Crossing In A Heartbeat
Fiction, Romance, Paranormal and Supernatural, Action and Adventure
May 8, 2022
Kara keeps hearing voices and seeing images that aren’t there. Perhaps she is working too hard at her dull engineering job where she spends hours a day correcting documentation. Her love life is non-existent. Her friends just want to drink and get drunk. Life is dull and boring. However, the voices talk of war and espionage. There are moments she feels intense love or like she’s flying. But then there are the moments where she feels a heart stop and she findsherself experiencing what she calls an out-of-body experience. Whatever it is, it’s more exciting than her current life. And then there is that odd smell. It’s a faint musty smell of peppermint. No. It can’t be. Dragons?
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Kara stared at her computer screen. She focused hard because she kept drifting off into a daydream. If she let herself do that, then she would never get this document edited. However, she found it so boring thatshe felt like she could fall asleep in an instant.
Heavy footsteps rushed up to her cube. She suddenly felt dizzy.
“What is wrong with you?” a stern voice said.
She jerked to sit straighter before she turned away from her screen to look.
“What?” She felt surprised there was no one there.
She stood and walked to the opening of her cube to look up and down the aisleway. There wasn’t a person in sight.
A dizziness swept over her again and she found herself in a room lit with oil lamps. She could smell a wood fire. A slight turn of her head revealed a huge stone fireplace witha roaring fire. The room felt warm because of it. She felt aware of two other people and shifted to get a better look at them.
Then she took a big, gasping breath.
She found herself still standing at the opening of her cube, alone. Someone coughed. The only smell even close to a fire was burnt popcorn someone had overcooked in the microwave.
She stood there for a long time, staring at the wall across from her. This wasn’t the first time she had a dizzy spell.
I need a vacation, she thought.
She sat back down at her desk and noted the time was four-thirty.
“I’m not going to get this done.” She whispered under her breath, because there was no privacy in a room full of cubicles.
She had fifteen more pages to edit. There was no way she could finish, especially since the document was so poorly written.
“This guy didn’t put any effort into it because he knew I had to do the editing. Asshole pushed off his work on me.”
She resigned herself to the fact she wouldn’t make her deadline. With the pressure off, she almost felt euphoric. She tried to use that feeling to get at least a few more pages edited, but the next paragraph wasn’t even in English.
“What the fuck?”
She copied and pasted the text into a language translator. Either the guy was testing or harassing her, or he had accidentally copied the text into the document. There were sexual references. After staring at it with shock, she realized he probably meant for this to go to his girlfriend.
She gave up and reached for her coffee mug, but it was empty. It was too late in the day to go get some. Besides, she bet the office girls had already washed and put awaythe pots.She almost switched over to a new tab in her browser to do some online shopping when she heard the footsteps. These were footsteps she knew, and she switched back to the document.
“Kara, are you done with Rod’s documentation?”
“No.” She didn’t even give her boss, Jim, the courtesy of looking at him. Instead, she stared at the document.
“Kara, we need that done.”
It was a quarter to five on a Friday afternoon. She doubted anyone was going to look at it until Monday.
“If he knew how to write better, maybe I’d have it done.”
“That’s your job.”
“But when he starts writing in a different language, that gets harder.”
“A different language?”
She pointed at the paragraph. “Can you read that?”
“Well, use a translator.”
“When I have to use the translator, it takes up more time. A whole lot more time.”
“Well, just do that and check the typos. Call it a day.”
“And this is okay?” She pointed at a section and read it verbatim. “Its got go thing a widge into the hole. Do you know what he just said?”
“It must be technical.”
“I’m an engineer. I’m technical. That is gibberish.”
“And do you really want to see what this translates into?”
“No. Just do what you can.” He left as if he had an emergency.
“Yeah, your emergency is to make it back to your office so you can leave for the day.”
Kara no longer made any pretense to work. No one else was going to come up and talk to her, unless it was to ask if she was going out to the bars. Her response for the last couple of weeks had been no, and she had the feeling they would eventuallystop asking her. She hoped they would, since she was tiring of the routine.
Every Friday night, a group of people from work met at the bars. Later, her girlfriends would join her. They would drink, get drunk, flirt, then sleep the rest of the weekend away with a headache.None of the flirting had resulted in any dates. Kara felttired of it all. She would rather go home and not have a headache.
“Yeah, all I do there is goof off on the internet. But wait, I do get my laundry done, and the housecleaned.”
She almost laughed, feeling like a game show host. “But there’s more… But wait… you also win… nothing.”
She closed all the applications on her computer in preparation to shut it down. Whispers were rising around her, which told her everyone else was doing the same. As she expected, she heard the usual questions everyone asked.
“You going to the bar tonight?”
“We’re heading to the corner bar. You coming?”
Kara could pick out who asked the questions and who answered. Traffic outside her cube picked up for a moment, then faded. Today, no one was going to ask if she was heading out to the bar. No one was even going to wish her a good weekend.
She shutdown her computer. By the time she grabbed her coat and umbrella to head out, no one was around. The few people she would have said goodnight to were already gone. She joined two people she didn’t work with at the elevators. The clock above it showed it was a few minutes past five. No one said a word.
The elevator was almost full when it arrived. Kara managed to squeeze in. She decided she should start taking the stairs. Six flights down wasn’t really that much. She felt she could always use the exercise.
When the elevator reached the ground floor, everyone turned left. Kara headed straight out. She had a couple of blocks to walk to catch the subway. There weren’t too many other people walking this way. Most drove because the company had a parking garage and it was free. Kara didn’t drive because the drive to work took longer than if she took the subway. Much longer.
She breathed in deep to find the air cool and damp, which was typical for September. It wasn’t refreshing. She crossed the street at a jog, then slowed to check out the windows of a small toy store. They always changed up the display every Friday, and itwas always fascinating. They had outdone themselves this time bybuilding an extravagantcastle with interlocking blocks. Toy dragons perched on top of the roof.
Kara felt herself get dizzy. She leaned against the building, so she didn’t keel over. The faint smell of peppermint wafted by her nose, but she knew it couldn’t be from the candy store. It was still two blocks away.
Soft feathers touched her fingers. Cold air slapped her face. The air she breathed inwas brisk and clean. Itscoldness burned her lungs. She felt like she was flying.
“Mommy. Mommy. Can I have that?”
Kara looked up to find she was still standing in front of the toy store. A woman with two children opened the door. A bell chimed.
Kara stared back at the display.
“Dragons. Why do dragons smell like peppermint?”
She took a deep breath, comparing this breath with her last.The air wasn’t brisk and clean, but dull and damp. She stared at the dragons for a long time. The dragons on display had scales, not feathers.
“I’m going crazy.”
She missed her train and had to wait for the next one. Commuters crowded the station.She stared straight ahead while she waited, aware that most everyone else was staring at a phone. Not for the first time, she felt invisible.
She rode the train