Terry walked down the street, trying to stay calm, his mind racing. He dodged a group of people, then increased his pace slightly. There was a low rumbling, he looked up at the grey sky just as it started to rain. The drops were heavy and fast, quickly soaking him. “Just fucking perfect.” he was tired now, tired and cold. He began to walk, slowly this time, he had to be back to work, not that he cared anymore. It was after all, the worst day of his life.
When he got back to the office, he was dripping water everywhere, he’d brought an umbrella to work today, he just forgot to bring it with him when he went to lunch. Or rather, he didn’t think he would need it. He pressed the button for the lifts, then sighed. At least the shock of the cold rain had calmed him somewhat. He was still panicked and worked up, but a strange sort of dread and acceptance settled over him. Was this what his life would be like from now on? Normal? The elevator doors opened, he stepped in and pushed his floor number. As the elevator rose, he looked down at himself, his shirt was almost see through, filmy and sticking to his skin. He didn’t bring a change of clothes today, surely someone would comment on that. He was known for being prepared and he always had been, but not today. Maybe never again.
The doors opened and he stepped into the office, it was open plan, but he had his own room. He walked passed the rows upon rows of computers and desks and people. Someone called out something, he missed it completely and, no longer really caring, he continued walking until he was in the safety of his office with the door shut firmly behind him. He looked at it for a moment, his desk, his briefcase, his umbrella. Would he be able to do this anymore, now that it was gone? He felt abandoned, he felt blind. Was this how everyone felt all the time? It was horrible, so oppressive, how could they stand it? Was this how Shelly felt? Oh god and the kids. They had it too, at least a little bit. Is this how they felt after their flashes? Nothing left, abandoned. He sat down in his leather chair, not caring about getting it wet. He could always get a new one. He propped his elbows on the desk and leaned forward, putting his head in his hands. He felt like crying. Terry took a few deep breaths, trying to regain some composure. How could he live his life not knowing anything? Terry is, or had been until this afternoon, a psychic.
He depended on it, possibly more than he should, but the dependence was there. He just happened to be born with a natural advantage and it wasn’t wrong of him to use it, just like it wasn’t wrong for an athletic person to use their natural prowess to excel in sport. There was no moment of knowing, of discovery, he had always had the ability and was shocked to find that others didn’t. He used it, quite successfully, to build his life. Getting ahead in his job, he knew which clients would be problems and which ones would be cash cows, of course, he did his best to snag the second kind, along with knowing instinctively how to get them on his side, on the firms side. He was able to quickly move through the ranks to where he was now. It wasn’t as high as he could go, but he was happy for the moment, it was comfortable. Just the right level of responsibility and autonomy. He took yearly trips to Las Vegas with the family, they usually only stayed there for a few days before going to New York or Boston or somewhere similar. The Las Vegas trip was mostly for the gambling, he would go to a few different casinos and win, usually not too big so as to avoid suspicion, but enough. Sometimes he would go for the big one, maybe win half a million, then blow through half of it before quitting, just to avoid suspicions. He hadn’t experienced problems yet and he avoided casinos where he got the ominous feeling. He played the lotto too, never winning the jackpot, but usually winning around a hundred or two each time he played. It helped pad out the bank account. At this stage, he didn’t really need to work, he could retire and he would still have enough to look after himself, Shelly and the kids. He wasn’t even sure if he could go on working now. He had never relied on the skills others had used, he just went with his feelings.
It had come in handy, like today for example, he knew it was going to rain when he got up and had taken an umbrella. Everything was fine until lunch. He thought about it for a few seconds, and found that there was no warnings, so obviously, it wouldn’t rain while he was out. He left the umbrella behind and went to a local restaurant. He tried to vary them, whenever he went out for lunch, usually getting a flash as to whether they were good or not. This one he got nothing, that generally meant they were ok. He went in and ordered and everything was fine until his drink came. He picked up the glass and took a gulp before seeing the dead fly floating in the water. It was a nasty shock. Never before had something like this happened, sure there were insects in drinks, but he had always had a warning. His food came before he could signal the waitress, she apologised half heartedly and got him a new glass of water. The food was cold, not just cold but atrocious, it tasted as though someone had spilled the entire canister of salt into the food and just figured it would be fine. He began to worry. He should have known that the food was bad, he should have known the restaurant was bad. He complained and after a few minutes of heated exchange with the manager, he left without paying. He knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t quite admit it, not yet. On his way back to the office, he stopped into a shop and, from a display of drinks, he picked one which promised strange and exciting prizes, if only you found the lucky bottle cap. He stood at the display for a few moments, trying to choose. He had never picked a losing bottle, never. He finally grabbed one, feeling dread, deep down in his stomach. At the till, he impulsively decided to get a scratch card, and, hoping things were back to normal, he went with the feeling.
Outside the shop, he twisted the top off the bottle and looked at the inside of the cap. Two words, Try Again. He felt nauseas. He threw the bottle away, unable to look at it, to hold it, to drink from it. Fishing a coin from his pocket, he began to uncover the scratch card. He tried to keep calm, tried to keep breathing. It was fine, a bad day, that‘s all. The small square was cleared, he scanned the numbers quickly, hoping for something, anything. But there was nothing. Not a single match. He threw the card on the ground in disgust and a few moments after, it started to rain.
He sat back in his chair, trying to think, figure out what to do. It wasn’t the money he was worried about, it wasn’t even that he lost, it was the feeling that something was missing, some vital, integral part of himself was gone. Just gone. No sign of it. How would he tell Shelly? He’d have to tell her. God. How would she react? And the kids. This was always something that bound them together, those feelings, the knowledge of what was going to happen next. They were not as strong as him but he wasn’t worried ,they would probably get better at it was time went on, but what now? Would they be as close? Would they be frightened that what ever happened to him would happen to them? Worry that he was diseased? Contagious? He tried to push the thoughts out of his mind. He’d probably be closer to Shelly now, his ability always slightly unnerved her. He didn’t like using it on her because she didn’t like it. She didn’t find it impressive like some of the other girls he had dated before her, she found it frightening, she didn’t want to know what was going to happen. He didn’t understand it at first, but he accepted it. He had known, almost as soon as he met her, that they would marry and have children, that they would have a life together, a happy one. Now what? Things would change. How would he know when she craved chocolate now? How would he know to stop off and pick up a few things on the way home? What if she no longer loved him. It wasn’t like he was the same person, or even could be the same person, not when something so vital had just disappeared.
He took a deep breath, allowing the negative thoughts to swirl around for a few moments before casting them aside. Other people seemed to get on ok without knowing, he would learn how to do the same. That was all, he’d figure it out. When he was a lot younger and a lot less discreet, he had used it for fun, to show off, to be flashy. He was glad he grew out of it now. A few people suggested he could get his own TV show, he could do tours around the country, be a psychic for people. He knew he would always be in great demand and that he could probably charge thousands a minute, but he didn’t want that. He didn’t want fame, he didn’t want people coming to him and knowing that they had spent their life savings, they had begged borrowed and stolen in order to see him. He didn’t want to tell them bad news, he didn’t want to be the one to tell them they were dying, or someone they loved was dying, that they were going to die, old and alone and frightened. He really had Cassie to thank for his avoidance of fame. She had been a brief fling, he knew it wouldn’t go anywhere and he knew that she thought the same, but it was fun. She had been invited to a party and wanted him to go too, he had a bad feeling, he didn’t want to go, he knew something would happen, but she had begged and needled until finally he relented and agreed, hoping he could help when what ever happened happened.
It was a typical house party, everybody drinking, a few doing drugs, others branching off into dark corners and it was fun. Until about eight of them ended up in the kitchen, sitting around the table drinking. He was quite drunk by this time of course, as was everyone else, when Cassie brought it up. “Terry’s a psychic you know, he can see things.” a few people scoffed, the others looked at him, eyes bright with drunken interest. “No really, he knows things. Ask him anything” “Sam, I really don’t want to” “Hush, seriously guys, he’s great at it” and so it began. It was kind of fun at first, showing off, telling them things no one knew, no one could know. Until Lily. She was a bit standoffish with everyone that night, staying mostly quiet. She asked him what was going to happen to her. Of course, he went along with it, as he had with the other questions, but what he saw horrified him beyond comprehension. She was going to die, die horribly and painfully. As soon as she asked, the room went quiet, the music still played loudly, but it seemed hushed. Everyone looked at Terry waiting for the answer. Before it had been fun, but now, now they seemed to know something serious was about to happen. He stood up from the table and told them he was tired, that he wanted to go, that he didn’t want to play anymore. No one said anything but they knew, knew that he saw something terrible. They seemed to move away from Stacy, as if she was evil, infected. He knew what was going to happen to her and he knew there was nothing that could stop it. He and Cassie had left and though she tried to get it out of him, he refused to say. But he didn’t have to. It was all over the papers a week later. Lily had been gang raped and slaughtered. Cassie blamed him, even though she didn’t know the girl, she blamed him. He tried to explain, that he couldn’t stop it, that no matter what the outcome would have been the same, if she had of stayed with people, if someone tried to protect her, they would have been killed too. After the argument, she left and didn’t come back. She left everything behind and he knew why, she was afraid of him. She thought he made it happen. He learned something important that night, that seeing wasn’t always great or fun or impressive. He’d quietened down after that, didn’t go to as many parties. He stopped telling people, stopped being flashy. And it was lucky he did, it was soon after that he met Shelly.
He shivered, the cold that suddenly enveloped him brought him back to the present. He was still drenched and was freezing, despite not being able to see things anymore, he knew he’d get sick from being so cold if he didn’t change. He stood from the desk, then gathered his things, fuck it. He was the boss, he could go early. They’d be able to function without him for a while. They were adults.
He took the lift to the underground car park and quickly got into his car, blasting the heater as high as it would go. He’d get home, have a shower, then laze around the house, maybe call in sick tomorrow. He and Shelly could have a talk, figure things out. Maybe it was just a glitch, a little blip in the radar and by tomorrow things would be back to normal. Maybe there was some planetary alignment that affect things or an invisible force, washing over the earth, like an electromagnetic pulse, but instead of shutting down electronics, it shut down his ability temporarily. He reversed out of his spot, and began to drive. He was feeling better. That was it, it was only temporary. It would come back. He got to the entrance and signalled, then pulled into traffic. A horn blared, he looked to his left in time to see the truck bearing down on him. Too fast to stop. In that instance, he knew, he knew why his ability had gone. No one could prevent things happening, no one, not even him.