I awaken in the ambulance. Dave insists on accompanying me, holding my hand the whole time. It’s a long ride to the hospital in Ipswich. The local cottage hospital doesn’t have an emergency department.
It’s probably shock, the Paramedic says. It’s only a flesh wound, the bullet just grazed your side. Dave squeezes my hand. Remind me not to play rugby with you. You knocked Jem completely out.
She’s on the other side of the ambulance. She waves at me weakly. We have a police escort. Eileen is in another ambulance with Nadine’s body.
Did they catch him?
They cornered him on the roof and he jumped. He’s dead. As far as they know, he acted alone, although they don’t know who clocked him on the head.
I did. He’s the same one who took several shots at me in New York.
How do you know?
I chased him. He has a scar on his cheek. I didn’t realize then I could do what I did today.
We need to talk about that.
When we are alone. I have to figure out how to explain it to the police. He slit Nadine’s throat. He must have surprised her from behind.
I won’t ask.
The Paramedic gives me a cautious look. Jem isn’t paying attention. Her head is throbbing. I think she’s concussed. My jacket is torn just above my hip and my white blouse is soaked with blood. They have taped a gauze pad to the wound. I have a saline IV in my left forearm. It’s almost midsummer, so the sky is lightening already. It’s officially morning.
At my request, Dave stays with me in the ED while the doctors assess my wound. As expected, there is little more than a tear of the skin, so they clean it up and will soon stitch it. Akira will be here soon. Dave and I need to talk first. We are alone finally.
You’ve got some explaining to do.
There is very little to explain. I projected myself onto the roof. When you said you saw something, I immediately looked around and he was there. I whacked him over the head with my trumpet case and that caused him to pull the trigger before he was ready. That’s when I noticed he was the same guy.
You took your trumpet up there with you?
My trumpet is part of me. I think of it, and it is there. You might want to open the case. I hit him as hard as I could. Twice.
He opened the case and found a crease in the bell as well as two broken joints. Don’t worry. I’ve got a guy who can fix it in Cambridge. When is your next gig?
Tonight, but it’s on piano. I’m actually doing a composition masterclass in Cambridge in a couple of days before I go to York. Then I go to Manchester and finally to Birmingham, where I will need it again. Obviously, I’ll need to practice, but no trumpet gig until Birmingham.
Are you going to be up to playing tonight?
Let’s see what the doctors say.
You still haven’t told me how you did that.
I can’t really explain it, or at least not in a way you would ever believe. I’ve never before quite done what I did tonight.
In what way?
Usually, I look at a place and project myself there. Tonight, I had to take two actions at once, and rather than choose one of you, I chose both, and conked the shooter over the head at the same time. I didn’t think. I just acted – two bodies springing from one. Because my actual body went towards Jem, I was forced to reveal myself to you, like I did to Timothy. I stayed with you until I passed out.
Longer. I was putting pressure on your wound, and it wasn’t until Eileen carried you to my side of the road that I looked up. She placed you down right where the other you had been. The blood on my shirt is where you bled onto me, not from the you that tackled Jem. How can you be multiple yous at the same time? What does it feel like?
I can feel what any single one of me is feeling in all of me.
A second me stands next to him and puts an arm around his shoulder. It still hurts when I move, and I’m not totally assured on my feet. I kiss him on the cheek. Ouch!
I can feel your hand holding my left hand, while I can also feel my right arm over your shoulder. Others can’t see me unless I allow them. So far, only you, Timothy, and my friend Maria can see me this way, although you are the only one who has seen two at once. Tonight, I was four places at once, I have been more, a couple of times, just on a whim, while I was testing myself.
I trust you. Not consciously. I trust you deep down in my subconscious.
Akira and Alayne come bursting through the door.
I’ll go check on Jem and leave you to catch up. If she’s okay, I’ll head home. I think Becky and Jon are with her. My husband is probably wondering where I am. Should I take your trumpet for repair?
I don’t have my card with me. I should write down my number for you.
Just tell me. I’ll remember. I’ll text you later to confirm. Timothy can contact me, if you need to reach me before then.
He tells me his mobile number and leaves.
Alayne is afraid to touch me, but I hold out my arms to embrace her. She’s crying. She knew as soon as I had been hit. She felt the pain. Akira thinks I should cancel the tour. I won’t. I don’t give up that easily. I’ll play tonight. The sniper is dead, so they will have to send someone else. That could take some time.
My real enemy is not trying to kill me. They are trying to kill the concept of me.
That was a thought that took a long time coming. The sniper was not the existential threat. He was related to the Senator’s attacks. This was to create fear. Whether or not he succeeded, it didn’t matter. You can slow down the Truth but killing me won’t erase it.