Red pulled out of the drive-through lane and into the parking lot, stopping
the stolen van in the first available space. He turned and faced Argento.
They both sat for a moment, looking at each other. After a moment, Argento
reached into the McDonalds bag and pulled out some french-fries. He held them
out in Red's direction. Red smacked them out of his hand. Fries flew all over
the rear of the van, landing on both the frog-shooting device and it's former
owner, the magic pedophile, Father David Patrick.
"No way!" Red shouted. "You cannot do that to me! You can't
just drop a bomb like that and then eat lunch casually. If you're going to
tell me that the world is going to end because of me, you're going to have
to explain yourself!"
"I'm afraid I can't do that," Argento said, gazing down at the
contents of the bag.
"Bull!" Red said. "You're going to tell me now!"
"I can't… I've been ordered not to…"
"Oh ok, fine. You've been ordered, so that's ok then."
"They called up and said 'Just tell him the world may end, that'll be
"Actually," Argento said, "I wasn't supposed to tell you that
"Oh really?" Red said, looking over at him. "Well, then, since
you've already disobeyed, what difference does it make if you tell the full
God damned story?"
"But the end of the world isn't?"
"Well… not quite as much, no."
"Great," Red said. "So what can you tell me?"
Argento looked out the side window. "It's about… it's about your
"What girlfriend?" Red asked. "Wait, Alison? I told you, she's
not my girlfriend. What about her."
"She's going to try to kill herself."
"What? There's no way! She is the happiest most well adjusted person
I have ever met! She's the one who would always cheer me up when I felt like
a total loser- there is no way she would kill herself."
"That's just it," Argento said. "She's not exactly the same
person you knew. She doesn't… she doesn't remember you."
"What?" said Red.
"The previous-life erasure policy?" said Argento. "No one
outside of our DI&R remembers that you exist."
"You're saying that because she didn't know me, she is going to kill
Red looked out the windshield ahead of him. "How do you know this?"
"Ah. That's… that's classified as well. But we know for certain
that she is going to kill herself sometime tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Red said. He looked down at his watch. It was ten o'clock
at night. "Jesus Christ we've got to go! We're never going to make it!" Red
threw the car into gear and pulled out of the parking lot. The gas pedal flat
against the floor, he pulled out into traffic, narrowly avoiding a Dodge Caravan.
"Jesus Christ! Relax, Red, relax," Argento said, grasping the handle
up above the passenger side window. "Hayden says that if we get underway
within a half-hour and go directly to her we'll make it."
"How does he know that? It's a fifteen-hour drive. What is he, psychic?"
"No, he's talked with our prophets."
"Prophets?" said Red. "Sure, why not. This gets more complicated
all the time. So, what, they can predict the future?"
"Not one-hundred percent accurately, but for the most part, yes. Sometimes
their predictions aren't fully understood until after they come true, and
they can be changed once people are made aware of them. But they say that
if we go directly to Alison, we'll get there before she kills herself."
"Wait…" said Red, "I'm confused. What does all this
have to do with the end of the world?"
"I told you," Argento said, "That's-"
"Classified, yeah, thanks."
"Look, let's just say… it was prophesized, ok? If we can stop
her from dying, we can stop the world from ending."
"Fine. All that matters to me is that we can save Alison."
"That's exactly what we're going to do."
"Good." Red settled in for a long ride. The smell of the food drifted
back into his consciousness. "Pass me some fries?"
"I think you'll find you knocked your fries all over the van," Argento
said, gesturing back behind them.
"No, those were Father Patrick's fries." In the back of the van
Patrick started thumping about.
Fifteen or so hours later, Red was on the Verrazano bridge on his way into
Brooklyn, New York. Argento was snoring softly on the passenger seat next
to him. He had been up all night imploring Red to let him drive a shift, but
Red was both determined and stubborn. He had only stopped twice along the
way to go to the bathroom, gas up, and buy coffee. Argento had fallen asleep
around nine AM.
Red had never been to Alison's apartment in the city, but he knew exactly
how to get to it. He had looked it up on line frequently. He actually had
the driving directions from his apartment to hers bookmarked on his web browser.
He would bring it up and look at it as he would decide definitively that he
was going to go down there and see her, studying each line before he eventually
would close it down and watch TV for a few hours.
He got off the 92nd street exit and six blocks and a few turns later he was
jumping out of the van, leaving it parked illegally across the corner of the
sidewalk. He stopped briefly in at the rear door of the van to take the Christmas
card his suitcase. He checked the address on the envelope just to make sure
his memory was as good as he'd thought it was. It was. He wondered if he should
wake Argento, but decided against it. He was sick of being bossed around and
kept in the dark. Alison was his friend, he was going to save her.
The building was a fairly large one, at least to Red, coming as he was from
a much smaller city. As he approached the front doors, he decided to bypass
the intercom and go for the speed inherent in the sword entry method. He drew
his blade and sliced through the locks. After getting inside, he hopped down
the few steps into the lobby, and ran past the elevators- her apartment was
on the ground floor.
When he got to her door he banged on it a few times. He got no answer. "Alison!" he
shouted, knocking louder, "Alison, open up in there!" Nothing. "Alison,
you, uh, you don't know me, but you've got to trust me, I'm not going to let
anything bad happen to you, please, let me in!" Again, no reply. He lifted
his sword once more and cut through the locks on this door as well. He pushed
open the door and entered.
He saw and heard no one within. He sheathed his blade and shut the door,
as best he could, behind him. It appeared to be a one-room apartment. To his
left was the kitchen area, separated from the rest of the room by a breakfast
bar. It had a refrigerator, a stove, a microwave, and some dirty dishes were
piled up in the sink. The rest of the room contained a desk with a computer,
a few bookcases, a TV, and a futon. Alison was not among them.
He heard a noise from behind the door he could only assume was the bathroom.
He walked up to it and listened closer. He heard it again. "Don't be
afraid," he said, opening the door. A cockroach scuttled away as light
hit the bathroom floor. The faucet dripped again, revealing the source of
"Damn it!" he said aloud.
He was worried. Prophets or no, he couldn't help but worry that he was too
late- that she had decided to do the deed somewhere other than her apartment
and he was standing around here at the exact time he should be elsewhere saving
He stood in the middle of the main room, waiting for her to return. He looked
at the books in her bookshelf. He didn't particularly remember her being a
sci-fi fan, but who knows what changes could have come from not knowing him.
He hadn't thought he was important enough to her to make her kill herself,
so what did he know.
After a few minutes, he realized he had to go the bathroom. For a bit he
tried to just hold it, but he found bouncing himself on the balls of his feet
was not enough. He ran into the bathroom, flipping on the light next to the
door. He stepped on the slowest cockroach. He closed the door and relieved
When finished, he went back to the main room. He stood a moment more, then
collapsed down upon the futon. He wondered where she could be. He looked around
for a moment and then it hit him. Chaser. He rose and looked around the house
a little more thoroughly. Not only did he not find Alison's cat, he found
no evidence that a cat lived here at all. No cat food, no litter box, no toys,
nothing. This was not even her apartment. He ran out of the apartment as fast
as he could and checked the list next the intercom. It said J. Corin lived
in that apartment. She wasn't even on the building's list.
"God damnit!" he yelled. He turned back towards the van and saw
a police car slowly coming down the road. He hurried into the driver's seat
and started driving immediately, as unsuspisciously as possible. "Argento!" he
yelled, "Frank, wake up!"
"What? What's going on?" he asked. "What time is it?"
"Alison doesn't live in her apartment! Where is she?"
"Apartment? No, no- Jesus is that the time?" Argento rubbed his
"Just tell me where the hell we're supposed to be!" Red shouted.
"She lives with her parents."
"Her parents? Her parents don't live in the city they live in Long Island!"
"Yes, New Hyde Park."
"You said we were going to the city!"
"Well, pretty much. It's right next to the city."
"Yeah," said Red, "And there are towns in Spain right next
to France but the people who live there are not Frenchmen!"
"It's pretty much the city…"
"Just tell me how to get there!"
Argento pulled out his palm pilot. "Where are we?"
"Brooklyn," Red told him, "92nd Street."
"We have to hurry."
"No kidding! Just tell me where to go!"
"Turn here!" Argento said, prompting a sudden turn on the onramp
of the highway. "Why didn't you wake me?"
"I thought I would just go in and stop her!"
"It's not going to be that simple! She doesn't even know who you are."
"I know that," Red said, weaving through traffic, "But I thought
I would save her first and then worry about reintroductions."
"How were you planning on convincing her to even let you into her apartment?"
Red glanced over at Argento and then refocused on the road.
"Oh no…" Argento said. "Red, did you break into some
stranger's apartment back there?"
Red was silent.
"Good intentions will only get you so far," said Argento.
"Thanks for the proverb, now just tell me how to get to her parent's
The drive to New Hyde Park was frustratingly long for Red, silently cursing
himself the entire time. He sped along the residential roads at dangerous
speeds. It was all Argento could do to keep his mind on directions instead
of praying to live.
"That's their street!" he yelled out. Red hung an incredibly tight
right turn onto Lily Court Rd. "We're not going to make it…"
"Don't say that, Frank," said Red, determined. "Keep positive.
We have to make it. We've got God on our side, right?"
"Yes, but the prophets said-"
"Forget them. Is that it?"
Argento double-checked his palm pilot. "Yes, 235, that's it."
Red pulled into the driveway and jumped out of the van without shutting the
door behind him. Argento leapt up to give chase.
"Wait, Red!" he called out. "This time we do things my way!"
"What way is that?" Red said, hurrying to the door.
"The slightly more subtle way. The way that does not draw any undue
attention to us." He held Red back a bit and moved himself in front of
him, at the front door. He rang the doorbell.
"This is a waste of time!" said Red.
"Yes, and it's also legal."
The door creaked open. A woman opened the door. She had dark straight hair
cut around chin length. She had thick glasses. She was about fifty, and seemed
nervous about having visitors. She looked just as Red had remembered her,
but from her expression, he could tell she had no idea who he was. Regardless
of the amount of times he was told that no one would remember him, seeing
Mrs. Innes again without her knowing him left him feeling strangely empty
inside. "Can I help you?" she asked them.
"Hello, Mrs. Innes, my name is Francis Argento and this is Mr. Red Cain.
May we speak with your daughter Alison please?"
"What's this about?" she asked, suspiciously.
"Who's there, honey?" came a man's voice from further within the
house. Mr. Innes came and joined her at the door. He was still the same balding
and bespectacled man Red remembered. He had taken Alison and Red bowling when
they were younger. He always beat the pants off them both. He had a slight
space between his front teeth that you couldn't really notice unless he smiled.
"These men want to see Alison, John," said Mrs. Innes.
"Where do you know Alison from?" John Innes asked.
"We…" said Argento, looking back at Red, "We work with
her. We just want to speak with her for a moment."
"Alison doesn't have a job," Mr. Innes said, frowning.
"Oh. Well. I meant to say…"
"This is an emergency," Red said, pushing his way past all three
of them into the house.
"Where do you think you're going, young man?" Mr. Innes shouted.
"Alison? Alison?" Red called out heading up the staircase.
"I'm calling the police," he heard Mrs. Innes say behind him.
"Please," said Argento, "That's not necessary. We just want
to check and make sure Alison is all right and talk to her for a moment. We
have reason to believe she could be in danger."
"What kind of danger?" said Mr. Innes, following Red up the stairs.
He grabbed Red by the shoulder. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Please!" Red said spinning around to face him. "If you care
about your daughter, just help me find her!"
Mr. Innes looked into Red's eyes. Their eyes stayed locked for a beat before
Mr. Innes spoke. "She's been in her room all day. Right over there." He
pointed to a door at the end of the second floor hall.
"Thank you," Red said. He ran for the door, Mr. Innes following
close behind. "Alison? Are you in there? Are you ok?" Once again,
Red found himself getting no reply. The door was locked from the inside.
"Alison?" Mr. Innes called. "It's Daddy, are you all right
"Stand back," said Red. He began to reach up for his sword.
"Red!" Argento yelled from the stairs, "Do you, ah, do you
need any help breaking the door down?"
"No," said Red pulling his sword out. The Inneses gasped, Argento
sighed. "We're coming in, Alison!" He swung his sword and destroyed
his third door so far that day. He shoved its remains aside and barreled into
the room. A moment later, he dropped his sword.
Alison lay face down on the floor. The carpet beneath her was stained with
an enormous quantity of her blood, as were various objects around the room,
from splatter. She was wearing a black dress and makeup. In her right hand
was a knife, which she had, judging from the gash across her jugular, used
to slash her own throat. Chaser, her cat, was lying on her back. He looked
up at them and mewed. He was attempting to clean the blood off of himself.
He had already left little bloody paw prints around the room.
"Sweet Jesus," said Mr. Innes.
Red leapt forward and grabbed Alison. Chaser ran off and hid under the bed. "Alison!
"No, Kate, don't come in!" Mr. Innes said, behind him. "Call… call
Red began to cry. "Alison, no! Why? What happened to you?" He could
faintly hear Mrs. Innes talking on the phone in the next room. "It's
my fault! This is all my fault!"
Red looked behind him to the others. Argento stood frozen in his tracks out
in the hall, his hand over his mouth. Mr. Innes was looking over at the bed.
He walked over to it and picked up an envelope that had been set upon the
pillow. He opened it. He was tearing up as well, but he did his best to read
the letter aloud.
"'Mom and Dad… I know you love me, and I have always loved you,
but I cannot go on living in such a lonely world. Back in high school and
grade school there were people who wanted to know me, who wanted to talk to
me, but none of them were real people- they were merely shells who fooled
themselves into thinking that happiness was a real emotion.'" He took
off his glasses and wiped his eyes. "I'm sorry. 'I can't stand by and
watch as so many miserable people go through the motions of their lives, brainwashing
themselves into thinking the world is a good place. I think we all learned
in September what kind of a place this world is, and I think it will be better
off when I die. I know you didn't believe me when I'd tell you "my silly
stories" as you called them, but they were true. My death sets me free,
but it will do far more than that. It will save everyone else from the horrors
of the world- it will set us all free. It won't be long now, if you're reading
this. Try to make peace with the world- I know I have. Forgive me. Alison…"
Alison's head was clenched to Red's chest. Chaser had snuck out from under
the bed and was sniffing at Red's shoes. Argento slowly backed down the hall
and out of sight. Red heard him run down the stairs and out the front door.
He looked up at Mr. Innes whose eyes were now much redder than white. He closed
his eyes and sat down on the bed.
Red rolled Alison onto her back and stood up. He looked down at his sword
where he had dropped it. The blade had cut through the floor of the room.
The hilt had stopped it from going through to the next floor and was the only
part of the weapon visible. Red bent down, picked it up, and sheathed the
blade. "I'm sorry," he said, and walked out of the room.
As he went along the hallway, he could hear Mrs. Innes crying in her and
her husband's bedroom. He walked down the stairs and out the door Argento
had left open. Argento was on the front lawn, talking on his cell phone.
"It was in the note," he said. "I hope not as well."
"Let's get out of here," Red said.
Argento signaled for him to be quiet. "Of course I will," he said
into the phone, "I'm sure it won't come to that, sir."
Red walked away from him and got into the van. He climbed into the front
seat and put his head down on the steering wheel and began to cry. A racket
sprung up from the back of the van.
"Knock it off," Red said. Then he lifted his head.
He leapt into the back of the van and straddled Father David Patrick. He
grabbed onto the corner of the tape covering the priest's mouth. Patrick mumbled
and shook his head. Regardless, Red tore the tape from his mouth.
"Aaaaaarrhhh!" Patrick yelled, "You bastard! You are going
to pay for this, I promise you!"
"Shut up!" Red said, pulling his gun from its invisible holster.
Patrick still didn't know that the weapon could not injure him. "You're
going to do me a big favor."
Patrick spat at him. "I will do no such thing!"
Red smacked him upside the head with the gun. "You are, or I am going
to see if this contraption back here throws intestines as well as it does
frogs. Now, come on!" He moved to one side and tore off the tape binding
Patrick's legs together. Throwing open the rear doors of the van, he grabbed
roughly onto Patrick's robe, dragging him out of the van. Argento was facing
the other direction and had his free hand covering his free ear. "Don't
worry about me, Frank," Red called to him, "This one, I really can
"Hey, easy, easy, I'm coming with you, ok?" Father Patrick shouted,
finally getting his footing as they reached the front door. "Where are
The two of them went up, past Mrs. Innes and into Alison's bedroom, where
Mr. Innes was now knelt at his daughter's side. "Oh my god…" Patrick
said, taking in the sight of Alison.
"What's going on? Who's he?" Mr. Innes asked.
"A priest," said Red throwing Patrick to the floor.
"Why is he tied up?"
"So he doesn't touch anyone's privates."
"What do you want from me?" Patrick asked, trying to keep his face
out of the blood. Chaser began rubbing against Red's leg.
"Heal her," Red said.
"Heal her? She's dead… I've never…"
"Can you do it?"
"I… I don't know."
"You're going to have to try then, if you don't want to join her."
"What is going on here?" Mr. Innes asked.
"Don't worry, sir," said Red. "Everything is going to be fine."
"I'll need my hands," Patrick said.
Red grabbed his sword and slashed it through Patrick before he even had a
chance to react. Both the tape that bound him and his clothes fell away. At
first the priest was in shock, but after a moment, he looked up at Red and
said, "You bastard!"
Red pointed his gun again and said, "Do it."
Patrick, now naked, knelt over Alison. He placed his hands on her, one on
her neck and one on her chest.
"Hey!" said Red.
"I'm trying to get her heart to start," said Patrick, "Ok?"
It began almost immediately. The blood surrounding her body began to recede,
as if part of a video clip played backwards. In a few seconds all the blood
was gone, not on the carpet, not on the cat, not anywhere. He moved his hand
from her neck to her head. The gash was gone.
He remained in that position for a minute or two. Patrick appeared to be
straining himself. After a moment more, Alison began to cough.
"It's a miracle!" Mr. Innes whispered.
"What else is new?" Red said under his breath, shoving Patrick
aside and taking Alison's head in his arms again. "Alison? Alison, can
you hear me?"
"Oh, thank you! Thank you, God," Red said, kissing her forehead
as he hugged her. The sound of an ambulance began to fade into their hearing.
Her eyelids fluttered for a moment as she regained consciousness. "Red…" she
said, "I've missed you."