“Who’s that there?” the gruff question was a bit prying but mostly innocuous.
“N-nothing! No one!” she mumbled and closed the locket before tucking it back under her torn, blue scrubs, “No one, ok, none of your business. He is mine!”
The two of them were lying on cardboard sheets under an overpass. It was a cloudy sunset and the chill of autumn was starting to set in. She needed to head south soon. Winter was not a good time to be here and she knew she had to head south.
“It looks shiny,” the haggard, old man said, leering at her and trying to grab it, “Looks expensive–“
“I said no!” she shrieked and slapped him, cutting him short. He looked shocked but then turned purple in rage and leapt at her screaming, trying to tear the locket from around her neck.
He had not expected her to fight back or, at least, fight back quite as fiercely as she had. She had fought back like a feral animal cornered with its entire world at stake. Now he lay at her feet. Claw marks across his face and his throat clean ripped out.
She slipped shakily to her knees and looked at her quivering hands. They were covered in blood and a couple of her nails were broken.
But she still had her locket. She still had what was inside it.
As the sky fell dark, it started to drizzle and she began to sob. A car came roaring over the bridge and her sobs grew louder as she buried her face in her bloody hands.
It was cold here. She needed to head south.
Not that long ago, she had been a nurse in a shiny, modern hospital. She had dated a teacher, she vaguely recalled. That life felt like a strange, old dream where she had treated trauma patients, gossiped with the ambulance drivers and drunk hot coffee.
Another life. Someone else at some other time somewhere else.
That was all before she had fallen in love.
Half-consciously, she held her hand over the locket under her blue, dirty scrubs as she limped along the side of the road. It was surprisingly heavy and its metal was cold against her skin. That did not bother her. She began to shiver as the rain steadily soaked her through and through. This did not bother her either.
There was one thing she remembered clearly from that old life. Near midnight, a screaming man had been rushed into her ward and he had died violently as she had tried to save him. She could remember his wild, desperate eyes staring up at her as his life gushed out of him and, as she cut away his clothing to try to get to the wound, the glint of silver.
As he died on her table, time seemed to freeze and she had almost involuntarily reached down and slipped the silver necklace off him. It had a locket on the end of it and she had opened it. Inside was the most beautiful man she had ever seen.
Clutched around her neck as she trudged, wet, cold and hungry on the side of the road, was that locket.
Had that been days or years ago? Weeks? Maybe in another town or country? She could not really remember and her mind felt like it was filled with fog obscuring these thoughts.
Just thinking about the locket–thinking about him–her heart felt like it would explode with love and adoration. Thinking about him, she felt a surge of excitement and hope. But mostly, she felt a longing. A powerful, all-encompassing need for that man. Just thinking about it, she began to shake violently and her heart sped faster in her chest as she grew terrified that she might lose it. Might lose him.
A car’s breaks screeched and hooted at her. Its occupant silently shouting at her before noticing the blood on her and terrifyingly zooming away. She barely noticed. Trudging forward like a zombie, she was soaked and shivering, having not eaten for days. She did not care. A distant police siren flared up. It was not her world anymore. Not her life.
She did not care.
All she wanted was the beautiful man.
“Jesus fucking christ!” the police officer exhaled blasphemy as he stood there staring at the mangle, bullet-riddled form before the barricade, “Fuck me, was this just suicide by cop!?”
Blue lights flared out around them on the normally-busy highway. Stationary, backed-up cars stood off in the distance with terrified faces peering out of their windows as wipers washed away the soft, cold rain. The same rain that ran red as the blood freely poured out of the wild form lying where it had fallen after charging a police barricade.
The form was wearing a dirty, torn and, now, bullet-riddled set of blue surgical scrubs.
“What was her problem? Why did she not stand down? Why the fuck did she charge us?” the same officer said in disbelief, as he stood frozen. He was young and this only was his second year on the job. The older officer sighed while patting his shoulder gently, snapping him out of it.
“Yeah,” the older officer began as he holstered his gun and stepped out from behind the car to walk to where the body lay, “Maybe she was on that new drug, the one that makes you go all crazy and shit? Maybe she was just crazy?” he finished lamely as he crouched down and looked at her twisted form.
Behind him, one of the officers began to call it in on the radio. The others were starting to walk back to the traffic and direct it around them. His partner just stood there in disbelief before clearing his throat, agreeing with him and holstering his gun.
Sighing, he leant forward and tried to get a good look at her face when a glint of silver around her neck caught his attention.
Time seemed to freeze and, almost involuntarily, he reached for it and slipped the necklace off of the corpse’s neck. It had a locket on the end of it. He ignored the blood splattering it and flicked open the locket to behold the most beautiful man he had ever seen inside. His heart fluttered and his blood surged with a warmth and a longing that made everything else fade out around him.
The sirens faded off into the distance, the corpse and the drizzling rain all disappeared. His partner vanished, as did the other cops. He was no longer on a highway and he was no longer a fifty-three-year-old police officer. Nothing at all seemed to exist now, except what he held.
And–tightly clutching the locket–he did not care.
All he wanted was the beautiful man.