I woke up on a hospital bed with a searing pain in my right forearm. I could not get up as I’d been restrained to the bed. A nurse checks on me and calls someone. I expect the doctor to come but I see a well-built figure through the door.
“Good afternoon Alan”, the man greeted me. It took me a while to register his face.
“Good afternoon Inspector Case”, I mumbled.
“Do you remember what happened?” he asked. “Well I was being transferred from the old penitentiary to the new one and…” I am blank, “I don’t remember”.
“That’s normal. Your van was T-boned at the Crawford intersection by an unknown person. Several of the inmates got killed and a few were severely injured. You were perhaps, lucky. They’re going to keep you in this hospital for a few days until you are healed. Understand?” I nodded “We’re going to get security footage of who attacked you and may be that might retrigger your memory like we did in the past. Okay?”
“Sure”, I said as the inspector left the room. Yes, we had known each other before. I used to consult him on some cases as I happened to have a gift of remembering everything just the way it was. He had called for my help every time he needed it and thus, we became friends after that. It wasn’t until that incident five years ago that he had parted ways with me. The incident that put me in prison in the first place. It was March 2010, I woke up by a loud thud on the front door. It was almost 3 am. I turned on the light to find that my wife had been brutally murdered. What I also saw was that my own clothes were covered with blood. The police came in and arrested me on the charge of murder. I had absolutely no recollection of killing her. We did fight a lot but I loved my wife. She was a congresswoman. Along with my freedom, the police took my home, my wealth and my daughter away from me. I was sent to prison because the police thought I had killed her in my sleep. Six years had passed, yet no evidence was found against me. I missed my daughter, her baby face still engraved into my brain.
As the nurse pulled me under, I caught a glimpse of the TV which showed the murder of a renowned congressman. His face felt familiar somehow but I could not place it. I felt drowsy as the sedatives began to have an effect on me.
‘I wake up on a police van. My hands are cuffed. We wait for the traffic signal to get green. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a blue van speeding up perpendicular to us. As our driver starts to drive, the blue van rams us from the side and we crash into a tree. I feel dizzy as the blue van leaves us, I spot its number plate. Suddenly the cabin of the car fills with water & I drown in it. I cannot save myself. I can’t breathe!’
I woke up. My memory came to me in the form of a dream. I called the inspector and asked him to meet me. I told him about my dream & the blue van that hot. Case was amazed.
“That’s the same car we saw in the footage!”
“I can even tell you the number plate”
“Got it. Any idea why that guy would have hit you?”
“Nope. Still working on it”
As he took his coat & went for the door, I ask,
“Say, any idea what happened to that congressman?”
“Oh yeah. Woodward. Poor chap. Found him in a river. He was slaughtered quite brutally. I am not supposed to tell you any further.”
“I get it”, I replied. “Buh-Bye.” He waved as he left my room.
The councilman seemed very familiar to me. His way of death too. The nurse came again. She gave me another sedative and I slept right away.
‘I wake up in the van again. I look through the window. The surroundings are not the same as I saw. The police van is stuck in traffic. From my window, I can see through an apartment. It is dimly lit. I see no activity. Someone must have left the light on by mistake, I think. My cuffs feel itchy. The inmates behind me are arguing about dogs being better than cats. I don’t like them. I feel better when I am alone. As our van moves a few meters further, I get a better view of the apartment. I see a silhouette of a man sitting on the sofa. He does not move a muscle. He must be asleep. I see a vehicle stop next to the apartment. I feel like I’ve seen the car before. It’s a blue van. A man gets out and enters the building. A few minutes later, I see activity inside the apartment. I look closely and I see the man sitting on the sofa being dragged out. Blood is flowing from his throat which is slit open. Panic fills my body when I recognize the victims face. It is none other than the Congressman! I don’t understand what has happened. What is the person in the blue van doing here? He holds a knife in one hand which is filled with blood. In the other hand, he holds the still-fresh corpse. As he drags the body towards the exit, he stops. He turns around and looks through the window. For a brief moment, our eyes lock. He knows, in one moment, that I had witnessed everything. Fear can be seen in his eyes. He closes the window shut and goes for the door. I don’t know if he intends to run because that would be foolish. I have already seen his face. At that very moment the traffic clears and our van starts to move. I feel relieved to be away from that incident. We stop at a traffic signal. I realize what will happen. I scream at the top of my lungs to tell the driver to floor the van, but no one listens to me. The blue van hits us from the side and we crash into a tree. I am trapped and hurt. Water starts filling up my lungs and the cabin of the van. I can’t breathe!’
I screamed as loud as I could. The nurses rushed to my aid and restrained me.
“Call Inspector Case”, I said while breathing heavily. “I have something important to tell him.”
Case was called. He entered my room carrying a file.
“We identified the driver using the number on his plate you sent us. His name is William Mann. He has been accused for several murders but never been proven. Why did you call me?” he asks.
I told him. Every detail. He looked stunned. I waited for him to reply but I didn’t get one for at least five minutes. Finally, he got up and spoke, “Are you sure that what you saw in your dream was true? Because if it isn’t, then that will put on a bad name on me and you won’t get out of prison for another ten years.”
“I am positive. You shouldn’t be questioning my memory.” I told him.
“That’s true, but there’s no evidence, and no motif either. Hell, I am taking advice from a prisoner!”
“You’re going to have to believe me on this.”
“Alright. I’ll check him. Plus, what is it that you talk about you drowning in water every time you dream?
“Oh, It’s just something that happens to me every time my dream ends”, I replied. “Could I take a look at William Mann’s file?”
“Sure.”, Case says as he hands me the folder.
I looked at his picture and I know I have seen him before, but I can’t remember where or when.
“Well, I shall be leaving. Give me the file and get some rest.” He strode along the room and the hall leaving me alone in my hospital room.
I kept thinking about William Mann. Had I encountered him while I was consulting with the police department? I had no idea. But it was clear that this man was up to no good.
‘I wake up. Not on the police van but somewhere different. Someplace that was once part of my life, but was taken from me. Home. I lie in my bed. The clock reads 2 am. It is raining heavily outside, the drops making noise every time they hit the window, hence my inability to sleep. I turn and see my wife sleeping peacefully. Tired from work all day. I try to sleep once again but now I keep hearing a creaking sound from our kitchen door. Could it be a mouse? Yet once again, the sound of footsteps could be heard, followed by a loud scream. I turn on my lamp to see a figure holding my dead wife. She is bleeding continuously. Both her arms are twisted at a weird angle. I look at the murderers face and my neck paralyzes with fear. I freeze as I see William Mann standing in front of me! I cannot believe my eyes. He grabs a rod and smacks it against my head, causing me to collapse on the floor and everything fades to black. I wake to the sound of a loud thud on the door and police sirens. I realize what has happened. Suddenly, the floor gets filled with water and starts reaching up to my nose. I am drowning. I am helpless. I can’t breathe.’
It was morning by the time I woke up. The sun hurts my eyes. I still couldn’t understand the absurdness of my dream. I turned on the TV and saw the news. I got to know that Congressman Woodward was very close to building an orphanage funded by the government in the city. That project was pending for almost ten years. Then the news starts mentioning how my wife, the congresswoman was also a major part of this campaign to build an orphanage. All of a sudden, all the pieces in my mind joined to complete the puzzle. Everything made sense. Mr. Mann obviously was against the idea of the orphanage, or was hired by men who thought that. Whenever someone was close to getting the approval for the orphanage, Mr. Mann would kill him. And he did it without getting caught. Until now. The news also showed that Congressman Greene also supported the building of the orphanage. So I exactly knew who would be Mann’s next target. I got on to the phone with Case and informed him about my epiphany. This time he believed me and told me that he would look out for Mann.
The next hours were very tense. I got a call from Case next afternoon, who was in a state of euphoria.
“We caught him around the Greene residence! You were right! He confessed to all of his murders! Including your wife!”
“Does that mean…”
“You’re free! There was a hearing regarding your sentence and the judge considered your plea.”
Freedom. Finally, I could see my daughter once again. I just couldn’t believe it. The hospital had discharged me a few hours earlier so I collected my stuff from my room. I kept thinking about the new life that I was going to lead when I heard a swirling sound. I looked at the ceiling and saw water seeping through the cracks of the walls and on the floor. Suddenly, all the doors flung open and water gushed through the corridors and into my room. It was filled in a matter of seconds before I could call for help. I was drowning. I was helpless. I couldn’t breathe.