Hour 10: Six Twenty (By Kyle Willis)

SIX TWENTY

It happened twice each day.

6:20.

It happened once night.

6:20.

She saw it in her dreams.  She felt it in her throat.  She would die at 6:20.

It happened twice each day.

6:18.

A two-minute warning.

In the morning, it pulled her from her sleep.  In the evening, it interrupted her dinner.

She prepared.  She braced.

6:22.

A two-minute recovery.

Ritualistic for the last seven years.

The seven years she’d survived since she’d first been warned.

It was a Thursday no more special than any other.

6:20 came and went.  Twice.

She pulled the coupon from her purse.

Loyalty rewarded her with a discount on the maroon scarf.

$6.40.

Her gut tightened.  She scanned the boutique.

No sign of danger.

She swiped her card.

Signed the receipt.

And left.

Checked every corner.

Vigilant.

She made it to her car.

Locked the doors.

Turned onto the main road.

The maroon scarf danced in the manufactured breeze from the A/C vent.

The disc she’d burned from her pop princess playlist started to skip.

Fear.  Preparation.  Fear.  Survival.  Fear.  Reward.  Fear.  Survival.

Rinse and repeat.

The obliterated dance beats became too much to bear.

Eject.

The car came to a pause at the intersection.

Heavily wooded.

The caffeinated jockey re-greeted his listeners at his return from the commercial break.

“AM 620.  All talk.  All the time.”

Her breath caught in her throat.

It wasn’t paranoia this time.

She never saw who belonged to the hands that pulled the maroon scarf taut against her throat.  

Larynx crushed.

Sleep that would never again be interrupted.

She never checked the backseat.

620.

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