The Sleep Traveler – Part 2
L’APPEL DU VIDE is French and translates to “Call of the void”. It is the unexplainable urge to jump when standing on the edge of a cliff, or tall height. It can be considered a form of self-destructive ideation, or a protective instinct to let the brain play out what the body should not. It’s definition has been expanded to describe responding mentally to the call of the siren song – whether that means the desire to reach into a fire, drive into a wall, or walk into the eye of the storm.
Read Part 1 HERE
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He picks up on the third ring.
“Elle! What a surprise!”
She stammers, trying to find the words to explain what has happened to her.
“Dr. Bruge! Something is wrong. I’ve been given a task I can’t possibly complete!”
His voice is smooth, as always, lulling her into a calm she didn’t think possible at this moment.
“Elle, slow down. Tell me exactly what happened.”
She relays the story with as much detail as she can recall, concluding with the horrific task set before her, to murder the man dressed in all black.
There is a long pause. She can feel Dr. Bruge running the scenario over and over through his mind. Finally, he speaks.
“Well, this is unprecedented.”
Elle screams through the phone, “You think!?”
To her dismay, Dr. Bruge chuckles. How can he be so calm at a time like this? There has never been specifics but Elle knows that tasks are not to be turned down. A sleep traveler will just be sent back over and over again until it is completed. You stay longer each time as well. It always seems a little more difficult to get back with each travel. Even though she has been completing tasks for over twelve years, it is still essentially ‘new’ to her. There are many gaps of information when it comes to what they can do.
“Elle? Elle, are you there?”
She hadn’t even realized he’d been talking.
“Yes, I’m sorry. I’m just very tired.”
“Elle, get some sleep. Let me do some research and I’ll call you as soon as I know more. We’ll figure this out. I promise.”
With that, she finally smiles. He always knows exactly what to say.
With pleasantries and promises to talk soon exchanged, she hangs up and throws herself back on the bed.
Who is she kidding? No sleep tonight. She’d hate to be sent back to Chicago, knowing what she is being asked to do. With a heavy sigh, she decides to enjoy the evening, pours herself some wine and heads to the roof. It’s her favorite place to be. She can sit and listen to the sounds of her city without a care in the world. She can think up here.
Once settled and surprisingly calm, she moves to the edge of the roof, peering over the edge. For a split second, her mind wanders. What if she just jumped? There would be no killing, no time travel, just peace. If she just jumped, her worries could disappear forever.
In spite of the dark thoughts floating through her mind, she chuckles to herself. She could never do it. Her curiosity is already too high to stop now. She has to know what all this means.
As the hours slowly pass and her city starts to waken, Elle knows she has made her decision. It’s the right one. She has done great things for the world. She’s been told time and time again that her work ensures that peace will reign. However, she can’t kill. It defies everything she stands for in her life. She can never go against that.
With a firm nod of her head to the awakening world, she heads downstairs to call Dr. Bruge with her decision. As she approaches her door, she hears the phone ringing and races to get inside.
“Yes, Elle! I hope I didn’t wake you?”
“No. No. Please, tell me, did you find anything?”
The pause on the other end of the line deafens her eardrums as she waits.
“The news isn’t good, I’m afraid.”
“I can’t do it, Dr. Bruge. I was just about to call you and tell you I’ve made up my mind. I’m no killer.”
“It isn’t that easy. I found one other instance in the sleep traveler’s history where one was asked to kill for the greater good.”
“The sleep traveler refused. The target lived a full life and we have no idea what would have happened if he had been killed.”
“So what’s the big deal? I’ll just refuse!”
“Therein lies the problem, Elle. There are consequences to every action.”
“What do you mean, Dr. Bruge? Quit talking in code and just spill it already!”
“If you refuse, you die, and the world will suffer horribly.”
“The last sleep traveler who refused died within a week. Within a month, World War II had begun. Do I have to spell it out for you?”
Elle’s head spins. This can’t be happening. She’s isn’t a killer. Death? War? There is no right answer. What the hell is she supposed to do?
As if reading her mind, Dr. Bruge says one last thing before hanging up.
“There is only one right answer, Elle. He must die. I am sorry.”
And with those last words ringing in her head, the line went dead.
to be continued…