Pizza Delivery

Clay opened his eyes carefully and looked around the room. Machines beeped, there was an IV hanging next to the bed, and there was a plastic tube across his face blowing oxygen into his nose. It took him a minute but he finally realized he was in the hospital.

“How did I end up here?” He mumbled running his fingers through his hair and then over the scruff on his face. It felt like he hadn’t shaved in a week at least and frankly he really needed a shower. He wondered what he’d tell his mom about where he’d been. Hell, he didn’t even know where he’d been.

Last thing he remembered was hanging out at home playing video games and he’d just finished ordering a pizza. His guild had scheduled a dungeon raid for seven pm and he was getting ready to help out. He’d made sure his character was set up properly and was joking around with some guild mates while they waited for the raid to start.

He had gotten up to answer the door but he couldn’t remember who was there. It had to be the pizza delivery person because he wasn’t expecting anyone else. But if that were the case, why wasn’t he at home eating pizza? He took stock of his body and realized his gut was sore. Slowly he lifted his gown up and found an angry red incision going sternum to belly button. The line was straight and the cut was sewn together with stitches that looked like someone knew what they were doing. He gently touched the incision and hissed in pain.  He must have had some kind of attack and the pizza delivery person called 911 and they brought him here. While he was trying to fill in the blanks his mother walked into the room with a cup of coffee. When she saw he was awake she hollered for the doctor and rushed over to the bed.

“You’re okay! You’re okay!” She grabbed his hand in hers and started crying.

“Ma, don’t cry, it’s okay. I’m fine.”  He pulled the tube from his face and patted her hands. “How long have I been here?”

She sniffled and wiped the tears from her eyes. “Three days. But you were missing for a week before that.” She touched his forehead and cheek to reassure herself he was alive.

The doctor came in and shined a bright light into Clay’s eyes. “Pupils are responsive.” The doctor took Clay’s hands and told him to squeeze as hard as he could then had him wiggle his toes. “Everything seems to be working okay. Are you in any pain?”

Clay looked down at his stomach. “Yeah, my incision is hurting really bad. What happened anyway? Did my appendix burst or something?”

The doctor gave his mom a worried look but it was his mother who spoke. “Clay, someone dropped you off in front of the hospital three days ago.”

She chewed her lower lip and the doctor cleared his throat before finishing what his mom was saying. “When we examined you we found that incision already there along with the stitches. Apparently someone stole one of your kidneys, a lobe of your liver and a piece of from your left lung and then sewed you back up.”

Clay started having trouble breathing again and the doctor put an oxygen mask over his face.

“Just take slow, deep breaths Clay, you’ll be ok.”

His mom looked worried so he did his best to follow the directions of the doctor.

After he’d caught his breath again he took the mask off his face and said, “You mean someone kidnapped me from my own home to harvest my organs?! Why am I not lying dead in a bathtub somewhere?”

His mother left off a pained whimper. “We don’t know but I wish I knew who brought you to the hospital, they saved your life. Even if they were a part of everything I still want to thank them.”

The doctor moved the gown out of the way to look at the incision. “Thankfully the infection you had is getting better and we were able to clean up the actual cut itself as it was ragged and the stitches weren’t properly done either. You’ll have a scar but we’ve done our best to minimize it for you.”

The doctor left the room and Clay’s mom came back over to the bed. “Do you remember anything at all Clay? Anything that might help the police find who did this to you?”

Clay struggled again to remember but the only thing that came up were a pair of sad violet eyes full of concern. He didn’t know anyone with violet eyes and was sure that wasn’t a real eye color but he had a distinct feeling that whoever those eyes belonged to had brought him to the hospital.

“Nope, sorry mom. I can’t remember anything yet.”

“Oh well don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll start remembering soon enough. You should get some rest Clay, it’ll help with the healing.”  His mother sat in a chair next to the bed and when Clay closed his eyes he fell asleep dreaming of those violet eyes.

Clay had been in the hospital for about four days now and his room was full of get well balloons, flowers, and even a couple of teddy bears from the gift shop downstairs.  It seemed like everyone at work wanted to come see him to hear his story about missing his organs. The police even sent in a detective to see if Clay could remember anything. Unfortunately the only other thing he remembered was the smell of sewage. The doctor said that whoever took Clay gave him some drugs that caused him to lose his memory but that over time Clay will start to remember, he just had to be patient.

After a week of Clay being awake the doctor agreed to let him go home. The detective stopped by one more time before he left but Clay still hadn’t remembered anything so the detective gave Clay his card in case he remembered anything and then wished him luck and a speedy recovery.

Clay was finally alone and as much as he appreciated everyone’s concerns he really needed to recharge his batteries. He leaned back and closed his eyes so he could picture the violet eyes that haunted him. He was starting to see a little bit more of her face. Before he could only see the color and shape of her irises but now he could see the actual shape of her eyes – almond shape and slightly turned up on the corners reminiscent of cat eyes, dark lashes not too long and not too short. He focused on those features and held his breath waiting for his subconscious to fill in more detail but his brain was over stimulated from the day so Clay decided to take a nap while he waited for his mother to come pick him up.

When Clay finally got home his mom fussed over him making sure he had everything he needed.

“You’ve got enough leftover sin your freezer to last a week. Just warm them up. I also made sure you had plenty of juice and clear liquids.”

“Thanks ma, I’ll be okay, promise.”

“I know, I just don’t want anything else to happen to you.”

“I’ll call you every day so you know I’m safe.”

His mom got all misty-eyed and sighed. “You’re right, I’m sorry sugar. I’ll let you rest.”

She kissed him on his forehead and left. Clay took a deep breath and tried to relax. It was a futile attempt though because he no longer felt safe in his own house. This was his home, his haven, his sanctuary, and someone ripped that away from him.  There was a hole in his soul to match the one in his body. He wasn’t sure he’d ever feel safe again.

Someone knocked on the door and in an instant Clay had trouble breathing, his heart rate kicked up, his hands started shaking and small beads of sweat lined his brow. This must be what having an anxiety attack felt like. He grabbed his oxygen mask and took several deep breaths. Someone knocked on the door again, this time a little louder. Clay closed his eyes and focused on his heart rate, trying to slow it down.

After a minute or two he figured he was as calm as he was going to get so he cleared his throat and hollered. “Who is it?”

“It’s Bobby from next door! I’ve got your mail, man.”

Clay took a relieved breath and struggled to get out of his chair. Holding his arm across his stomach as if to hold everything together Clay hobbled over to the door and leaning on the door jamb he opened the door for his neighbor.

“Hey ya Bobby, Thanks for watching over my house.”

“Yeah man, no worries. Hey, go sit down and I’ll put all this on the table so you can sort through it when you want.” Bobby helped Clay back to his chair and put the mail on the side table next to him.

Before he got to the door Bobby turned and said, “By the way, your girlfriend is a hottie. Why didn’t you tell me about her? Hell, why haven’t I seen her over here before?”

Clay startled so hard he dropped the rest of the way into his chair. “My…girlfriend?”

Bobby opened the door. “Yeah, Vanessa I think she said her name was. A little on the thin side but I love those cat eyes of hers.”

“When…when did you see her?”

“Oh gosh man, the day they found you at the hospital she came over to get some clothes and stuff for you.”

Bobby gave Clay a worried look. “Should she not have been here? I didn’t stop her because she had a key and acted like she’d been here before.”

Clay looked at the concern on Bobbies face. “No man, it was okay. I gave her the key.”

Bobby looked relieved and said his goodbyes and left Clay to think about Vanessa.  At least he had a name and confirmation that he wasn’t imagining her eyes. What could she possibly want from his home? Was she the one who took him? Why did she help him? So many questions flashed through his head and he couldn’t keep up. All he knew is that he was still in a lot of pain and he needed some sleep. He took a pain pill and settled into his chair for a little nap.

He smelled the sewer smell first and there was a blinding light that kept him from opening his eyes. He tried to get up and move but his arms and legs were tied down. He struggled against his bonds but couldn’t get loose.

“Be calm Clay, you’re only going to hurt yourself worse. Just let the doctor finish and we can get you back home.”

He turned his head to the sound of that beautiful voice but all he saw was a tiny woman in scrubs, a mask over her face hiding everything but her violet cat eyes. She looked at someone standing on the other side of him and Clay turned his head to be able to see who she was looking at. He saw a man in scrubs that revealed nothing but his cold blue eyes.

He tried to look around to figure out where he was but all he saw was the doctor raising a scalpel to his stomach and as the first drops of blood appeared, Clay screamed.

Clay woke up sweating and shaking. He brushed the tears off his cheeks and reached for a drink on the table. His hands were shaking so bad he had to use both hands on the glass. He struggled to swallow and breathe at the same time but he finally figured it out. What the hell kind of dream was that? Was it a memory? Fuck him if it was because that meant he was awake during the procedure and that was not a memory he wanted.

A week went by and while his body healed his mind had not. Clay kept having the same dream every time he fell asleep. He was so sleep deprived he was barely functioning anymore. He just kept seeing the blood and those cold blue eyes. Nothing about the dream changed and he wasn’t able to remember anything else about Vanessa.

His mom came over one day to bring some food and she started crying when she saw how rough he looked.  “Oh Clay, you look like crap are you sleeping?”

“Yeah ma, but I keep….never mind.” His mom didn’t need to know about his dream, it would just stress her out.

“Clayton Andrew Janson, don’t you dare block me out! You’ve been through a traumatic event. I would be worried if you weren’t a mess!”

She walked out of the house, slamming the door. Clay felt miserable for hurting his mother like that but she didn’t need to know what he remembered. He started to get out of his chair to go after her and apologize but the door opened and his mom came back in.

As he settled back into the chair, his mom handed him a business card. “Here, call her. Dr. Robertson specializes in your type of trauma and PTSD.”

“Ma, I don’t need another doctor, I’m fine.”

“Horse shit Clayton. You will call her, make an appointment, and show up on time or I’ll take you there myself!”

Clay took the business card from his mother. “Yes ma’am.”

“Promise me Clay.”

“I promise momma. I’ll call later and make the appointment.”

“Good now get comfortable while I bring the groceries in.”

As his mom walked out he put his feet up and straightened the blanket on his lap and looked at the business card. It wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone especially a specialist. Hopefully she’ll be able to help him remember everything.

Another week went by without him sleeping so he called his family doctor and asked for something to help knock him out. He had to wait a whole month in order to see Dr. Robertson and frankly he was getting tired of not sleeping. He finally got to go back to work a few days before his appointment and he looked forward to the normalcy.  He hadn’t been able to play video games or order pizza since his attack.

While waiting for the bus to take him to work Clay took in the sights and enjoyed the normal feeling of the day. He looked across the street just taking in the sights when he saw those violet cat eyes on the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He stopped breathing as he took in her heart shaped face surrounded by shiny black tendrils of hair that had fallen out of her high ponytail. Her nose looked slightly upturned and her upper lip was thinner than her bottom and yeah, Bobby said she was a little too thin but apparently that was what got Clay breathing again. He blinked as a truck drove by and when he opened his eyes she was gone. It was so quick he wondered if she was really there. In fact by the time Clay got to work he’d almost convinced himself that he imagined her.

Almost a week after seeing Vanessa he had his first appointment with Dr. Robertson. When Clay stepped into her office she directed him to the couch and sat in a chair opposite.

“Do I have to lay down doctor?” Clay joked nervously.

“Only if you want to but if you do please take off your shoes.”

The doctor busied herself with her notebook and turned on a recorder. “I record all my sessions Clay but I’m the only one who has access to them.”

He just nodded.

“So Clay, what is it that brings you to see me?”

He fidgeted on the couch uncomfortable with the questions already.

“Aren’t you supposed to start with my relationship with my parents or my childhood or something?”

“We could talk about all that but then it would take even longer to get to the reason you’re here and frankly I’m not sure off of that is relevant to your situation. We’ll definitely discuss it if it comes to light that those subjects are germane to why you’re here but let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?”

Clay took a deep breath and ran his hands over his thighs to keep them from shaking. “Right, so about 2 months ago I was kidnapped from my home, held for a week while someone harvested some of my organs and then someone else dropped me in front of the hospital where I was in a coma for three days.”

Dr. Robertson made a couple of notes. “I’m not going to ask how any of that makes you feel because I’m pretty sure I know what you’d say. More than anything you’ve lost your sense of safety and I’m sure panic is one of your go-to emotions lately.”

“Yeah, you could say that.”

“Do you remember anything from when you were taken?”

Clay thought a moment and wondered if he should tell the doctor about Vanessa.

He must have taken longer than he thought to answer because Dr. Robertson said, “Clay, I realize this is difficult for you but I need to know everything if I’m going to be able to help you.”

Clay took a deep sigh and told her about the dream. “I can’t remember anything except the two pairs of eyes and the blood.  The woman tells me to hold still and that it’ll be over soon and then I pass out.”

“Okay that’s a good start Clay. Now I want you to think back to your dream. Was there any smell or sound in it?”

“Yeah, it smelled like sewer and there was this high pitched humming sound.”

“That’s good. Have you told the police about your dream?”

“No. I mean I don’t really have much to tell them yet. I want to remember things first, that’s why I came here. That and I want to know how to get my safety back.”

Dr. Robertson leaned back in her chair. “Well we’ve got a couple of options Clay.  There is always medication but it’s never my first choice and frankly I don’t think you’d benefit from it. There is extensive psychotherapy which just means seeing you a couple times a week and talking until we run out of things to say and hope you remember what happened to you.”

Dr. Robertson got up out of her chair and walked over to the front of her desk and leaned against it. ”Then there is hypnotherapy which I think will benefit you the most. It won’t be easy and we may not learn anything from it but if you want to start to feel safe again you’re going to need to know what happened so I think we should start with the hypnotherapy first and see what we can get from it.”

The doctor just looked at Clay while he decided what to do. Clay pinched the bridge of his nose and thought.  

“I want to remember as much as possible as quickly as possible so let’s do the hypnotherapy stuff.”

The doctor nodded her head once in approval. “If I move a few things around I can see you next Thursday.”

Clay agreed and later while he was sitting in his car he wondered why he didn’t tell her about seeing Vanessa outside of the dream. It bothered him that she had gone to his house while he was in the coma. He still didn’t know if she took anything. Everything obvious was still there – his TV, Xbox 360, gaming computer, hell, even the coffee pot was still there so nothing made sense.

A few days later Clay’s mom came over with empty boxes to help him declutter his closet.

“I’ve got a box for trash, a box for keeping, and a box for giving away and everything in your closet belongs in one of them.”

Clay was definitely not interested in helping his mom organize his closet but it made her happy so he did it.

“Do we have to sort the clothes too, ma?”

“Yes, Clay. Some of these clothes you wore in high school, 10 years ago.”

“At least I haven’t had to buy a new wardrobe. “

“Don’t be cheeky Clay.”

Clay gave his mom a half smile and went to work on his clothes. At the end of the day they had the three boxes full and Clay threw out the one for trash and promised his mom he’d take the giveaway box to Goodwill the next day.

“Do you want me to come over tomorrow to help you put the rest of it away?”

“No, Ma, I can handle it. You wanna go grab some food?”

She gave Clay a bright smile. “Sounds good if you’re buying.”

“Now who’s being cheeky?”  Clay wrapped his arm around his mother’s shoulders. “Let’s go eat.”

Over the next couple of days Clay had the feeling that he forgot something but for the life of him he couldn’t remember what it was. It wasn’t until there was a Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon on that he remembered.  

When they were cleaning out his closet he didn’t see the poster of Wil Wheaton that he got signed at Dragon*Con in 2011. It was one of his prized possessions because it was a picture of Wil as Wesley Crusher and had his childhood signature. Clay had brought it to Dragon*Con and had Wil sign it again and Wil signed it “Thanks for not being a dick!” Clay would never have misplaced it so he was pretty sure Vanessa took it but there was no reason for her to.  He couldn’t believe she took it. I mean, it’s one thing to take body parts, he could live without them apparently, but to steal Wil is just unconscionable. Clay fumed over its loss for months.

Thursday came and Clay was in his therapist’s office again. He sat on the couch waiting to get started.

“Have you ever been hypnotize clay?” Dr. Robertson asked.

“Nope, so I have no clue what to expect.”  

The doctor nodded and leaned against the front of her desk. “I’ll play some music to help relax you and then I’ll guide you into your subconscious to see if there’s anything you remember about your time with your kidnapper. You’ll be safe the entire time and if it gets too rough for you to continue I’ll pull you out of it. Sound good?”

Clay nodded. “Yeah doc, sounds good.”

“Go ahead and lay down and get comfortable.”

She walked over to a radio sitting on one of her many bookshelves and put in a CD. Soft sounds of the rainforest sang gently out of the speakers.

He scooted around on the couch until he was comfortable and then let out a sigh. “I guess I’m ready doc.”

The doctor sat in her chair across from the couch. “Okay Clay I want you to close your eyes and take a couple of cleansing deep breaths. Breathe in comfort, relaxation, and safety. Breathe out nervousness, pain and unsurity. Breathe in….breathe out.

“Now I want you to picture yourself in a wooded grove standing in front of a large pond. I want you to throw all of your thoughts and insecurities into this pond. She how the ripples rush across the water creating waves?

“As your last thoughts land in the water, picture the waves slowly calming. I’m going to count back from ten and with each number the waves calm a little more nine…eight…seven…the waves are becoming ripples on the surface six…five…four…feel your mind calming and relaxing with the water on the pond three…two…one…the water is perfectly calm and clear and so is your mind.

“Can you hear me Clay?”

Clay whispered, “Yes.”

“Good. Now you will feel this safe and calm no matter what we talk about okay?”

“Okay.”

“I want you to go back to the night you were kidnapped. What were you doing right before you opened the door?”

“I was talking to a friend online waiting on our dungeon raid to start. I’d just gone into the kitchen to get a drink.”

“What happens next?”

“Someone knocks on the door.”

“Go ahead and open it Clay.”

Clay starts breathing heavier.

“It’s okay Clay, remember you are safe. Nothing behind the door will hurt you.”

“Okay.” Clay whispered again.

“Who’s behind the door Clay?”

Clay is silent for a long moment.

“Clay, who is behind the door?”

“She’s not the pizza delivery person. Says she’s lost. She has a map. Trying to get to the hospital. I lean in to show her how to get there on the map. There’s a bee sting on my neck and I start to get sleepy.. She says she’ll get me to the hospital so I go to her car-” Clay trails off.

“Clay, what happens next?”

“I wake up in the hospital.”

“You skipped a lot Clay. I want you to go back to the woman. Can you remember what she looks like?”

Clay is quiet for a moment. “No, just her eyes, they’re purple.”

“What about the rest of her face Clay?”

“I don’t-I don’t remember.”

“Okay what about her clothes? What was she wearing?”

“I-scrubs. She was wearing scrubs with unicorns on them.”  Clay let out a relieved breath.

“That’s good Clay. Do you remember what she smelled like?”

“Honey.”

The doctor turns a page in her notebook and said, “I want you to go back to your dream now Clay. We’re going to see how much more you remember.”

Clay whimpered. “Don’t want to.”

“Remember you are safe here Clay. Nothing with hurt you. We just need to get you to remember who took you.”

Clay chewed on his bottom lip but nodded. “Okay, safe.”

“Good. Now put yourself back in your dream and tell me the first thing you notice.”

“Sewage with a distinct rust smell to it. A high pitched humming noise coming from overhead lights that are in the process of burning out. Cold hard pain at my back from the steel table I’m lying on. The cold seeps into my bones and all through my body. There is a brightness burning through my closed eyelids so I turn my head.”

“This is good Clay. Very good. Now I want you to open your eyes and tell me what you see.”

“No.”

“Yes Clay. Remember. You want to remember what happened to you and this is the only way to do that. Now open your eyes and tell me what you see.”

Clay goes quiet for a moment. “Unicorns. I see unicorns on her clothes.”

“Get a good look at her Clay. Is it the same woman that knocked on your door?”

“Yes, it’s her.”

“Good, now look around the room and tell me what else you see.”

Clay pouts. “I don’t want to.” His faces scrunches up into a frown.

“You’re safe remember?”

“Yes. Safe”

“Good, now tell me what else you see in the room.”

“There’s someone else in the room with us.. His eyes are so cold…evil…can eyes be evil? I try to get away from him but I’m tied down to the table. She tells me to be calm. Everything will be over soon but then I see the scalpel and I struggle more. Those cold eyes get excited – Please don’t make me!”

Clay’s voice gets loud and shrill. “I don’t want to! Let me go!”

Doctor Robertson looks over at Clay and sees his nose start bleeding. She grabs the box of tissues and rushes over to him.

Trying to clean up the blood she says, “Okay Clay, I’m going to bring you back now. One…two…three…you feel your body start getting heavy four…five…six…You’re no longer in that room you can hear the music and my voice in this room.  Seven…eight…nine…You start to be fully conscious of yourself in my office and when I snap my fingers you’re going to wake up calm, feeling safe and remembering everything.”

The doctor snaps her fingers next to Clay’s ear and his eyes open. He’s breathing like he just ran a marathon but thankfully his nose stopped bleeding.  He took the tissue form the doctor and sitting up he cleaned the blood off his face.

Dr. Robertson sat back down in her chair. “I don’t think I want to try that again with you.”

“Why not doc, it’s just a bloody nose.” Clay tried to make it seem like no big deal.

“You’ve got a powerful block on your mind and it’s either from the cocktail of drugs they found in you or it’s your own mind that’s blocking out the pain. Either way, it’s possible we could damage your mind before we learned anything new. Let’s just go forward with the psychotherapy once a week and see where that gets us for now.”

Clay wiped the rest of the blood from his face while the doctor scheduled the next visit.

A year after his kidnapping, Clay was finally starting to get his safe feeling back thanks to his therapist. They were never able to have Clay remember more than small details like colors and sounds but just being able to talk about how his abduction and theft of organs made him feel went a long way towards him feeling steady again.

One day he found an invitation to an art exhibit in his mail. He wasn’t a big purveyor of the arts but his mom loved museums and her birthday was coming up soon so this would be a good excuse to get dressed up and go out. He’d make dinner reservations afterward.

The next week, all dressed up, Clay and his mom went to the art exhibit. It wasn’t what he thought it would be. There were no paintings but there were a few mosaics on wall, the type that used smaller pictures to create a bigger picture.  They all seemed to be of Star Trek actors and at the bottom of each mosaic was an autograph of the particular actor the picture was of.

Clay was drawn to the mosaic of Wesley Crusher aka Wil Wheaton. The mosaic was created by using smaller pictures of Wil that were more than likely found from teenage girl magazines. It was quite artistic but it was the signature at the bottom of the mosaic that drew Clay’s eyes.

There were two signatures. One from Wil’s younger years – the kind you got when you mailed a letter to his fan club and they sent you a signed photo. Underneath that signature was another signature of Wil’s as an adult with a quick note that said “Thanks for not being a dick!” It was exactly like the poster he was missing.

Clay paid a bit more attention to the sculptures in the middle of the room.  They were all on a four foot metal rod positioned in the middle of a wooden pedestal. Branching off of the rod were thinner metal sticks bent in perfect half circle curvatures by the weight of the replica of human body parts hanging delicately off of the tips.  

One piece, entitled “Subway Rider” had a metal replica of a human heart, a stomach, and what looked like a uterus. On the pedestal was a picture of a woman, red hair wild and framing her face and her eyes taped shut.  

Clay looked around and saw another entitled “Hitchhiker” that was a metal replica of a human brain, knee caps, and feet. The picture on the pedestal was of a young man, eyes taped shut with blond hair framing his face.

Clay’s mom came over to him and suppressed a slight shudder at the sculpture.

“I swear Clay, it’s like those people are staring at me begging for help even though their eyes are shut.”

Clay just nodded his head once and wandered to the next sculpture, heart in his throat. This one was entitled “Pizza Delivery” and had a replica of a human liver, kidney, and left lung. The photo on the pedestal was very clearly of Clay, eyes taped shut and brown hair framing his face. He started to hyperventilate. His mother came over to him and ran her hand over his back.

“Come on Clay, we’re going to the police.”

“Wait, we need to get the name of the artist from the art director. Please Ma, we need that for the police.”

“I’ll get it, you just sit here on his bench and wait for me.”

She helped him sit on the bench and grabbed him a glass of champagne to calm his nerves. “I’ll be right back.”

Clay didn’t feel good about letting his mother out of his sight so his eyes followed her like a hawk and when she started talking to a woman with black hair in the corner across the room Clay started to get a feeling of déjà vu. The woman turned fully to talk to his mother and he saw her eyes. Vanessa.  His mother was animatedly talking to her and Vanessa had a frown on her face. Vanessa put her hands out in a calming motion but she didn’t know his mom like he did and that movement just got her more agitated.

After a couple more minutes of heated exchange between the two women Vanessa pulled a business card from her pocket and handed it to his mother. His  mom said something as she took the card and after a brief hesitation turned back to Clay. Vanessa walked into the crowd and his mom grabbed his arm.

“Come on Clay, let’s go report this.”

Clay just nodded and let his mother lead him out to the car. Two hours later they had finally finished their story and the detectives went to the art gallery to see for themselves. Clay’s mom took him home and while she was saying goodbye her cell phone rang.

“Hello? Yes this is her.”

Clay didn’t pay much attention to the one-sided conversation until his mother started to get aggravated with whomever was on the phone.

“What? No, you’re obviously at the wrong place.”

His mom looked confused and Clay waited impatiently for her to get off the phone and tell him what was going on.

“Of course I wasn’t drinking! I gave you her business card, did you call her? …. And? …. You’ve got to be kidding me!”

His mom ran her hand over her face and sighed deeply. “Okay, thank you for the call. Goodbye.” She hung up the phone and stared dejectedly at Clay.

“What, Ma?”

“The detectives went to the gallery.” She paused and looked away. “There was nothing there except the sculpture of you and the Wil Wheaton poster.”

Clay’s jaw dropped. “You’re joking. We weren’t’ gone more than three hours. It’s not possible for them to have removed everything in that short amount of time.”

“There’s more Clay.”  

He looked at her expectantly.

“On a whim the detective got some bolt cutters and made a cut big enough to see inside of the metal organs-” She started to look sick.

“Tell me Ma!”

“There were real organs inside the metal, frozen somehow, they couldn’t really tell how but they’re sure they found your missing body parts.”

Clay looked ill.

She cleared her through and said, “There’s even more.” She took a deep breath and spoke on the exhale, pushing all the words out as fast as possible.

“The mosaic of Wil Wheaton wasn’t done with pictures of him as a child in those magazines like you thought. It was made of tiny pictures of body parts. There had to be hundreds of pictures in that mosaic Clay.”

Clay didn’t know what to think. It was quite possible he survived a serial killer, and a prolific one at that. How should he feel about that? Thankful? It was clear to him now of two things. One, Vanessa was involved with this killer in some way – hell, she could be the killer herself! And two, she saved his life for no reason he understood but was still grateful.

His next thought was conflicting because even though he wanted to catch the person or people responsible he really hoped Vanessa got away because for as little of her as he knew, he knew down to his bones that life would be better with her somewhere out in the world and not behind bars. She was the conscience of a killer and who knows how many lives she’s saved.

No, the world needed her in it, not squirreled away in some cage.

Fin.