End of Eternity 4

By: Loretta Lost

Chapter One




Dr. Owen Phillips





Waking with a groan, I place a hand against my temple to try to combat the throbbing ache. Drinking a six-pack all by yourself definitely feels different once you begin nearing thirty. My throat feels dry, and I could use a glass of water—but more importantly, I could use some comfort after the misery-inducing events of the previous night. Did any of that really happen, or was I just imagining it? Please, please let it all just be a drunken hallucination.

Wincing at the pain, I reach to my side to feel for Carmen’s body. I have the urge to pull her against me and hold her tightly, like a child clutching their favorite teddy bear after a nightmare. Sadly, I know it was all real. This probably isn’t the most masculine reaction to having your ex-girlfriend get down on her knees and propose to you in front of your friends, but I don’t know what could be the right reaction.

I gave a decent chunk of my life to Caroline, and she spurned me. Over and over. Now that I’ve finally gathered the courage to leave her and try to move on, she has come crawling back.

It fucking hurts.

Why do you have to leave someone in order for them to finally appreciate having you? It doesn’t make sense. That isn’t real appreciation. If I went back to her, she’d just get complacent again and go back to taking me for granted. I’d have to leave again and again in order to make her take me seriously. I don’t have the heart to play games like that for the rest of my life.

I guess I just wish things had been different.

“Carm,” I grumble, as I try to find her body in the midst of tangled bed sheets. I don’t want to risk opening my eyes and getting blinded by the morning sun. I am sure that will only feed the fire of my pounding headache. I reach all the way to the end of the bed, and I am startled by the fact that my hand has not connected with anything warm. There is only cold empty space.

I force myself to be brave enough to open one eye. Groaning at the offensive light streaming through the curtains, I shield myself with my hands like a melting vampire. Do vampires even melt? Whatever. It is too early to answer the complex paranormal questions of the universe.

“Carmen!” I call out lightly, imagining that she might be in the bathroom doing her makeup. I stretch out on the mattress with a yawn. “Come back to bed.”

Hearing no response, I frown and open both eyes. Sitting up, I notice that Carmen’s purse is not on the bedside table. Her car keys are gone, along with her cell phone. A panic suddenly seizes my chest as I try to remember our conversation from the previous night. I rub my thumb and forefinger into my eyebrows, trying to knead the memories back into my skull. I know we talked about something. Did I upset her in some way? Fear gnaws at my stomach.

Ripping the blanket off my legs, I step out of bed in my shiny, blue Superman boxers and squint at the bright sunlight. Yes, I realize that these boxers make me look like a five-year-old boy, but who doesn’t love Superman? More importantly, who doesn’t love peeing directly through the center of the Superman symbol, and being reminded that your penis is awesome? No one. That’s who.

Speaking of peeing, it feels like a gallon of beer is straining against the confines of my bladder. I push down my bodily discomfort and focus on my determination to find Carmen before I relieve myself. Is she back to working on a way to bring justice to Brad? Or maybe she’s just sitting outside on the sofa and working on her fashion blog. Moving to the bedroom door and out into the center of the cabin, I look around for a head of voluminous blonde hair. Finding nothing of the sort in the cabin, I begin to worry. Did she go for a walk by the lake? Did she head to the store to grab some groceries or something? I scan all the surfaces for a note. Surely she would have left a note?

Finally, I head to the front door and step outside onto the gravel ground in my bare feet. The sight that lies before me causes a little pang of anxiety to claw at me.

Carmen’s car is gone.

Rushing back into the house, I have to scramble around madly to find my cell phone. I knock over at least three small pieces of furniture and repeatedly injure my sensitive shins before I locate the small object. Rushing back to the front door, I call Carmen as I run a hand through my hair in frustration. The phone rings several times before she picks up, and I begin to pace frantically across the driveway. When the phone finally clicks in answer, I find myself blurting out words in a frenzy.

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