I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t want this. I stared at the dead mouse at the foot of my bed. I’d been staring at it all morning, hoping it was only my imagination, but I was beginning to believe that it was real.
A knock sounded on my door, and it opened to reveal my best friend’s face. “Cammie, you’re not even out of bed. Aren’t we going to the mall today?”
“I just…” I couldn’t give a relevant answer.
“What’s wrong?” Miranda entered and sat on the edge of my bed. Her dark hair framed her confused face.
“I had a dream a few nights ago,” I started. “a dream that a mouse died in my room and I had to set traps.”
“Your house has never had mice.”
“You’re missing the point. I never remember my dreams.”
“I forgot about that.”
I pointed at the end of my bed, she leaned to see and then shrieked. “Then that appeared this morning.”
“Why didn’t you start with that?” She looked as though she was about to scream again when she must have seen my pale face. “Why has this worried you so much? You could have slept walked, and seen the mouse in your sleep and only believed it was a dream.”
I shook my head. “I know what I saw. This is the third time this has happened.” At her worried frown, I explained. “Last week was the first dream. I thought I dreamt that Ma was busy with laundry and burnt her chili. The next evening, I came home and the whole house reeked like burned chili. She claimed she was distracted by the laundry.”
Miranda shrugged slowly. “So… you have future telling dreams. Maybe you can make yourself dream of wonderful things, and then they’ll happen to you.”
“I don’t think it works that way anyway.” I flopped backwards on my bed. I did not ask for this. Suddenly the phone rang. “Mom’s out. I better get that.” Eager for the distraction from the dreams and the dead mouse, I bounded downstairs to the landline phone.
After a quick and mutual introduction, the voice on the other end of the line explained himself. “I’m calling concerning the application you filed for our company, Express Shipping.”
I held my breath. I’d applied for that job a few weeks ago, and right now I could go for some extra cash. Renting my own apartment would be a good use of any paycheck I could get.
“If you’re still interested, we’d love to offer you a job as a customer service attendant.”
He explained that my job would be to help people in line to deliver packages. I would weigh packages, attach postage, and ring up the order. I managed to breath and answer that yes, I was definitely interested, and I would indeed like to start tomorrow. I hung up the phone and rushed back upstairs to tell Miranda.
That was the end of the beginning.
Two Weeks Later
Seven-thirty always rolled around earlier than I expected, but I was beginning not to mind. Pulling into the Express parking lot every morning gave me a sense of independence I’d never felt before. My dreams were becoming more frequent – one almost every night now, but the job served as a wonderful distraction.
At my lunch break that afternoon, my boss Seymour came to sit at my table in the break room.
Though quite burly with his large beard and mustache, Seymour was the type of man who appeared to be ominous but was a teddy bear at heart. He’d done wonders in trying to make me feel part of the team. After some brief small talk, Seymour said, “I had this dream last night that I could fly. Aren’t dreams just the craziest things?”
If only you knew. But I only replied, “They never make any sense.”
“What do you dream about?”
I swallowed the bite of my ham sandwich. “Well, last night I dreamt that a bad storm hit.” Thunder rumbled, and I glanced upwards.
Seymour leaned back in his chair and nodded nonchalantly. “Does that happen often?”
“Thunder? Happens all the time.”
“The dreams that turn out to be true, does that happen a lot?”
I frowned, feeling slightly guarded now. “It’s happened a few times before.”
“Do me a favor will you? Tell me next time you have a dream. Doesn’t matter what it is, but it might help us.” I stared at him. “For example, if you’d known it was going to rain today, I could have called earlier about that leaky roof.” He stood up and turned towards the door. “Just remember to tell me, whatever it’s about.” He grinned at me, like his request was completely normal; as if everyone told their employers what they dreamed of every night. No further explanation came, and he walked out. I finished my ham sandwich in a confused silence.
That night, I had yet another dream. A middle-aged man was walking down the sidewalk. He was wearing plaid, and he looked furtively before he crossed the street. The adjacent street sign read 10th Ave. and Wildwood Street. A church bell rang in the distance, and I counted 12 chimes. Why did I dream of a man in plaid?
I walked in to work that morning and I already had a customer in line. Seymour was in his office, and I was the only other employee who had come in yet.
“What can I help you with?” I asked.
He couldn’t have been much older than me. I expected that he simply wanted to ship a package.
“You need to quit this job.”
“Look, I know things. It’s not safe for you here.”
I stared. “Maybe you’re right. I can call security.”
He put his hands up in the air, acting innocent. “It’s not what you might think. I’m Adam, and I’m supposed to be your mentor. Every dreamer gets one. Usually I get more time to develop trust with the dreamer, but this situation is escalating faster than I expected.”
Adam nodded solemnly. “That’s right. I know about your gift.”
“Um… my gift?” I didn’t know if I’d call it that.
He sighed. “Don’t believe me? Your first ever dream was that your mom burned soup, and it turned out to be true. You dreamt about little every day stuff like that for a bit, but last night’s is the first of the more important ones. Last night it was the guy in plaid taking a walk at noon, right?”
I had told no one of that. “I need you to leave now,” I said coldy.
“I’ll be back later in case you have a change of heart. Whatever happens, don’t ever tell Seymour about your dreams.”
I decided to humor him. “And why not?”
“A life is in the balance.” A pause. “The business here is shady,” he continued in a low voice. “It’s not what anyone thinks. I’ll explain more next time.”
Seymour was making his way towards my counter, and Adam disappeared out the door as quickly as he’d come in.
A few hours later, my grey-haired co-worker Leonard waltzed in.
“You look chipper this morning,” I said with a smile as I filled some paperwork at the front counter.
“Special delivery day is always a great day,” he said with glittering eyes.
“Oh? I didn’t know we had one today. When do you leave?”
“Don’t know. Boss hasn’t told me the details yet. Odd,” he commented, squinting. “He usually knows those things by now.” He shrugged. “But it’s bound to be a good one.”
“Know what you’re delivering?” I asked out of curiousity.
“Oh, you know – “ His face fell when he realized I didn’t know. “I forgot you’re the new kid. Ask Seymour.”
I sighed. Why such a complicated morning? I’d rather forget about the dreams and the secrets and get on with apartment searching. That’s all I wanted. My own place away from odd distractions.
The morning was so busy I hadn’t even thought of telling Seymour about my dream. My lunch break came, but this time I decided to eat outside. I hadn’t decided what to do if Seymour asked me more questions.
I stepped outside and sat down at the park bench outside the store window. I had no sooner unwrapped my sandwich when a figure appeared and Adam was sitting next to me.
“I see you didn’t tell Seymour about the plaid guy.”
“You were waiting for me?” Oddly, he didn’t scare me that much now. If he’d wanted to cause me harm, he’d have done it already. “How do you know I didn’t tell him?”
“The guy in plaid is still alive, that’s how I know.”
I set my sandwich down, suddenly not hungry. “I don’t even know what that means.”
“You saved his life, Cammie.” He stopped talking as a customer walked past us and into the store. “Most of the things they ship at Express is legit. There may be only a tiny bit of illegal activity, but it’s very dark stuff. Every week, Express is available for the hire of one special package.”
“What’s in it?”
“Doesn’t matter what’s in it. It’s the deliverer who’s lethal.”
I stared. “You mean…”
He nodded. “They’re hit men.”
My mind was spinning: the special delivery, Leonard, the general secrecy, and my dreams. “And the man in plaid?”
“He embezzled money from his construction company for years. His boss just found out and ordered a hit. He was today’s target. He’s going to get picked up today for his embezzlement. He’ll go to jail, but he’ll be alive.”
I sat for a long time.
“What’re you thinking?”
“This is crazy.”
“You have an alternative. You could work for me.”
I cocked my head. “And that’s not crazy? I don’t even know you.”
“Look, I’m part of detective team. We work on cases to find and catch serial killers, working with police forces worldwide. My people are working to shut down this dark place right now.” He motioned towards the Express building behind us. “Someone with your skills could be a real asset to our cases.”
I struggled to process. “So you don’t have… the gift?”
He shook his head. “I’m only in connection with someone else who does. That’s how I know so much about you and your dreams.”
“How would I be an asset?”
“Dreamers dream about whatever their confident needs to see. You were going to tell Seymour about your dreams, and thus you found out things that would only be helpful to him and his company. The same sort of thing would happen if you worked for me.”
The store door opened and Seymour stuck his head outside. “Sorry to cut your break short. I’m swamped; I need you in here, Cammie.”
I turned quickly to Adam, and mouthed, “Wait.” I followed Seymour back inside. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something,” I said. “I don’t think this – ”
“I’m sure it can wait,” Seymour interrupted. “Oh, I’d like to know if it’s going to storm anytime soon. Have any dreams last night?” He winked at me I followed him to the counters.
“Nope.” I paused. “And Seymour? This isn’t going to work out for me. I quit.”
I walked out, leaving Seymour staring, but I returned to Adam, where a new job awaited me.
I didn’t ask for this. It didn’t mean I couldn’t make something great out of it.