Written By Peter Beshara 10.1
The headlights of an old Mustang switched on as it cruised down the long dark street. Inside sat three men who were involved in planning a robbery. Patrick Harley sat at the back pondering on the events that were going to take place tonight. He was a destitute man of keen intellect and was participating in this robbery to gain the funds needed for a get rich-quick scheme. Edward Branncook was at the wheel, he was a hardened criminal and a cruel man. In return for a favour Patrick did for him, he decided to help him pull the crime off. Edward kept his eyes close to the long, out-stretched road, his heart racing at the thought of what they were going to do. He turned to look at his brother Leo, who was sitting in the passenger seat. Leo was his strong, dim-witted cousin who did whatever Edward told him to do without giving it a second thought. All was silent in the car and no one spoke as the car approached the town.

Suddenly a man appeared next to Patrick and spoke out "Gentlemen if I may be permitted to interrupt you for a moment". The voice startled Edward who swerved the car side to side down the road as a shocked Patrick and Leo screamed out. Patrick looked at the man next to him, he wore a dark black suit and had black hair. He lunged forward to attack him but the man easily blocked the move. "Ah!" screamed Patrick as the man proceded to twist Patrick's arm. The man let go of his arm as Leo jumped at him from the front and started to choke him. Suddenly Leo felt a terrible feeling overcome him as the man lunged forward and pushed him back. Edward stepped on the brake quickly as the car came to a screeching stop. Edward turned around and pointed the gun at the man, "I don't know where you came from, buddy, but I know where you're going…all over the back seat!". Edward pulled the trigger of the gun but all it made was a clicking sound. The mysterious man suddenly took out a gun and pointed it at Edward's shocked face. "No!" screamed Edward as he closed his eyes. The man smiled and put the gun away and sat there silently. Patrick crossed his arm and stared at him. "Is he gone yet?" asked Leo closing his eyes, "no" replied Patrick shaking his head. "What do you want?" asked Edward angrily.

The Man sat back, "I am perhaps your greatest enemy, perhaps your greatest friend, and certainly a long life companion. I have come to you this night because I know what you are planning". Edward growled angrily "why you". Patrick raised his arms in surrender "I knew it, he's going to turn us in and we're going to jail!". Leo turned around and replied "but we haven't done anything yet!". " Please don't be alarmed I have no intention of stopping you, detaining you or in any way preventing you from carrying out your plans" the man stared at each of them "I merely wish to show you some of the possible consequences of your actions". "Do you ever think about the future Leonard?" asked the man approaching Leo. Leo stared at him blankly unable to reach an answer. "You can show us the future?" asked Patrick surprised. "Perhaps, what I will show you is only one possible future. It may happen, it may not". "Why not just tell us?" asked Edward picking up his gun from the floor. The man in black frowned, "what I have to show is of great value and you all must realise that you have reached a significant turning point in your lives". He looked at Edward and replied "Before this night is over, you will each face your greatest fear!" Edward grinned and began to laugh. "That sounds like a load of crap to me buddy, how about you all do us a favour and leave?" Edward responded. Suddenly a bright white light filled the car as the man departed.

The Mustang pulled up in front of the liquor store. Edward stepped outside his car and loaded his gun, "come on let's have some fun". Leo and Patrick got out of the car as they made their way to the front of the store. "You're not gonna hurt this guy, right Eddie?" asked Leo in concern, "you promised". Edward walked up the steps, "of course not, you idiot, you are!" he replied as he opened the door. "But I don't wanna" Leo replied as Edward motioned for him to be quiet. Edward turned the open sign around so it read closed. He and Leo then walked up towards the counter to the elderly man. "May I help you?" asked the storekeeper looking at the two men. Edward smiled and replied "you certainly can". He pointed to Leo, "I'm interested in finding a job for my cousin here". The storekeeper nodded, "I see, stock cashier or-" the man stopped as he noticed the gun in Edward's jacket. He reached quickly and pressed a silent alarm that was under the counter. Edward quickly pulled out his gun and pointed it at the storekeeper's face. "Money now!" Edward shouted as he threw a bag at the storekeeper. Leo's heart began to race as sweat poured down his face. The storekeeper began to fill the bag with money as Edward started to become impatient. "Geez Leo whack him already!" Edward shouted still pointing the gun at the storekeeper. "But Eddie", Leo protested, "now!" replied Edward. Reluctantly Leo took a swing at the storekeeper causing him to fall back on the floor.

Edward reached over to the register and started filling the bag quickly. He looked down at the shopkeeper and asked, "where's the rest of it?" The scared storekeeper whimpered "there's no more, you got to believe me". Edward growled "I don't believe you. If you lost everything to every hood that came here you'd be broke. So you must hide it, that's very smart". He walked up closer to the storekeeper and pointed the gun to his head "it would also be smart to tell me where it is". "Please I'm only trying to make a living" the shopkeeper wailed. "Yeah?" replied Edward "well me too pops, but if you don't tell me where it is, I'll settle and a make a killing, get it?" The shopkeeper opened a panel on the counter and handed Edward the cash. "Here take it and go" the shopkeeper whimpered. Edward grabbed the money "gee thanks pop, maybe we'll see you again sometime". "Eddie what's that button do?" asked Leo " I saw the man press it!" Edward made his way to the door "that was an alarm Leo, get him, make him pay!" "Bad man!" shouted Leo as he lunged forward and started to choke the shopkeeper. Once the shopkeeper passed out Leo stepped back in shock at what he had done. "I'm sorry, you're not a bad man, please be ok", cried Leo as Edward pulled him towards the door. "Come on Leo we've got to go unless you'd rather stay and pine over a corpse". Leo looked at Edward "what?" Suddenly Edward took out his gun and shot the shopkeeper as Leo started to shout "no!"

Edward started blinking as he came to. He looked around and noticed he was still in the car. "How'd we get back here?" Edward asked as he turned to see Leo with his head in his arms crying "my fault…all my fault". Patrick shook his head shouting, "it was all a dream!" Edward turned and pointed his gun at the mysterious man in black who was still in the car. "You!" he shouted "you did this and made us all believe it was real!" The man nodded "correct". "You're not human", Edward muttered as the man took the gun out of his hands. "I never claimed to be" he replied. Patrick turned around and looked at him "who are you and what do you want?" The man looked at Patrick "who do you think I am Patrick Harley?" Patrick looked at him as the man continued on "You have within the resources to discover my name, you only need to explore your emotions and examine the feelings which I have brought to you this night". Patrick swallowed and replied "fear, your name is Fear". Fear smiled, "so perhaps now you are more aware of your situation than you were before. Your intellect could serve you well in life if you let it, but here it does you a disservice. I have indeed come to show you your greatest fears". "What's the point of telling us what might happen?" asked Patrick. "Having this knowledge makes it tempting to try and resist, to claim your fears are nothing. This invariably makes them worse, so I warn you not to take this approach. Things will already be difficult enough for the two of you". "The two of us, what about Leo?" asked Patrick pointing to him. Edward turned to see Leo in tears. "Leo", Edward said grabbing his shoulder. Leo sniffed and replied "it was my fault, all my fault!"

"Oh come on Leo don't tell me you let this guy get to you" replied Edward pointing at Fear, "it was all a dream, it never really happened". Leo wiped his nose, "but we thought it was real Eddie, it could have been and I got the old man killed". "You nut I killed him" Edward shouted, "I know Eddie but it was still my fault, I shouldn't have told you about the button and get you mad". Patrick moved up behind Leo, "Leo you couldn't have known Eddie would react like that". Leo nodded "sure I could have, Eddie's crazy". Edward frowned as his anger began to boil up inside him. "Don't say that!" he shouted pointing at Leo "don't you ever say that, besides I thought you wanted to go on with this robbery". Leo replied "no I didn't". Edward shook his finger "you said you did". Leo shook his head "no Eddie you said I did". Edward raised his arms and replied "then why didn't' you just say no?" Leo bowed his head, "I was afraid". Edward looked at him "afraid of what?" "I was afraid you'd yell at me and if you yelled at me then you might make me mad" replied Leo softly, "I didn't want it to be like it was with Johnny". "Your brother?" asked Patrick " I thought he drowned when you were little". Leo shook his head, "I pushed him into the creek because he took my toy". Tears began to run down Leo's eyes "my parents told the police that he fell in by accident so they wouldn't take me away". "You knew about this?" asked Edward looking at Fear. "Of course" Fear replied "Leonard's entire life has been dominated by his fear of harming you, his only cousin". Leo pleaded "I won't do that anymore, I don't like hurting people". "You'll do what I tell you to" replied Edward harshly. Leo looked up, "no Eddie I wont". Edward looked at him in surprise. " I learned how to stop tonight, I didn't choke the shopkeeper. You're my own cousin Eddie but that doesn't mean you can make me do things I don't want to do anymore!" shouted Leo waving his finger around. Edward shook his head "Leo you don't know what you're saying". Leo crossed his arms, "yes I do Eddie and I'm not going on any dumb robbery tonight, you can do it without me". Edward waved his hand back, "fine we will, if you want to be a coward that's ok, just sit in the car". "Edward if you feel that Leonard has acted in a cowardly fashion then you don't yet understand" replied Fear "Leonard has faced his fears in perhaps the best way possible…as a man". Fear pointed at Patrick and Edward, "lets see now how the two of you fare".

Edward burst through the liquor store and onto the sidewalk. "Come on Pat, let's go!" shouted Edward "the old man pressed a silent alarm before I got him". "What about Leo?" asked Patrick running to the car. Edward got in the car and replied "forget him, we've got to go". They suddenly heard the sirens of two police cars, "it's the cops man, lets move!" shouted Patrick. Edward stepped on the acceleration as the car sped down the road. Patrick turned around to see two police cars hot on their trail, "buddy I hope this is worth it". Edward swerved the car down an alley as the police cars lost them. "How much did you get?" asked Patrick. " I don't know" replied Edward "a couple of grand maybe". Patrick smiled "that should be enough, in a few short months we'll be millionaires". Edward turned his head and looked at him "well I'll believe that when I see it". The car suddenly approached a police car heading towards them. "Look out!" shouted Patrick as Edward swerved to dodge the car as it went crashing into a wall on the sidewalk. Edward lifted his head up in time to see Patrick running down an alley being pursued by two policemen. "Get out of the car with your hands up!" shouted the police, "don't make any sudden movements!" Edward stepped out putting his hand behind his head hiding the gun he was holding. "Put your hands up!" shouted the policeman. Edward suddenly revealed his gun and shot the policeman in the shoulder. A loud gunshot rang out from behind him as a bullet struck Edward causing him to fall down onto the ground. The last sound he could hear was that of the clicking of handcuffs around his wrist.

Edward woke up back in the car and turned around looking at Fear and Patrick. Patrick pointed his finger at Edward "you just got shot and I was running down the alley and heard gunshots". "It was nothing bad, just in the arm" replied Edward " and thanks for taking me with you". "Hey I tried to wake you up but you were passed out from hitting the steering wheel" explained Patrick. Leo shook his head, "see I told you it was a dumb robbery". "Gentlemen" chimed Fear. Edward pointed at Fear "oh you're getting real tricky with that hallucination stuff. So I get nabbed by the cops, big deal, I'm not afraid of prison and I'm not afraid of you!" Fear looked deep into his eyes, "but Edward in this future you will not be going to prison for your crimes, your attorney comes up with a good defense. I think however for a man such as yourself, the defense maybe be worse than the punishment".

Edward found himself sitting in a small room across from his lawyer. He had a sling on his arm after the shot and was in a minimal prison. "I've got some good news for you Edward, you won't be going to goal". Edward frowned and replied "why not?" "I got back your psychiatric report this morning" his attorney replied "the doctor will sign the forms later and you'll be sentenced to a hospital for the violently insane".

"No!" shouted Edward hitting the steering will with his fists. "That's what you're afraid of isn't?" asked Fear. Edward growled "you're a liar, I'm not insane!" Fear shook his head in dismay "even poor Leo knew the truth". "I didn't mean that way" replied Leo softly. "Leonard is a moron!" shouted Edward "he couldn't know anything!" "Chill man" replied Patrick. Edward pointed his finger at a shocked Patrick, "If you think this is so damn funny I should kill you too". "Threatening the life of your best friend" Fear commented "does that sound like the action of a sane person?" Edward started shaking his head "you're wrong, I know you're wrong I'm just like everyone else". "How do you know?" asked Fear. "Because" replied Edward before stopping his words. "Because the voices tell you so" Fear finished off. "Yeah" replied Edward quietly, calming down. "You hear imaginary voices?" asked Leo in surprise. "They aren't imaginary" replied Edward angrily. "Then who are they?" asked Patrick in concern. Edward shifted in his seat, "My family, my parents, my long dead ancestors". "Aunt Martha and Uncle Ben?" asked Leo happily "can I talk to them?" Patrick slapped his head replying "no dummy, they're just delusions". "They are not delusions!" shouted Edward angrily. "They are delusions and you need help" replied Patrick. "No I won't go to some nut house and be treated like some weirdo" a startled Edward replied "I don't want everyone to laugh at me".

Patrick placed a hand on Edward's shoulder, "it won't be like that we can take you to a clinic, an old friend of mine went there once". Edward closed his eyes and asked, "why are you doing this?" "I'm your friend, what did you think?" Patrick asked. A tear ran down Edward's face, "I thought you'd all laugh at me and hate me, that's what I thought would happen". "Edward do you want to get help?" asked Patrick. Edward wiped his face and replied "I don't know, I'm afraid". "Edward Brannock, I give you a choice at this time. You can leave now and I will remove the memory of this conversation from your friend's minds" Fear explained "you'll never confront this problem ever again or you may stay in which case I promise you nothing". Edward tightened his fists in determination and replied "no, I'm staying here". Fear turned to Patrick who sat next to him, "you have shown yourself to be a man of compassion. Let's see if you are also a man of conscience".

Patrick ran quickly down the dark alley and jumped behind a dumpster in hopes of losing the cops. The two cops came running down the alley as Patrick lay still. He jumped out and kicked one of the cops in the stomach and turned in time to punch the other one in the face. The two cops got knocked out cold and slumped to the ground as Patrick made his get away.

"That's it I get away?" asked Patrick looking at Fear. Fear shook his head "no that's just the beginning the end comes much, much later".

Patrick Harleys get rich quick scheme succeeded all he needed was a little bit of starting capitol and he was a multi millionaire in the space of five years. He bought a mansion and got married. He spent the next years of his life raising a successful family. Patrick died peacefully after long and fruitful life. It did not end there however. As he felt himself rising into the afterlife, he hoped to see family again, all he had to was get past the final judgement. A loud voice boomed "Patrick Harley have you sinned against me?" Patrick looked down at his hands, which began to bleed, and replied a sorrowful "yes".

Patrick blinked several times before realising he was back in the car. He looked outside the window and noticed they were outside the liquor store. Edward turned off the car, "The fear man told us to drive you here while you were zoned out". "I dreamed my whole life" Patrick remarked, "it was wonderful and terrible". Patrick turned to Fear, "is that what happens when we die?" he asked. "Now that would be telling" replied Fear. Patrick rubbed his eyes and asked, " I don't understand, was that my greatest fear?" Fear shook his head and replied "No, I merely showed you a fear that lies in the hearts of all men, you have yet to face your greatest fear". Patrick looked at him and nodded, "I think I understand". Patrick opened the door and walked out towards the liquor store. "No don't do it!" shouted Leo from the car window "we shouldn't rob him!" Patrick walked and grabbed a sign from the window. "May I help you?" asked the storekeeper. Patrick walked up to the counter smiling and handed him the help wanted sign replying "id like to apply for a job". Patrick Harley was a new and changed man from a crime that never took place.