Roger woke up almost reflexively after that gunshot was fired in his dream. He sat up in his bed, perspiring, gulping his saliva in terror. He reaches for the jug of water kept on the table at the side of his bed. After swilling nearly two glasses of water, he wondered, “Why?”, “Why after five long years I’m dreaming about that incident?” “WHY?. It was the second consecutive night he had the same harrowing nightmare, and yet again it left his heart pounding with an adrenaline rush. It left him weak and he began to quiver. His wife, Gwen, who was sleeping beside woke up due to his quivering. “You had that dream again?” she asked, with a look of concern on her face. “Ummm, yeah!” replied Roger, a bit reluctantly. “Alright, you need to calm down. Have some water”, advised Gwen. “I already had it, not one, but two glasses of it”, Roger replied. “Alright, now just lie down and forget about all that’s going through your mind right now, especially about that nightmare.” But what exactly was this nightmare Gwen was talking about. What, according to Roger, had transpired five years ago? Let’s find out…..
12th March 2002:
On a cold and hazy morning, Roger Wilson, a physical education teacher at Alcuin School in Hillshire, Texas, made his way to his workplace. The school which he worked for, that is, Alcuin School, was then considered to be one of the best institutes in Texas. Securing a job at this school was not anybody’s cup of tea, but Roger made it look like one. He boasted proficiency in fitness activities such as parkour training , yoga , martial arts and speed kills to name a few. His fate was sealed thereafter, as he had left the school authorities awe-struck with his cat-like agility. It was a hectic day at work, as his assistant, Joe McCarthy, had taken the day off, owing to some personal issues. After finishing his daily routine with the last batch of kids, Roger decided to call it a day and made a beeline for his house.
His house, a multi-storied villa was pretty unsophisticated , but nonetheless an attraction for the locals, given that a major part of Texas was rural and due to the fact that Roger’s father was the only person from the village who had served the United States army as a sergeant for almost three decades before taking a call on his retirement. His father, Chris Wilson was also one of the prime reasons why Roger had a good rapport in physical education. He not only taught him some extra-ordinary manoeuvres he had learnt during his tenure in the army, but also showed him the importance of executing them only in times of crisis and not for bullying people. On reaching his house, he got a warm welcome in the form of a hug, a hug from his then four year old son, James.
“Hey little Jamie, how was school today?” he asked, his fatigue abruptly vanishing after that warm hug. “Nice! Very nice!” said James in a cheerful manner before rushing back to his room to play with his granddad. After dinner, all but Roger went to bed. Roger too wanted to sleep, his facial expressions said so, but his mind just wasn’t done yet. Especially after what he saw in James’ bedroom before having dinner. It was a soft toy, a soft toy of his favorite childhood cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor Man, which was gifted to him by his late mother, Gracy. She had died three years ago in an accident, after a man in an inebriated state mowed her down after he apparently lost control of his vehicle. Roger was closest to her and her very existence meant everything to him. She might have been dead physically but her memories were alive and still intact with Roger. And every time one of those memories came to Roger’s mind, he would dedicate a poem to his mother, in his diary. He went to his closet, removed his diary hidden inside his training bag. He sat in his bed, leaning his back against the wall and wrote-
A million times
I’ve needed you
A million times I’ve cried,
If love alone
Could’ve saved you
You never would have died.
In life, I loved you dearly,
In death, I love you still,
In my heart you hold a place,
No one else can EVER fill.
It broke my heart to lose you,
But you didn’t go alone,
Part of me went with you
The day God took you home.
He wanted to add more to it, but his weary eyes eventually gave up. He fell asleep, with the diary held tightly in his hand.
13th March 2002:
The pen was still very well in Roger’s grasp as he was asleep, but his diary fell on the ground with a thud, a thud which was loud enough to wake him up. He quickly took his diary and hid it back in his training bag before anyone else could see it. He left for work, a little late though, as he knew Joe was showing up for work today. Joe had a habit of showing up at work before time, especially after he took a leave from work, to impress the school authorities. Roger still reached school on time but to his surprise, Joe was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, Joe did show up, but only after Roger had started training with the first batch of kids. After completing his training session, Roger met Joe in the staff room. He failed to notice it then, but Joe was wearing a knee brace. “What’s up with that?” Roger questioned, pointing towards the brace. “Actually, while I was on my way today, my knee buckled, so I had to go to the local medical facility down the street before showing up here”, explained Joe. Alright, so since it’s obvious you’re not physically fit, you deal with all the paperwork and take the roll call while I’ll train your batch of kids as well”, suggested Roger. “Very well! Where are the papers by the way?” asked Joe. “It’s in my locker. Here! Take the keys!” said Roger, removing the keys and throwing towards Joe for him to catch. Joe took out the first set of papers from the locker and was about to start his work, when he got a call from a certain somebody. The reluctant look on Joe’s face told the entire story. It was a call from his elder brother, Frank McCarthy. Frank was the brighter among the two siblings. He had joined a Silicon Valley company about five years ago and was being paid handsomely. But things took an ugly turn for the McCarthy family, when Frank decided to leave them and lead an independent life and moved to Chicago, Illinois. Joe, who didn’t even had a job at that time applied for one at Alcuin School for the physical trainer’s post, as he didn’t maintain a good rapport in his academics. He wanted the top most designation, but came up just short, as the school authorities had already set their eyes on Roger for doing that job. But an increase in workload for teachers and the requirement of assistants meant Joe got a job too. He eventually became Roger’s assistant. He answered the call anyways.
To his surprise, his usually arrogant brother was talking to him in a more polite manner. Joe immediately sensed something was fishy. “Get to the point, Frank, why have you called me? What do you want?” asked Joe, looking visibly irritated. “And what makes you think that I ‘want’ something from you?” questioned Frank. “Iron sharpens iron, Frank! After all, I’m a McCarthy too; I’m your ‘beloved’ brother. I can bet dollars to doughnuts that you’ve called me for some sort of a ‘professional obligation’, as you like to call it,” retorted Joe, angrily. “Well, you seem to know me well by now, ‘brother’!” replied Frank. “Get to the damn point!” yelled Joe, so loudly, that it even caught Roger’s attention, who, until then, was busy training a batch of kids. “Take it easy, Mr. Hothead! Actually, my seniors have discovered a device which can implant memories of one’s future into his/her brain, in the form of visuals, which would appear before his/her eyes. All I want you to do for me is, find me a scapegoat on whom we can experiment this on”, explained Frank. “So basically, I have to play the stooge here and do YOUR dirty work. Well played, brother! So if anything goes wrong, you can always put the blame on me and if all goes as per planned, you simply mooch off with the credit, isn’t it? I’m never going to do such a thing, especially if it’s YOU who is asking me to do it”, Joe replied. “Even if I give you one grand in return? Common Joe! I know what kind of a guy you are! After all we’re brot-”, “Five grand!” interrupted Joe. “Done! And another thing, you have to send the scapegoat to Reeves County Hospital, he/she will be operated there by Dr. Scott Gibson and the device would be inserted inside his/her skull via operation”, informed Frank. “Consider it done!” said Joe confidently and hung up the phone. Roger, who by that time, had completed with the training, approached Joe. “What’s the matter? You were sounding a bit agitated”, he asked. “Nothing to worry about. It was my brother Frank. He’s a bit manipulative. So I asked him in my way to be a little straightforward. He told me about some fitness check-up going on at Reeves County Hospital. I would’ve gone there, had my knee not buckled”, said Joe. Joe was doing it for his benefit too, as he was wishing for something bad to happen to Roger during the operation, so that become easier for him to swoop in and take his post. “Don’t worry! I’ll go there today itself , as it is I’ve not been for a check-up as of yet this year, so I’ll make full use of this opportunity”, said Roger. “Me too!” mumbled Joe. “Pardon?” asked Roger, as he was not able to hear it properly. “You can go there at any time between twelve noon till three in the afternoon”, replied Joe, with a smile on his face.
At 1 pm, Roger left the school premises after informing the principal and an hour later, he reached the Reeves County hospital. He went to the receptionist and asked about the ‘fitness check-up’ held by Dr. Gibson. As it turned out, Joe, apparently, had instructed the receptionist regarding what was to be said to the ‘scapegoat’, along with the scapegoat’s name and other details. She guided Roger to Dr. Gibson’s room. Dr. Gibson, seated on a chair, was a man who looked out of shape himself. “What a cruel irony!” muttered Roger in complete disbelief. “Did you just say something?” asked Dr. Gibson, with a frown. “No, I never said anything. By the way are you the doctor who’s conducting the fitness check-up?” enquired Roger. “Yes! Please come in! replied the doctor with a grin on his face. “Have a seat!” he added.
Moments after he sat, Roger felt a sharp object poking him at the back of his neck. Before he could even make a move to retaliate, Gibson jabbed the injection, which had chloroform in it and in a matter of seconds, Roger fell unconscious.
A few hours later, Roger regained consciousness. He tried to recollect what had happened to him, but he just couldn’t. Just as he was about to give up on the thought of recalling the past, he saw an empty injection syringe lying on the table in front of him. Immediately, things started to make sense for Roger.
Seconds later, Roger was out of the room in the quest of Dr. Gibson. After peeping through all the rooms, which were occupied by different doctors, he zeroed in on the last room left near the entrance of the hospital. Given the fragile condition he was in, he maintained his composure, somehow, and entered the room. As he had expected, he found Dr. Gibson in the room and it appeared he was having quite a jolly good time with two of his colleagues. All three of them had a glass of wine in hand and were sharing a light moment before Roger decided to interrupt them.
“You scum of the earth!” grumbled Roger, trying his best not to go ballistic at the same time. “Why on earth did you make me unconscious? What was going on in that devious head of yours at that point of time? Tell me, or I’ll beat an answer out of you!” Roger went on. “Relax Mr. Roger! You need to calm down. You’re already in a fragile condition as of now. Please, have a seat and drink a glass of water, I promise, I’ll tell you the truth, but please it’s a request, please take a seat”, requested Gibson. After he had finished drinking a glass of water, Gibson started revealing the truth. And justifiably, the revelation left Roger completely baffled.
You’ve got to be kidding me! You mean to say that I’ll be able to see my future first hand, before it happens? Really?” asked Roger flippantly. “I’m not joking at all Mr. Roger. You will see it for yourself tomorrow”, replied Gibson confidently. “And if I don’t, I would be more than happy to file a lawsuit against you and your two conniving partners in crime, that is, the McCarthy brothers, how about that?” questioned Roger. “It won’t be necessary, you can trust me this time”, assured Gibson. After laying down this stipulation, Roger left the hospital and rushed for home. He reached home approximately two hours later than the time he usually returned. And as he had presumed, his family bore an anxious look as he entered the house.
“Where were you Roger? Do you realize how worrisome we were? Had you not showed up right now, sooner or later we would’ve called the cops”, said Gwen as she poured her emotions out. “There was an unexpected meeting in school today, regarding every teacher’s performance this month, so I got a little late”, replied Roger, hiding the actual reason. “Let’s have dinner a bit early tonight, as I’m feeling very hungry as of now”, he added. An hour later, the Wilsons’ had dinner and all but Roger went on to slumber in their rooms. Roger was having a sleepless night, the thoughts about what had happened that afternoon kept bothering him. Just then, he felt a gentle pat on his shoulder. He turned around and saw his father standing right behind him. “What’s going on in your mind, son? Ever since you came back from work, you seemed pretty disturbed”, asked his father in a hushed tone, with a look of concern on his face. Roger decided to confide about the whole incident to his father.
So basically, now you’ve become some sort of a superhero, who can see his future in front of his eyes, am I right?” questioned his father. “Yes, but I really don’t know whether I should use this power or get it removed via surgery and live a normal life, a life full of surprises, a future I’m not aware of beforehand”, replied Roger. “I must say, I’ve taken many tough calls in my life, but this one takes the cake”, said his father. “But you do have another superpower my son, which can perhaps help you get out of this dilemma”, he said. “What is it?” asked Roger curiously. “Your intuition!” he claimed. “Trust me son, intuition indeed is a superpower that can get you out of this. Follow what your instincts say and you’ll get out of this trouble easily”, advised his father. Roger felt a lot more relieve and eventually, he went to sleep.
14th March 2002:
It was a usual morning for the Wilson household. Roger, going with his intuition, had finally made up his mind to make use of this ‘superpower’. He was a lot more relaxed and was in a cheerful mood that morning. Ironically, his father, who came up with the valuable piece of advice, seemed visibly stressed. His face was a mess, as he was sweating profusely. It looked as if he wanted to tell something to his son, but for some reason, he refrained from doing so. Roger left for work, feeling a lot more energetic. He had almost reached the halfway mark, when his body started squirming all of a sudden. And in a flash of a second, what he witnessed left him completely awe-struck. It was the first set of visuals, which appeared to be floating right in front of his eyes. He felt a bit anxious, but he saw the visual anyways. It showed him that an old woman, who was walking about thirty yards ahead of him, was about to fall due to an uneven section of the pavement. That hint was just enough for Roger to make the next move. He sprinted as fast as he could and stopped the woman from further going onto that section of the pavement. He helped the woman cross the street and she continued with her journey.
Though it was just a small good deed, it made Roger feel like a Good Samaritan and it further strengthened his resolve on using this superpower. He reached school and had a sumptuous day. Such was his mood, that he didn’t even catch hold of Joe and gave him a piece of his mind. Joe on the other hand could only feel sorry for himself. Not only had Roger returned safe and sound, but he was all-smiles that day. He left from school after completing his work. On his way back, he received another set of visuals. This time, it showed him that a house about 200 yards away from where he was, was about to get robbed. The visual showed a robber sneaking inside the house, with a knife in hand. Those visuals were just enough to infuriate Roger. He rushed to the spot and five minutes later, he reached the spot. As he had seen the visuals, he knew where exactly the robber might have been. He made a beeline for the main door, which was already open as the robber had broken it, and threw a punch at the robber that eventually knocked the living daylights out of him. Suddenly, the lights in the house were turned on and what Roger witnessed after that left him completely stunned. There were about ten to fifteen people in the house; one sitting on a chair, four near the lights , four near a set of cameras and others holding onto some or the other equipment . He realized that it wasn’t an ACTUAL robbery taking place, but one being shot for a movie. The man sitting on the chair turned out to be the director. “What on earth?” cried the director. “Apologies!” replied Roger, with a grin of embarrassment on his face. He rushed for the door and ran out of their sights without even looking behind. He reached home minutes later. His wife, Gwen, opened the door and was surprised to see his husband panting, a trait which was rarely showed by him. “What happened dear? Why are you panting so much?” she asked with a look of concern on her face. “It’s a long story darling, I’ll say it over dinner. Can you please get me a glass of water?” he requested. An hour later, Roger shared his experience with the rest of his family. Due to this incident, he managed to make his family laugh to tears after a long time. Initially, Roger was bearing a poker face while narrating his incident, but the gleaming faces of his family members cajoled him to give it a laugh too. After a long time, the Wilsons’ went to bed as a happy family.
15th March 2002:
After having a good night’s sleep, the Wilsons’ were up by six in the morning. Roger, after performing his morning prayers and taking his shower, ate a heavy breakfast before leaving for school. He didn’t get any visuals on his way to school, which meant no untoward or awkward incident was about to happen, well, at least in the near future. After reaching school, he got to know that Joe had not showed up for work. After training nearly four batches of kids, Roger decided to take a break. He sat near a table on an armchair and requested the janitor to get him a cup of coffee. He relaxed and thought about how delightful the past few days had turned out to be for him and his family. Just then he received a set of visuals, which eventually left him completely staggered. Such was the severity of the situation that he abruptly skedaddled away from the school premises. Informing the school authorities didn’t even come as an afterthought to Roger’s mind, as his mind was only focused on the things he saw in the visuals. Minutes later, he reached his house and saw a masked man entering his pick-up van, his wife screaming for help, and his father strapped behind in the van. Roger sprinted towards the van, but fell just short, as the van escaped. Roger ordered Gwen to stay inside the house. He further bolted in the direction which the van went in. A few meters ahead, he had to halt again, as he got another set of clues through the visuals. It showed him a milestone bearing the name ‘Salado’, which was a few miles away from where he was standing. He also saw a barn-like structure, which gave him enough hint to make his next move. He borrowed a cycle from a fellow villager and promised he would return it back to him once his job was done.
He sped his way to Salado and in a matter of fifteen minutes the milestone was in his sights. He saw the pick-up van, parked a few meters away from the barn. He parked the cycle in a corner and crept towards the door of the barn. He stood outside the door and lend his ear, so as to get a clue about how many people were approximately there inside the barn. But all he could hear was his father screaming for help and another man, apparently the kidnapper, slapping him in his face. Roger couldn’t take it anymore and slowly crept about twenty steps backwards, only to sprint and kick down the door with a flying kick. There was a knife in the kidnapper’s hand, but Roger cared less about it, as he took him down to the ground and threw fists on his masked face. After the knife fell from the kidnapper’s grasp, Roger removed his mask. Roger was appalled to see his assistant Joe. “You?” cried Joe. “Why on earth did you do this? Tell me, or it won’t take time for me to knock you out!” he added. “I was paid to do this”, replied Joe, with a look of fear in his eyes. Just then, another man appeared from the corner of the barn, with a gun in his hand. “Hello young man!” he said, with a sick, sadistic smile on his face. I’m Evan Carter, one of your father’s former colleagues. Wondering why he kidnapped your father?” he asked Roger. “What else can you expect from me at this point of time?” asked Roger, clearly irked by Carter’s question. “I told him! Hahahaha!” bragged Evan. “You might not be knowing about this, young man, but your dear father has not only cost me my job, but has also tarnished my reputation at the same time. I was a Sergeant in the United States army about 15 years ago, but thanks to him, I not only lost my job, but ended up in jail. Seems like it’s time to return the favor”, he added. “He’s lying!” interrupted Roger’s father. “He’s a damn traitor, that’s what he is!” he shouted. “He was sharing secret information about artillery with the Canadians”, he further added. “Were you indeed a part of the US army?” asked Roger, looking carefully at Evan’s pot belly. “You don’t look like one though!” he added. “Watch your mouth, son! It won’t take a lot of time for me to pull the trigger and end his life”, threatened Evan, . “Easy, big fellow!” said Roger. “I mean, just look at yourself. You’re so fat, you might be waking up in sections every morning, even your bath tub might be having stretch marks”, joked Roger. The father-son duo were having a good laugh, when all of a sudden, Evan, in a completely irate state of mind, threw a punch at Roger. Roger dodged, and dodged successfully. He then retaliated with a punch of his own and caught Evan on the jaw. An irate Evan then grabbed Roger by his collar and threw him across the barn, courtesy his bulky physique. But to his surprise, Roger still landed on his feet. The parkour training was indeed coming in handy for Roger in this brawl. Roger then rallied back, with multiple flying kicks to the side of Evan’s head, with the final one eventually dropping Evan to the ground. He picked up the gun, which fell out of Evan’s grasp during the fight and pointed it on Evan’s head. “Enjoy your ride to-”, Roger paused as he got distracted by another set of visuals. After he saw those visuals, he was left traumatized. He was completely dumbstruck as he fell on his knees. He felt completely numb and the gun dropped from his grasp. All eyes in the barn were on Roger. A few seconds later, Roger picked up the gun, handed it to Evan and mumbled, “Shoot him!” pointing in the direction of his father. Evan couldn’t believe what was happening. He stood up somehow and slowly raised the gun, his hands shivering and his eyes on Roger. “Shoot him!” said Roger, in a slightly louder tone. His father stared at Roger with a surprise look on his face. “You kidding?” he asked. “SHOOT!” shouted Roger.
Evan fired, and the bullet pierced through Chris Wilson’s skull. Joe and Carter regrouped after the shocking turn of events and left the barn in haste. Roger dropped to his knees again, near the dead carcass of his father and burst into tears. He was emotionally drained. The visuals showed him that his father was about to make a confession, after they both had managed to get out of the barn alive. He was making a confession wherein he confessed upon plotting the murder of his mother, the one person who meant everything to Roger. It wasn’t an accident that took place on that ill-fated afternoon, but a meticulously pre-planned murder, which was made to look like a mere hit-and-run case. He did so in a fit of rage because his wife had slapped him in front of all his neighbors in broad daylight, as he had arrived home in an inebriated state. Ego got the better of him and he decided to end his wife’s life.
After seeing those visuals, Roger just couldn’t hold back his emotions, especially after he knew his mother was not at fault at all. In his eyes, it was justice for his mother, but it still gave him sleepless nights thereafter.
The device implanted in Roger’s skull, indeed, had turned out to be a boon. It made him aware of many things, averted many mishaps, but at the same time, it proved him in a very harsh way, that it was a bane as well.