Belinda sat at her desk at Discount Prophecies, rewatching a particular scene from Fists of Fate IV because she had nothing better to do while she waited for the man who was going to try to kill her. This was her third time watching The Bro get sliced from chin to ear. It looked fake, which was weird because it wasn’t. There was an accident on set and the actor really did get his face cut open. The fascinating part was that the cutlass used in this scene was now the murder weapon in the case Belinda was working on. She didn’t have access to the cutlass, so this was the best view she could get of it.
Out of nowhere, the lights flickered off, then back on. Belinda’s computer shut down and needed to be rebooted. Belinda hadn’t Seen this coming. Her Sight had been unreliable lately. It was taking its time coming back into focus after she had so drastically changed her future. There seemed to be something unresolved keeping it fuzzy.
As she waited for the computer to reboot, she rummaged through the bottom drawer of her desk, looking for a snack. Bite-sized brownies and packets of chips lay on top of an unused fire-extinguisher. She still resented the fire marshal who demanded she keep it in her office. She was a Seer! If there was going to be a fire, she’d schedule with the fire department and they’d handle it.
“I can’t wait for my Sight to readjust,” she mumbled. “I’ll never get used to things happening that I’m not expecting.”
“Don’t worry,” a creepy voice said, “It won’t be a problem for long.”
The voice belonged to Rick Hightower, who would be her attempted murderer this evening. He stood in the doorway, dressed all in black, including a ski mask over his face, but it was so obviously him. The dumpy, old-man body was impossible to miss. The cutlass he held in his gloved hand wasn’t as ornate as the one in the movie, but it looked sharp. Good thing the police were watching this room. They’d come rushing in any second now.
“Where do you guys find all these cutlasses?” she asked petulantly.
“Any decent fan of the Fists of Fate franchise will have a replica on hand,” he said with a shrug. “I figured since Floyd killed Pandora with a cutlass, he should be killed by one too. But first, I need you out of the way. I can’t have your Seer ability warning him that I’m coming.”
“Yeah, about that Seer ability. Did you forget that I could See the future when you decided to kill me? The cops are totally surrounding this place.”
“Sorry, they aren’t coming. They’re too busy watching a looped surveillance video I just inserted. Eventually, they’ll think it’s strange that you go into the bathroom every twenty-seven minutes and forty-two seconds. I’m sure they’ll come in to investigate after a couple times, but by then, I’ll have killed you and hopefully Floyd. Once I’ve done that, they can arrest me if they want. It won’t matter as long as Pandora is avenged.”
Belinda didn’t believe him, but a quick look into her future showed her that she was, in fact, screwed.
“Wait! Time out,” Belinda said in a half panic. “This isn’t fair. I assumed you were an idiot!”
Hightower shrugged his shoulders and said, “You should watch more movies. The best way to outwit a Seer is to let them See you do something obvious and let them stop you. When they think they’ve beaten you, they let their guard down. Then you can strike.”
He advanced with his cutlass. The blade looked sharp and Hightower looked crazy. He was kind of old and probably out of shape, but that blade he carried would still hurt. He wasn’t likely to pull any punches, considering his delusions of avenging the woman he had an imaginary relationship with.
As Belinda backed away, she tried to See a way out – maybe a weapon or an escape route. Throwing the telephone on her desk would slow him down, but not enough to save her. Picking up the chair would only make her die faster. Grabbing her letter opener would make him hesitate, so she did that and tried to hold it in a threatening way, just like the guy in the movie she had just watched. Then she heard an unexpected sound. It was the outer door of her office.
“Belinda! Are you in here?” Floyd yelled. “I want a refund!”
“What are you doing here?” Belinda yelled. “I’m tired of things happening that I don’t expect! How do you people live this way?”
Belinda seized the unexpected opportunity and stabbed Hightower in the arm as he glanced towards the door. It was grosser than she imagined – more of a gouging than a stabbing. Hightower yelped and fumbled his weapon but didn’t drop it. Belinda would have stabbed him again, but she tripped and fell on her back when Hightower took a wild swing at her. She was so going to die here.
“Floyd!” Belinda yelled. “I need your help! I’m being murdered!”
Floyd entered the room. “What are you…” He took one look and immediately charged.
Hightower swung the cutlass, but Floyd stopped just out of reach and fell into a fighting stance. She had forgotten that he was a Muay Thai fighter – he may actually be helpful here!
Floyd threw kicks instead of punches. He dodged backwards after every one. Floyd was quick and had a long reach with his feet.
Belinda only watched for a moment. She was not going to rely on Floyd to save her. That had never been her way, and she wasn’t going to start just because her Sight was temporarily unreliable. She thought about taking another stab at Hightower, but between Floyd’s hammering kicks and Hightower’s wild swings, she didn’t think it was a good idea to get between the two. Instead, she rushed to her desk and yanked open the bottom drawer. She was finally going to use that fire extinguisher! After a moment of fiddling with the pin and the hose, she sprayed it at Hightower’s face. He gagged and chocked on the white powder.
Floyd capitalized on the distraction by closing the distance between Hightower and himself. He did some kind of karate chop to Hightower’s arm to stop him from swinging the cutlass, then he hit Hightower in the face with an elbow. The man dropped to the floor and lay motionless.
Floyd coughed for a moment – he had breathed in the powder too. After he regained his composure, he knelt beside Hightower and pulled off the stupid ski mask. He checked for pulse, breathing, and pupil dilation.
“OK, now I’m feeling conflicted.” Belinda said, picking up the cutlass. “You just fought a man who had a freaking sword and beat him with your bare hands… or feet, I guess. And elbow.” She shrugged. “You are a living weapon – exactly the type of person I would expect to be a murderer… But, you’re also a good person. You didn’t have to put yourself in danger to help me and you didn’t have to make sure Hightower is OK after he just tried to kill you.”
Floyd looked Belinda in the eye, “Are you saying you believe me? Are you on my side now?”
Belinda held up her hands, “Hold on. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying I have a little doubt. I’m not going to change my mind just because you saved my life, but I am willing to investigate other suspects rather than blindly assume it was you.”
Floyd smiled and held out a hand. Belinda shook it.
“Also,” Belinda added. “I’m not giving you a refund.”