Infinite Page 1

Author: Brian Freeman

Genres: Thriller , Mystery


“We’re very sorry for your loss, Mr. Moran,” the cop told me as he handed me a white foam cup filled with coffee. He already had his own coffee in his hand, and he was eating a powdered doughnut that left a dusting of sugar on his mustache like fresh snow on a lawn.

I said nothing. I felt dazed and numb, as if I were in a coma from which I wasn’t sure I would ever awaken. The chill made me shiver. They’d taken away my soaked, dirty clothes and wrapped a wool blanket around my naked body, but it didn’t help. A policewoman who lived nearby had offered to wash and dry my clothes and bring them back to me before morning. The deep cuts on my arms and legs had been disinfected and bandaged, but I felt a stinging pain regardless. I kept coughing, and when I did, I could still taste the river.

It tasted like death.

“Feast or famine,” the cop said.

He was probably about forty years old, with a round face and not much brown hair left on his head. He had a large mole in the seam of one of his nostrils, which was the kind of thing you couldn’t stop looking at. He was plump, clean, and dry, a cop who spent his nights at a desk. Two other cops, young and fit, had found me in the field, with rain pouring over my face along with my tears.

Where was I?

What town was this?

I didn’t even know. The police had driven me here, but I remembered none of it. I only remembered shouting Karly’s name as they dragged me away. She was still down there in the water.

“Feast or famine,” the cop said again. “That’s been us this season. May and June were dry as a bone. Been driving the farmers crazy. Land’s hard as a rock. We get a storm like this, and all the water just runs off into the creek. The banks ain’t made for that much rain that fast.”

He was right. My grandfather grew up in the flatlands of North Dakota, where the waters rose every spring with the snowmelt, and he used to warn me about rivers. Never trust a river, Dylan. Give a river even half a chance, and it’ll try to kill you.

I should have listened.

“Sorry about all the paperwork at a time like this,” the cop continued. I thought his name was Warren, but I couldn’t even lift my head to study the nameplate on his shirt. “I know that’s the last thing on your mind, but somebody dies, we have to jump through a lot of hoops. That’s the law. Like I say, I’m really sorry.”

“Thank you.” I barely recognized my voice. It didn’t even sound like me.

“Can you tell me your wife’s name again?”

“Karly Chance.”

“You and she didn’t have the same last name?”


“How old was she?”


“And you?”

“I’m thirty-two.”

“The two of you live in Chicago?”


“What brought you down to this part of the state?”

Dylan, let’s go away for a few days. I know you’re upset and angry, and you have every right to be, but we need to start over.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“I said, why were you down in this part of the state?”

“We took a weekend away from the city,” I replied. “A friend of Karly’s has a place in Bigneck.”

“What do you do in Chicago, Mr. Moran?”

“I’m the events manager for the LaSalle Plaza Hotel.”

“And your wife?”

“She works for her mother. She’s a real estate agent.” I added a moment later, “She was.”

Warren popped the last bite of doughnut into his mouth and then rubbed his mustache clean with a napkin. He kept scribbling notes on the yellow pad in front of him, and he hummed to himself as he did. I looked around the police interview room, which had chipped cream-colored paint on the walls and no windows. Warren sat on one side of a rickety oak table that was old enough to still have cigarette burns in the wood. I sat on the other side, swaddled in the blanket like a newborn. I couldn’t trust any of my senses. When I breathed, all I smelled was the dankness of water in my nose. Every time I closed my eyes, I was back inside the car, as the river flipped us like a carnival ride.

“You got a way to get home to the city?” Warren asked me. “Family or friends or somebody who can pick you up?”

I didn’t know what to tell him. I had no family, not really. My parents died when I was thirteen. That’s the clinical way I describe it to people, which is easier than saying that my father murdered my mother and then killed himself right in front of me. After that, I moved in with my grandfather. Edgar’s ninety-four now and doesn’t drive. We get along, but we don’t get along, if you know what I mean. It’s always been that way.

As for friends, the childhood friend who had always bailed me out when things got bad was Roscoe Tate, and he died four years ago after bailing me out. Literally. That was the night I met Karly. I was covered in blood, my arm broken, my leg broken. Roscoe was dead behind the wheel, his neck snapped. I thought I must be dead, too. I stared through the car’s shattered windows and saw an angel staring back at me, her dress billowing in the wind, her hand reaching in to hold mine. Her quiet voice murmured that help was coming, that I was going to be okay, that she wouldn’t leave me.

That was Karly.

And now she was gone. Another car accident.

“I really don’t have anyone,” I told Warren.

“Oh,” the cop replied, his mustache wrinkling. “Well, we can figure something out. Don’t you worry, we’ll get you home.”

“Thank you.”

As we sat there, the door to the interview room opened. The deputy’s face bloomed with surprise, and he jumped to his feet, brushing sugar from his sleeves. A fifty-something woman, trim and small, stood in the doorway. Her size didn’t diminish any of the authority she conveyed. Her blond hair was pulled into a tight bun behind her head, leaving wispy bangs on her forehead. She had polite brown eyes and a calm, neutral expression on her mouth. Her uniform was slightly damp, as if she’d come in from outside, but the creases were crisp.

“Sheriff,” Warren exclaimed. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were coming in.”

The sheriff gave her deputy an impatient look that said he shouldn’t have been surprised at all by her arrival at four in the morning. A river had flooded, and a woman had died in her county. Out here, that was a big deal.

“I’ll take over, Warren.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Warren made a quick exit with a sympathetic nod to me. The sheriff sat down and opened a file folder with a small stack of papers inside. With a glance at the top page, I saw an incident report from the Chicago police. I was pretty sure my name was on it.

“Hello, Mr. Moran,” she said. “I’m Sheriff Sinclair. You have my deepest condolences on the death of your wife.”

“Thank you.”

I realize there’s nothing else for people to say in these circumstances, and it makes them feel better to say it. I’m sorry for your loss. But as the one who just lost everything, I can tell you, it doesn’t help at all.

“I wonder if you could take me through the details of the accident.”

“I’ve already done that, Sheriff.”

“Yes, I know you’ve been through it with my men, and I know how difficult this is, but it would be very helpful if you could tell me again.”

So I did.

I replayed it all like a horror movie that you can’t stop watching. How the two-lane road vanished, swallowed up by inky black water overflowing the banks of the river. How we plunged into the mud-thick current, which wriggled and surged like a sea creature. How we shimmied on the surface like a dancer struggling to do a pirouette, and then the front end lurched downward, and sludgy water filled the car.

“That’s a terrible thing,” Sheriff Sinclair said when I was finished. Her eyes never left me the entire time I was talking. Somehow I had the idea that I was strapped to a polygraph in her mind, with probes tracking my heartbeat with every breath I took. She reminded me of my mother, who’d also been a cop and who’d been able to tell when I was lying as a child just by looking at my face.

“Do you know how fast you were going when you went into the water?” the sheriff continued.

Dylan, slow down.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Do you know how fast you were going when you went into the water?”

Dylan, please. Slow down.

“No, I don’t know. Too fast, obviously. I didn’t see the flood in time to stop.”

“The car sank immediately?”


“And you were both trapped?”


“How is it that you managed to get out of the car but your wife didn’t?”

I twitched. In my head, the car jerked through a somersault under the water. Our bubble of air spilled away. The window near me broke into pieces, and something shot through the space like a javelin.

“A tree trunk came through the car,” I explained. “I was able to pull myself out. I was trying to get Karly out, too, but the car shifted and ripped her away from me.”

“Did you dive back down to find her?”

“Of course I did.”