The prompt: A knock at the door catches you off guard. Upon answering it, you’re greeted by a person who says she’s from the future—and she can prove it. More important, she says she has information that will save your life.
It’s Saturday morning and I am hurrying to get my backpacking gear together for a hike in Colorado. Emmett and I have been planning this trip for a couple years—He wants to show me the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and we are so looking forward to some time away. I hear a knock on the back door—which is strange, because that door is around the garage and through the backyard—not the normal door for anyone to come to.
I leave the stack of Under Armor t-shirts and shorts on the bed and run downstairs. A short, plump Hmong looking woman is standing at the door. She is rapping again, I’ve taken so long.
“Hi, can I help you?” I ask. “How did you get to my back door?”
She doesn’t wait for an invitation, she shoulders past me to the kitchen table. I have nothing on the table,–my kitchen is neat as a pin since I’m planning on leaving today—But I protest, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing? I didn’t ask you here! I’m calling the cops!”
The lady was small, but rotund. I figured I could take her down if I had to—as long as she didn’t have a gun or a knife, I figured I’d be OK. She had an air of authority about her, and she seemed to know where to go in the house.
“Your house is just like it was when I saw it,” she said. “Don’t forget the clothes in the laundry.” How did she know I had a load in the laundry—which, by the way, I had forgotten.
“I know you want to go on this trip, but I am asking you not to. It is not safe. There are some dangers waiting for you.” She was growing more and more mysterious. “It is your choice, but I urge you not to go.”
“How do you know I’m going on a trip?” I asked. “And what the hell are you talking about, anyway? I know it’s dangerous, but it is a marked and popular trail. It’s no more dangerous than any other hiking trail out there.”
She eyed me sideways, and scooted into a chair. She almost had to stand on her tippy toes to get on the kitchen chair. She folded her hands in her lap, and leaned back. I know the trail. I’ve seen it. I come from the future. I see things, and I saw you. You will fall to your death if you go.” Her eyes half closed, the small nose in the center of her face flared as she spoke.
My skin crawled. I needed to leave to go to the airport. I was meeting Emmett in Denver, and then we were going to leisurely drive to the trail head. It was going to take two days to get there. I looked at this little woman, so strange looking in my chrome and granite kitchen.
I wondered why I even hesitated, why I could possibly take this little lady, who weirdly showed up at my back door, seriously. I began to shoo her out the door.
She stood tall—at least as tall as her tiny frame would allow—and stood squarely in front of me. “I repeat. You will die if you go to this trail. I saw you fall. You will die. Do not go.” And with that, she shuffled to the back door and let herself out.
I watched her for as long as I could—she rounded the corner of the garage and I couldn’t see her any longer. I walked to the front window and looked out. I didn’t see her on the street. I thought about going outside to see if she were hiding beside the garage, but I decided to finish packing instead. I had just a little bit more to do and then I was done.
I climbed the stairs to my room where the t-shirts and shorts waited for me in a leaning pile on my bed. I started to throw things in the bag, but my heart wasn’t in it. I felt a little scared, more like spooked. We had spent so much time planning this trip, working extra hours to get the time off.
I finally picked up my cell. Emmett had called. I hit redial, and he picked up immediately. “What’s up, hon? I felt like I needed to check in with you.”
“You won’t believe this, but I had the strangest person stop in, and she really scared me. Emm, I just can’t go on this trip. She was a psychic or something, and she said that I would die if I went on the trail.” I felt embarrassed to be saying what I was saying, but I knew that I couldn’t go.
“Who was this person? You can’t just up and back out based on some crazy person! Get going, get on that plane, and I’ll be at the airport waiting for you.”
“I’m sorry, Emmett. I just can’t. I can’t explain it and I can’t go.” I hung up. Sat on my bed. Stared at my partially packed bag and started to cry.
Two days later, when I was supposed to be on the trailhead, I was at work. People wondered what happened, but I just couldn’t say. I went through the motions, but I felt in a fog.
The next day, the day we would have been hiking the steepest part of the canyon trail, I was on my way to work. I was approaching the intersection, and I saw the little Hmong lady. She had the same clothes on, shuffling along. I was looking at her when I ran the stop sign. An instant later the front half of an F-150 pickup was sitting on top of me. As the lights began to fade, I saw Emmett step directly in the path of a rockslide on the trail, his arms flailing, his pack bouncing, rocks ricocheting, until neither Emmett nor his pack were in sight.