One Stroke to Midnight Epilogue
which had not
in their hands;
Time: The Third Year of the
Place: Somewhere, South Texas: USA.,
at the local blood bank.
Characters: Dan, a young
doctor - an intern from the local
university. Ron, one of the
employees at the blood bank
and a co-worker of Elena's.
(In the last story, angels Briggund
and Sylvestor helped
to scare away Demonites Darth,
and R2D2......and bring Elena
"Want some POPCORN?"
(Ron was on a break, and lounging by the break-room:
holding a big hot bag of buttered popcorn, and munching: an interested look on his usually absent-minded
young, goateed face.)
(The young man standing in front of Ron
was rather handsome in an arogant sort of
way, and well-dressed. He was
also very slim, to the point of
(The young man smiled: his
bony, angular facical muscles
lifted in what could have been
thought of as a smile, but the
smile never reached his deep
"Not for ME,
thanks. I have a MARATHON
coming up, in two weeks."
(The handsome man smiled
(Ron already didn't like the
guy. Why did his face look
so familiar? Where had he
SEEN him, before? Ron popped
another buttery piece of popcorn
into his mouth, and just
nodded: continuing to chew.
He had obviously kept the bag
in the break-room microwave,
"Well.......what can I HELP you
with? Are you here to fill
out an APPLICATION?"
(Ron pointed a buttery finger
towards the huge glass doors.)
"Then, you're in the wrong buildng.
I know; this place is
HUGE. No, you'll have to go out
through these doors....."
(Ron pointed again. He was sensing
that the well-dressed young man was
already becoming bored with him.)
"......make a LEFT......
then another RIGHT.......
toward Building C; it's the
HR building.....that big, monster-
looking thing....with the strange-
looking triangular peak on the
roof......just ask at the front
(The young man smiled, as if
he were laughing at some private joke.
Again, the smile never reached his eyes,
which were now changing to a deep-
(Ron stared: munching.
He really didn't like this guy.)
(The young man smiled again,
as if he were President Obama,
and Ron was one of the college
interns who was on an errand at
the White House, and had just
gotten lost in one of the
and a secret-service man was
just about to grab Ron by the
collar - for being so stupid.)
".........although, I HAVE just
come from the HR department......I was told that
Elena had worked here before
(Suddenly a buttered-covered
light-bulb went on, inside Ron's
usually dim-lit head. He stopped chewing,
and his mouth dropped a nano-of-an-inch.)
you're Elena's FIANCE......
(Ron snapped his buttery fingers.)
"NOW I know why your face
is so FAMILIAR....! I saw
your PICTURE......on her DESK!
The one where you were just
FINISHING that RACE! You
looked like you were about to
(Ron went on nodding his badly-
in-need-of-a-cut head. He noticed
that the arogant-looking
guy didn't appreciate his side-
"What's your name......
(The young man's thin lips,
sunburned from all the miles
and miles of running practice,
in a crooked, wavy line.)
(Dan smiled and held out a thin,
(Ron swiftly wiped his buttery,
greasy, right hand on his gray work-trousers,
and held it out.)
I'm on BREAK.....just finishing
up this POPCORN!"
(Dr. Dan smiled and nodded,
as if he were saying 'hello' to
one of the janitors that would
have been sweeping the hallway
around his corner office,
at the hospital. He held out
his hand; it was cold, dry and wiry.)
"I was told that you and Elena
had been friends......."
(Dan leaned casually against
the beige wall, that was beside
the employee bulletin board
"I was told you had been questioned by the POLICE......."
(Ron's eyes averted to the beige wall. Then, he looked over at his Team Leader; the TL, Jose, closed his eyes for a split-second and gave a little nod: it would be okay if Ron went over his break to talk to Elena's fiance, for a few more minutes. The whole department was sort of still in shock. Ron looked back over to the visitor, who was now taking off his brown suede jacket; underneath was a clean white cotton one with a hospital picture-I.D. card hanging from the left pocket. It seemed unnecessary, considering the new universal tattoo; obviously it could be used to identify anyone....ANYONE.......on planet Earth.)
I was the last one to SEE
Elena.....before she left the
BUILDING.....that morning. It
was POURIN' like CRAZY....."
(Instead of going over to sit
down on one of the comfortable
chairs that lined the small lobby
area to the supervisors' circular
desk, Dan began to pace quietly
back and forth: using small,
precise steps with his expensive-looking shoes.
He reminded Ron of one of those well-bred horses, on the beautiful grounds of some estate up in New Hampshire,
or somewhere...... whose owner was training for one of those
very sedate jumping shows: where blue ribbons were given
out, and everyone clapped very politely, and quietly.)
"Hmm.......YES. So I was TOLD...
did she seem ILL, that morning?
I was told she had just left
her NIGHT shift......."
she gets off, before ME.
I mean......USED to get off
(Ron's stomach did a belly-flop;
he now wished he hadn't eaten
his usually break-room snack.
He wondered if he would ever
make that popcorn, AGAIN.)
"She.......didn't seem SICK,
or anything.......though, she
WAS really upset, naturally....."
(The handsome young man almost
seemed affronted; his tone was
one of total disbelief. He
was obviously used to being in
control, and knowing everything.)
(It was Ron's turn to look puzzled.
Why had HR given
this Dr.-Danforth his NAME?
Did HR know EVERYTHING...
now, that he had gotten TATTOOED?)
would have TOLD you......"
(Dan stared at him; his
eyes now had changed to an
icy-deep-blue, like the way
the North Atlantic had looked
to the passengers as they were
jumping off the Titanic.)
"Of course.......she did try to
call me on her cell, before,
just a few minutes before.....
but my phone had been off.
I was in the ICU."
"What did she SAY?"
(Ron forgot all the antaganism,
in his interest about that morning, and Elena. They had
friends at the blood bank for
nearly four years.)
(Dan shrugged. His dark brown
hair was obviously cut at a very good salon: it was shiny
and clean, as if it had been just
"Actually......the message, that
she left..... had been kind of.....WEIRD:
not like her, at all."
(Ron went over and sat down
in one of the cushy lobby chairs.)
(The young, handsome doctor
went on leaning against the
beige column. He seemed used to
standing over people, and giving
them bad news. He frowned
and shrugged; wrinkles were
already forming between his
smoothly kept brows: most likely an effect of all the running-practice in the hot Texas sun.)
"Hm.......it sounded like she
was able to leave a message,
when all of a sudden she said,
'Oh, GOD! HELP me!' and
then it sounded like her cell phone
slipped....or was pulled out of her hands.
But, the recording didn't stop there;
a couple minutes later I could
hear, 'WHO are YOU?'"
"And, then WHAT?"
(Dan closed his eyes, and shrugged. He brought up
one hand to his bony chin, his elbow resting on the other hand, in a pose of intelligence and self-obsorbed wisdom. His North Atlantic eyes seemed distant for a moment: in remembering.)
(He shrugged again, picking
up his tan suede jacket from
one of the lobby chairs.)
(Ron noticed the '666'
neatly tattooed on Dan's
wrist. He forgot what
he was about to say,
for a moment,
and then went on.)
"No one else...... SPEAKING?
Do you think it was her
(Dan rolled his eyes slightly,
and smiled. He seemed amazed
that people with an I.Q. of under 165, could be so curiously INTRIGUED.....in the dramatic.)
"She WASN'T attacked......eh,
"Yes, sorry. I haven't gotten
much sleep, in the past few days. Sorry."
(The doctor paused, calmly.)
No, she had NOT been
attacked, at all. No......the
autopsy revealed it to just be
(Dan shrugged, again:
his dark blue eyes closing for
"Her heart just........
before she left?"
(Ron gulped. How could this
guy, who was apparently making wedding plans with Elena.....just stand there and calmly discuss her AUTOPSY? If HE had been in the same situation, he would
have been at home drinking a
fifth of Scotch......and taken
a leave of medical absence from
WORK. THIS fella looked like
he hadn't even missed a day
of RUNNING, or HOSPITAL
ROUNDS.......since he had been
called by the POLICE, who
had received the call from a
shrub-trimming guy, in the blood bank parking lot, that morning.)
That's just a matter of state
(Dan nodded; his cold blue eyes
shaded by the brown lashes.)
"......whenever a person dies
of unnatural causes......not in the
presence of a physician."
(Ron put a hand to his stomach;
for a moment he thought of
Elena's lovely porcelain face
being dissected......like some
frog, in the middle of an eighth
grade science lab.)
(Dan's voice, seeming far
off all of a sudden, was medically cool and calm.)
"Can I GET you something?
A glass of water?"
(Ron swallowed the sliver of hot
vomit in his throat. Never again.....
would he eat buttered popcorn.
"I gotta go.
I'm on break."
(Dan fingered his
beautiful brown suede jacket.
His eyes were taking in Ron's
whitish color, and shadows under
his pale eyes. Dan's tone was
cold, and professional.)
"You probably ought to get a soda,
or something, before you get back
"Go to hell."
(Dan shook his head, and smiled.
Then, he looked up at Ron's balding
forehead: the '666' had been
lopsidely tattooed in the center;
whoever had done it was clearly
"You know.......for an extra 2000
dollars, you could have had it
made on your WRIST."
(Dan leaned forward, and whispered,
as if sharing a secret between two
"....Not so OBVIOUS........"
(He shrugged, and smiled,
"I had given Elena the MONEY.......
to get it done PROPERLY.........
I certainly didn't want a wife
with THAT stuck to her forehead
for the rest of our lives..."
(Ron self-consiously put a moist,
hot hand up to his ugly forehead.
He stared at the other man,
wishing he could punch him in the
mouth; instead, he simply stood
up. He tried to keep his voice down.)
"But, she never GOT it!
You mean......you didn't KNOW?
That's what she was so upset about:
I told her the time-clock was going
to be changed......by MIDNIGHT....."
(He tilted his head toward the
wall behind Dan's narrow,
Just then, as if on cue, one of Ron's
co-workers, a very pregnant young
woman named Carlie, said a soft
'Excuse me.' to Dan, and then
stepped up in front of the newly
installed time-clock: Carlie leaned
forward and placed her forehead onto the
green-lighted screen.....and pressed.
The machine beeped,
and a mechanical voice said,
'Thank You!'. Then, Carley looked
over at Ron, smiled, and said 'See
ya tomorrow!', glanced at Dan with
some mild curiosity, and walked
through the sliding glass doors: her belly
beneath her denim maternity shift was
protuding from her light gray raincoat,
and her brown leather purse was
dangling over one elbow.
(Dan glanced again at the
clock-screen: almost as if admiring it.)
"I don't know WHAT was
Elena's PROBLEM: this is NOTHING!"
(He grinned, and rolled his deep-blue
It's just the newest TECHNOLOGY!
Some SPOOKY stuff.....she had
read about in the BIBLE.......
can you BELIEVE?
NEITHER of us had been in a
church, for YEARS...."
(Dan gave another soft laugh,
and pulled on his suede jacket.
The soft color made the color
of his eyes even bluer.....and colder.
He stuck out his hand again, to
Ron, who had gotten up to go
back to work; it was still cool and dry.)
"Well..........I suppose we'll see
one another again......at the
(Ron said, in a whisper.)
(Dan nodded. He glanced
one more time at the screen
on the wall, and then left.
A very light scent of a very
expensive men's cologne followed
after him. On the way out into
the covered walkway, Dan glanced,
appreciatively, at a pretty blond
office assistant that was walking
rapidly along in her high heels:
her lovely slim hips swaying under
her short silk skirt.)
(Ron watched him, staring in
disbelief and amazement. He
whispered to himself: rubbing
his right hand, wearily, over his
"I'm glad you never married
him, Elena. And.....I'm glad
you had the guts....to say no...."
A chill slipped down Ron's sweaty
back; he realized, at that moment,
that he and the handsome,
belonged to the same club.
It was almost.......
Sylvestor never did find his
halo. Both he and Briggund
were written up, by Archangel
Michael, and put on suspension.
They were both assigned
Throne Room Duty,
for the next six Heavenly
Zorba, the pot-belly pig,
safely made it to Heaven,
with Elena and her
new found friends. He
became the First-Flying-Pig.
-Earth, which had been
drawn by Archangel Michael....
and, which Briggund
and Sylvestor had lost
over New Jersey, was
eventually found by one
of the Mafia wives....who
became instantly Saved,
and began witnessing about
Christ Jesus to all her
It was R2D2, who found the angel's
small limp halo: it was in the soft
wet grass, and barely had any light
left. R2D2 and Darth-Demon hid it
for safekeeping in Elena's recycle
bin; unfortunately, for the greedy
demons, the city recycle trucks came by
two days later, and picked up the
big green bin. Sylvestor's halo was
eventually recycled: into a toilet
seat. Every time someone sat on it,
it lit up........just a little.
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