by William Butler
Glass shattered and tinkled to the pavement. Mark scrambling to his feet and sprinted away from the house as fast as his little boy legs would carry him. He reached the middle of the block and spotted his father's unmarked patrol car turn the corner.
"Back there," he screamed at the top of his lungs, waved his arms and continued running, "in the house!"
Kevin drove over the curb, flung open the door and was at the boy's side before the car rocked to a halt. Mark dropped to his knees, gasping for breath. His clothes were torn and blood oozed from cuts on his arms and legs.
"They got mom," he sobbed. "Three guys just walked in and started slappin' her around. They said they was gonna wait 'til you got home and they was gonna kill all of us."
Kevin held his son's face and brushed glass from his hair.
"It's gonna be all right, guy."
"You gotta help mom. You gotta."
Kevin stood and called over to his partner.
"Julio, radio in. Let'em know where we are and have'em get some back up over here."
Julio eyed his friend hesitantly.
"And where you gonna be?"
"They've got Carol, man," he pulled off his jacket and tossed it in the car, "I can't just sit here and wait."
He reached across the seat and grabbed the shotgun from its rack, pumped a round into the chamber and turned back to Mark.
"Stay here. You understand?"
"When the units get here," he spoke to Julio again, "send'em in and make sure they get somebody around back."
He sprinted away before Julio could voice an objection and his fears rushed in while he ran. He knew it was only a matter of time before someone tried to hurt him through his family. After sixteen years with the department, it finally happened.
While support was all she ever showed, Carol shared his fear. Yet it had been her urging that made him stay when he considered leaving the department. If she was hurt, if she suffered because of him, he knew the guilt would haunt him the rest of his life.
Less than a block away, three men in Kevin's home concerned themselves with very different matters. Twenty-four hours earlier Kevin shot and killed the oldest Wyatt brother in an armed robbery attempt. Danny Wyatt and his younger brothers, Rick and Craig, sought Kevin as a matter of course.
Danny and Rick stood in the hallway. Rick's inattention allowed their youngest captive to escape and irritated Danny to no end.
"Damnit!" He shouted. "I told you to watch the kid. That's all you had to do. I didn't say use the john and watch him when you got back. I said, watch the kid."
He turned away and walked into the living room where Carol sat bound and gagged on the sofa.
"You know lady," He grabbed a handful of hair and pulled her to her feet, "that punk son of yours just got you killed!"
He drew his free hand back to slap her when Craig, gazing out the front window, interrupted.
"Hey, man. There's a cop car up the street and the kid's with 'em."
"Damn!" Danny cursed and pushed Carol back on the sofa. He picked up an M16 and tossed it to Craig then pulled a pistol from his waistband and moved to the window.
"There's more of them around back, man." Rick came through the hall doorway holding another M16.
"Just hold the noise down." Danny ran his fingers through his hair. "Let me think."
Their party was falling apart. They should have been able to come in, grab the woman and kid, and wait for Kevin to come home. Now, the whole thing was coming apart at the seams.
"All right," Danny pushed aside the window curtain and peered out, "we can still get outta this! We got the broad. Long as we got her we're okay!"
The voice came from the kitchen. Kevin stood just beyond the doorway, holding the shotgun at waist level. He and Danny locked eyes for an instant before Danny screamed and fired wildly, turning the doorframe to splinters.
Kevin dove to the floor, rolled to one side and came up on both knees as Rick brought his M16 around. The shotgun roared first.
Kevin heard a voice in his head whisper, "One down." then felt the pain in his side as the blast from the other rifle registered.
Through a haze he saw Danny slap Carol with the pistol and drag her to her feet. They moved to the front door, Craig close behind. Oddly, everyone seemed to move in slow motion. He shook his head to clear the stars and realized he still had the shotgun. Carol and Danny stood outside and Craig stepped onto the porch.
With great effort, Kevin hefted the shotgun to his shoulder and squeezed the trigger without aiming. Craig crumbled to the steps and the voice from a moment before whispered again.
Danny whirled at the sound of the shotgun but a blaring loud speaker forced his attention back to the street. Uniformed officers, crouched behind two cars, stared down the barrels of revolvers and shotguns.
In Danny's moment of indecision, Carol's gag worked free. She pushed away and ran toward to street. Danny fired at the same time a shotgun blast erupted behind him.
The two fell to the ground.
Kevin stood leaning against the doorsill, the shotgun gripped loosely in his hand. Somewhere in the distance a bell rang as he staggered down the steps and along the walkway toward Carol's body. He dropped the shotgun and knelt beside her. The distant bell continued, seeming to grow nearer, louder.
Tears rolled down his cheeks and he felt a hand touch his shoulder.
The voice became urgent and concerned.
Carol's voice became urgent and concerned.
"Wake up, Kevin."
The bell on the alarm clock still rang and Carol reached across him to hit the off switch. She touched his shoulder again and shook him.
"Wake up, baby."
"Huh?" He felt drugged, he was soaked in sweat, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
"You were having a bad dream, honey."
He sat up and swung his legs over the bedside while Carol slid across and sat behind him with her legs crossed. Her arms went around his waist and she placed her head on his shoulder.
"A dream," he closed his eyes and rubbed his face, "dear God it was just a dream."
Carol placed a hand on his shoulder and shook him gently.
"Kevin," she said, in someone else's voice. It was deep and husky; a man's voice.
Startled and confused, Kevin turned to stare into her face.
"Kevin." She said again. "Wake up, Kevin."
Even as he looked at her, stared at her mouth and saw the words form on her lips, he knew the voice belonged to someone else.
"Kevin. Wake up, Kevin."
"I'm awake, doctor."
He sat up, closed his eyes and sighed.
Ian Collie stood beside the bed, pulled a penlight from a pocket in his white lab coat and checked Kevin's eyes.
Kevin shook his head.
Ian thrust his hands into his pockets and turned to the large window behind him. A moment later, a nurse and two orderlies came through the door.
"You can't expect results this quickly, Kevin. Dream research is a relatively new field. Most of the time we spend here will be with just watching you sleep."
"Yeah, doc." He sat on the edge of the bed. "Carol's dead and every time I close my eyes I see it all over again. The department sent me here because they said I was losing my grip."
"Can you make the dreams stop?" He lowered his head. "Can you give me a reason to keep on livin'?"
"I hope so. But we won't know if we don't keep trying."
"Well," he raised his head and signed, "you ready to do it again?"
"Don't you want to take a break? Maybe get something to eat?"
"I want..." he stopped as the words lodged in his throat. "I want Carol. That's what I want."
He closed his eyes, lowered his head again, and fought back tears.
"Let's get to it."
The nurse and orderlies checked the wires and shortly, he was asleep.
Glass shattered and tinkled to the pavement....
© 1992 by William Butler