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Fatal vision, p.1
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       Fatal Vision, p.1

           R.D. Sherrill
 
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Fatal Vision


  FATAL VISION

  A SHORT STORY BY

  R.D. SHERRILL

  FATAL VISION

  “Forgive me father for I have sinned,” Cole said in a loud whisper. He was already ashamed of what he was about to confess as he fidgeted in the uncomfortable wooden chair. Sweat poured from his brow. His mouth was dry as a bone.

  He could make out the outline of the priest who sat on the other side of the veil. He realized even a man of the cloth would find the fantastic story he was about to reveal hard to believe. He considered getting up and walking away. He could cut his losses and no one would be the wiser. However, the weight that sat on his chest kept him still. He had to tell someone or it would drive him further into insanity.

  “How long since your last confession, Cole?” came the deep voice of the priest.

  The priest’s accusing tone immediately convicted him. He couldn’t remember the last time he had darkened the church door other than on Easter or Christmas. Cole had known Father LaBeau much of his life. The priest was a fixture in his neighborhood, serving the parish for as long as he could remember. He had had many conversations with him during games of bingo in the church rectory over the years. Each time he promised the priest he would attend mass, only to break the promise on Sunday morning. Now he was sitting there hoping for absolution or something along that line.

  “What took you so long, my son?” the priest asked calmly. “I expected to see you here after what happened. There are few of us who can attest to a miracle like you can. Your very existence here today, you realize, is nothing less than a miracle.”

  If he weren’t under conviction before, he was now. His trip to the church for confession had turned into his standing before the judgment seat. He had not only broken the Sabbath but he had also failed to show thanks for his very life. The priest was right; the fact that he was alive was a miracle. However, Father LaBeau didn’t know the whole story. That miracle, as he called it, came at a price.

  “Things have happened so fast, Father,” Cole admitted. “You’re right. I should have come and given thanks, but some things were stopping me.”

  “Some things?” the priest asked. “What kind of things?”

  “Yes, things,” Cole countered. “Things I’m ashamed of.”

  The priest sat quietly for a moment, wondering what was going on in the confessor’s mind.

  “Are you here looking for forgiveness?” LaBeau asked in a patient tone, breaking his silence. “Or, are you here seeking something else?”

  “I just want someone to listen,” Cole responded in a quivering voice as he ran his gloved hands through his hair. “No one believes me anymore.”

  “I’m listening,” the priest replied. “Go ahead. That’s what I’m here for.”

  “You won’t believe me,” Cole shot back, rethinking what he was doing. He realized what he was about confess would sound insane.

  “Try me,” the priest responded. “You’d be surprised what I’ve heard from this seat. Besides, it’s just us. I’ve locked up the church for the evening, so feel free to share. No one will hear. It’s between you, me and Him.”

  Cole drew a deep breath and gathered his thoughts. Where should he begin?

  “It all started the day I died,” Cole began as his eyes darted around the dimly-lit confessional. He swallowed nervously as he reached for words to describe what he was feeling inside.

  “I remember that day well,” the priest said. “You were gone from this world. It was a miracle.”

  “It was a curse!” Cole exclaimed. His yell echoed throughout the empty church, prompting him to quiet his tone. “I would have been better off dead! You see, Father, the Cole that left that day isn’t the same Cole who came back. Something changed. I’m not the same person I was before.”

  “I’m sure suffering through something as traumatic as being struck by lightning and being clinically dead for several minutes can make you think things are different but in actuality it’s just a natural …”

  “I can see through other people’s eyes, Father!” Cole declared. “It isn’t some post-traumatic stress thing. I can actually see what other people see. Don’t you understand? I came back a freak.”

  “Well, I don’t know if you can actually …” the priest began, only to be cut off again.

  “It all began when I came back,” Cole revealed. “I was standing over my body. I could see myself lying on the emergency room table. At first I thought I was dead, that I was having an out-of-body experience. I figured I was about to walk into a bright light, or worse, into a wall of flames. I was playing golf on Sunday after all, when I was struck. But then, all of a sudden I was back in my body. The next thing I know my wife and best friend were standing over me, alongside the doctor, smiling ear to ear. I was alive.”

  “I was there. Remember?” LaBeau noted. “I was there to give you last rites.”

  “It was after that, when I got out of the hospital a few days later, that it began to happen,” Cole continued. “It was subtle at first, just little glimpses here and there. I figured it was just the after effects of being struck. But then they, those glimpses, started coming more regularly, more vividly. It was unmistakable. Somehow, as incredible as it sounds, I was able to see what other people see.”

  “If that were true, then it would be another miracle,” the father said. “It would be a gift.”

  “It’s a curse,” Cole corrected. “I can’t control it. These visions, they take over my mind. I can’t get them out. I can close my eyes but I still see them. I can’t make them go away.”

  “Are you sure these aren’t just apparitions, manifestations of your imagination?” the priest wondered.

  “No, they’re real. Either that or I’m stark raving mad,” Cole noted, silently admitting to himself that his second option might explain a lot of things. “It’s like watching little clips, little snippets of someone else’s life. It’s like I’m a damned voyeur. Oh, sorry Father.”

  The priest pondered Cole’s claim for a moment. “Whose life do you see, Cole?”

  “That’s the thing,” Cole began. “It’s like I’m linked to anyone I touch or anyone who touches me. It took me a while to figure it out once I began having the visions, but over time it became clear that I’m linked with anyone I come in physical contact with. Maybe it’s the electricity in their body. I don’t know.”

  “That would explain why you’re wearing those gloves on an otherwise warm evening,” the priest observed, recalling he thought it odd when he let Cole into the sanctuary minutes before.

  His comment prompted Cole to shove his gloved hands under his arms as if to hide them.

  “You are afraid to touch now?” the priest asked.

  “Yeah, something like that,” Cole agreed. “I’ve already seen too much. I don’t want to see anymore.”

  “By too much, do you mean …” the priest began.

  “Yes, Father, I saw my wife murdered,” Cole admitted. “I was a witness and I wasn’t even there. That’s another thing about my ‘gift’ as you call it. I get these glimpses in moments of great emotion, like when the person is feeling passion, fear, terror or anger.”

  Father LaBeau sat deep in thought for a moment. News of the murder of Cole’s wife had been all over the news. Police suspected she was the latest victim of the K-Town Slasher, given the way she was hacked by the blade of the homicidal maniac. The serial killer had terrorized Knoxville for months. Cole’s wife was his sixth victim. There was, however, another theory going around, one even more macabre, one in which Cole killed his own wife using the same method as the killer.

  While at first blush it might seem that suspecting a soft-spoken man like Cole of cold-blooded murder was silly, there was a motive. He had caught his wife in
the act of adultery just the week before her murder. The betrayal, some suspected, may have driven Cole over the edge, especially in his fragile state after being struck by lightning.

  “How horrible,” the priest began. “You saw the murder through her eyes? If you did then you must have seen the killer, right?”

  Cole sighed deeply. “Actually Father, I saw it through the killer’s eyes.”

  The priest couldn’t help but catch his breath. If Cole’s theory was right and he could see through the eyes of people he had touched, then he must know the killer.

  “I watched him do it,” Cole admitted as he choked back tears. “I saw him hacking away. I could see her face twisted in horror. There was blood – so much blood. I couldn’t help her. I was helpless.

  “Have you told this to the police?” the priest asked.

  “With all due respect Father, are you crazy?” Cole replied, rolling his eyes in the privacy of his side of the confessional. “They’d lock me up and throw away the key. I saw what the killer saw. I know things that only the killer knows. I’ve got to admit, it’s made me a little paranoid.”

  “I suppose you’re right,” the priest agreed. “Of course, on the other hand, knowing what you know could be dangerous in itself.”

  “What do you mean, Father?” Cole asked.

  “What I mean is, if the killer ever found out you have this – gift – then I would suspect that would make him very
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