[WP] You are able to see how long every person you come across has to live. As you walk through the city you come across someone with only one hour left. [Link to post.]
I glanced up from my phone as I reached the bus stop, to get a quick idea of the passengers. Even one dying on the bus ride would slow my day down, but all the times checked out fine. Most of them could look forward to several long years ahead of them. One of them, a beautiful young woman with light curly hair, had a week left to live. I decided the bus ride would be fine and focused on the game I played on my phone to wait for the bus.
It wasn’t easy to get used to at first, but I became numb to it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone turn a corner with less than five seconds left on their clock. Being constantly aware that everyone is temporary brings a sort of peace with it. I could check my own clock as easy as glancing at a mirror, but over the years I trained my mind to ignore it like I ignored my nose.
The bus arrived then the crowd piled on. I ended up at the back, across from the woman with a week left. As I swiped and tapped on a phone game, a faint, dainty cough became apparent. I turned to look across the aisle at the woman. She held a white handkerchief up to her mouth while she coughed, the clock above her changed halved from a week to a few days.
“Are you okay?” I asked, then scooted closer to the aisle edge of my seat. She nodded, then pulled the handkerchief away; I saw a moist red spot on it before she hid it in her hand.
“Yes, thank you.” She nodded. “Just a bit weak, headed to the doctor right now.” She smiled.
“Oh is someone meeting you there?” I asked.
“No. I’m new in town, haven’t had a chance to make friends.” After the word ‘friends’ her timer lost time again. Now her time of death was scheduled for the next hour. I made a decision quickly and crossed the aisle to sit next to her.
“If you don’t mind I’ll keep you company. My day’s open and I want to make sure you can get there safely, in your weakened condition.”
“Really? You’d do that for a total stranger?” Light filled her pale green eyes and a smile tugged up at the corner of her mouth. I nodded.
“If you don’t mind of course.” She smiled and shook her head.
“Not at all.” I offered her my hand. When she shook it, her timer changed to a month. “My name’s Sean,” I said.
“I’m Amanda,” she said. We rode the rest of the way making small talk. Amanda moved to the city last week to start a new job, but the company went under. Her health problems were complicating her job search. I sympathized where I could and listened the rest of the time. I moved to stand as we approached the stop at the Medical Center, but she stopped me with a hand on my thigh.
“How about we go to lunch first?” She asked with a broad smile. “It’ll be my treat!” I glanced upward at the timer above her head. The blue numbers still showed a month.
“Yeah, alright. Lunch with a new friend sounds good,” I said.
“Let’s get off at the next stop, I know a great hole in the wall,” Amanda said.
I agreed, and once the bus came to a stop again we rose together and stepped out of the rear exit. I looked around, unfamiliar with that part of town. I thanked myself for daylight as I got a good look at the area. The words “dangerous” and “ghetto” came to mind, but then I reminded myself she’d only been in town a week and already lost her job. I followed her across a block then we took a left turn into a darkened alleyway lit only by a single light above a single door beyond the abyss. The darkness swallowed Amanda as she walked towards the door, and I followed her. She winked at me and knocked at the door. A well dressed man opened the door. He looked at me then at Amanda and nodded at her, then he reached into his coat. Out of habit I glanced above his head. Instead of a time of death a blue ‘infinity’ sign floated above his head. My eyes went wide and I took a step back in shock, I’d never seen that before. Amanda rushed to my side and helped steady me with surprising strength.
“Careful,” she said. I looked up and saw a blue infinity symbol hovering over her head also. “I don’t like my meat bruised,” she said. She playfully slapped my cheek, “Don’t worry about that doctor’s visit though. I’ve got plenty of time left.” The infinity sign above her head changed to a month, down to an hour, then back up to five years. “Now you, on the other hand,” she pointed above my head. “You should really pay more attention to your own timer.” She smiled as the gentleman at the door pulled a gun out of his coat and pointed it at me.