Alex awoke in what he thought to be his bed. As he moved, he found the same padding he was laying on top of to also be above him. He pushed at the ceiling of the box that he was in with all his strength but found that it wouldn't budge. The second time he pushed, a sorrowful scene flashed before his eyes.
He could see his friend Max, a gas station clerk as he was shot. He somehow knew that this had happened in the past and that for some reason his memory suppressed it. He could see two men in leather jackets, one who was missing at least two teeth. He heard as opposed to saw the second shot fired from the gun, the shot that sank into his stomach. He jerked as though the pain had re-entered his body. Lastly, he saw the murderers slit his beloved wife's throat.
With all this strength and anger he held, Alex threw both arms up through the box, leaving two holes where his arms had gone through. Dirt poured down from the holes clogging with time. He tore open another hole in the box and realized in horror that he lay in a coffin, most likely twelve feet under. Letting out a primal scream he tore into the box again, wood splinters and the coffin's inner quilting falling down in pieces. He did not know how he would get out of the ground, but he knew that he would. He would get out and extract revenge on those who had murdered his wife.
At the same time on the other end of Los Angeles, Ann Hillier awoke in her bed. Looking at her alarm clock she saw that it was almost one in the morning. It was almost a year to the day since her friend and his wife had been brutally murdered. He rubbed her brown eyes and sat up in bed. With a thought like that, she knew she wouldn't be able to get back to bed right away. She let out a sigh and started downstairs for a cup of coffee thinking sarcastically "That's just what I need...I'll be up for hours," but continued on.
She went down to the already made coffee from a few hours before. It was warm from the coffee pot, but tasted older then it was. She took one sip and nearly gagged and started another pot before pouring her cup out and taking a seat at the kitchen table. She looked down at the box she had been going through the previous day of old pictures and grabbed a handful of them.
She didn't care to relive the deaths she had in her lifetime, but at the same time she was moving and had decided on leaving half of the pictures here with her aunt and taking the other half with her to New York, where her boyfriend now lived. She wasn't sure how long it would be until she could send for the rest of her belongings however and decided it was important which pictures she take with her, if nothing else, just for something to decorate their new apartment's walls with.
Ann leafed through the pictures one by one passing pictures of herself as a child, pictures of her mother and cousins and aunts and uncles. Carefully she chose which pictures she would be taking with her placing them in a pile. She had decided that when she left for New York she wouldn't take even a full shoebox of pictures, and though uncertain what pictures she would take, she only planned on one large plastic sandwich bag full.
She passed the period of her life when she was a young girl and entered the next, pictures of her as a teenager and ultimately an adult. The coffee was done, so she poured herself a cup before continuing on through the pictures. She finally gave up at nearly two and decided she was just better off taking a shoebox full, tossing the pictures in her hand on top of the box. Luck would have it, the picture that landed on top was of her friend Alex's wedding. Just over a year ago, she had added the picture to the box after getting it developed and never looked at it again after he had been murdered. She missed him as she had many other people throughout her life, but he was like her brother and therefore it had made his passing worse. More then that, he had lived in the empty apartment across the hall with Gail, the absence of them making every day slightly painful.
This being said, her and her boyfriend Mark had decided to move to Buffalo, New York. Currently Mark was residing at an apartment on Ashland Ave. in Buffalo awaiting her arrival. Ann had hated the big city of LA her whole life, but now it was a sad thought to be leaving the city. a sad thought, but all the same an encouraging thought. She finished her cup of coffee and went back up to her empty bed to lay back down. Shutting the light off she fell asleep around two-thirty.
Around three o'clock, Ann was again awakened. This time she heard a thud in the apartment across the hall, or more so she thought she had. The apartment had been empty for a year now, and there was no reason anybody should be there. She rolled over and listened to the silence eventually deciding that it was only a dream on the anniversary of her friend's death. She began to drift off once again when there was another thud.
This time, Ann was sure she had heard a thud. She climbed from bed and went for the phone to call the landlord. She considered the police, but figured it would be best left to the landlord to decide as he only lived across the street. She had the phone in her hand when she heard a knock on her door. Unsure of whether or not to call the landlord, she put the phone back on the hook and proceeded downstairs again. There was a second knock as she went down the stairs, but she ignored it proceeding to the table with the pictures all sprawled out grabbing the cordless handset.
A third knock on the door also brought a familiar voice calling: "Ann, are you home?" Although she knew the voice to be familiar, she could not pinpoint who it was and called back "It's three in the morning....who are you?" There was no answer. She opened the door as much as the chain lock would allow and peered out at a dark figure that was covered in dirt.
"Ann...Please. Open the door..." Ann looked in astonishment at who she thought was at the door. But it couldn't be. Alex had died a year ago...been murdered down the street at a gas station. She slowly stepped back, unsure of what to do. The figure knocked again and called out "Ann...Please it's me." She took another step back and ran into the kitchen. She sat in a corner by herself and quietly wept. She was dreaming, she knew she had to be, but she couldn't help but cry.
The door finally opened on its own, the chain hanging down broken from the wall. The man who entered looked more like the ghost of a murdered man then the murdered man himself. The newspapers had reported that his throat was slit, he had been shot in the stomach and that he had been cut on the arm with a knife before he died. The Alex who stood before her had no wounds, no scars and was covered in dirt.
"Ann," he said gently. "Ann...It's Alex. I need your help. I can't remember what happened to me."
By now, Ann had had enough. Sitting in the corner of the kitchen, darkness took her as she passed out. She awoke the next morning in bed believing that she had imagined the previous night's events. She climbed from bed noticing the time was 9:56 and grabbed clothes from her dresser before going to take a shower. Undressing and climbing into the shower she noticed mud caked on the drain of the shower. Unsure where it came from and forgetting the previous nights dream she thought nothing of it and finished her shower after clearing the drain.
She put new clothes on and left the shower thinking of what she needed to do the rest of the day, organizing a list in her head of the easiest order in which to do it as she did so. She climbed down the stairs and fear struck her as her apartment door had come into sight. The lock was broken as it had been in her dream. She muffled a scream and looked around. There were a trail of dirty footprints that led from the door to the kitchen, where she had had her breakdown the previous night. With horror she realized that somebody had been in her apartment the night before. Whoever it was had also put her in bed last night when she had fallen asleep.
Entering the living room she found a man sitting at the table with all the photos sprawled out. The man was holding the wedding picture she had looked at the previous night. The man looked like the one in the photograph, every detail perfect. Ann was too scared beyond words to say anything to the figure. At last, with tears in his eyes, Alex looked up from the picture.
"I hope you don't mind that I used your shower. I was a bit dirty when I got here, I'll vacuum the floor too...I didn't want to wake you."
Unsure what to think, Ann backed away from her friend for the second time. "Don't come near me." she insisted looking into his cold, brown eyes. "Who are you?"
"Ann," Alex said quietly. "It's me.....Alex."
"You're sick. My friend Alex died a year ago. Why are you doing this?" She took another step toward the door as Alex grabbed his head as if he had been struck by an object.
Alex felt a sharp pain in his skull as Ann had said he had died a year ago. He couldn't have. He was here now, wasn't he? Hadn't he only been believed to be dead? It couldn't have been a year ago though. Ann must have been confused out of grief. He had witnessed the death of Gail and Max only a few days ago. Then he received another flash in his brain.
He could see the gas station once again, could feel the pain in his stomach and one in his shoulder. He could hear himself let out a scream and a moan but wasn't sure whether he had really let them out. He could see Gail and hear her gargling on her own blood after he throat was slit. The pain was too much for him, he tried to fight back against his assailants, tried to get revenge on them for what they had done to his bride. Then he felt the warmth of blood on his neck and the feel of metal as the already bloody knife found its way through his throat.
The two murderers fled as a siren sounded from down the street. Alex fought to stay alive, knowing that nothing could be down for him or his bride. Gail had already fallen to the ground, the blood continuing to flow from her throat. Alex crawled the best he could and gripped the hand of the only woman he ever loved and then darkness.
Alex let out a scream as tears poured down his face. He had lost her....he had died. Why then, why should he be here in Ann's living room? Why did he come back and not Gail?
"Ann," he pleaded. "Please believe me...I don't know what has happened. All I can remember is being shot, mine and Gail's throats being slit and grabbing her hand before I died. Please...please...believe me. I am who I say I am. I can't explain it."
Ann, having backed all the way to the door, shut the door, back pressed to it sliding down to a sitting position. "I still don't believe you. Tell me...what is my boyfriend's name?"
"I...I can't remember." Alex said straining to see her boyfriend in his head. At last he could see the other man in his mind's eye. The man was short and pudgy with short, dark hair. He had met the man several times over the years, but still could not come up with a name. "I can't recall." he said at last accepting defeat.
Ann kept her back to the door trying to understand. This man really seemed to be Alex. She could see that he was trying to remember Mark's name. How could this happen though? It went against everything she had ever been taught. Everything science stood for. The dead did not come back. The dead were just that, dead. At long last, she decided she did not know how, but this was Alex.
"I'm sorry," she said from her seat on the ground. "It's just so hard to believe. But how?"
"I don't know." Alex replied, wiping the tears from his eyes. "I couldn't remember dying until you mentioned it. I get these...almost like television scenes....in my head. My memories...I think. I can't tell what happened to me unless something triggers a memory. I woke up in a casket. I could barely remember where I lived. I went in and.....nothing of my life is left. I want to die. I should be dead."
"I helped clean your belongings out." Ann said sadly. After the police wrapped up in there the first few days, I put some of your important things in storage. I don't know why...I just felt like I was throwing you and Gail away. The rest were sold for the funeral, thrown away or buried with you."
Alex sighed. "Did the police ever find out who had murdered us?"
"Yes...but they weren't caught. They paid the police off after they carried out some major bank robbery and got away with it."
"I need names." Alex said coolly. "They killed the one thing in my life that I swore to protect. I will kill them." He reached out and grabbed a picture of he and Gail from a Halloween party a few years back. "Where did this come from?"
"Like I said...I saved some things. I added your pictures to mine. I hope you don't mind...."
"Keep 'em," Alex said. "After I kill them, I will be with Gail."