Jim here–not only is this a tight piece of short fiction with twists and stabs but I’d have published it just for the sake of that hat! Gotta love a writer with a good taste in hats! – Jim

The Seer of Midway Mall

           I’m not a fortune teller.  Not exactly.  I mean, yeah, sometimes I see things, but I can’t control it.  I can’t choose when it works, or decide whose future I’m going to get a look at.  It just happens.

            Like today.  I was cutting through the mall on my way home from work.  It was packed, as usual, and people were irritable about the crowds, also as usual.  I don’t know why I always go through the mall.  It shaves five minutes off my trip, but it more than makes up for it in aggravation.  Everyone’s in a hurry, you’re constantly cut off or jostled, and the best you get by way of apology is a half-hearted mumble.  I’m always promising myself I’ll stop going that route, but at the end of a long work day the extra five minutes seems like an eternity.

            I managed to make it all the way to the far exit with my temper still in check, which was no small feat.  I was reaching for the door when some Bluetooth-using, two thousand dollar suit type stepped right in front of me.  He had to get pretty aggressive with his shoulder to get ahead, and I stumbled from the contact, falling forward into him.  He didn’t even slow, just swung his elbow painfully into my chest, and said, “Out of my way, dickless.”

            I didn’t have time to get upset, though, because somewhere between his elbow hitting me and him swearing at me, I had a vision.  I got a look at Bluetooth’s future, and it was not pleasant.  I saw him walking alone through a dark concrete structure.  Or at least he thought he was alone, but I could see someone was following him.  He was yammering belligerently into his phone, not at all aware of his surroundings.  My viewpoint in these things varies, but in this particular vision I was looking from behind both of them, so I couldn’t get a good look at the person following  him.  All I could tell from my angle was that he appeared to be another “suit and tie guy.”  He carried a brown leather briefcase and wore a long grey pea coat.  As he approached his oblivious victim from behind, I saw a long handled claw hammer slide from inside his sleeve and down into his hand.  It was then I noticed that he was wearing white latex gloves.  I could see him look around the structure to confirm they were alone and quicken his pace to catch up to his victim.

            “I don’t care, you’ll do it or you’ll find a new job.”  The guy reached his car and the climax of his phone rant at about the same time.  Hanging up, he unlocked and opened his car door just as his stalker crept quietly up behind him.  The first hammer  blow came down on the back of his neck.  Bluetooth shrieked and fell face first onto the driver’s seat.  His attacker shoved him through the car and into the passenger seat, then calmly stepped into the car himself and shut the door.  More hammer blows followed.  Many more.  I won’t get into too much detail, but it was bloody and, unfortunately for Bluetooth, he lasted a long time.

            ***

            “Hey man, you’re blocking the door.”

            “Oh, please pardon me.”

            And just like that I was back in the mall, standing in a stupor with my hand on the door, my heart trying to thump its way out of my chest.  People were moving around me to the other exits, many shooting me unpleasant looks for delaying them.

            I stepped through the exit and into the warm spring sun, fighting a losing battle to get control of my heart.   I took a moment to consider what to do, but quickly came to the same decision I always do.   I reached into my leather briefcase, feeling for the surgical gloves and claw hammer I kept there for just such occasions.  Down the street, I could just see Bluetooth turning off into a gloomy parking structure.  Reassured by the hammer’s weight, I started off after him.  After all, I’d already seen his future.  Who was I to deny it?

Rob Caleval grew up on the Canadian prairies with a hockey stick in one hand and a book in the other.  He holds a degree in English from the University of Regina and has worked in the emergency services industry for well over a decade.  Between coaching junior lacrosse and wood working projects, he does occasionally find time to write something.  His latest work can be found in the upcoming issue of The Freshwater Review.

Author Rob Caleval
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Real skull. Don't ask. You wouldn't believe it if I told you.

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