COLORSby David Berardelli
After trying to help the victim of a hit-and-run, a young woman finds herself seeing odd colors around people when they're charged with emotion. As she probes deeper into the hit-and-run murder to help bring justice to the old woman and find out more about her strange new visionary power, a DEA cop comes to her rescue. She soon realizes someone very powerful wants to keep her quiet ... permanently. Can her gift keep her and those around her safe, or is she destined to end up dead like the old woman she tried to help?
The old woman lay in the bed, her withered face strangely peaceful, her glazed gray eyes focused on Lindsay standing in the doorway. A little frightened, Lindsay followed the doctor in. He went over to the cluttered row of monitors beeping softly from the long shelf bolted to the wall behind the bed.
Lindsay dreaded hospitals. Fifteen years earlier, as a little girl, she’d visited her grandmother in this same building. Granna could barely see or talk, but wanted to hold Lindsay’s hand. Lindsay took it, shivering at its coldness, its frailty. Granna tried talking, but in the middle of her sentence closed her eyes and went limp. Lindsay was afraid Granna had died. She was also afraid that since she was holding Granna’s hand, she would also die. She put Granna’s hand gently back down on the mattress and backed up quickly, knocking over the food cart. The accident woke Granna and brought in two nurses, an orderly, and a nurse’s aid to see what had happened, turning Lindsay’s panic into a huge embarrassment that gave her nightmares for weeks.
The old woman’s hand raised a few inches, gesturing for Lindsay to come closer.
Lindsay felt so sorry for the poor soul. This lady might have been on her way to church to find shelter for the night. No one should be struck by a car and left to lie in the gutter amongst the tossed food wrappings and cigarette butts.
It just wasn’t fair. She wasn’t always an old woman. At one time, she was a little girl. At one time, she was Lindsay’s age. She’d probably had a husband and kids. Who knew what happened to turn her into someone no one cared about? Who knew what injustices, what horrors, this poor old lady had endured to turn her into the broken creature living her last agonizing moments in a hospital bed?
Hesitantly Lindsay took the old woman’s offered hand in hers. It was just as cold as it had been earlier, when she lay beside the busy highway. But right now Lindsay felt a strong, fast pulse. It pumped through the woman’s brittle veins with bursts of energy from reserves that probably hadn’t been used in a long time.
“You’ve ... finally come ... for me,” the woman whispered weakly.
Lindsay could hear sharp clicking sounds in the woman’s throat. They sounded wet, almost bubbly, in her labored breaths. The old woman was probably hallucinating. Best agree with whatever she says and make her last moments pleasant.
“Please ... come closer...”
Lindsay bent, forcing herself to ignore the woman’s sour breath, the urine smell emanating from beneath the sheet, and the dirt and sand in the damp matted hair. The woman’s eyes were now very clear. They closed, and she smiled, showing yellow teeth with some missing. “Thank you ... for coming back,” she whispered.
“You shouldn’t be alone,” Lindsay replied. “Everyone else–”
“They have ... all gone.”
Confusion, obviously. It was no wonder. Her head had whacked the pavement, cracking her skull and causing major trauma and possible swelling in her brain. Lindsay could only imagine how hard it was for the poor soul to think coherently.
The doctor remained watching the monitors. He must have sensed Lindsay’s gaze. His slight grimace told her the worst.
“Are you in a lot of pain, ma’am?” Lindsay asked.
“I am ... at peace.”
“Is there someone ... someone I can–”
“They’re ... all gone.”
“I’m so sorry...”
“Everyone is happy. I will be with them again. I might even see Mikka again.”
Mikka. Her husband? I need to find out her name, who she is. Where she’s from. If she has anyone. She has to have someone. She can’t really be all alone.
The old woman began staring at Lindsay as if seeing her for the first time. Confusion and fear cast shadows over her ancient features.
My God... She’s going away...
“Is ... everything okay?” Lindsay instantly realized how stupid that question was. “I mean, is there something I can do?”
No reply. The old woman tilted her head as if she was listening to something. Or somebody.
She’s hearing voices. There was brain damage.
“I must ... give you something...”
Lindsay choked down the sob filling her throat. This poor soul had nothing, yet wanted Lindsay to have something. There was no one else. She’d even said so. Maybe she kept a trinket or a memento from her childhood, and wanted Lindsay to have it for helping her. But it wasn’t necessary. Besides, Lindsay would feel funny accepting such a gift from someone she didn’t even know. “You don’t have to give me anything.”
The veiny gray eyes narrowed. “Yes. I do.”