Swansea and The Inspector: Case 1 - Allegra

These cases take place in a surreal New York City, mid-century. The duo, Swansea and The Inspector are out on the hunt to uncover the city’s mysteries. The Inspector, a stick figure man with a very calm, neutral face. He wears a fedora, and a long coat. Swansea, a short green ageless being, no higher than your waist. He wears a dark green wool sweater with a black stripe across the middle, and dark blue pants. Swansea has floppy ears, and looks almost like a dog, but upright. Despite his odd appearance, he often goes unnoticed by the normal humans of the city.

New York City
A taxicab, Midtown Manhattan
8:52 P.M.

Swansea woke suddenly, and with a jolt. He looked around. He was in a car. Whose car? His heart began to beat quickly, until he looked to his right and saw The Inspector. The Inspector was a tall, slender man. He had been with Swansea for ages, or as long as he could remember. The Inspector was a man of few words, yet incredibly persuasive. He had a certain flat tone of voice that meant only business. The man’s mind was pure logic. He knew the next logical step for everything. He knew how people’s minds worked most of the time. Except for Swansea’s. That’s why he kept Swansea close. Swansea could find things the Inspector couldn’t. Swansea’s impulsiveness, and childlike curiosity had affected how Inspector ran his cases. He saw things the Inspector overlooked, which made him quite an asset. Swansea also had a knack for not commanding a lot of attention which made him very useful in getting in and out of places nobody would think to double check. This was partly due to the fact that Swansea was about the size of a child. Many people didn’t bother to look down to notice him.

Swansea sat up, relieved to see The Inspector sitting beside him. They were in the back seat of a taxi headed towards downtown Manhattan. It smelled of cigarettes and rain. He turned his head to The Inspector who sat facing forward, his hands folded over his long trench coat. The Inspector turned towards Swansea, and looked forward again, satisfied he was awake.
“We’re headed downtown to meet someone,” The Inspector said, reading the question off Swansea’s face.

They continued in silence down the rainy roads to a small diner in Tribeca. The diner was a small old dive that had been around since the thirties. Inside the diner, which was nearly empty as most of the people were at home with their families instead of here, a man sat at the counter facing away from the door. He wore a dark blue suit and dark blue hat. His hair was beginning to go white, from what Swansea could see. A cigarette was smoldering in an ashtray near him and his cup of steaming coffee. As they approached, The Inspector looked down to Swansea with a look that said “Let me handle this”. Swansea climbed up onto a stool and looked out the window, watching the rain and the traffic. The Inspector sat down with the older man and a waitress in a powder blue apron came and began to fill a cup of coffee for him. The inspector lifted his hand slowly and shook his head, and she took the cup away. Swansea strained to hear the conversation between The Inspector and the client.

“I need your help to find someone,” the client said.
“Go on,” said The Inspector.
“I heard you’re the best at finding hard-to-find people. It’s my wife, she disappeared the other day. She left no trace, to be honest, if you went into my apartment today you wouldn’t even know I’d had a wife. It’s as if she completely erased herself from my life,” the client took off his hat and ran a hand through his hair. He stared into his cup of coffee, and took a drag of his cigarette. He offered The Inspector one, but he shook his head. The client sighed.
“I don’t get it, I have very distinct memories of her, but also a deep feeling that she never really existed, like I imagined it all, you know? And to make it worse, it all happened the day after I get her this beautiful pearl necklace.”
“Strange,” said The Inspector. 
“It’s very strange, could’ve saved myself a few thousand bucks. I want you to find her, and bring her back to me so I can figure out what happened between us. Maybe it was my drinking, I don’t know I didn’t even think I drank too much, but once in a while I’d have a little too much and get a little rough, you know? I might’ve gotten a bit out of line the other day. The day before she disappeared,” the client sounded sad to Swansea, who was looking out the window. A woman in a long red coat and hat walked past the diner in the rain. She looked through the window at Swansea and smiled, then raised a finger to her lips like she was shushing him. Swansea felt dizzy for a moment.

The client reached into his pocket and showed The Inspector a faded picture of his wife, whose name happened to be Allegra. The Inspector took the picture and put it in his coat. 
“Who might know where she is?” The Inspector asked after studying the picture.
“The cleaning guy at our office, Scully. He was the one who called me and said she was missing from her desk after lunch. I rushed home as fast as I could to see if she was there but the apartment was empty of all her things. It was as if she never existed,” the client said softly, his voice wavering.
“Anything else?” asked The Inspector.
“Yeah, I’d been seeing a lot of guys in pinstripe suits around the office in the past few weeks. A few of them sounded Italian. It may have been a coincidence, but it felt suspicious. I feel like they were watching me sometimes.”
“I’ll take the case. I’ll contact you if I need anything,” said The Inspector standing up. The client wrote his contact details on a napkin and returned his gaze to his coffee and cigarette. The Inspector got up and walked over to Swansea. He motioned with his head that it was time to go.

The two walked outside into the rain. They stood near the window of the diner to stay out of the rain, as none of them had an umbrella. 
“Did that case sound odd?” asked The Inspector.
“The fact that she disappeared completely, as if she never existed,” said Swansea, “It sounds almost unnatural, I don’t understand it.”
“Agreed. Let’s check out this Scully first.”
The Inspector hailed a cab and they got in and headed further downtown to a high-rise. The cab ride over was quiet. Inspector was focused on the picture of the lady. Swansea stared out the window and watched the rain. Neon signs flashed advertising this or that thing as the pair made their way to meet the man named Scully, or so Swansea thought. 
“Take a left,” Inspector said in his characteristic flat voice to the driver. 
“This is the way to Scully, Inspector. Where are we going?” Swansea asked.
“To get real information. The guys in the suits sounded like mafia. They might have better information,” The Inspector said without looking over to Swansea. He was focused on where the driver was going. A few blocks later, he told the driver to stop, handed him money and moved methodically towards an alleyway. Swansea didn’t know where The Inspector was going.

The alley was dark, a few dim lights dotted the doorways down the alley. Trash bags and loose garbage littered the alley and Swansea found himself weaving in and out of the way of the obstacles. He was barely keeping up with The Inspector who was maneuvering this alley with ease, like he already knew the way. Swansea’s eyes weren’t adjusted to the sheer lack of light, and he kicked over a tin can which made a loud clang as it bounced against a wall. The Inspector stopped sharply, but slowly turned around to Swansea and stared at him with his blank face, but Swansea knew the feeling of urgency The Inspector was trying to convey. Swansea carefully and quietly walked through the alley to catch up with The Inspector. They took a right at the end of an alley, and then stopped at a door which had no light above it. The Inspector looked down at Swansea with a look that said, “You know what to do.”
“Where is this place?” Swansea whispered. 
“Information,” said The Inspector. 
“What should I do?”
“Try to not draw any attention.”

The Inspector knocked on the door twice, paused, knocked three times, paused again, and knocked one last time with the side of his hand to make a thud sound. Inside they heard footsteps coming towards the door. A small panel that Swansea hadn’t noticed before opened up, and a pair of eyes appeared. They looked red, tired. The eyes closed, and the head belonging to the eyes looked downward and sighed. The panel closed and they heard a series of locks being opened. The Inspector placed a hand on Swansea’s shoulder and took a step back, pulling Swansea along in the process. The door opened and a bald man in a black suit poked his head out, looked around and held the door open. The Inspector grabbed the door and walked in, Swansea quick behind him. The doorman closed the door and started locking all the locks again. Swansea turned around to look at him. He didn’t seem to notice Swansea. It was his talent.

The Inspector walked with quiet, yet deliberate footsteps. He acted as if he knew every inch of this grotto. Swansea, on the other hand, did not. He was noting everything. The pictures on the wall of the staircase, how particularly dirty the stairs were, the low lighting and how it made the walls look a dark red, almost purple. The smell, cigarettes again, the same smelly cigarettes the client in the diner was smoking. Odd, thought Swansea. He knew the brand and it was difficult to get in New York. Inside the room were five men, all in the same dark suits with black shirts. They were playing cards at a table. This was a mafia spot, thought Swansea. The room was small, dimly lit by one light over the table, there was a Sinatra record playing quietly off in one corner. All of the men around the table had thin shiny mustaches. Definitely mafia, thought Swansea. He felt nervous. As The Inspector came down the stairs and fully entered the room, two of the men stood up, they put down their cards.
“What’s going on here?” one said.
“Who are you? Joey, why’d you bring him down here?” said another.
“He knew the knock, I assumed he was with you,” called the man named Joey, who had opened the door and was still upstairs.
“It’s okay guys, I know him. This is The Inspector, he helped us out back in forty-nine with the fishery deal,” said the third man, the only man with his cards still in his hands. This third man had sunglasses on and a tie. “What do you want, Inspector?” he asked.

The third man and The Inspector began to discuss the reason for his arrival. Swansea walked behind the Inspector and stood off to the side of the table. He walked over to see the Sinatra record playing. He maneuvered past the men as they spoke with The Inspector about the case. He looked at the side table in the corner beside the stereo system. There were magazines, a lamp, and a bottle of whiskey on the table. Swansea opened the drawer on the front and it was empty except for a small arrow scrawled into the bottom of the drawer. It pointed towards the wall and to the right, seemingly to the back corner of the Hi-Fi. Swansea looked at the men, they were all still talking. He closed the drawer and squeezed behind the table and looked in the corner the arrow pointed. Sitting on the ground was a pearl necklace. That’s an odd place for a necklace, thought Swansea. Just then he heard the client’s voice in his head, echoing, “…this beautiful pearl necklace…” He looked on the clasp and in tiny letters, etched in the gold was the name Allegra. That means she’s here, thought Swansea. He squeezed his way out from between the table and the Hi-Fi and looked around the room. Down another hallway he saw a red hat, and what looked like a red sash that you’d see in a long red coat. Swansea’s eyes widened as he felt the world spin around him. He slowly turned his head, and the rest of his body followed. The talking had stopped and all the men around the table, including The Inspector was staring at him. One man, a fourth man, walked over to Swansea, bent down and took the pearl necklace from him. Swansea’s vision started to blur, but he saw the man put a finger to his lips as if to shush him.

Swansea woke suddenly, and with a jolt. He looked around. He was in a car. Whose car? His heart began to beat quickly, until he looked to his right and saw The Inspector. Wait, he had been here before. This had just happened. He asked the driver what time it was, as his temperature began to rise. 
“It’s 8:52, sir,” the driver said. 
Swansea sat back in the chair. He looked up at The Inspector, who looked back down at him, which comforted him.
“We’re going downtown to meet someone,” The Inspector said, reading the question off Swansea’s face. Swansea wasn’t sure if he had dreamed it, or experienced the same situation twice. The dream felt so vivid. The confusion gave him a headache. Swansea rubbed the side of his head and stared out the window.

They continued in silence down the rainy roads to a small diner in Tribeca. The diner was a small old dive that had been around since the thirties. Inside the diner, which was nearly empty, just as it had been in Swansea’s dream. Inside was a woman this time. She wore a long red coat and her wide brimmed red hat was resting on the counter, next to an ashtray with a smoldering cigarette. She turned to face The Inspector and Swansea as they walked in. A bright white pearl necklace dangled from her neck. Swansea’s eyes went wide, he felt his heart begin to race.

Her. From the dream.

It was the type of coincidence that Swansea — or anyone for that matter — would describe as one in a million. The Inspector took a seat at the counter next to the woman, and Swansea took a seat a few away to give Inspector his peace for the briefing. They spoke quietly, and a few minutes later, The Inspector came over to Swansea and told him it was time to go. Swansea looked back at the woman in red. He couldn’t believe he had been dreaming about her. She caught his eye, adjusted her hat, put a finger to her lips and smiled. A chill ran down Swansea’s spine. He got up off his chair and walked outside with The Inspector, staring at the woman over his shoulder.

“Who was that?” Swansea asked, standing outside in the rain with The Inspector.
“Name’s Allegra. She wants us to meet someone,” The Inspector said.

The Inspector hailed a taxi and they were off again. This time, headed east. They drove for a few blocks and got off at some high end office buildings near the financial district. They entered the building and went up to the front desk. It was one of those fancy offices where rich people worked. This Allegra woman must be well off, thought Swansea. 
“I’m looking for a man named Scully,” said The Inspector.
“He just ended his shift, he’s a cleaner here. He’ll be out shortly,” the woman said. The Inspector walked over to a bench across the hall. Swansea followed, and they both sat down and waited for the man named Scully. A few minutes later, an older man, likely early 60s, came out wearing a long grey overcoat and a grey hat. He still had his work shoes on. Must’ve been a long day, thought Swansea. The Inspector stood up.
The man’s face turned suddenly from relief to sadness. He walked over to The Inspector and Swansea. 
“That’s me. I guess you heard I was looking to speak to a P.I.” he said. 
“What do you need me to do?” The Inspector asked.
“Look, this is a really odd situation. I feel weird asking about this, because they work in this building, I don’t know if they know I’m even looking for someone,” said Scully. The Inspector said nothing.

“One of the CEOs in the building, Mr. Cameron, he came to talk to me the other day about his wife, the secretary. I work on the top floors, see, where all the CEOs and bigwigs work. I’m a cleaner. Anyway, Mr. Cameron, he’s been talking about buying this nice pearl necklace for his wife, in fact he did already. He showed me, beautiful. One luck woman he’s got. Anyway, I was cleaning the office the other day and I noticed the necklace was gone. I thought he might’ve given it to his wife, this stunning woman. She didn’t usually say much but when she did she was nice, you know? Real polite, she’s not from the city. So the next day Mr. Cameron doesn’t come in but his secretary does, and she’s wearing the necklace. He didn’t come in the day after either, or the next few days after that. He hasn’t been in for a little while now,” Scully said.
“He could be away,” said The Inspector.
“That’s what I thought too so I — and I’m ashamed to say this — but I looked through his calendar and he was completely free throughout all the days he’d been gone. He’s supposed to take his wife out to Italy for a week soon too. His wife’s been coming in, but she won’t say anything. She’s even been doing some of her work inside Mr. Cameron’s office. I even looked through her calendar, and she’s got nothing planned for herself or her husband except for the trip soon.”
“He could be sick, Scully, you’re paranoid,” said The Inspector.
“No that’s not the situation. I overheard his wife talking to someone on the phone, confirming that he was dead, and that she watched the life slip from his eyes. And after that, there was a lot of men in dark suits with pinstripes on the floor, and all around the building,” Scully looked nervous now. Swansea looked around the corner and saw two men in dark suits sitting in a far corner of the lobby. They wore the same suits as the men from the dream did. 
“Do you have a picture of Mr. Cameron?” The Inspector asked.
“When I was looking at his personal calendar, I stole this photo from his office in case I decided to go to a P.I. about it. Here you go,” said Scully, handing The Inspector the photo.

The Inspector looked at the photo, it showed a man with greying hair standing in front of the building. He gave the photo to Swansea to hold on to. Swansea’s heart nearly jumped up into his throat. The man in the picture was the man who originally gave the case in his dream earlier. Swansea didn’t know what was going on with the lady in red, and this man who had now suddenly died. He felt the room start to spin. He grabbed onto the bench and caught his breath. The Inspector down looking concerned. Swansea looked at the ground, watching his feet as the spinning slowed down. Then a splitting pain came and pierced his head for an instant, like lightning, and then disappeared. Swansea breathed in sharply. When everything stabilized again, he looked back up at The Inspector and nodded. They headed out.

They walked outside and stood close to the building to stay dry while they waited for a taxi to arrive. The Inspector looked down at Swansea again, concerned. Swansea felt The Inspector looking up at him, so he turned his gaze upwards and saw a look of concern again. Swansea smiled slightly and nodded his head. The Inspector seemed satisfied, so he put his arm up to hail a passing taxi. It stopped and they got in. The Inspector told the driver where to go and they headed off. The rain was coming down harder as they drove towards their destination.
“Some storm huh?” said the driver.
“Hmm,” said The Inspector. 
Hmm, thought Swansea.

They arrived at their destination and the Inspector stepped out of the car and pulled the collar of his jacket up so that it blocked the rain from getting down his neck. It was that same dark alleyway they had wandered down before in Swansea’s dream. The Inspector maneuvered his way through the trash cans and litter along the alley using the dim lights on the tops of the doors as a guide. Swansea followed close behind and was careful not to make any noise this time. 
When they reached the door at the end with no light on, The Inspector looked at Swansea and said in a quiet voice, “You know what to do.”
“Try not to draw any attention,” he responded. The Inspector nodded.

The Inspector knocked on the door twice, paused, knocked three times, paused again, and knocked one last time with the side of his hand to make a thud sound. Inside they heard footsteps coming to the door. A panel opened and a pair of eyes looked out, and met the Inspector’s cold eyes. Swansea thought he heard a quiet, frustrated sigh come from behind the door. The panel closed and a man opened the door, the same man from Swansea’s dream. He was bald and wore a dark suit, in the dim lighting, Swansea could now make out thin pinstripes in the suit. He poked his head out, looked around, and held the door open. The Inspector entered with deliberate steps; he knew where he was going. Swansea walked inside too and followed The Inspector down a staircase off to the left. He turned back to look at the man who had opened the door, but he had sat back in his chair and was beginning to fall asleep.

The Inspector walked down the stairs, Swansea following behind, looking at the pictures plastered on the wall, it was the same stairway as in his dream. It was odd to Swansea, being in this place again after having seen it for the first time in his dream. Everything was the same, the pictures on the wall, the men playing cards around the table, it was even the same exact men. Swansea got a feeling that something was not the exact same. He couldn’t see it, but he could feel it, like he was being pulled in another direction than he was in his dream. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, he turned his attention to a hallway, just past the Hi-Fi, which happened to be playing the same Sinatra song as in his dream. Something is in there, he thought.

The Inspector walked towards the table, and stood behind one of the men. The man directly opposite him looked up and recognized The Inspector. The man beside him put his cards down and looked up at The Inspector. 
“What do you want?” he said
“It’s that guy from fourty-nine, the fish man,” said another.
Did someone tell them that The Inspector was coming? How did they know him all of a sudden? Swansea was puzzled.
“What do you want? Whatever it is, make it quick,” said the third man, who originally recognized The Inspector when he came in.
“Cameron,” said The Inspector, adjusting his hat. 
The room fell silent for a moment. Swansea swore he heard some of the men holding their breath. 
“Who?” said the third man, breaking the silence. The Inspector began to explain the case to the men at the table.

Swansea took the conversation as a cue to start searching. He stepped out from behind The Inspector and walked past the Hi-Fi, quickly checking behind it for a glimmer of pearls. There was nothing. He walked down dark hallway, quietly until his foot landed on something that wasn’t the floor. He quickly pulled his foot back and squinted in the low light to see what it was. It looked like a carpet of sorts. He bent down to feel it, not being sure of what it really was. It felt soft, like a man’s coat. He pulled on it a little and it was light. This is definitely no carpet, thought Swansea. He pulled it towards him and picked it up, it was actually a man’s coat. He couldn’t see much of the detail for the light was low but there was something inside the pocket. Something heavy, that rattled quietly when moved. Swansea quickly reached into the pocket quickly and slipped the contents out of its pocket. It was a metal case, likely for cigarettes. He ran his fingers over the case to feel any identifying markers on it. He felt something across the long side of it; something written into the case. Engraved with the owner’s name maybe? He would get a better look at it in the light, so he placed it in his pocket.

He heard a noise come from room with The Inspector and the men. Swansea froze in place and turned slowly to see what was happening. The third man had slammed his fist down on the table. The conversation seemed heated, but The Inspector was keeping his cool, as he always did. Swansea continued down the hall, having less and less light than before. He noticed a small end-table towards the end of the hall. There was something sitting on top of it. Swansea squinted his eyes to see if he could get a better look at this object. Someone in the room at the other end of the hall had hit the light and it began swinging around and a quick flash of light came to the hall and illuminated the table. It was a hat. A man’s blue hat. Swansea thought it looked familiar. It hit him like a bolt of lightning, “Mr. Cameron’s hat,” he whispered. The light was still swinging, less so, so Swansea pulled the metal case out of his pocket. The light swung back and Swansea just caught the name scrawled into the cigarette case: CAMERON. His heart skipped a beat. He put the cigarette case back in his pocket, and took the hat off the table.

Swansea slowly made his way back down the hall, being careful not to make any noise. The conversation at the table had calmed down, and The Inspector had stopped the lamp from swinging. As he was walking back into the room, he stumbled over coat, which he now saw was the same coat that Mr. Cameron wore in the picture The Inspector had. He fell to the ground and the hat fell out of his hands and landed a few feet in front of him. Swansea looked up hoping nobody had noticed, but someone had. A fourth man at the table looked down at the hat. He turned around to pick it up and Swansea saw a look of puzzlement on the man’s face. Then the man’s eyes widened and he looked back towards the hallway. He watched Swansea slowly get up. The two didn’t break eye contact. Nobody at the table seemed to notice. They were frozen solid. Nobody was moving, not even The Inspector. The fourth man walked over to Swansea, bent down and placed a finger to his pursed lips. Swansea’s heart started to race as the world around him began to fade away. The walls melted as if made of ice.

Swansea woke suddenly, and with a jolt. He looked around. He was in a car. Not this again, he thought to himself. He looked around the car, it wasn’t a taxi this time. He looked at the rear-view mirror to see if he could catch a glimpse of the driver. It was The Inspector who was driving this time.
“Go left here,” said a voice. Swansea recognized the voice. He rubbed his eyes and turned to his right. His neck was stiff, and his brain felt a little fuzzy. The man beside him looked down.
“Your friend here seems to have woken up.” It was the man from the dream. The dreams, rather. Both of them. Mr. Cameron. 
“What’s happening?” asked Swansea, weakly. He tried to move himself from leaning against the door but he slipped and put his hand down on the other side of the seat, next to the man but his hand landed on a hat. Swansea quickly pulled himself back upright and looked at the hat he had just deformed. It was a blue hat. He quickly looked up at the man next to him. 
“Mr. Cameron?” he said.
“Yes Swansea. I hope you’re feeling okay you were mumbling something in your sleep there.”
“Some sort of weird dream, I guess.”
“Dream?” Mr. Cameron looked at The Inspector. “Inspector, find us someplace to pull over.”
“Already on it,” The Inspector said. 
Swansea felt the inspector crank the wheel and the whole car shifted as they sped around a corner. 
“Somewhere secluded please,” said Mr. Cameron as he tried to maintain his balance. His hat slid off the seat and fell towards the floor but Swansea caught it just in time.

A few frantic turns later, The Inspector pulled into an empty lot. Swansea couldn’t see too much in the dark, but he could hear the quiet splashing of water. He didn’t see a pier though. The Inspector led the other two under the cover of trees towards a gazebo in the middle of what looked to be a park. It was raining and by the time they all got under cover, Swansea was near soaking. 
“Does anyone know the time,” Swansea asked.
“Five to nine,” said Mr. Cameron, tucking his pocket watch back into his coat.
“Swansea, these dreams, explain,” said The Inspector. His voice sounded urgent. 
“What? What do my dreams have to do with anything?” 
The Inspector looked down at Swansea, “Mr. Cameron and I are investigating his missing wife, but the case is a lot deeper than her and some missing money.”
“Exactly,” Mr. Cameron said, “Here, let me explain. Recently I’d begun having very odd dreams where I’d be going to the same place every time but every time I got there, things went in a different direction. One time I went to the office to find all my employees had hung themselves. Another time I’d come to the office to find that none of my employees existed, or they all bought me gifts, or the entire office itself was on fire. It would be repeat after repeat. One of my employees would raise his finger to his lips and then I would begin to slip into another dream.”

Swansea stood in awe. “That’s what happened to me,” he said slowly. 
“My wife, Allegra, she has this ability to shift you between parallel timelines. Sometimes they’re so surreal. Other times, they’re depressing, or scary, or similar to the original timeline,” Mr. Cameron said.
“But how do you know which is the real timeline?” Swansea asked.
“It’s always the one that occurs differently from the others. That’s how you know. Someone will be there that wasn’t there before, and it’s always evident within the first minute.”
“Swansea, your dreams,” The Inspector prodded.
“Right, yes. Okay so the first one, I guess, was me waking up in the car headed to a diner to meet with you about your missing wife. We went to a mafia hideout to find her, who I assume is the lady in red with this pearl necklace, and I found her pearl necklace behind the Hi-Fi, then I was discovered and a man put his finger to his lips and the world melted away. I woke up back in the taxi cab where we went to the same diner to meet, this time, the woman in red, Allegra, who told us you had been killed. We went to investigate with a janitor in your building, Scully, and he said a lot of guys in pinstripe suits had been hanging around the building. The Inspector realized it was mafia related and we went into their little grotto again. This time, I found your hat and your cigarette case in your coat. I guess in that reality you had been killed.”
Mr. Cameron looked away from Swansea for a moment. He began patting down his coat for his cigarette case. He couldn’t find it. Swansea dug into his pocket and pulled it out. Both The Inspector and Mr. Cameron made eye contact, silently confirming their suspicion that something mysterious was happening. 
“Go on,” The Inspector said.
“So after I discovered all that, I walked back into where The Inspector was and then the same man from the previous dream noticed me and put his finger to his lips as if he was shushing me,” continued Swansea.
“Yeah, I know the motion,” said Mr. Cameron.
“Then the reality melted and I found myself back in a car, where I’d been waking up before, except you were there this time, and The Inspector was driving, which he wasn’t in the other dreams,” said Swansea.
“That means this is the correct timeline,” said Mr. Cameron, looking at The Inspector.

Thunder clapped and Swansea looked out of the gazebo to the water. He could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. 
“So what do we do now?” asked Swansea, “What does your wife want?”
“Well she ran away, she took nearly all my money with her when she left and she’s been playing with the timelines ever since; about three months now. I asked The Inspector to find her, and to stop her from bringing an end to the current timeline. I don’t know what she wants but it’s imperative that she be stopped,” Mr. Cameron stomped his food when he said ‘imperative’. “The interesting thing is, Swansea and I seem to have a high susceptibility to her ability. Me, I can understand. I’ve been with her for a long time, she understands how my mind works. But you, Swansea, you’re highly susceptible but you two have never met. You may be very helpful in helping us find her.”
“Whenever she appears in your dreams, you need to stop her. Any chance you get. It doesn’t matter if I’m dead in that timeline; God knows she’s killed me a thousand times already. She always tries to kill me in the whatever timeline she jumps to,” Mr. Cameron said.
“Why does she try to kill you?” Swansea asked.
“Because I tried to stop her from using her ability. I tried to restrain her, but she wasn’t having any of it.”
“So stopping her despite you potentially being dead would be the only way to end the constant shifting of timelines?” Swansea asked.
“It seems that way. But you never know when she strikes. If you ever wake up from a dream to find yourself in the same place as you were when your dream started, with no knowledge of how you got to that place, then you know it’s an altered timeline and you have to find her,” Mr. Cameron said.
“We’ll do our best,” said The Inspector.
“I just don’t get it. When would she shift timelines?” Swansea asked.
“It always happens when someone puts their finger to their lips like this,” Mr. Cameron put his fingers to his lips to show Swansea and The Inspector what he meant.

In that moment, Swansea began to feel dizzy. Mr. Cameron’s face swirled about with his finger to his lips. Swansea tried to grab out for support but his vision began to blur, and the roof of the gazebo began to melt away. The rods supporting the roof began to melt. Swansea’s vision shifted around and around. Everything began to fade away.

Suddenly, blackness.