He opened his eyes and saw the sun setting in the distance, Janie's arms locked around him in its fading light. Lightly he kissed the top of her head as tears began rolling down his cheeks

    "I love you," Todd whispered.

    "I love you too," Janie said just before Todd pushed her away from him with all his might.

    She stumbled slightly but hooked her arm on the railing just in time to catch herself. The walkway shuddered as she tried to turn back towards Todd, unsure of what was happening. Crunching metal thundered through the air as she felt the walkway begin to fall. A sudden jerk threw her off balance as the safety cables caught the walkway from plummeting any farther. Her chin came down hard on the metal but she ignored the pain and turned to look back at Todd.

    Horrified she saw the section hanging sideways from a single cable, the others having snapped. It was empty. She looked down at the ground frantically, searching for Todd on the road bellow.

    "Did you see that?!"

    "Yeah! Someone stepped out in front of that car."

    "I think I saw someone fall over the edge!"

    The voices from the road drifted up to Janie. As she turned to look over the edge of the bridge tears began to soak her cheeks, fearful of what she might see. When her eyes fell upon Todd's body lying face down motionless in the water she fell to her knees and began to sob.

    "No!" she cried, "No…"

    "Look there's someone still up on the walkway!"

    "Has anyone called 911 yet?"

    Steadily a crowd began to form around the wreck as a smaller group was trying to figure out a way to help Janie down incase the cables holding up her portion of walkway gave out before emergency officers arrived. Everyone was rushing to help, or at least do something — except for two men who stood motionless on the opposite sidewalk.

    "So," Alan said as he turned towards Todd, "In the end you chose yourself."

    "Yeah…" was all Todd could say.

    Alan didn't press the issue; instead he looked back towards the group of people and watched.

    "I must go for now," Alan said after some time, "When you are ready I will come back for you."

    Todd nodded and turned to thank Alan, but the angel was already gone. He shifted his head and looked back at the crowd, then at Janie. She sat bleary eyed staring off into the darkening sky. Eventually an ambulance, a fire truck, and a few police showed up and dispersed the crowd of people after taking in statements from people whom had seen the accident occur. They safely managed to get Janie down but she was in a daze, unable to do more than stare blankly at the paramedics who asked her questions.

    Again Todd was the cause of her suffering, but this time she would live. He didn't know how long she would grieve, but he knew time would eventually heal her wounds and one day she'd be ready to start her life again. Todd's only hope was that it would be a long and happy one.

    "Alan," Todd said as he finally looked away, "I'm ready to go now."

    The light returned to enveloped him once more, this time though Todd didn't have to shield his eyes. Instead its glow soothed his mind and relaxed his body, wrapping him tightly in its warmth. In its embrace he saw a future with Janie — the wedding they might have had, the struggles they would have overcome, the children they would have raised, the strengthening of their love over the years, and ultimately the sum of the life they would have had together. And when the light finally faded, he was gone.

    {Well that's the end, tell me what ya think!}
     
    #1 bulba_boy, Aug 15, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  2. I'm trying to tell you what I think, but the words aren't comming at the moment...

    Well what I do know that if I was in the same situation, I'd do the exact same thing, I just wouldn't consiter the driver's death as an option.

    ...

    *trys to think of something else to say*

    ...

    *fails*

    God damn it... I'm speechless. Good job!
     
  3. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    Nice piece of writing. Description's good, though a little lacking in some areas; though I suppose in this type of writing it's not really important. Good job.

    Also, the level of humanity's goodness in this work is simply adorable :p
     
  4. I really can't think of anything to say. It was actually one of the most touching things I've ever read, which usually doesn't happen, so don't tell anyone >>

    But seriously, it was a really nice piece of writing, I felt like it was a bit rushed through, and I'd have liked to see it stretch out a bit longer, but it's nothing really important. All in all, great job.
     
  5. I thought it was great! For being a short story, it really conveyed a lot of emotion. Usually I don't get attached to characters in short stories, but I felt myself wanting to protect Todd. =o Loved it, nice job.
     
  6. After having read this and not knowing really what to say, as your writing style, though lacking in description, works very well for the story here and left me speechless for a while (not something that often happens, so you get a gold star), I'm going to have to agree with Sem and Chadwyck; however, Todd did not have that much time for desicion making, it would have been nice, in retrospect, to see what Janie thought of all that - I don't mean so much at the end, where Todd has made his choice, but perhaps a flashback - though this is a story about the choice a single man, rather than the lives of three people (yes, what? this centres around one man and his morals, not about the other two who are involved - a story of the humane rather than humanity, it seems).
     
  7. Very, very impressive. I think you covered all the ethical issues that would be required in such a situation, with fluidity and prowess.

    That said... I remain, as some of the other posters, speechless as well. I hope to see more from you! :)
     
  8. Thank you all very much.

    As of right now I consider this story "done" and will be working on other projects. But I am compiling a list of suggestions people have made so if and when I come back to work on this I have some ideas.

    Again, thank you guys very very much. ;D
     

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