What if...

Prologue:

Jim entered the loft and punched the door, furious. Blair, following him, stopped just in time to avoid getting his nose crushed. He sighed and also entered. Jim quickly walked into the living room, turned and looked at his friend, angrily said "I wish I had never met you!"

Chapter 1

The sunlight floated into Blair's small office at the University. The young man shook his head, as if he had just woken up after a bad dream. He had the feeling that he had forgotten something very important, but he couldn't remember what. He was interrupted in his thinking by a knock at his door.

"Come in!"

The door opened to one of his students, Chris Johnson. "Professor Sandburg, can I ask you for a favor?" Blair smiled because it wasn't often that someone called him that.

"I'm listening." He said.

"Could you help me with my research?" asked the student.

"Certainly. What are you looking for?"

"I'm preparing a paper on the evolution of the five senses of South America's Indians. And I would like to talk about it with you, because it's the subject of your thesis."

Surprised, Blair looked at her. "Have you read my thesis?"

"Yeah, like all the students in your anthropology class have done."

"Ah..."  He seemed a bit disturbed by what she was telling him, that the young woman asked, "Are you okay?" 

"Yeah, I think."  The strange sensation was starting again. His thesis...He had the impression he wasn't finished, and nevertheless, other people had read it. He turned toward Chris and told her, "Tomorrow I have no courses, so if you want we could meet and talk about it then?"

"Ok." She replied

They made an appointment to meet at the library the following morning at 10 o'clock and then the young woman left.

Blair rummaged through the drawers of his desk and took out a copy of his titled thesis "The Sentinel". He stood up and locked the door, then perused through the thesis. The more he read the more the sensation of uneasiness emphasized. He had the bizarre feeling that he was reading something that someone else had written, but he knew that this someone was himself. At the end, he once again put the thesis in the drawer, took his jacket and left.

He walked for several minutes without thinking and arrived in front of a building that he didn't know but somehow appeared familiar. He wondered what he was doing there, because he lived on the other side of the city. So, he turned and started back in the opposite direction.

In this building, Jim Ellison's loft was located on the top floor. The apartment was in the dark and totally silent. Jim was seated on the sofa looking fixedly at objects that he put on the low table. There was his badge and his gun. As well as a letter of resignation that he had anticipated to give to his Captain, Simon Banks, tomorrow morning. He could no longer continue to be a cop. He had become a danger to everyone. Even Simon, who had known him for years, began to be afraid of him. Jim didn't know what was happening to him, but he knew that it was somehow linked with the three years that he had lived in the Peruvian jungle. He knew that it was the only place in the world where he wouldn't be able to kill innocents and decided that he was going to return there. He didn't know if he would ever be able to return to Cascade again. In all cases, not before his senses become normal again. He had had enough of being able to hear people breath or speak several miles away. He had had enough of being able to see murders happen so far away that he couldn't do anything to help. Finally, he had had enough of seeing the fear in people eyes thinking he was crazy. His decision was made, he was going to leave.

Suddenly he stood up as if he had heard someone in the other room. He made his way to the small bedroom and pulled the curtain open abruptly, but nobody was in there. Nevertheless, Jim observed the room and had the feeling that something was missing, that someone should be living there. He shook his head and told himself that, once again, it was coming from his disturbed senses. It was truly necessary that he leave before he became really crazy.

Chapter 2

Blair's refrigerator was like the Sahara, barren and empty. He decided to go up to the supermarket before going to meet Chris at the Faculty Library. Only a few people were in the shop and he could fill his basket without coming across one of his tedious neighbors. He was walking to the vegetable department when a man walked into in the shop and threatened one of the cashiers with a gun. The only thing that Blair thought was, "This man has some nerve making a hold-up less than 165 feet from the Police Headquarters Office!"

At the same time, in the area, Jim was driving his car. He was going to Headquarters to give his resignation to Simon. As he parked his vehicle and got out he heard shouts coming from the supermarket, shouts only he was able to hear from that distance. He called for reinforcements and left. Running to the supermarket that he had passed earlier he was able to enter by the service door without that the robber knowing. Once inside he discreetly crawled between the shelving until he arrived about 10 feet from the cashes. He drew his gun and taking advantage of the distracted robber; he threw his opponent to the ground, disarmed him and put handcuffs on him.

Blair had not lost a second of the action, hidden behind a book counter. When Jim had arrested the robber, the anthropologist came out of his hideout and stood next to the cop. He was jostled by the other cops who had just arrived and...

...Time seemed to stop. Jim and Blair were face to face, eyes to eyes.

Something happened between them, but neither of them knew what it was...

The current time started again when Jim was questioned by Simon who had just arrived. Blair was interrogated by a cop in uniform and left, without his shopping, feeling breathless and slightly disturbed. Jim followed Simon to the Central Precinct where he gave his resignation and returned home to retrieve his luggage and his plane ticket for Peru.

Blair arrived at the Faculty Library without paying any attention. His mind was again hazy but he knew that he had remembered the cops name without any thought: Jim Ellison. He shook the head to resume his spirits and entered into the building. Chris had not yet arrived, so he went to a computer and launched a search regarding James Ellison in the Cascade newspapers. He came across an article written several years before that told how an Army Ranger had been found in the middle of the Peruvian jungle three years ago. Blair devoured the article and knew why he had felt such a bizarre sensation when meeting this cop; Jim was the Sentinel that he had always been looking for ! Blair absolutely had to find him and speak with him! It was just at that moment that Chris chose to arrive. She was speaking to someone on her cell phone and smiled as she looked at Blair. When she finished he asked her, "May I borrow it?" 

"Of course!"  She gave him the phone and he dialed the number of the Cascade Police Department.

"I would like to speak to Detective James Ellison."

"I am sorry, but he left," replied Simon Banks. 

"Could you tell me where I can find him?"

"If you hurry, you may be able to see him before his plane take off," sighed Simon.

Anxious, Blair said, "His plane?"

"Yeah, he is leaving for Peru in one hour. Who are you?"

He didn't get any answer because the young man had already hung up. Blair looked at Chris and asked her, "Do you want to come with me to the Peruvian Jungle?"

Chapter 3

The air was a hundred time more humid than Blair had ever imagined it.

He began to doubt his judgment, and if Jim Ellison was a Sentinel. But, no matter, it was too late to give up. He had not walked several hundred miles to give up so close to his goal! Chris followed him in silence, without knowing if Blair had been serious when telling her that they were going to meet a Sentinel. But, she was so happy to be with him that she would have forgiven him anything.

After several hours of walking in the jungle, their guide returned and told them, "The village is not far away. We must cross the river and we will be there."

"The river?" asked the young woman, a little bit anxious.

"Don't worry, there is a bridge."

But, when Chris saw the bridge she began to panic. In fact it was no bridge; it was a plaited vine entanglement that formed a sort of bridge 35 feet above a bubbling torrent. The young student turned to Blair and told him, "I could never have the capability to cross!"

He looked at her, surprised. "I don't understand..."

"I feel dizzy..."

Blair nodded his head and confessed to her, "Me too, but it's the only way to cross."

"Then, I'll be waiting for you here!"

"I discourage you from doing that," replied the guide. "There is a head hunting tribe a few miles from here and if they find you, you will regret to have not crossed this bridge!"

The young woman looked at Blair who was smiling, "If you want, I'll go ahead you and I will hold your hand."

"Thank you." She said.

The guide was the first on the bridge, followed by Blair, then Chris. The young anthropologist looked attentively at the guide and tried to walk in his footsteps. He felt the young woman trembling, stuck against his back. He murmured to her, "It's going to be all right, don't worry."  She didn't reply, she was busy looking straight ahead and concentrated on not letting the fear invade her. The guide arrived on the other side without difficulty and turned toward Blair and Chris who were now midway across. Suddenly, a strong wind made the bridge shake and Chris lost her balance. She rocked and was suddenly falling. Luckily, Blair had the presence of mind to catch her with two hands, but he was also in a precarious situation and he could not pull her up without making himself fall over the edge.

A little farther away, in the jungle, a man was hunting to get some meat for the village. He was just going to shoot an arrow at a bird when he heard "Help! Help!" coming from the river. Without loosing a second he ran in the direction of the shouts. His mind recorded that the voice was coming from a woman who was speaking in English, but he realized that only later. He went to the bridge and came next to the guide who was looking at Blair and Chris without knowing what to do. Jim didn't have the time to think, he hastily went to the bridge to save the two friends. Blair saw him, but he didn't have the pleasure to rejoice in his intuition. Jim walked the last few feet slowly, trying not to make the bridge shake too much. When he arrived in front of Blair he leaned forward and grabbed the young woman. Chris hung on to him and he pulled her up without difficulty. He took her in his arms and carried her to safety. Blair followed him smiling; he had finally found his Sentinel.

Once they were off the bridge, Jim put Chris on the ground. She staggered and fell into Blair's arms crying. While he calmed her, he saw Jim who was observing him. "I know you, weren't you at the Cascade supermarket?" 

"Yeah. And I came all this way to see you."

Jim shook his head and mumbled, "You shouldn't have! I won't go back to Cascade. But since you're here follow me. The young lady needs to rest."  Without waiting for an answer Jim walked towards the village. They followed him. After a few minutes Chris asked Blair with a low voice, "Is he the Sentinel?"

"Yeah."  Blair replied.

Jim who was several feet ahead turned around and looked Blair right in the eyes. Then, he turned back and continued along the path. The anthropologist knew that Jim had heard what Chris had asked. They arrived at the village under the gaze of the natives who were not surprised to see foreigners because, since the return of Jim, the Shaman warned them that it will probably happen. Jim brought the new arrivals into his hut and told the young woman to get some rest. She accepted and lay out on the bed made of fur and giant leaves. She fell asleep immediately, exhausted by all the emotions of the day.

While Chris was sleeping and the guide went to visit one of his relatives who lived in the village, Jim and Blair took a seat in front of the hut to talk.

"Before you say anything, let me to explain why I'm here," the young man started. Silently, Jim nodded his head. Blair continued by explaining his theory on Sentinels and how he thought that Jim Ellison was one of them. He ended by saying, "I think that I can help you to control your senses."

Jim, who was listening to Blair without interrupting him, shook his head and replied, "I don't want to return to Cascade. I became too harmful to others. I don't want to risk killing someone because of my powers. I'm sorry that you came all this way for nothing, but I can't help you." 

"I'm sure that if I help you, you won't have any chance of hurting anyone." Implored Blair.

"Sorry, but my decision is made and it's not going to be changed. It's best if you leave tomorrow. I will accompany you to the other side of the river." He got up and ended the discussion. Blair shook his head, not knowing what to do. The night began to fall and he went to rejoin Chris in the hut. She woke up when hearing him approach.

"Did you speak with him?" She asked.

"Yeah, but he refuses my help and refuses to come back with us. How are you? Do you feel better?" 

"I'm fine."

"I'm sorry I brought you here for nothing. We'll go back tomorrow morning."

Blair lay on the ground a few feet from the young woman and turned his back to her, but she came next to him and put her hand on his shoulder. He turned over and she snuggled into his arms. After a few minutes, they slept.

They were woken up by howls of terror. They got up in a hurry and left the hut. The guide ran past them. "What's happening?" asked Blair, anxiously. 

"There has been an accident, come quickly!"

They followed him. The young man had a bad feeling that was confirmed when they arrived in a clearing a few feet from the village. Jim was spread on the ground, covered in blood. Blair heard the guide telling Chris that Jim had been attacked by a jaguar and that he wasn't able to do anything. The young man knew that the Sentinel had no chance against the animal, his senses having prevented him from fighting, instead of helping him. He knelt next to Jim and cried...

Epilogue:

Blair woke up; he was covered with sweat and terrified. He took a few seconds to realize that he wasn't in the jungle but at his girlfriend Chris Johnson's place. She moved in the bed without waking. Blair got up, dressed and left. It was three o'clock in the morning, but he had to see Jim. When he arrived at the loft, he was surprised to see the light on. Jim was waiting for him, seated on one of the stools in the kitchen.

"Jim, I am sorry to come so late, but..."

"...You had a strange dream, too..."

The young man looked at his friend, surprised. "How....? Did you dream the same thing as me?"

"Yes, I think so. We had never met each other and..."

"...You died in the jungle." Blair finished.

They were quiet, aware of the strangeness of the situation. Suddenly, a bluish halo appeared, showing a face that Blair and Jim knew well: Incacha. He spoke to them in a language that only they could understand. "Your lives are linked. You cannot ignore it. And you must never forget it."  And he disappeared.

Jim and Blair looked at each other and knew that the Indian was right. So for the rest of their lives and even after, they couldn't forget that they were the best friends in the world.

THE END.