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Jerry had never shot someone before. He usually carried his gun holstered around town just because he was able to do so legally and had already encountered one mob after another, either the damned Antifa, BLM, or Patriot Prayer nuts that would thump on a person for no better reason than for looking like someone they could gang up on. But the gun at least kept some of them at bay. He’d never expected that he might have to use it in the confines of his home. Still, he hadn’t really hesitated, which was morbidly interesting, and disturbingly cool.

The old man was still dead though, that couldn’t be helped. He didn’t know if the old bugger was some cosplaying nut that had wandered into the wrong home or what, but he was still going to have to call the cops.

“Dammit,” he said, leaning over the body as he came closer. He’d heard somewhere that you weren’t supposed to touch anything after a crime, or something like that. But he couldn’t help it as his eyes were drawn to the staff the old man held, its stark white and gray appearance somehow appealing to the fantasy nerd in Jerry as he reached out gingerly for it, wanting to see if it felt as smooth as it looked. He didn’t get the chance, at least not as he was hoping for, since in the next instant the staff flew into his hand so hard that smacked his palm with enough force to hurt.

“Ow! Dammit!” He tried to drop the staff, only to find that it had disappeared, as though he’d never touched it, or that it hadn’t touched him, or…something.

“What the fuck?” he whispered. Glancing down he could see that the old man was gone too, if he’d been there in the first place. There was no blood, but the impression he’d made upon falling over easy chair that had cushioned his fall was slowly returning to its regular form. He had been there. So where was he? Rubbing his still-aching palm, Jerry searched his apartment for the next few minutes, looking everywhere, including in spaces that couldn’t possibly hold a grown man. As he came walking back into the front room, he could have sworn that he had shot the man, that he’d fallen, and that the strange staff had smacked into his palm.

So where was it, and where was he?

Keep it safe, he heard a voice say. There was no around him though, and his front door was closed. Had he closed it?

“Dammit,” he said to himself. If he was going crazy, then his timing was, as always, lousy.

(to be concluded)

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