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In a state of washed out awareness, Herot rinsed his tired eyes from a most violent dream. Inside it, intense flesh tearing riddled his senses. The detail which proved his dream to be a dream exposed the sheer lack of blood.
No blood resulted whatsoever, just flesh tearing, at its worst.
His reflection in the bathroom mirror screamed the need for more sleep .
Ignoring the plea for additional slumber, Herot gave himself permission to indulge with the redemptive qualities of Irish tea.
After sauntering into his kitchen, boiling water and finding the precise tea bag by name, he calmly stirred his liquid answer. He took in a brief morning breeze from the open window above his kitchen table with his first sip.
Out in his yard stood a colorful wooden barn. However, it didn’t appear like an actual barn because it sported bright yellow and brown veneer on the outlining frame and edges. It’s single non-functioning window sat inside the view of the supported swing. He had it built for himself and his wife last summer.
“We were inseparable. Where are you, Sharice? Where are you?” he remembered out loud.
ONE YEAR AGO
“See you out on the swing, love.” Herot gently said.
Sharice smiled at his offer and collected her sweater from behind the back of her kitchen chair.
Herot’s quiet walk to the swing was greeted by the sweet sounds of various birds which graced their yard on many an occasion. To them, this congregation symbolized a slice of heaven’s grace.
But today, something changed.
The phone rang out just before Sharice exited their patio doors.
Herot calmly got the swing warmed up as he liked to do.
The second he took in the sight of a rare bird on their backyard oak, his wife’s scream sent the birds retreating into the blue sky.
Scrambling to the kitchen, to her, Sharice held a fetal position on the floor, holding her face in tears. The phone lay at the foot of the oven. A voice faint voice called out, “Hello?”
“What? What is it, love? What is it?
“It’s terminal and it can’t be removed. The cancer is too close to the brian and spinal cord for any therapy or surgery to be…”
He gathered her tenderly in his arms.
“Wait, not every assessment is 100% true.”
Her tears reddened her beautiful eyes, which held her quiet and grim protest.
“One day? How? How can they know this? Come on! They lie.”
Herot sat stunned for a moment and somehow he knew it to be true. It was a sheer miracle she could be functional and yet so vulnerable to something with a pre-determined timetable.
“You are the strongest man I know. Your thirst for life is incredible. Just…just let me be with you until my last moment. Don’t spend a dime on this. Spend it on something that means something to you. Let this be.”
Her eyes welled and spilled more tears of hopelessness down her pretty face.
“I have one more request.”
“Why are you ready to pass on? And how did you decide your last requests all of a sudden; like you had them prepared or something? How did you know this would be determined, Sharice? How do you know?”
“It’s no matter, love. I just knew. So please do something for me. Please?”
Fighting his emotional combination of tears and rage, Herot fell silent and listened.
“Live as long as you can. Take our money and do something incredible with it! I want to haunt you and be with you forever in all of your glory. Let my spirit come to you and be with you. After. Don’t argue with me, please.”
Herot tried to speak, but her delicate fingers pressed his lips quiet,“I want to haunt you.”
Herot gently took her hand away and asked, “What? No…NO!
Several moments passed before he spoke.
You knew this was coming, didn’t you?”
“I wanted to be wrong so badly. So badly, ” Sharice surrendered, crying uncontrollably in his arms.
Herot spent the day holding his wife until she breathed her last at 9pm, saying to him, “Drink from life’s gift. I will be with you as you live and breathe.”
After her final goodbye, her body released its energy.
Before his intense grief took over, he made a call.
“I’m awake again,” he whispered to himself, “Where are you, Sharice?”
Since his dream, he kept taking inventory of his body, assuring the dream was, in fact, a dream. Touching his body in spots, he shrugged off the pain and settled into pensive calm.
“I think that’s me I’m touching. Could be a figment.”
In that exact moment, his phone rang out. Feverish knocking on his front door and a rash of yelling ensued, disrupting an otherwise peaceful moment.
The front door refused to remain closed as the clinking of keys made it evident his visitors were familiar.
As all entered, one quickly answered the phone, covered up the receiver, whispering intently and unintelligibly. Others scattered upstairs and downstairs. All were yelling out statements he couldn’t recognize or discern.
Herot placed his tea down and yelled at everyone to settle down and explain why they arrived.
No one listened.
“Hey, everybody out!” Herot repeated.
Within three minutes, the first group rushed throughout the house once confirming something he didn’t understand.
He noted whispers among them as they departed.
“This our plan, ultimately? I mean this case seems a bit hopeless. Pay attention to what happened here! No one buys license into our experiment with results like these. “
“You can stop whispering. I can hear you all!”
The last of the group dissipated out the front door, and another small group arrived.
“What’s this? Who are you people? What is happening here?”
No one bothered to answer.
Someone within the group commanded, “Search the house for whatever you can find.”
“Search for what?” Herot asked with a hint of insistent impatience.
One person gazed straight at Herot and then away in confusion.
Moments passed as all present started assigning each other tasks and priorities.
Herot couldn’t make sense out of the matter and went to his phone.
It was gone.
He reached for his cell phone.
Someone took it.
His anger built up, realizing he should pick his moment.
“If this little experiment of ours is so sophisticated, why this complication?” A man in a blue blazer, white shirt, and tan pants exclaimed to another.
“We’ll clean this up,” a female of some beauty, responded dryly.
“What was anyone expecting to find here?” the man with the blue blazer asked with a heavier amount of concern.
“Whatever’s remaining, ” the beauty gave, and with less emotion.
“What exactly remains here?” Herot demanded of the two.
A large man entered the room, commanding everyone’s attention.
A large cooler sat in the center of the room. Everyone stared at it as if something would jump out and attack.
“Well, what’s inside?” a voice in the small crowd asked.
“Proof of what worked, and what failed,” the tall, brooding man concluded.
“May we see what you mean, exactly?” another voice erupted.
The tall man knelt down, opened the cooler and brought out pieces wrapped up in cellophane and of varying lengths.
A total of twelve pieces were laid out on the floor.
Herot couldn’t understand a moment of this charade.
“What in heaven name is going on here? You all have invaded my home and for what? A few enigmatic conversations and a pre-made buffet…on my floor!”
All eyes fixed on the parts in front of them.
“Hey, what is this?”
A voice in this crowd gasped and asked, “Hey, did you notice that?”
Herot jumped up and went to the center of the room.
“Alright, your show and tell is over! Everyone out!”
All eyes remained in shock, saying nothing.
One gasped out loud, “That piece moved again like it tried to communicate or something.”
“Can anyone hear me?” Herot demanded.
A small man about five foot in height, bald and slightly out of shape, stepped forward and knelt next to the bagged object that seemed to move.
“Why must it be bagged? We have a procedure to follow,” A single voice from the crowd rang out.
The small man proceeded to unwrap what soon became a single human head.Bloodless Herot Head!