The view from the Ferris wheel was always breathtaking. I knew Hope loved it too. After taking in all the attractions we could during the fair, we could finally take a rest in a small wagon suspended in midair. Against the setting sun, the orange sky phasing into indigo, the white skyscrapers in the background looked pitch black. That is, until all the lights went up. That, however, made the sky take a darker shade of its hue. The time had come, I knew. Here goes nothing.
“You know, Hope,” I started. My voice sounded cool and confident. Perfect, because all my innards were shaking. “I’ve been thinking. About how much I love you.”
“Oh, shut it, scar face,” she laughed. “Sorry. That came out a bit wrong. I love you, too. I’m just having so much fun.”
“I know, right?” I laughed back at her. My right hand clutched the pocket in my pants tighter. “It’s all so unreal. I can’t believe how happy you make me feel. You have literally given me so much hope in life.” We both laughed pretty hard at that.
“Well, you know,” she said, her full, kissable lips spread in a warm smile. “I don’t think it’s pure chance that we ended up this way.”
“You think so?” I grinned back. “Because, you know, it’s funny. How you mentioned chance. I mean, it’s not that funny, considering how we make these puns all the time, but, you know– Anyway, I guess I want to say that is that you’ve changed my life and you mean so much to me and I can’t imagine being happier than being with you. So I guess I just want to make sure if you feel the same, and,” I pulled out the small box from my pocket and got down on one knee. The cabin swayed a bit. “If you’ll take a chance on me.”
As I opened the box and the diamond ring gleamed, I could see her eyes turn wide. Hope had big eyes. But I had never seen them quite so big. For a second, she stayed silent. That second seemed to last an eternity. Then, a single tear rolled down her cheek and she started laughing.
“Chance, I–” she said that between what I could no longer tell if they were laughs or sobs. “Of course I’ll take a chance on you!”
I put the ring on her finger. It was really thin, but nothing bigger would look good on those tiny hands of hers. We sat there embracing the rest of the ride, locked in the longest kiss I ever experienced. For a second I thought my luck could never get better.
I was right.
Everything went downhill as we were making our way back to the monorail. We wanted to get home fast, so we took one of the shortcuts I knew were there. It was a back alley that was almost completely dark, but I knew my way around it, so I didn’t think anything could happen to us. I guess you could say I pushed my luck.
“Chance F. Donovan?” I heard a distorted voice behind me. I wanted to keep going anyway, but Hope had stopped dead in her tracks. Her eyes wide, she stood frozen, looking at something in front of us. It was a huge, hooded figure, pointing a gun at me.
“Yes?” I asked. My voice sounded cool and confident, against all odds. How do I keep doing that?
“I believe you are in the possession of something that belongs to my superior,” said the voice from behind me .
“You mean the money? I had an arrangement with Mort. He said I still have time to pay him back.”
“Chance, just what did you get yourself into,” said Hope in a trembling whisper.
“I believe there has been a change of plans, Mr. Donovan.”
“I’m sorry, amigo, but I don’t think I can pay you back now. I kind of spent all the money and won’t be able to pay Mort back until next month.”
“My superior is not satisfied with the way his money has been spent, and thus he demands that you repay him now. It needs not be in cash. Another prized possession will suffice.”
For some reason, I just knew it in my gut. I knew where it was all going. That gut feeling made me act. I leapt even before I heard the gunshots. I threw Hope to the ground, probably a bit too brutally, but that was nothing compared to the pain she could have felt. The pain I felt. Two bullets entered m,y body. I couldn’t even tell where, the pain was too much to handle. I closed my eyes, I hoped I could just lose consciousness and wake up all patched up.
But that was just the beginning.
I opened my eyes to face a giant, burning, alien eye gazing down at me. It was surrounded by red, burning wings, descending down a whole in the clouds that expanded wider and wider the closer to me it got. And the closer it got, the hotter it felt, and the more I felt I was losing my mind on top of being in immense pain. I turned my gaze down and noticed a naked woman suspended in midair, surrounded by a crowd of people. A crowd I was part of. A red streak of light was connecting her forehead to the eye in the sky. I could barely focus, I felt that I was dying of all the pain, but still, the woman looked familiar.
“Angela,” an all too familiar voice came from my left. It was only then that I noticed Hope was clutching my hand. She was shaking, her hand cold and sweaty. Her eyes were fixed on the woman in the middle, which just as well could have been Angela.
The Contact, said a voice. It filled my head. There was no room. It was all too hot, too stuffy, the pain was too much. I felt like I was going to puke.
And then I opened my eyes, gasping for breath. I was in Hope’s bed. I looked around. The bed sheets were all covered in my blood, but I saw no trace of bullet holes on my body. The pain was gone. Hope was kneeling by the bed, clutching my hand with both of hers. Her doe eyes were swollen with tears gone by, but soon became wet again with a new batch.
“Chance!” she cried as she threw her arms around me. I embraced her and tears came rolling down my eyes as well. It was only after all the pain had gone away that I realized how scary it all was.
“Hope. Hope, listen,” I started talking to her. My voice was muffled by her golden curls. “Did you–“
“Yes, I saw it too,” she sobbed. “Chance, I–“
“I know,” I said. This time, I could hold back my tears. My voice was cool and confident again. “Don’t worry. We’re in this together. We can get through this.”
I then noticed the view from the window. The sky was dotted with lights, even though the sun was up. I wasn’t surprised, though. We both knew exactly what they were. They weren’t there by chance.