Friday, October 24, 2014

The Day She Died: A Time-Travel Mystery


Bill Garrison

A mystery. In this clean time-travel whodunit, a middle-aged coffee-shop owner always wondered what his life would have been like if he’d stayed in town the day his college fiancee disappeared, the victim of an unsolved crime.

One morning he wakes up 20 years earlier and finds himself a student at the University of Oklahoma again on the day she died. In a journey that takes months, he stumbles over people connected to Kim’s disappearance and puzzles over connecting the dots.

Oddly enough, things are different when he relives sections of his life. For example, as a teen he plays baseball and as an adult he discovers what it’s like to be a Christian pastor, things he never did before.

Can he find some answers about Kim and about his own life? Or prevent Kim’s death? And if he succeeds in changing history, what happens to his wife and kids?


Chapter 1

Darkness pulled at John, weighed him down like an anchor. Tendrils of knowledge and light penetrated his subconscious, lifting him toward the noise hammering against his mind.

Buzz, buzz, buzz, followed by heavy silence, not the usual Dora the Explorer from the living room television.

Would today be any better, or would Renee still not look him in the eyes?

The musty smell of dirty laundry wafted to his nose. Twisted covers. Brightness.


He threw the covers aside and swung his feet to the floor. Why hadn’t Renee or the kids awakened him?

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

He shut off the alarm.

He sat at the edge of the bed and looked around in stunned silence.

Heart pounding, he tried to make sense of it. This had to be a dream. But dreams were never this real, the smells never this strong, the colors never this bright. He squeezed his eyes shut, but he knew nothing would change. This was real.

He sat on a twin bed in a small apartment. Not just any apartment. His old Village Square efficiency apartment, the place he lived during the fall of 1992.

Could it be an elaborate prank? Would Dennis do something like this? Would Renee let him?

John stepped to the window and looked out. Overgrown weeds shot up through cracked asphalt. His dark gray 1988 Grand Am with the racing pinstripe, a car he’d relegated to the junk pile many years ago, sat in perfect condition, parked to the left of the front door.

He turned back to the room and took it all in. The bed with its sagging mattress served as chair, couch, and, of course, his bed. The ironing board, a permanent fixture in the kitchen, doubled as more shelf space when necessary.

The dirty laundry formed a pile in the corner between his bed and the wall. His pride and joy, a Compaq 386 computer, sat on top of a rickety computer desk that had taken him hours to put together. A TV rested on a milk crate with a VCR perched on top. It had been luxury … eighteen years ago!

A clicking noise caused him to jump.

The window air conditioning unit powered up and began delivering ice cold air.

This wasn’t a joke. This was his old apartment.

The phone rang.

John stared at the phone on the dresser. It kept ringing. Four rings. Five. Six. No answering machine. No Caller ID.

Should he answer it? He shrugged. Why not?


“Are you coming over or what?” Music pounded in the background, the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime.” He recognized the voice right away. Dennis Vance.

“Um, sure. What time?”

“Now would be good. Don’t forget the money. I have the tickets.” Dennis hung up.

Tickets? The memory slammed into his mind. The Red River Rivalry. The only tickets he ever bought from Dennis were for hard-to-get tickets, especially for the Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns football game at the Texas State Fair. His hand tightened around the phone. No! It couldn’t be.

He swallowed, and his gaze darted around the room for anything that would tell him the date. John dropped the receiver onto the dresser. His trembling fingers grabbed the Oklahoma Daily, the college newspaper, off the kitchen counter.

A cockroach scurried away.

John’s heart pounded out of his chest as he focused on the date.

October 9, 1992.

The day Kim disappeared.

The worst day of his life, and he was living it again.

He clenched his fist and slammed it into the refrigerator. The appliance shook, and a framed picture of his parents and younger siblings fell from the wall onto the vinyl kitchen floor. The glass shattered. John shook the pain out of his hand. You didn’t feel pain in dreams.

He grabbed a pair of Levi’s off the floor and pulled them on. They fastened so easily, a sensation he hadn’t experienced in a while with his expanding forty-year-old waistline. Putting on a Sooners sweatshirt, he stepped into the tiny bathroom.

He leaned toward the mirror and stopped cold. A smooth face with thick, dark hair stared back at him. No wrinkles and no gray hair. Somehow, someone or something had reached into the life of John Michaels, forty-year-old coffee shop owner, and transported him back into the life and body of a twenty-three-year-old college student.

Fear wedged into his heart, but he pushed it away.

How had this happened? Why did it happen? He needed to get out of his apartment. He grabbed his wallet and keys from the ironing board but couldn’t find his phone. John threw clothes and papers across the room looking for it. He’d lost the stupid thing again.

No, wait. John halted his frenzied search. He didn’t have a cell phone in 1992. No one did.

He grabbed his watch. Two fifteen.

Tickets could wait. He still had time.

He picked up the cordless phone from where he’d dropped it. His fingers, white with fear, clenched the receiver as he dialed Kim’s number from memory even after so many years.

The phone rang. And rang again. No answer.

He hung up.

“I can do this, I can do this.” He searched his memories. The police had talked to all of Kim’s acquaintances, but never figured out her exact movements that day. Except for one thing . . . she had last been seen going to Gittinger Hall on the South Oval of the University of Oklahoma campus.


This is an except of a full-length novel, releasing Oct. 15, 2014.

For more information about the rest of the book, visit


Debut author Bill Garrison lives the American Dream with his family of five in Oklahoma City. As a graduate of Oklahoma University, Bill works in the healthcare and accounting industry by day, but lives his creative side once he leaves the corporate world. After putting the kids to bed with a good story, he turns to his laptop and spins his daydreams into novels. Bill Garrison, CPA by day, story weaver by night

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