The Dead: Book 13 (frag. 3)

The Book of the Story

MORRIS SHOOK HIS HEAD AGAIN, and tried to focus on the clerk's face. A French cigarette? Where did that memory come from? Had it been part of the dream?

He stepped forward to the counter, and suddenly knew why he had come in.

Another memory—Al, in the alley, thrusting the gun into his hand.

"Put that in your jacket pocket. It'll be over in five minutes."

"I really don't know about this, Al..."

"Don't be such a coward."

"I'm not. Really. It's not that. I just don't know if..."

"What other options do you have, man? We've been through all this. Remember, you're doing it for Mildred ."

The clerk nodded.

Try as he might, Morris couldn't make out which clerk it was.

There seemed to be two of him now—standing there before two identical clerks.

One Morris reached for the gun in his pocket.

The other changed his mind, and reached for a pack of gum.

One saw the clerk pull a revolver from under the counter.

One threw the gum on the counter.

One saw the clerk pull the trigger and felt the impact as the bullet entered his skull.

One felt the memory of the other fade, even as the clerk opened the cash register, and looked up, an expression of concern in his eyes under the stupid yellow headband.

"Hey, man, you okay?"

Morris shook his head again, as the sunlight, the scents, and the dust became suddenly more real.

"Yeah. I'm—I'm fine. I just... You know that feeling you get, sometimes. Like you've been here before?"

The clerk smiled.

"Sure. Déjà vu."