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The core of it all was that the girl had to get my heart; that part was certain and I’d already set the dominos in motion that would mark her as the only match for the donation. But I had to die for that to happen—a task easier planned than executed. Reaching my hand toward the dashboard, moonlight washed over my forearm making my skin appear ghostly. The foreboding accuracy of the image sent a chill up my spine and it took a few tries to get my shaking hand to flip on the heat.
I tightened a webbing strap that ran along my narrow waist and sandwiched my chest between the two steel plates that I’d had molded to fit around my torso like a vest. It looked like part of an elaborate Roman costume, but with how much it weighed, it would have been impossible for even a strong man to wear while standing. Good thing I wasn’t a man. The plates were thick enough to take a bullet and allow my heart to keep beating, but this…
Hot air spewed from the vents across my shivering hands but did nothing to warm them. I nosed the VW a few inches further. The ancient engine rattled. It was a sound that had become comforting to me over the past month, like the voice of an old friend, or more like my only friend.
A mere 12 inches away, the perpendicular traffic blazed by as the VW rattled on, oblivious to what I had planned for us. My eyes climbed to the dashboard clock. 11:23.
Inhaling deeply and trying to relax the muscles of my body, I reviewed what I had seen in the vision. Previously, my mind would have been full of numerous ones that I could choose to review, but lately, my sight had narrowed—focused down to a singular point in time. Every dream for months now had been an exact replica of the one I’d first had a year ago.
It always started off the same. At a diner only one mile away sat two men—the harvesting crew from the Lifeflight helicopter. They lounged at a red vinyl booth. Somewhere in the kitchen a platter clattered to the floor and back at the booth, the older man—the pilot—turned toward the noise. He’d never been able to turn away from an accident, no matter how inconsequential and that gawking tendency had carried him into the organ retrieval business.
“My first time in Philadelphia,” the heavy-set pilot grunted.
“Hmph. You haven’t missed much,” a young, slick-haired surgeon by the name of Kale said from across the table as he shoveled a forkful of blueberry cobbler into his mouth.
“Well, this place is good.”
The surgeon only chewed, ominously quiet. Kind of like a volcano that could blow at any moment, Rob thought. This was only his second flight with Dr. Lars Kale, but rumor had it that the good surgeon could be sweet as sugar one moment and cruel as a snake the next. And this snake was way up there on the corporate ladder with the authority to fire boring helicopter pilots, no questions asked.
The thing about today was that Dr. Kale had been provoked. Only an hour ago the two of them had touched down at Philadelphia Mercy Hospital on an organ retrieval call. Motorcyclist; no helmet, was all that Rob had been told. He and Dr. Kale had made the short flight from North Carolina Regional only to be turned away at the Philadelphia hospital. There had been some kind of mix-up. There was no motorcycle death, no organs, not even a red cooler full of ice.