The loud wail of a police siren pulled Joe Russo out of his shocked state. The square was now bustling with activity, with ambulances and emergency teams lining up by the second. He stared at the scene in utter bewilderment; he refused to believe the events that unfolded in the past five minutes. His head was throbbing wildly; he’d originally thought it was because of the lack of coffee, but when he touched his forehead he found a hint of blood trickling down his face.
He’d been in an accident before, much worse than the one he was in right now. But this particular one freaked him out. It was almost as if he knew it was about to happen.
Joe had started his day quite normally; he’d woken up pretty refreshed and relaxed. It was a Friday; he’d always hated working on Fridays. He was a freelance graphic designer, and would normally work from the local cafe on the corner of Jacob Street. Being self-employed had its benefits; he was his own boss and could switch his work environment anytime he pleased. He loved what he did for a living; he could get as creative with his life as he wanted. Joe was single, in his late twenties, and lived in a rented apartment located in the heart of the city. He preferred to live a quiet life; he had limited friends in the city and whatever family he had left was far away across the country.
He’d taken his usual seat at the cafe at about nine thirty. He loved this spot; the booth was secluded and quiet, the perfect place to work. It was a workday so the place was sort of empty; the crowd would pick up closer to lunch time. The cafe could serve maybe thirty customers at a time; there were about six booths seating four each and a bunch of chairs scattered about any free space available. Only three tables were now occupied, and counting the handful of staff there were thirteen people at the cafe. Joe knew the cafe’s owner well; he’d designed the cafe’s logo a couple of years ago. He was always taken care of here, so he liked this joint even more. His booth was right near the corner of the square; he could see people passing by both ways.
He ordered a black coffee; he needed something to kick-start his creative juices. He turned on his laptop and rubbed his hands in anticipation while waiting for it to boot. He made a mental note to himself that he was out of milk and had to buy some before heading home for the day. His coffee arrived; the waitress served it to him while giving him a friendly smile. He acknowledged her with a “Good day”, and she left to wait on another table. He looked at the old clock hanging on the wall in the corner. It now said nine forty-seven. He felt uneasy; he had a weird sense of déjà vu. Like he’d been here before at this very same time. And something was about to happ-
Crash! The windows shattered, spraying shards of glass all over him. He had braced himself, half expecting all hell to break loose. The car that crashed into the window jutted precariously over the cafe wall; a silver Volvo; its driver unconscious and lying sprawled over its bonnet, face first. The driver was male, Caucasian, with short, jet black hair, wearing a white and blue striped shirt that was slowly turning red. Joe’s gaze moved away from the driver over to his table. He now stared blankly at his coffee, untouched, cold and covered with fragments of broken glass. He felt a tug at his shoulder trying to pull him away from the wreckage, and his mind went completely blank. Until just now; he could not remember how he got here, smack in the middle of the street.
A distant recollection came flowing back to him. He had dreamed of this last night. He was shocked at the level of detail that was apparent; the booth, the clock, even the crashed car and the driver. But something did not make sense. The dream had started differently. He’d taken his place at the booth, ordered his coffee and waited for his laptop to boot. He remembered looking at the clock; nine forty-seven. He turned his eyes to the window and saw a woman passing by; blonde, extremely gorgeous, in a silk red dress and wearing matching, high-heeled shoes. He felt she was overdressed for this time of day, but discounted it later since it was only a dream. He recalled her look; a naughty glint in her hazel eyes, studying him closely as she walked by. She had a mysterious air to her, her beauty captivating, almost breath-taking. And as he followed her gaze, engrossed, entranced, the windows shattered exactly in the same way as they did today. And that was it; he could not remember anymore.
Joe tried to stand, now very much in the present; his legs gave way and he fell awkwardly. A paramedic; mid forties, with a serious face and graying hair; came to his aid. He took Joe by his arms and helped him stand up. Joe turned around to thank this man for his help, but instead froze in utter horror. His stomach cringed; he tried to fight back an overpowering urge to vomit. He swore he’d seen this man before, probably also in his dream last night. But not like this; instead, covered in a pool of his own blood at the other end of the street. Of one thing he was certain – this man was about to die.
To be continued…