Haunted Visions

The rain pounded down in sheets cutting sideways against the windows. The Mini Cooper’s wipers pumped out a steady rhythm as Sarah Kenmore drove down Main Street to work. Working her minimum wage job at the library was simply a means to an end. She yawned so hard her eyes watered. Night shift, though grueling, was perfect for her antisocial needs. The energy of the town all sleeping, she felt safer, more able to be herself.

Her phone buzzed twice. Leaning down to grab her purse from the floor, she glanced up just in time and slammed her foot on the brakes.

Her hands started throbbing until she realized she had a stronghold on the wheel. There was no way around the car that was rocking on its roof in the middle of the street. Nice Kenmore. That’s the first thing you think of?

A mid-sized silver sedan swayed lazily on its top. There wasn’t any signs of an accident though. Just one car with a dent in the passenger side door. Her mind raced through possible scenarios before she realized that she needed to call for help.

Sarah got out and walked over to the car.  The back wheels still spun in the air with the chrome of the hubcaps catching the light. Thin smoky tendrils rose from the engine like ghosts playing in the darkness.

People. There were people in the car. She ran back to the Mini and fumbled through her purse. The phone that had distracted her toppled out of her fingers  and dropped with a thunk on the wet pavement. “Dammit!”

Wiping the moisture off on her jeans she nervously glanced into the car. The faint outline of a woman’s body in the deep shadows. Her arms limply dangling on the ceiling. The only thing keeping her suspended was the seat belt.. An alabaster freckled face, serene in the moonlight.  She was close enough to make out the tracks of blood that were silently sliding down the corners of her eyes and mouth. Sarah turned away quickly and punched in the numbers.

“9 1 1 what is your emergency?”

“I’m at 21st and Main, there’s been an accident.” I –” Her voice shook. She took a breath and blew it out slowly into the speaker. Nurses wouldn’t lose their cool. She had to disconnect emotionally. This was the time she needed to embrace her dream and act like a nurse.

“There’s a car flipped over in the middle of the road with a woman inside. She’s hurt badly, I think!”

“Help is on its way. Try to remain calm.” The dispatcher clicked a few buttons that echoed into the phone.

Sarah found a good sized rock and headed back to the sedan. As she got closer, she could hear a baby crying in the back seat. Smoke and flames rose up from out of the engine. Slamming the rock against the windshield wasn’t working — she’d have to kick it out. Her foot went through on the fourth try.

The driver regained consciousness and noticed Sarah. “Save my baby!” She screamed hysterically before passing out again.

Sarah grabbed the woman by the arms, carefully dragging her through the jagged glass. Skin to skin brought images that abruptly flipped inside Sarah’s head in rapid succession. A tall dark man with a five o’clock shadow bared his teeth, the smell of alcohol and a woman’s sobs. They always played like a movie. One that took up the entirety of her vision. Her head swam and she let go, dropping the woman unceremoniously onto the pavement. Sarah shook her head to bring the real world back into focus.

Fumbling through the visions and the nausea, she hit her speaker button on her cellphone. It was difficult to do, but after a few blind stabs at the device, the operator’s voice boomed out. “Officer Allan Sumner has been dispatched to your location. Just hang on.”

Great, Sarah thought. Why did it have to be Allan? Anybody but Allan.
She managed to croak out an, “Okay.”

Allan’s presence would probably make matters worse. She was under enough stress already, but at this point she really didn’t care. It was better than being alone with a dead body.

Her stomach was so tight it felt ready to explode. Dealing with dead people wasn’t Sarah’s strong point, but then again, neither was dealing with the living.

Something made a noise inside the car. Shit! The baby! She dropped to her knees and felt the water seep into her jeans. She risked one last look down the street. Please! Someone! Anyone!

There wasn’t much time with the acrid smoke increasing and flames licking the tires. Her vision had started to clear in small dots. feeling her way by listening to the gulping sounds, almost like that of a suffocating fish, brought her closer to the vehicle.

She held her breath, praying that she could do this without seeing. Her hand reached in and braced herself for the battery of images. A flailing arm smacked her hand briefly and she caught it. No! Focus Kenmore!

Sarah couldn’t stop it. She was thrown into another world again. The little sight she had tunneled into small black dots that pepper her vision like fleas crawling through her brain. You will not pass out Kenmore! Clasping her hand to her mouth, she swallowed back the bile that threatened to choke her.

With the infant clutched tightly to her chest, she fought to wiggle backward from the window. Tires screeched very close to her head before she had reached the grassy bank. The red and blue kaleidoscope struck her lids in slow motion.

They always blinded her, the visions. This time she could see the car flipping over and over from the vantage point of the back seat. The screams from the woman were still reverberating so loudly in her head that she didn’t hear the officer calling to her.

12 thoughts on “Haunted Visions

  1. Lori Parker says:

    I like the fact that it takes a minute before we find out that this is going to be a paranormal mystery. That said, it takes to long to get to the crash. By the time we do find out she has paranormal powers, the question of whether this is new or something she already knows. This reads like a first or second draft. I think it has promise but for now there are some elements that should be addressed. I won’t go into all of them here but I do encourage you to The first paragraph has her on her way to work the night shift at the library. That poses a problem since I don’t know of any libraries that have night shifts, a.k.a. 11:pm to 7:00am. If it’s a college library or such then provide that information so the reader isn’t left wondering. Other questions that arose from the first page are, if she’s antisocial, why is her life’s dream to be a nurse? Why is her purse on the floor rather than on the seat beside her? Why does she get out of the car and leave her phone behind before dialing 911? Wordiness is a problem, such as “across” instead of “sideways against” in the first sentence, but because this is an early draft, I’m sure you’ll address those yourself. Also watch out for clichés such as “a means to an end” in the first paragraph. By the way, 911 dispatchers do not inform the callers of the names of first responders. An ETA, yes, first and last names, never. Good luck with this. -PEACE-

  2. 10penguins says:

    I read all the way through, but a couple of places I had to stop and go back and read it again.
    The part that starts “Skin to skin” confused me until I realized that when she touches someone she has visions (right?). It’s like Johnny in “The Dead Zone.” I loved that TV series.

    One thing that may help with the flow of the words in a couple of other paragraphs is by taking away some of the adverbs. An exercise I learned recently is to take ALL adverbs and adjectives out of the first 3500 words or so. Then go back and add ONLY the ones that are absolutely necessary. You may have to rewrite some sentences to add imagery or action without adverbs or adjectives. It worked for me.
    For example: Your paragraph that starts “Wiping the moisture….”
    If you took out the adverbs in that paragraph, I think it would be much stronger, tauter, imbued with more tension.

    Overall, I really liked it and would love to read more!

  3. Rick Sherman says:

    The pacing clicked along in a nice rhythmic beat, except when it came to the adverb, ” unceremoniously.” It stalled a moment. Other than that, great pace.

    An anti-social nurse? Mmmm. Oh, night shift, when it’s not so busy perhaps? I’d try not to “tell” us she’s anti-social, try and “show” us. Just a thought, but we’re being told twice in the same chapter (Dealing with dead people wasn’t Sarah’s strong point, but then again, neither was dealing with the living). I’d take out the “anti-social” reference and leave this.
    Just a typo: …in small dots. feeling her way…

    Maybe think of a device to use when she has an onset to a vision? That way, we’re not so confused which is reality vs. vision is presented. I understood it because I have the same sort of story, but others may not. Just a thought. All in all… very nicely written. Good work!

  4. Jim says:

    I’m not in to paranormal, so I was glad when someone above identified it for me. Your descriptions of the scenes connected with me, except a couple of ’em. At first, I was confused about the vehicle on its top–I thought it was the Mini initially. Would the police identify over the phone the name of the officer they’re dispatching? Could be, I suppose, especially if it’s in a small town. But you may want to check that with a pd.

    I got stuck on pulling the woman through jagged glass–all I saw was how she was being horrendously cut up in the process (which I agree, is better than burning in the fire). Could Kenmore have a jacket or something to throw on the broken glass before dragging the woman out?

    Oh my, and on the first reading when I came across “Kenmore,” I somehow associated it with a Kenmore brand large appliance–for a moment, I thought that was what was rocking in the middle of the street–a Kenmore refrigerator 🙂

    Like I said, I’m not into paranormal, but I’d like to read your story when it’s ready. Good job.

  5. allisonnewchurch says:

    I think you have the promise of a good story, but it needs a bit of work. I notice that in the other comments you mention it’s a second draft.

    Some questions/points to ponder:

    You finished a sentence with the word ‘work’ and started the next with ‘working’.

    The paragraph about her hands throbbing isn’t needed.

    It’s raining heavily and she slams her foot on the brake. Wouldn’t her car skid?

    If there was only one dent in the passenger side door, why doesn’t Sarah just open the other doors to get the woman and baby out?

    How can there be moonlight if it’s pelting with rain?

    I wouldn’t think a person could scream hysterically if they’ve only just regained momentary consciousness. A whimpered plea might be more appropriate.

    The woman is hanging upside down, suspended only by her seatbelt, so when Sarah undoes her seatbelt, she’ll fall to the roof.

    Sarah has pulled the woman from the car and then unceremoniously dumps her body? Refers to her as ‘dead’, but how does she know that? If the woman was already dead, why pull her out of the car before getting the baby out?

    The bit about her dream of being a nurse threw me. Possibly not needed at this point in time.

    How long has elapsed between when she calls 911 and when she puts the phone on speaker to hear the operator tell her the name of the office who has been despatched? Enough time for her to grab a rock, try smashing the windscreen, then kick it out, drag the woman out. Is the timing feasible? Where was the phone while Sarah was doing all that?

    When Sarah remembers the baby, she kneels and feels the water seep through her jeans. Since the car is on its roof and she’s already got the woman out through the windscreen, wouldn’t her jeans already be wet? How could she get the woman through the windscreen without kneeling? Wouldn’t Sarah have to be underneath the hood of the car to get her?

    How does Sarah reach the baby from the back seat without climbing into the car? If the ‘crash’ had killed the woman, the baby would have had to be secured in some way or it would have been badly injured. Bassinet? Car seat?

    None of the points I’ve raised are show stoppers, they’re just logistic problems that need to be considered.

    I think Sarah needs to react a little more. If I was driving to work and narrowly avoided crashing into a car that was already on its roof, my heart would be thumping, and I’d be quaking in my shoes. Sarah’s reaction sounds just a bit too casual.

    Overall, I like the mystery you’ve presented. You’ve hooked me in enough to make me want to know more. Like why is Sarah working night shift at the library if she really wants to be a nurse? Is it the visions that stop her? Who is Allan, what is her history with him? (Don’t answer these questions, I’m just pointing out why I would keep reading).

    Good luck with it.

  6. Jeff Ziegler says:

    Interesting character and threads, and I like the paranormal edge.

    A few things seemed cliche to me. The car accident seemed like a stock beginning. It wasn’t distracting, but I wanted to get through it quickly to see how it played into the story rather than dwelling on the scene itself (if that makes any sense). The woman’s momentary consciousness seemed expected, as was her plea to save her child. Yes, I think any parent would say that, but it seemed contrived. This was distracting, I had little empathy for her. I also came away again with the thought of how this plays into the story rather than gripped at the scene. If you want that moment as a plot point, maybe make her more incoherent; maybe the woman looks around, confused, and then at Sarah and Sarah tries hard to see the moment clinically instead of a dying woman starting to unfocus.

    Enough of the elements that I like in a story are here to compel me to continue reading, After this section the hooks I liked were:

    1) The nature of her ability

    2) Why the car was flipped

    3) Relationship with the officer

    4) Anything about the people in the car

    If this isn’t your order, you may want to put a little more detail/emphasis on the other elements to bring them to the surface and compel the story in that direction. Or you could chalk it up to my dysfunctional tastes in books (certainly reasonable to do so).

    Again, good start, good elements and a lot of potential. Good luck.

    • mediumlaura says:

      Thanks Jeff! I had a very hard time finding a start point to this book. What you say has a lot of merit and I think you probably sensed from me, this isn’t where I wanted to start!
      Thank you for the compliments too though. and I will take this all into consideration when I do the rewrite!! 🙂

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