Bob looked at the strange man, “Alright, I’ll do it.”
The man smiled, “I knew you would see reason, Bob. Trust me that you are making the right choice.”
Bob nodded, looking down on the ground, catching a brief hint of a pile of robes on the floor near where the bathroom was. The two shook hands and began to depart to the outside world.
The world roared with city life. People were yelling, cars honking, it was a home he was becoming accustomed to.
“Now, you will be impervious to any injuries. Mind you; this will go away once your task is finished,” said the strange man with the red right hand.
Bob eyed the man, “How do you know I won’t use that against you?”
“Because I know you, friend. You want to see your family and I am by no means, innocent” the man replied with a grin.
“I have a specific target for you—change of the rules, I know. However, I felt it would be better for you to have an idea versus going into the unknown,” the man said with assurance. “You are to go to the Artemis Medical Building on Tuesday. Go to the roof at 12:01 PM. You will then kill the individual with your “special” knife. And then that will be the end of that.”
Bob nodded and took in a deep breath.
The man with the red right hand patted him on the back. “Don’t worry, Bob. This is what you want. Remember that. Think of what’s in it in the end for you!”
Bob had made his way to the Artemis Medical building. It was 11:32 AM Tuesday morning. He looked up to the roof of the building that stretched high. He had been here before.
He walked in unnoticed and meandered through the halls and stairwells like he knew the place very well.
He got to the roof and waited behind an air duct, giving him oversight of the door.
He waited and waited for that door to open up.
He remembered then, just like it was yesterday. He opened up his wallet and took out the note from his wife and read it once more.
The door opened and out walked a man in a white dress shirt, red tie, black slacks, and shoes. He walked over to the ledge of the roof. Bob caught sounds of sniffling and brief bouts of sobbing.
The stranger with the red right hand’s voice echoed in Bob’s head, “Go, now. Get him before he notices you are there. Stab him and push him off the roof. Go back to your time. Go back to your family!”
Bob sighed and cautiously walked over to the man. He hears the man light up a cigarette. “Hey, what’s wrong, buddy?”
The man wiped his brow, continuing to look out over the city. “I have troubles. I hate it here. I am worthless. I hate my job. I hate my boss. I hate…I just hate my life. All I have are my wife and kids…but even I think they hate me.”
Bob nodded. “I know what you mean, friend. I used to think I was worthless, that I had no reason to be alive. I wanted to kill myself. I wanted to leave behind my family and this life. That, they would be better off without me in their lives. That I was so hateful, and that life hated me just as much. That I was dealt such a shitty hand, and the universe was constantly laughing in my face—no, spitting in it, pissing on me, lighting me on fire and leaving me to burn.”
The man nodded to Bob, taking in a big breath of smoke from the cigarette. “It seems like you and I are a lot alike.”
Bob walked up to the man and put a hand on his shoulder. “Then I lost my wife and kids. I stopped caring and stopped lovin’ myself…others. I wanted to die truly. Then a funny thing happened, just when I was at my darkest, just when I thought I couldn’t get any lower…I was given the opportunity to fix it all, all of it. Bob looked to the world below and around. “I realize that I was wrong. I was wrong to believe that I could get it all back while takin’ it all away from another. What—who gave me that right?” He gave the man a pat on the back. “It’ll get better, but only if you work at it. I suggest you take this.” Bob then tucked a piece of paper in the man’s shirt pocket and walked away.
The man turned around to see who his “friend” was on the rooftop with him but only found nothing. He opened up the piece of paper and began to read it. He stepped off the ledge, sobbing. The man took out his mobile phone and called his wife.
“Jill, I—I,” the man struggled with his words.
“Bob? Honey? What’s wrong?”
“I wanted to tell you that I love you, and—and that I need help,” Bob began to sob hard, putting his head down in his hands.
The one and only, the original Bob watched from a distance, smiling. The man with the red right hand appeared beside him. “Why did you not kill him?”
Bob sighed heavily. “I was wrong. I was wrong to believe that killing someone could change things; to bring back my family, solidify my timeline—so you say. That it would make everything better or make the pain go away.”
The man smiled and gave Bob a pat on the back. “You have killed yourself countless times. Each time you believed that by killing yourself, you would make life better for your wife and your kids and that your life; absent of all things, better. Now, now you finally understand yourself.”
Bob looked at the man. “What? What do you mean?”
“Come, it’s time to go home, Robert.”
“What—where am I going?”
The man ushered Bob through a portal that led to darkness. There was no light, no sound, nothing. He felt familiarity about him, though. Soon, sight and sound began to return to him. He soon awoke in his bed. He quickly checked his person of any scars and impressions and found that there were none. Bob caught a glimpse of the man in the mirror by the window. He turned around and saw him give a wink and wave goodbye as he disappeared, “Don’t throw away your second chance, Bob.”
Bob went over and got back in his bed and rested his head on his pillow. His wife came into the bedroom and started to undress. “Were you talking to someone?” she asked.
“No, just talkin’ to myself,” he replied.
Just as he was about to fall asleep, the mysterious stranger’s voice echoed in his head as he and his wife laid side by side. “One day, I may call on you for your help. I thought it would be better to let you remember what transpired. Enjoy your life and your family, Bob.”
Well, there you have it, folks. Now, I have all of these memories of who I was…what I was…what I had become. Now, I am just a man. Given the opportunity to make things right; with myself and my family. I think I’ll start by enjoyin’ this Thanksgiving dinner.
Still, I can’t shake the feeling that the stranger will be back one day. That’s alright because right now, I’ve got all the time in the world.
For Episode 11 — Red Right Hand Click here.
For Episode 12 — I Had My Chace Click here.