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While driving the unmarked-company vehicle Steve dialed his fiancé’s number but she wasn’t picking-up. Listening to her voicemail’s tagline for the umpteenth time, the irked man waited for the beep and finally left a message.
“Barb, I’m pulling into your driveway. Our flight didn’t take off. I hope that your auto-answer is on because I don’t want to barge in and frighten you. I figured I’d give you a heads-up; I’m staying the night. If you’re in bed, no need to get up, I have my key. I was hoping to talk to you but you must be busy and can’t come to the phone. I have a surprise for you.”
Getting out of the car, the man watched his footing on the slippery surface. Opening the door, he entered the dark house. Hearing the muffled sound of the television, he surmised Barb was in the bedroom.
Closing the door, and using his outside voice, “Barb, I’m home. Parker gave me the okay to spend the night. I wanted to get here sooner but there were phone calls to make and reports to finish. You must be in bed. Stay there; I’m going to the kitchen to get a winged corkscrew.”
On his way, Steve turned on the lights in the cozy and spotless bungalow. Placing the brown bags on the counter, getting two glasses off the wine rack and the corkscrew from the kitchen drawer, the chipper male persisted his unilateral dialogue.
“I bought us an expensive bottle of wine at the Grape Cellar downtown near my office. It’s a sweet red; you’ll enjoy it. I got there just in time. They were about to lock the doors. The owner gave us imported Brie, small baguettes, and two éclairs. I told the woman we were getting married. For the price of the wine, they should’ve thrown in two entrees.”
The man thought it was quite peculiar for his girlfriend not to add her two cents into the equation. Analyzing the particulars, Barb was probably undressing, slipping into something other than her faded flannel pajamas anticipating their romantic synergy.
Trying to initiate intimate feedback while traipsing down the hallway, “This weather was perfect timing allowing us to celebrate our wedding plans. Barb, you can take the day off and we can sleep-in. How does that sound? I told Parker, I wouldn’t be back to the office until mid-afternoon. He was okay with it.”
The man approached the room thinking his date must be in the shower because she didn’t have any snarky witticisms. Odd - he didn’t hear the water running.
Entering his fiancé’s boudoir, the bathroom light was on but it didn’t radiate into the bedroom. The door was slightly ajar holding the incandescent lighting hostage except for a few wayward beams. The man could visually see the outline of his cara mna’ on the bed, covers pulled up veiling her body. His boyish grin concluded his partner was being a tease. Barb was good at surprising him. He predicted she was naked under the layers of material.
Moving closer, his betrothed still didn’t budge, or make any movement. Enjoying her mischievousness, he lovingly kissed her bare cheek. There was no response, not even a hint of a smirk on her lips.
“Barb, hey - wake-up.” He gently nudged his playmate as the glasses clanged together. “I thought you were pretending but you’re really sleeping. I called you at least ten times but you didn’t pick-up. Are you feeling okay?”
Turning on the bedside-table lamp to assess the situation more clearly, the agent’s alarm barometer automatically surged. The state of affairs warranted his poignant observation. “Oh my God, her lips are blue!” He dropped the crystal and fermented grapes forfeiting a hundred bucks.
Distraught by her obvious physical appearance, anxiety aged his forehead as muscles contracted. Jerking off the quilt and blanket, searching for a pulse, there was none.
Dialing 911, a female dispatcher was on duty. “Yes, how can I assist you?”
“I need an ambulance. My fiancé isn’t breathing.”
“Sir, may I have your name.”
“Special Agent, Sam Adams.”
“Sam, where are you calling from?”
“244 Thompson Court. My fiancé is cold to the touch and her lips are blue in color.” The agent grabbed his beloved’s wrist. “I’m not feeling a pulse, not anywhere on her body.” He placed his finger on her throat, then the ankle.
“Sam, do you know for sure she’s dead?”
“I think so.” The man started to tear. Stuttering, “I just got here. I don’t know what happened.”
“Are there prescription drugs near the body or in the room?”
Wiping his eyes with his fingers, “She drank maybe two glasses of wine. There’s a small bottle on the nightstand.”
“Do you see needles, needle marks, or cocaine residue? Are there any additional glasses on the nightstand?”
“No, just one glass and Barb doesn’t use drugs.”
“Special Agent, are there visible signs of an altercation? Is there blood around, near, or on the body? Did you argue with her?”
“No blood, no struggle, or forced entry. She is lying in her bed. It appears to be natural causes.”
“Sam Adams, when did you arrive?”
“As I previously stated, I just came through the door. I’m off duty. Home base is California. We’re on a layover. Barb wasn’t expecting me. I went to her bedroom and found her in this condition.”
“I have your location. The paramedics are leaving another call. They’re one block away. Do you know CPR?”
“Yes. I’ve had training in the agency.”
“Forgo CPR; Doug can use the automated external defibrillator. They’re headed down your street as we speak. Go turn on your outside lights and meet the medics outside. This will speed up the process. If you can, stay on the line with me until they reach you.”
Racing through the house and out the door, Steve saw the flashing lights. Talking into the phone, “They’re here.”
“Good. My prayers are with you Sam Adams.”
Waving his arms at the ambulance, the devastated male anxiously shouted, “Hurry - this way!”
Two men jumped out and the driver inquired. “Dispatch said a woman was unresponsive, no pulse. We’ve got the AED.”
“Right, she’s not responding and no pulse.”
Tromping through the snow, Steve reviewed his girlfriend’s medical history. “Barb’s cold to the touch. I think it’s a heart attack. I’m her fiancé. I know she has high blood pressure. Occasionally she has bradycardia arrhythmia.”
The trained medics carried an assortment of medical marvels secured in a black bag placed on the gurney. Time was of the essence. Entering the room, they quickly prepared the patient for the cardiac intervention. An electrical shockwave was sent through her frigid flesh, causing the lifeless body to buckle and thrash. Pursuing another electrifying charge of current, they jumpstarted the malfunctioned heart. Immediately, rhythm was restored.
Leaving the house, the rescue workers ignored the speed limit and frantically escorted their cardiac patient to the county hospital. Steve followed in his vehicle. For the first time in years, he prayed, heartbroken over the possibility of losing the woman he loved.
The assisting paramedic who was systematically taking vital signs, panicked. Using a wireless connection, he requested instruction from his seasoned partner piloting their course of action.
“Doug, what should I do? Her heart stopped, again. Should I use the paddles? I’ve never had this happen.”
“Jeff, take a deep breath before I have two-code blues. We’re minutes from getting her into emergency. Are you sure she’s not breathing?”
“Yes, I’m positive. She has no pulse. Her heart stopped and you won’t believe this, she’s talking. How can she talk when she’s dead? Something isn’t right. My instructors never told me dead people talk. Doug, you have to see this for yourself, she’s sitting up. How can she sit up if she’s dead?”
“Buddy, how long have you been on this job?”
“This is my second night out.”
“I should’ve read your qualifications. Take it from someone who knows - when it comes to death, strange things happen. You’ve never experienced this before, so your subconscious is playing tricks on you. It’s mind-blowing watching someone die. She’s not really talking. You just think she is, because you want her to be alive.
“Jeff, we can’t perform miracles. If her time is up - it’s up. We can’t help that. We’re almost to the hospital. Are you sure her heart’s not pumping?”
“Digitally, she has no pulse, yet she’s talking, and now sitting straight-up on the gurney.”
“Don’t tell anyone what you just told me. You’ll be fired. Look, I’m telling you, it’s your imagination. You’ll get over the heebie-jeebies. We all experience death in different ways. You’re human.”
“No Doug, I’m not imagining this. Our patient is talking with someone named Angelica. Doug, she is sitting up on the gurney. I’m telling you, she has no pulse but she is having one hell of a debate with Angelica. I’m hearing this with my own two ears.”
A flash of lightning interrupted the controversial discourse between the men. The natural occurrence spanned the nighttime sky giving it a glimpse of morning daylight. Thunder resonated one stroke after midnight, a majestic sonic boom disturbing the peaceful sleep in Heaven and on Earth. It was as if God had spoken.
“Doug, did you see that lightning and hear the thunder? You won’t believe this but her heart started beating, again. She has a pulse! Right after the thunder, her heart started! This is unbelievable! It’s like watching a freaking sci-fi movie!”
“Jeff, get a grip - calm down. Is she conscious?”
“No but she has a heartbeat, and just laid back down on the gurney. Do we ever have thunder when it snows? I’m telling you, something supernatural is going on here! This woman was code blue, and color instantly came back into her face when I heard the thunder. Jeff, I saw lightning light up the sky like broad daylight and then I heard thunder. From that moment on, her pulse kicked in, and she laid back down.
“Didn’t you see and hear the lightning and thunder? Am I making it up? That never happens during snowstorms - never! I don’t care what you think, it never happens! This is incredible!”
“Buddy, keep it to yourself. In your report, only put down facts that our boss will believe. Her heart has been beating since we defibbed her back at the house, okay. Tell Sharon our equipment went crazy if they pick-up on her readings. Don’t mention she died on the way to the hospital because you can’t prove it. Her heart’s pumping now. You’ll make us look nuts. Do you understand what I’m saying? I like my job. It pays the bills.”
“But Doug, she died and that’s the honest-to-God truth.”
“I know she died. Something brought her back to life. Jeff, if you put that in our report, I won’t sign off and you’ll be canned. We revived her at the house, end of story. Relax partner; it’s going to be okay. This is our last call. We’ll go out for a few drinks, have some laughs, and forget all about this. There’s a h*** in the wall downtown. They never close.”
The seasoned medic advised his rookie to sit tight as they loomed into the emergency gateway. The rescue worker was positive his passenger flat lined, twice. He witnessed this mystical juncture.
When Barb spoke the words, “Please God, let me go back; I’m getting married”, thunder cracked its whip mimicking the Almighty’s voice in the book of Revelation.
What the paramedics didn’t know, Barbara has twenty-four hours to stay alive. Big Ben is ticking. Satan is lining up his players, preparing for the battle between good against evil, as he did with God’s faithful servant Job. If Barb succumbs to the devil’s crafty cunningness, she will be cast into the Lake of Fire - the Second Death. There are consequences when you get a second chance to live.