Assumption



The cold wind beat against Miranda’s back as she pulled up the hood on her trenchcoat. The snow was so thick she could barely see where she was walking. Cars honked and people bundled in their winter best shuffled past her, their visibility no doubt as bad as hers. Miranda squinted her eyes to see the addresses on the buildings. She had another mile to go. “Damn.” She said out loud as she continued to walk.

Soon, the sounds of cars and people faded until the only sound was the howling of the wind that swirled the snow around her. She was in a section of the city she didn’t recognize, and she did not want to get lost with no one around. Miranda tried not to let fear get the better of her thoughts. The streetlights became sparse as she took in her surroundings. Miranda caught the address of the nearest building. She was almost there, a few more blocks.

As the wind whipped at her face, she heard crunching behind her. Footsteps. She walked faster. The crunching became more pronounced. Miranda moved to one side of the sidewalk to let whoever it was pass. They were certainly walking faster than she was, but no one passed. She glanced behind her. All she could see was the swirling snow. She increased her speed, feeling cold sweat run down her neck. The footsteps remained. Miranda saw the building up ahead, festively lit, a bright beacon in the dark. She even heard the music and laughter spill out into the quiet night. All she had to do was get past an alley. “Almost there.” She encouraged herself. The footsteps behind her remained, matching her stride.

Miranda reached the alley when she was pulled off her feet and slammed into the frozen ground. She didn’t have time to call out as she saw the flash of a serrated blade in the moonlight come toward her at lightning speed. The blade tore into her chest. The pain took her breath away. Her blood ran on the freshly fallen snow. As she watched the blood pool, her vision faded to black.




*




Shadows crept along the wall like ghosts. Miranda watched them in a trance-like state as they interacted with each other, with her. A cold sweat prickled on her forehead. Her breathing came in short, raspy breaths. The aromatic candle on her bedside table flickered in the breeze of the open window. She had only been asleep for five minutes, but the dream had felt like it had taken hours to complete. Putting stock in dreams was foolish, Miranda knew, but she couldn’t help but feel as though she should cancel her flight to Denver in the morning.




*




“Don, I just can’t.” Miranda cradled the phone between her ear and shoulder.

“You still haven’t given me a satisfactory answer as to why this meeting needs to be canceled. Miranda, this is one of our most lucrative clients!” Don was losing his patience.

“I know, but can’t you send Michael? He’s great at this kind of thing.”

“I guess I’m going to have to.” Don was silent for a moment. “You know, I’m starting to get the feeling that you’re edging out on me.”

“What?” Miranda took the phone into her hand to prepare herself for what was coming.

“It seems like you don’t want this job anymore.”

“I do want my job!”

“Three meetings you’ve canceled in the last two months, all with our most important clients! That tells me that you no longer want your job.” What little patience Don had left evaporated. “I’ll send Michael to Denver, but Monday morning you need to clean out your desk.”

Miranda was speechless. “Don, come on. You know I love my job. I need my job.”

“It’s done.” The line went dead.

Miranda looked at her kitchen counter. “Fuck.” She muttered as she placed the phone gently on the table.

An odd sense of guilt and relief washed over her. Miranda couldn’t give him a satisfactory excuse for canceling on one of their most important clients, a client that had come to trust Miranda. She couldn’t tell her boss she was canceling because she had a scary dream she was afraid might come true. It sounded absurd. She had thought a lot about the dream she had the night before. She recognized the city she was in, and it was Denver. She couldn’t take the chance.




*




“What are you doing tonight?” Miranda texted Allie.

“Jenny and I are gonna check out that new bar in Pullman.” Allie responded almost immediately. “Thought you were in Denver.”

“Nope. Still home.”

“What happened?”

“Have time to talk?”

“Not really. Gotta leave soon. Wanna come?”

Miranda didn’t respond right away. The snow was becoming blizzard material, and her car was in the shop. She’d have to walk, and she’d never been to Pullman. “Sure. What time?”

“8:30.”

“Great. You’ll never believe what happened to me today.” Miranda locked her phone and tossed it on the bed, heading for the shower. She needed a night out, if only to bitch about losing her job.




*




Miranda stepped out of the subway station one stop too early. Oh well, She thought. I could use the exercise. As she walked toward Pullman, theater marquees lit up the sidewalks and people rushed past her, either on their way to dinner or the theater. The cold wind beat against Miranda’s back as she pulled up the hood on her trenchcoat.

Miranda walked for a few blocks as the snow worsened. Her visibility went from a 5 to a 1 in the blink of an eye. The cars that once honked and the people that once rushed past her faded to silence. Miranda squinted at the nearest building, trying to see the address. Another mile to go.

As Miranda walked on, the streetlights became fewer and before long, she was utilizing more of the moonlight than the streetlights to guide her way. She buried her chin in her coat and trudged on. As the snow swirled around her, Miranda realized that she didn’t recognize her surroundings. She must be in Pullman.

Before long, Miranda could hear the sounds of music and laughter up ahead. She saw the blinking of red and green lights through the wall of snow. That must be it. She thought as she picked up her pace. Then she heard snow crunching. Footsteps coming up fast behind her. She moved to one side of the sidewalk to let the person pass, but no one passed. Miranda glanced behind her but saw only snow.

The memory of the dream she had the night before slammed into her like a truck. It came so fast and so hard it almost took her breath away. Miranda started to run. The crunching footsteps kept pace with her. She saw the lights of the bar up ahead, the music and laughter floating on the fierce wind. She was tackled to the ground before she could scream for help.

Miranda felt the blade tear through her skin into her back. “Help!” She managed, but her scream was weak. Pain seared through her; The red of her blood against the white of the snow an ugly contrast.

The last thought Miranda had was, I should have gone to Denver.

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