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My life changed after I died.
It’s not like I had any special powers.
They just didn’t understand me.
They underestimated me.
I had a gift.

Tears streaked down her cheeks and left lines on her soot stained cheeks. I rested my hand on hers and hoped she felt at least a little bit of comfort. The children were safe, she made sure of that. I let her know I admired her bravery. She appreciated the compliment, for just a moment, and then fear grabbed her again.

She stood again and tried to shake the bars free from the window. Safety bars. Those bars were meant to keep evil out and now all they did was trap her in. Luckily the little ones could squeeze between the wrought iron rods and she dropped them to horrified bystanders on the street. She understood that there was no way she could escape, but she was determined to save the children.

One by one she made sure that her charges would be alright, they were safe. And now it was time for her to die, but now the fear of how she would suffer terrified her.

Coughs seized her body as she sank back down to the floor and cried some more. Flames were licking the walls. There wasn’t much time left. We were both scared, but I knew I had no reason to fear for myself.

We could hear the sirens of the approaching fire trucks, but there wasn’t time. Her eyes were haunted as she looked at me and I prayed that the smoke would claim her before the flames. My prayers were answered. I sat still and stroked her limp hand and felt so sad that the girl’s last minutes were filled with terror.

As the burning ceiling above us sent flaming stalactites raining down, I knew she was at peace.

Annie bolted upright in bed and gasped as she tried to catch her breath. There were no flames and no smoke, but the smell still assaulted her nostrils. Her throat felt raw.

Scott muttered a curse word into his pillow. Her gasp disturbed his slumber. Thankfully he turned over and went back to sleep. She held her breath until she was sure that he hadn’t woken enough to demand his usual wham-bang-thank-you-ma’am anger sex.

Annie slid quietly from the bed and padded barefoot down the hall to the guest bathroom. She needed to be quiet so she wouldn’t wake her mother-in-law and be subjected to her belittling comments. Of course Dianne would be only too happy to complain to Scott and make sure that he reprimanded his wife appropriately.

She locked the bathroom door behind her and drank three bathroom cups of water. Then she sat on the closed toilet seat. Annie hugged herself and thought about her nightmare. Only it wasn’t just a nightmare, not her nightmare anyway, she knew that. Somewhere some young girl had just died in a burning apartment. And there was nothing Annie could do to save her.

Annie had these types of dreams ever since she was a little girl, she just didn’t always understand why. There was a time when she was normal and happy. There was a time when she had the love of two adoring parents and she felt like a princess. Then there was a night she was napping in the back seat of the family car, her parents’ lively laughter and conversation soothed and comforted her. Suddenly her mother screamed, her father yelled, and Annie was tossed in the back seat. She remembered sobbing and screams… and pain. There was heat and crackling and then nothing.

Sometime after she woke up in a hospital bed she heard the nurses talking about how she was pulled from the wreckage by the rescuers just before the car exploded. She arrived close to death because of burns and damage to her smoke-filled lungs, a minor head injury and other cuts and bruises she had just added to the pity everyone looked at her with. She was in the hospital for weeks.

Annie went home, not to the childhood home filled with happy memories of her parents, but to her mother’s elderly aunt and uncle. It was an old but comfortable farmhouse and Annie would play with her dolls while hiding behind the furniture. Her aunt always made sure she was taken care of before she would tend to her chores. There were days her aunt would offer coffee and donuts to friends in the country kitchen. One day when Annie was playing close by, she overheard her aunt whispering to a neighbor that Annie actually did die on the operating table and, through the grace of God, the doctors managed to bring her back.

She was so young and couldn’t understand why she had been able to come back from the dead but her mommy and daddy couldn’t. Annie believed it was absurd that her whole life since then was just borrowed time.

When her nightmares first started and no one understood why she woke up screaming so often, hospital counselors told her aunt and uncle that she was reacting to the loss and it was normal.

 

Amazon Review

5 stars Karma Visited captured me from the beginning and never let go.

Karma Visited captured me from the beginning and never let go. This tale of good, evil, and a miraculous gift between has a cast of characters you’ll never forget. Well done, Chelle Cordero.
Charmaine Gordon, Author of Survive & Thrive novels and Mature Romances

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Karma Visited

By: Chelle Cordero

Narrated by: Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard

Length: 3 hrs and 52 mins

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Gunfire. The noise startled Annie. She froze and cautiously looked around. She had left the room with the imprisoned girl. She was outside and there was a commotion. Nearby there were two police vehicles by a tree about ten yards away, both units were empty. There was an ambulance parked beyond the police cars. Annie found herself standing next to a building with grey wooden slats, some kind of shack or barn. The morning sun was just rising and the sky above still looked inky like a storm moving in. She stepped closer to the building looking for cover even knowing the bullets couldn’t harm her.

Annie watched as a man running from the back porch fell right after another shot sounded. He was sprawled motionless on the ground between the tree and the house he had been running away from. The sun flashed off of an object that flew from his hand as he fell. An officer ran to the motionless body. He touched the man’s neck to check for a carotid pulse, and then he looked up at another officer and shook his head. Using a latex glove he pulled from his pocket, the officer picked up the shiny object, a large butcher’s cleaver with brown stains on the sharp edge. Another officer brought over a bag and the cleaver was dropped into it. They turned the dead man onto his back and patted down his body looking for ID.

“There’s nothing.” One of the officers called out to another member of their law enforcement team.

Someone said a curse word behind her. It came from somewhere around the corner of the shed.

“We have no clue where the girl is. Or why he took her.” Dave was coming around the shed and shouting the information to the other officers.

Annie tucked herself even tighter against the wall of a weathered shed. She looked at the face of the man lying on the ground. “That’s not him.” She said aloud and shook her head as she stood next the wooden structure.

“What did you say?” Dave stopped short when he saw her. He cleared the corner of the shed just in time to hear her words. Dave looked puzzled.

Annie looked at him terrified. He was looking directly at her.

“Who are you? How did you get in here?” He pointed the handgun he pulled from his side holster at her. “What are you doing here?”

Annie stared back at him. Her eyes were wide.

“I asked you a question.” His words were curt.

She paused and looked at the gun in his hand. “You can see me?” She sounded surprised.

He frowned. “Of course I can see you. What the hell?” Dave raised his handgun. “Where is the girl?”

“I don’t understand…” Annie shook her head. “How can you see me?”

“Don’t play games. I asked you a question.” He paused deliberately between each word wondering who this girl was. He only knew from Gayle’s driver’s license that it wasn’t her.

“Hey Boss, there’s no one in the house.” One of the police officers ran from the back door of the house to Dave. Dave’s partner, Tim, followed. They looked at his raised handgun curiously. “Everything okay, Boss?”

Dave realized that neither man acknowledged the woman he was speaking to. “Yeah.” He slowly lowered the handgun. “Any sign of the girl?”

They both shook their heads.

He was puzzled that no one else questioned how she got past their cars without anyone seeing. He was skeptical but it seemed as if no one else could see her.

“There… there’s another guy.” Annie said the words out loud.

Dave heard her, the others didn’t. “Look for another guy.” Dave felt compelled to repeat her words.

“In here.” Annie motioned to the shed they were standing next to. “There’s a secret room.”

Dave hesitated. Then he turned to the other officers. “Check the shed out. Look for a hidden door or something.” He looked at his partner, “Make sure there’s no other way out.” He looked back at Annie.

Dave and the other officer stood on both sides of the front shed door, both of them drew their guns in anticipation of danger. Dave nodded and his partner went to kick the door in. Before he could touch it, the door exploded outwards in splinters and the man with the dirty T-shirt that Annie had seen berating the girl burst out and attacked the two lawmen.

The three men scuffled. Dave quickly had the man pinned face down. He yanked his hands behind his back and cuffed him. “Where is the girl?”

Tim ran back around the shed when he heard the commotion, but stood back when he saw that Dave had everything under control.

“Fuck you.” Angry man spoke into the dirt.

“No, fuck you, dirt bag.” Dave pushed the suspect’s face into the ground. Dave spoke to his partner. “Look for some kind of a secret room,” he glanced back at Annie.

She remembered the musty odor; it reminded her of the root cellar at her uncle’s farm. “It’s underneath the shed.”

Dave sighed, he felt like he was losing his mind and then he repeated her words again, “Check underneath the shed. Look for a trap door in the floor.”

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