The Crossing

If you had the power to change your past - to fix every mistake you've ever made, to live the perfect life - would you do it?

Alice Carlton, the sixteen-year-old good girl, is dying because of a single mistake.
Charon is trapped in a living death because he dared fight his fate.
Two wrongs never make a right. Or do they?


9. Justice

            The porch light was out, plunging the entryway into darkness. Alice watched her mother squint out the window beside the door, trying unsuccessfully to see who had knocked. Why would come to their little house this late at night? With Alice’s father out of town on a business trip, her mother was always extra paranoid.

            “Just open it Mom,” Alice’s little voice rang in the silence, prompting another harsh knock.

            With a worried look at her ten-year-old daughter, Mrs. Carlton turned the handle and slowly pulled open the door. The man standing in the entryway was dripping onto the welcome mat, his head covered by a hood and his hands knotted in his pockets.

            “Hello Mary.” His voice was deep and harsh, and as soon as the door was all the way open, he lunged for Alice’s mother. She slammed the door in his face just before he crashed into it.

            “Alice, get upstairs and hide. Now.” Alice’s mother was frantic, that much was clear. She bolted the door and ran for the kitchen after shoving Alice in the direction of her bedroom. At first Alice ran, but then she slowed and stopped. She knew – somehow – that running was a bad idea. Something horrible was about to happen.

            She heard the door bang open again, and heavy footsteps heading toward the kitchen. The room where her mother was still dialing the police.

            Alice crept carefully over to the door, jumping over the loose board by the wall, and peered into the room. The man, his hood thrown back to reveal a shock of tangled brown hair, was advancing toward Alice’s mother, who stood whimpering by the pantry door.

            “You thought I wouldn’t find you, Mary. But I know everything. Where’s that husband of yours? Is he going to save you this time? And that little girl, how’s he going to help her?” The man didn’t hear Alice over his own voice, so she managed to get all the way into the room and crawl toward the phone, where it hung on the cord. The dial tone was there, faint under the noises of the adults.

            Alice hung up the phone silently, then crawled back out of the room. Her mother had picked up a knife and was waving it at the man, warning him back. Alice didn’t know how long that would work; she had to act fast. She ran as soon as she was out of the kitchen, accidentally stepping on the squeaky board. Instantly all sound from the kitchen stopped. Alice heard her mother shout a warning, then heavy footsteps were pursuing her down the hallway.

            The mobile phone was just where Alice knew it would be. It took her less than a second to press 911 and dart back away from the man.

            “911, what is your emergency?” The woman’s voice said on the other end.

            “There is a man in my house… He’s trying to kill us.” Alice panted into the phone as she used the secret “tunnels” only she could fit in. The space behind the couch that was a shortcut into the dining room. The holes in the stairs she could just shimmy her body through to drop into the little closet under them. There were dozens of places only a little girl could find in any old house, and hers was no exception.

            “Hold on, the police are-” There was a definitive click as the phone shut off. All the lights in the house went with it. The man had cut the power.

            “Nowhere to run now, is there little girl. Time to have some fun with you and your mommy, isn’t that right Mary.” The man’s voice was coming from nearby, but he hadn’t seen Alice yet. She reached up and locked the closet door, then crossed her fingers and waited for help to arrive.

            Alice screamed when the door burst open. “Got you, didn’t I?” The man’s foul breath was in her face, making her gag. He smelled like vomit, beer, and old sweat. The kitchen knife from the drawer was in his hand, gleaming metallically in the gloom.

            Just then, Alice almost burst into tears when she heard the sirens. They were close, making the man wheel around with a curse. She saw him run just as the door to the house burst in and uniformed cops ran toward her, guns ready.

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