CHAPTER ONE

      The old woman rocked gently in the vinyl padded exam chair with her eyes closed.  Her hands gripped the armrests until her fingers turned a pasty-white from exertion.  A wisp of a grin pushed in vain against the corners of her thin, prune-like lips, as if she was suddenly recalling a bawdy limerick from her childhood.  It was followed by a frown.  And a sigh.

     “Mrs. Weiss, you are going to have to open your eyes and look into the phoropter for this to work.”  Doctor Yuan Liu stepped toward her patient and set her clipboard on the counter.  Her voice was soft and reassuring.  At five feet two and barely a hundred pounds soaking wet, the attractive young Asian optometrist hardly projected an image that would frighten anyone.

     “Okay.”  The old woman twitched and sighed again, this time the sigh was more pronounced.

Liu looked back to her scribe, who shrugged and continued typing an entry into the portable laptop that was perched on a rolling cart near the back of the room.

     “Mrs. Weiss, the phoropter doesn’t hurt.”  The doctor adjusted the unwieldy device that resembled a Transformer mini bot with two dozen eyes.  “We’ve done this before, do you remember?  You just look in here and tell me what you see.”  She gently stroked the old woman’s hand.  It was against the rules, but the situation required a personal touch.

“I see the future.”     

     “I’m sorry, what do you see Mrs. Weiss?”  The doctor cocked her head, confused by the woman’s statement. 

     “When I look in that contraption,” Mrs. Weiss opened her eyes, wide and feverish, “I see the future.”  She pushed the device to one side and attempted to get up from the chair.  “Bad things are going to happen.”

     “Mrs. Weiss, stay seated please.”  The young doctor moved quickly to keep the old woman from falling.  “We’ll skip the test and get you some help.  Okay?”  Without taking her eyes off her patient Liu barked an order.  “Jen, call for an ambulance.  And ask Dr. Strickland to come here - like stat.”

     The old woman rocked backward. 

     “No.  No. No.  Mrs. Weiss stay with me now.  Everything will be okay.”  Liu hurriedly rummaged through her lab coat pocket, tossing a script pad and pen onto the counter before her fingers located the small device she was struggling to find.

     The old woman began to mumble, slurring her words.  “Don’t look at the blue light.  Or the red.  They will make you see the future too.  You are so young.  And pretty.  I was young once.”  Mrs. Weis pulled her large handbag to her chest.  “Only follow the green, dear.” 

She pawed at the inside of the bag, searching for something.  And found it.  Then, without warning, her entire demeanor changed.  Her eyes darted wildly side to side.  The old woman’s lips sagged as she managed an ominous whisper.  “Save yourself.”  Weiss stared blankly at the eye chart on the far wall.  A shiver rippled through her body.    

     “Mrs. Weiss, look at me.”  Dr. Liu moved quickly.  She shouted for help and flashed the penlight in the woman’s eyes.  The pupils were fixed and unresponsive.  Her pulse was weak and intermittent.  Mrs. Weiss slumped in the chair.  Liu listened for a heartbeat but heard only the clink of something metallic falling onto the floor.  She administered CPR. 

     But death had already come to Mrs. Abigail Weiss.

     Unbeknownst to her doctor, it was not unexpected.   

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