Caitlin's head felt swollen as she rose from the cool kitchen floor. It felt like her body was coming back to life from a small coma. It didn't feel real, she remembered very little, just that the night was a downer and she came home after a...date? Did that guy show up or not? Too many questions and her brain tried its best to recover. Collecting her senses she realized she slept on the ground the entire night. She checked the time on the microwave, eyes bugging out instantly.
"No fucking way. Oh shit I'm gonna get murdered now!" She exclaimed as she ran to the shower, rushing to get ready for work.
She did have a habit of coming late from oversleeping and this night was no different, but at least she had a real excuse. The almost dying part could work this time. Maybe her boss will go easy on her and jeer at someone else today; if Caitlin was lucky maybe. She had to mentally prepare herself to be lashed.
She hurried through the routine like her life depended on it and while still being half asleep. She wasn't even sure if she brushed her teeth or hair. She popped some gum after gargling with mouth wash. It would have to do for now.
She made sure to retrieve her metro train card and locked the front door before bursting out of her apartment. The clothes she was wearing passed the smell test, just barely; there were more important things to worry over. Her boss was probably going to have her head if she didn't hurry.
Her heels were about to break as she ran down the subway stairs and paid the fair at the front gate. She almost ran into a man looking about the station. A train appeared before she could raise an eyebrow at how suspicious he looked. Nevertheless, she was still courteous as she made her way passed him.
"Excuse me pardon me, running late. Move. Sorry, bye." Caitlin's out of breath voice said as she sped around him.
She found a seat that had a good view of the marker stops above the bench and took it before others had a chance to discover it. She calmed her mind down and shook her head from all the morning jitters. She didn't even have her usual coffee; this was an au natural morning that she would just have to make herself fight through.
She checked her phone for any messages from that guy. It was all coming back her to, not the first time this will happen, guys are just repelled by her for some reason. She couldn't help but think it's all her fault, somewhere deep inside it's her that has the problem. Becoming a lesbian wasn't an option. She hardly sometimes liked herself. Unfortunately she was born heterosexual, but so far, nothing stuck on the relationship game board.
"Stand clear of the closing gates please." The operating voice said to the new patrons that stepped inside.
Caitlin was about to plug her ear buds in and listen to her spotify play list when she heard a noise near her. She looked beside her and spied an elderly woman with her husband having a casual conversation. Her walking cane dropped and Her husband crouched down to pick it up as she asked him a question. Caitlin felt weird watching them. Normally she kept to herself on the tram and purposely looked around, not making eye contact with anyone specific. Maybe it was reminding her of something she had no chance at having. Something that lasts. Hope, promise. Something besides a paycheck to live for.
It was then that she felt like she was being watched. She looked around and glanced at a young man looking in her direction. It was the lost man she almost bumped into on the way here. He was clean cut, wearing a tie and matching shirt, no blazer. His puncturing green eyes narrowed her way as she averted her attention elsewhere. There was no way she was going to get manhandled when she was in danger of being fired. Her boss would think she was making up the story so she wanted to immerse herself in her play list. She prayed he'd get bored of looking at her. She wasn't exactly appealing in her eyes.
He leaned forward, his mouth hanging open as he squinted.
"You can see me. C-can you hear me too?" The man with the narrowing green eyes across from Caitlin asked in an uncertain tone.
Caitlin cleared her throat, staring directly above the man's head, acting like she didn't hear or see him. She fixed on her audio, turning it up several cranks as she felt someone sit next to her.
She looked sideways and saw the man come besides her, looking her way carefully; she grew more afraid by the second. This man was obviously trying to force her to talk to him, or worse. She didn't want to concern herself with worse.
"Look if you can hear me, I don't know how but my name is Barry, my body is on life support at Central City Hospital." The man called Barry calling to her but she barely heard him over her music. "I need your help."
Caitlin removed her ear buds and moved to another seat, far away from the marker. She hated moving but she knew if she didn't then who knew what this guy Barry was going to do to her? She was surprised no one was reacting around her. Nobody was staring at both of them. That was odd.
Caitlin grabbed some gum and popped the stick in her mouth as she crossed her arms. She clutched her bag close to her body wishing she had pepper spray. This Barry guy was looking at her like he was confused about something, like he was trying to look right through her.
"You've got to believe me. Please say something if you can hear me." Barry raised his voice.
Caitlin looked around and nobody was looking at them. It had to be one of those days where nobody cared to even look at the commotion in Central City. The problem was, Caitlin heard Barry a third time and he didn't sound crazy, it sounded urgent, like he really did need help. Still, it wasn't Caitlin's problem. This job was everything to her, it kept her afloat the last few months and she wasn't going to get fired just to be a Good Samaritan for the day.
She cleared her throat and pretended like she couldn't hear him. She was surprised no one could hear him practically shout out of frustration. When she turned, looking directly at him and mouthed "leave me alone". She didn't want to draw attention to herself anymore than she had. Barry needed to know his boundaries.
"I knew you could hear me, now I know you could see me. Look, my name is Barry Allen, there was accident last night. My body is in a coma. I just came out, like this...I can't make sense of it. I think something awful is going to happen. Please! You have to believe me, I know this sounds really fucked up but please, you're the only one who can help me."
Caitlin shared an angry look with Barry and balled her fist ready to punch this wacko if he spoke to her again. She was in no mood to deal with some guy who thinks he's dead.
"Stop." She commended softly. "Leave me alone."
Barry sighed running his hand through his hair. This obviously wasn't working. There was nothing that could convince her he was telling the truth.
"If you don't believe me then I have to proof it to you. Here, watch my hand go thro..." Barry reached for her hand, actually touching it. His eyes expanded as she jerked her hand back.
"What are you doing?!" She exclaimed.
A few people were now looking onto the scene. They was looking anywhere but Barry instead directly on Caitlin.
"I can touch you. Oh my god, how is this possible? I'm dead, right? How am I able to touch you?"
Caitlin shot a disgusted look on her face, making her stand up again and hold the railing. She tried to concentration on her stop; she was only a few stops away when Barry came besides her wearing a disbelieving expression on his face. He looked at his hands and Caitlin stared forward. She wasn't going to become distracted by this pervert, or worse; he could be a criminal or a doomsday jackass. Caitlin winced as her stop was called. She put more distance between her and Barry, trying to put what just happened behind her quickly.
As soon as the gates opened Caitlin sped out of there as fast as she could, away from Barry and toward work. She checked the time and she was definitely going to be late. She wouldn't have that; she forced her body to move faster than she's ever ran before and made it to the doorman, stepping inside the elevator area.
She gave a sigh of relief as she straightened her outfit and fixed her hair before moving behind her but almost crashing into a body. She looked behind her to see Barry simply standing there.
"Oh god, how is this possible?" Caitlin's shocked eyes asked.
"You tell me. I'm still trying to make sense of it. I knew exactly where you were going and I was just, here." He gestered.
Caitlin was about to say something when they were both startled by the elevator sounds.
The elevator doors opened and more patrons were filling inside, pushing Caitlin and Barry near each other. They both looked like they wanted to say something but couldn't find the words to explain. Who could explain something like this?
Slowly people were filing out to their floors, leaving Caitlin and Barry alone again. Caitlin gulped. There was no way this guy was telling the truth, he was playing some kind of a game. It had to be. Maybe this was the same guy who stood her up last night trying to irritate her.
"I'm not the guy who left you last night." Caitlin whipped around glaring his way. "Oh shit."
"How-how do you know that? Only Marne knows. Oh god." She grumbled rubbing her temples. This was getting stranger by the minute.
He can hear her thoughts? Or somebody must have told him. But who? She didn't talk about her personal life with anyone. There was no way Barry could have known exactly what she was thinking in this moment. No way, she shook her head.
"I think I can hear your thoughts. This is just great." Barry said, rolling his eyes. He didn't seem too happy about admitting this.
Caitlin wanted to join him but the only think she could think of is getting as far away from him as she can. There was no possible way to make sense of what's happening. It's all a figment of her imagination. Maybe she's still asleep on the floor.
"Something happened to you too. What?" Barry asked urgently, trying to get some answers.
Caitlin brought her index finger to her mouth. "Stop it. Stop doing that. Just, ugh, leave me alone! God!"
She huffed turning around just as the elevator came to her floor. She somehow didn't feel like this was end, she was so engrossed in Barry following her around she almost crashed into the person in her way.
It was Jeanine, her overweight, ulcer ridden boss. She narrowed her near black eyes at Caitlin and pointed to the clock in the corner of the floor.
"Snow, you're late, again. This is going to come out of your hours. I can't believe I thought you would change since you came to work for us. Why do you make me constantly do this to you?"
"I'm, sorry?" Caitlin winced. Barry appeared next to her, watching the scene unfold. "I tried to get here as fast as I could."
"Well not fast enough, give me one reason why I shouldn't fire you right here and now?"
Caitlin started to speak but was interrupted. She shared a glance with Barry.
"Save it. I don't want to explain my reasons. I know you're just going to come up with excuse after excuse. I have an ex-husband that is currently eating away at my alimony. I'd rather listen to his dissertation than hear your drivel."
Caitlin bit her tongue back. She did that often when it came to Jeanine. She is nothing but a ruthless, hateful person. No one cared about her and she got away with harassing her co-workers on a daily basis. She complained endlessly because she could, no one could do anything about it. Tardiness was one of the many things that made her see red. Caitlin had to cope, just like the other times she was publicly berated.
"Alright..." Caitlin responded softly. Almost defeated. She wouldn't cry, she couldn't cry. Now that's all she wanted to do.
"Just get to work. I don't want to hear anything else. You're wasting my time already."
Barry looked on and grimaced at the scene in front of him, almost forgetting his initial mission. He felt bad for her. He didn't miss his work and his own boss and this lady ought to have a drink together.
Despondently Caitlin made her way to her work space, turning her computer on, paying no mind to the current annoying figure looming over her as she tried to pick herself up from being chastised.
"Maybe now isn't the best time to—"
"You're right, it isn't." Caitlin's eyes almost watered over as her tone reached from angry to practically begging. "Go away now."
Barry sighed; he wasn't sure what was really going on here. This girl—he looked around for a name tag around the cubicle and there was nothing. Not even little drawings that people would hang up from friends and families. He spied her logging into her name. She punched in "Caitlin S." and filled in her pass code. He could easily read her thoughts but he didn't want to draw attention, knowing that these people could not see him. He didn't want to get her into any more trouble than she is.
"Caitlin...that is your name, right? I know this is probably the worst timing ever. I don't know how or even why this is happening. I'm still trying to figure out why I'm out of my body."
Caitlin faced forward. She couldn't talk back, not that she would want to, people would see. She had to get rid of this guy, he was obviously not going anywhere. She had to think of something. Her attention was interrupted when her work wall received a knock. She looked up and saw Will, the resident personal mail room boy. He was around her age, his baby face pulled in concern; his hair was always the same style. He was your average entry level nerd pushing paper employee. He was the only person Caitlin tolerated here.
"Hey girl, want your letters now or later?"
Caitlin cleared her throat, knowing Barry was watching but did her best to forget he was there.
"Give them now, I'll forget later. Thanks." She smiled at him warmly.
He handed her a bundle of envelopes, almost waving off but called her attention once again.
"Hey I heard dragon lady breath is giving you a hard time. You know she's not allowed to do that to you."
"She's not allowed to do a lot of things, yet she does them. Don't worry about me."
"I can't help it." He said, brushing his straight mousy brown hair to the side. "It's not right. I wish she would stop doing that. She's got no grounds to take it personal. I'm sorry Caitlin."
She shook her head, not wanting to get him in trouble the longer he stayed around. "Don't worry, seriously. It doesn't bother me. She could fire me but she doesn't, that should say something."
"Yeah but you just came late, she acted like you took all her high end clients. She's abusive. None of us feel sorry for her anymore."
Caitlin opened up a new spreadsheet document and stored her mail in the section she normally placed it. She ran her hands through her hair and covered her face with her palms.
"I'm not going to be here forever." She blurted. She meant to keep that for herself but it was already too late. Will was the only person she trusted and now she felt remorse for leaving. "Eventually I mean."
Will's lopsided grin showed, "Hope not, we'd miss you."
"Maybe, I don't know. I should get started on this before she comes back. Not in a mood to be yelled at today. Not again anyhow."
Will nodded. "You got anything for that headache?"
"Head-how'd you know?"
"I know one when I see it. Here," he handed her his pain reliever as she took it and pushed it back to him. "Nah, keep it, find me later if you feel better."
Caitlin nodded softly, "Thank you. See you around."
Will winked her way before taking his time to turn around, handing out bundles of letters to various co-workers. Will was truly one of a kind. If it weren't for him she'd completely lose her mind and burn the place down.
She heard a noise behind her watching as Barry moved on her small area, leaning against the counter.
"Not again. Please bugger off." Caitlin grumbled, taking the pills from the bottle, washing it down with the water beside her.
"I need your help; I've been patient long enough here."
"So what? You think I owe you something? I don't, I have no idea why you're just appearing out of nowhere. It's annoying. Clearly you work for Jeanine and you were sent to annoy me." Caitlin went over her itinerary, having no luck since Barry was eye balling her every move.
"I have no idea who Jeanine is. She sounds like an insufferable twat. I don't even know what this place is, where I am. But I know you can hear and see me. That's all I know. I just need to make sense of what's happening. Somehow this is real; it's freaking me out too."
Caitlin sighed and scoffed simultaneously. "I want you out! Out, out, out! I'm serious!"
Barry came down to her level, looking around the office, noticing the staring and placed his finger over his lips. "People are staring, you have to be quiet." Barry said in a hushed voice.
He could see Caitlin's anger flare up and brought his hands on top of her shoulders.
"Look, all of this is fucking nuts, we both know it. But it's real. Meet me at Central City Hospital if you don't believe me. I'll be waiting there. Please, I don't know what else to say." Barry's voice cracked, he couldn't cry in this form but he felt the familiar emotions still. "I don't know what else to do."
Caitlin searched his eyes, unblinking, looking at her as if he meant it. She bit her lip, this was a lot to process, even for her.
She swallowed, the painful truth might be staring right in front of her and she just wanted him be rational about this.
"I need time, I can't do this..." Caitlin tried to explain, trailing off as she looked away. "I can't..."
Caitlin wiped her eyes, feeling the shiver of cold wind fan her frame as she looked in front of her.
He was gone. She never heard him leave. Her throat grew tight and her body stilled as the shiver returned, giving her gradual goose bumps.
"Caitlin!" She heard from behind her cubicle. "Hey, can you hear me? Who are you talking to?"
A random middle-aged co-worker she hardly recognized raised an eyebrow, standing near a group of people staring her way.
Caitlin forced her voice to answer. How long were they standing there?
"Nobody—it's nobody." She said, the words flowing through a filter of stupor and incredulous realization.