He takes the Tomorium with the remnants of a stale beer, warm as bath water. For a minute nothing happens. Then suddenly, the familiar tingle at the base of his skull. An itch behind his eyes. Cold sweat, hot face, dry mouth. His vision wavers, blurs, fades to black.

When it returns, seconds, or minutes, or hours later, he’s no longer staring at the flaking wallpaper in his hamster cage apartment. He’s looking at a copse of palm trees, perfect cloudless sky, turquoise water, sand like sugar

The vision shimmers, disappears.

He’s back in his apartment.

He smiles in spite of the headache, throbbing behind his eyes like an infected heart. Tomrorium always gives him headaches. He smiles because he knows he’s only twenty four hours from Paradise. Knows it with cool, absolute certainty

Tomorium never lies.

He shakes the pill caddy. Plastic rattlesnake. Only two pills remain. Street value, twenty four thousand dollars. He’s going to have to see Marvin about getting some more. Marvin his cousin. Marvin the security guard at Biozyne Pharmaceuticals. Marvin the deadbeat gambling addict.

He shakes the pill caddy again, slumps in the futon, drifting back, remembering the first time.

“It was sposed to be for Alzheimer’s or Parkinsons or sumthin ,” Marvin had told him, pinching the tiny blue pill between his thumb and forefinger. “Only once they started human trials, they realized it was sumthin different altogether. Sumthin special. One of the egg heads told me, it stimulates an un-mapped, dormant part of the brain. Somehow, let’s you see your future. Crazy huh? Only your future though. And only bout twenty four hours ahead. You believe that?”

He hadn’t believed it.

Then he took the pill.

One minute he’d been looking at Marvins crooked, ugly face, the next he was looking at a lady’s pretty one. Pretty, but streaked with runny mascara, trembling, contorted with fear. She was rifling money into a pillowcase. She was a bank teller. He was robbing her.

He drifts back to the present. Hard to believe that was six weeks ago. Six banks ago. Six pills ago.

Would he have robbed six banks in six weeks without Tomorium? Without the ability to see into his future? To know, without a shadow of doubt, that he was going to get away with it? No.

He picks up the dented beer can. Takes a sip. Remembers it’s empty, puts it down. He smiles. Cloudless sky, turquoise water, sand like sugar. He’d been meaning to take a vacation, and now he knows he’s about to.

Tomorrow he’s going to rob the First National bank. He’s going to get away with it. After that, he’ll take a nice, relaxing drive down the coast until he spots the scene from his vision, where he’ll kick back with a margarita and work on his tan.

He spreads out on the futon, closes his eyes. He smells something funny. Gas? Did he leave the stove on? He chuckles to himself. He’s not even going to bother getting up to check. Even if he did leave it on, so what? It doesn’t matter. He’s not going to explode. There’s not going to be a fire. He’s seen his future. In twenty four hours, he’s going to be in Paradise.

Tomorium never lies.

He falls into a deep, restful sleep.

She rifles through Marvin’s jacket. Tic-tacs, loose change, snot smeared handkerchief. He’s singing tone deaf Frank Sinatra in the shower. She doesn’t trust him. Hasn’t for months. He’s been acting strange, distant, detached. She suspects he’s cheating on her. As he hits the crescendo in My Way, she finds something odd. A small, unmarked bottle, brimming with blue pills. Is he a junkie too? The shower shuts off. She’s running out of time. She’s broken inside. She wants to feel something. Anything. She pops a pill in her mouth, chews it, swallows dryly. It tastes like powdered gasoline.
She doesn’t understand it, but she sees her future. It scares her. Scares her so much she forgets all about Marvin’s infidelity. Scares her so much, that as Marvin towels himself off, she digs out the sawed off shotgun he doesn’t think she knows about, and buries it in her work bag.

He wakes up, goes through the motions.
Black shoes, black pants, black shirt, black gloves. Beretta pistol, cleaned, oiled, and loaded. He slips on the Darth Vader mask. It smells like ass, but the alternative is Sponge Bob Square pants. The Vader mask and gloves go into his bag. The gun into his belt, tucked against the small of his back. He slips on his jacket and walks out the door. He’s daydreaming. He can almost smell the ocean.

She counts out a hundred dollars for an old lady, but has to count five times before she gets it right. She hands over the bills with a shaky hand. She’s shook, frazzled, jumping at every sound. Her skin itches. The teller next to her notices, asks if she’s alright. She nods yes. She still can’t decide whether or not the vision was real. If it was, she knows what she’s going to do. She’s been a victim too many times. She won’t be a victim again.
Marvin’s shotgun is in the bag at her feet.

He struts into the First National Bank like he owns the place.
He goes through the motions. Gun in the air, customers on the floor. This is a robbery.
Fate leads him to a mousy teller. She’s ash faced, moaning weakly, poised to pass out, and he’s not even pointing his gun at her. Then he is. She stuffs wads of crumpled bills into the bag he provides. He says thanks, calls her sweet cheeks, makes a puckered kissing sound from inside his mask. He spins and leisurely heads for the door. He starts to whistle. He thinks when he gets to the beach, he’s going to give surfing a try. After a Pina Colada or two.

She watches the bank robber walk away, not a care in the world, like he’s strolling through a park. He’s whistling. My Way by Frank Sinatra. Her eyes well up with tears. She’s confused, terrified, humiliated. A sob escapes her lips. Something deep inside her shatters. She’s been a victim too many times. She won’t be a victim again. She reaches down and comes up with the shotgun. Somebody screams. She pulls the trigger.

He hears someone scream as he reaches the door. He doesn’t bother turning to see why. Who cares? He’s seen how this plays out. He’s going to the beach. The shotgun round hits him in the back, between the shoulder blades. It hits like a wrecking ball, a rhino charge, the sting of a thousand pound wasp. Blood spattered bills scatter like autumn leaves. He stumbles out the door. There’s no air. He rips off his mask. The sun’s too bright. The traffic’s too loud.
This can’t be happening. The Tomorium showed him his future. He was supposed to get away.

Palm trees, perfect cloudless sky, turquoise water, sand like sugar.

He was supposed to make it to Paradise.

He dies in the gutter, staring glassy eyed into the window display of the Travel Agency next to First National Bank.

“ESCAPE TO PARADISE” it reads above the dreamy scenery.

Palm trees, perfect cloudless sky, turquoise water, sand like sugar.

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