REVIEW - Seventeen Minutes To Midnight
by Danielle Fray

Reviewed by: Michelle Medhat


Seventeen Minutes to Midnight by Danielle Fray

(c) 2024 Danielle Fray / LilMissDiva

The bright strip lights of the interview room bore down onto Kelly’s face. Wrapped in a police blanket and huddled in the chair she was sat in. Her dirty blonde hair still wet from the rain, mixed with dirt and blood. Her make up, a little smeared – she breathed deeply, staring into space. It’s fair to say she was slightly in shock from the evening’s events. Her life would never be the same again. She looked up at the clock.



She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head slowly.

A little chilled, she shivered a tiny bit as she wrapped the blanket tighter around her shoulders.


Kelly was about twenty-five, English with Polish ancestry.

She wasn’t used to being cooped up in a police interview room and the intensity of the evening only made things worse for her anxiety.


Silence was deafening. Occasionally hearing the odd copper walk past the door but, nothing else. Not even any windows.


Kelly gently pulled out a photograph from her waist band and stared at it. Her fingertips caressing the corners. The photograph was of a woman in her thirties, brunette, straight silky hair. The photo was old, creased. Kelly had carried it around with her for what seemed an eternity. Her mother. They were intensely close.

She could do with some wise words from her mother right now.


Kelly was in a jam.


Kelly felt something in her combat pants, it gave a very high pitched ‘ping’. She immediately pulled it out – covering it from view. A device of some kind. Perhaps a mobile. Kelly tapped it – it went silent. Maybe some kind of personal alarm. She sighed and placed it back in her combat pants.



“Jesus, I need a cigarette.”


She started to rock to relieve the boredom. She just wanted to get out of there. She wasn’t anything to do with anything, she had just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Surely, somebody was going to come in and let her go home.


Kelly glanced again at the clock.




She sat back. A little warmer now, but still shaken from earlier.


The interview room burst open, making Kelly jolt a little.


A gust of air followed, then briskly a young man in his thirties.

This was Dvorchak. A detective.

Kelly recognised him from earlier. They both looked at each other.

Dvorchak’s face was haggard, his shirt was dirty, and his tie loosened. He rubbed his two-day stubble as he shut the door behind him.


“Sorry to keep you, Kelly.” he gruffed.


“When can I leave here?”


Dvorchak looked at her.

“Soon, Kelly. I just need to ask you a few questions first.”


Kelly looked at the clock.


“You got somewhere you got to be?”


Kelly turned her gaze to him.


“Quite frankly, yes. I really shouldn’t be here.”


Dvorchak scoffed and sat down. He pulled out a couple of statement sheets and started to fill them in.


Kelly looked at what he was doing, she squinted to see what the sheets were.


“What’s that?” She asked.


“This, Kelly is a statement sheet.”


Her eyes bulged a little.

“Hey, wait – I had nothing to do with those guys, you know that!”


Dvorchak looked up and gave her a reassuring look.


“Hey. Hey. It’s alright. You’re not under arrest.”


Kelly took a big breath.


“I… ahhh..”

Dvorchak mumbled a little. “I’d like to thank you actually. For saving me?”


Kelly’s eyes looked to the table. She looked a little nervous and slightly embarrassed.


“If it hadn’t had been for you pulling me out of the way of that van, I’d be a gonner.”


Kelly feigned a smile. “It’s fine. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

Dvorchak pulled a face as he thought about something.

“Strange though...”

“How so?” Kelly replied.

Dvorchak sat back in his chair.

“Strange you being there. I never thought about it until now. You just seemed to appear from nowhere.” He pondered.


Kelly just looked at him.

“I was on my way home.”


Dvorchak looked at her and raised his eyebrows a little.

“Of course.” He sat forward and untipped his Biro to start the form. “Now then, your name.. Kelly – what?”

Kelly looked uncomfortable.


Dvorchak spied her eyes faltering away.

“Kelly? Your surname?”


Kelly turned her gaze back to him. “Smith… Kelly Smith.”

Dvorchak narrowed his eyes at her. Obviously not Smith, but okay he’ll play along for now. He found her an enigma, someone very interesting – her thoughts, a million miles away, but he felt something. She was certainly in a lot of trouble.


“Kelly Smith. S.M.I.T.H.?”


“That’s correct.” Kelly wiped her nose.


Dvorchak, scribbling away, kept his eye on the form as he continued. “Address?”

Kelly, again not at all comfortable giving details away, breathed deeply. “Seventy-two Longford Road.”


Dvorchak grunted as he wrote away, then looked up at Kelly.

“Do you have Identification on you, Kelly?”

Kelly tilted her head back, she looked at him dead in the face.

“No.” she replied. “I left it at home.”


“You know we will check all this out. If you’re lying, you could be in trouble.”


Kelly was too tired to give a shit at this point.

“I have no doubt, Daddio. Listen, can I have a smoke?”


Dvorchak looked up again. “You know you can’t smoke in here.”


Kelly sat forward. “I don’t mean in here, out back. Please. I’m gagging.”


“And that’s the last I see of you...” He mocked, with a smile. “No – listen this won’t take long, I promise. I’ll even have someone drive you home.”


Kelly slumped back in her chair in a huff, muttering “god’s sake.” under her breath. After a few seconds she spied the clock again.


11.05 PM


Dvorchak looked at her.

“What I wanted to do tonight, is just go over what you saw. Everything that led up to you bumping me in the road.”


Kelly just looked at him.

“I’ll try my best. Some of it is hazy.”


Dvorchak gave her a reassuring smile. “It’ll be okay, just do what you can.”


Kelly shrugged. “I’d do better with a smoke.”


Dvorchak shook his head. “Come on, Let’s get this done.”


A knock at the door sounded and in popped a chubby guy called Tony.

He carried two cups of coffee in his hands.


“Ahh! Magic! Thanks Tony.”

“Not a worry, One for you, no sugar.” he plumped it down in front of Kelly. She hissed “Thanks.”

“Annnnd this one, with sugar for you, Jeff.” as he placed the cup down for Dvorchak.

“Okay, cheers Tone.”

Tony winked as he left, he caught a quick look at Kelly and gave a quick smile, shutting the door behind him.


Kelly took a big sip. It was hot enough, but she screwed up her face at the taste. She swallowed quickly as Dvorchak took a big gulp of his.


She looked again at the clock.


11.07 PM


Dvorchak looked at Kelly.

“So – let’s go back to the beginning of the evening. Before any of the incident in the street. What were you doing tonight?”


Kelly rested her head on one of her hands and dipped a little to the side.


“This evening. Not much to tell, really. I’m not usually on that side of town. It’s not what you’d call, my scene.”

Dvorchak, taking notes looked up.

“What were you doing there?”

Kelly raised her finger.

She took a moment. “I had an errand to run. My car had broken down across town and I had to make an urgent delivery. While the recovery people were wasting time coming to my car, I had to get to Stanway Street to deliver my quota. I was about, hmm, I’d say twenty minutes away, so I walked briskly.”


Dvorchak looked up again.

“What time was this?” he asked.

“Around Eight o’clock, maybe just after, it’s difficult to remember precisely.” She murmured.

Dvorchak waved his hand gently in the air.

“It’s fine, I just wanted to get a sense of the time frame. So.. you're a delivery driver, are you?” 


Kelly looked at him.

“Yes. Of a kind.”

Dvorchak raised his eyebrows.

“Of a kind? Sounds intriguing.”

Kelly scoffed at him.

“Nothing illegal, Detective. Let’s just say we make peoples’ lives better.”

Dvorchak chuckled.

“So, you’re not UPS, then.”


Kelly remained stone faced, she watched Dvorchak try and break the ice with her, but at this juncture it wasn’t well received.

“Very funny. You wanna hear this or not?” She asked sincerely.

Dvorchak shrugged.

“Okay, okay, apologies. So, you were heading toward Stanway Street…”


Kelly composed herself again. She looked at Dvorchak. She watched him as he took notes and listened. If only he knew.

She blinked her eyes wide as she continued.

“Yes. About Eight o’clock. I was walking up the hill to the top of Stanway Street. I noticed it was unusually quiet. I mean it’s in the suburbs, but it’s summer, no kids around, no ice cream van, no one in their front garden.”


“That end of town is kind of rough, and besides it’s Saturday, they’re all watching Ant & Dec.” Dvorchak opined with derision.


“Maybe. Either way it struck me as unusual. Anyway – I had to reach the opposite end of the street. The house I needed was on the right-hand side at the end, Ninety-eight.

The street lights were just coming on. I could hear the sounds from the city in the distance. Somewhere, I could hear a fox calling. I hate that noise, it always sounds like a child screaming or somebody being murdered.”


“Murdered?” Dvorchak interrupted her.


“It’s just what it sounds like.” she gazed at him.

“It wasn’t a confession. Haven’t you heard a fox calling?”


“To tell you the truth, I’ve never really thought about it.” He answered.


“I thought you were a detective.” She smiled.

“I thought you were supposed to notice shit like that.”


Dvorchak scribbled away, then looked up again.

“I concentrate on human behaviour, not animals.”


“Haven’t you wondered why they do that?” She asked.


Dvorchak sat back. “Enlighten me.”


“That loud cry is actually a mating call female foxes use to attract potential mates. It’s unusual as it sounds like it’s in distress.”


Dvorchak looked at her. “Well, come to think of it, I have heard it a few times when I’ve been home. On my own.”


“There you go. You see? If you take the time to stop and listen, you’ll understand everything that happens around you.”

Kelly sat up a little and took a swig of the stale coffee. She grimaced as she swallowed it. She put the cup down and pushed it away from her. She looked at Dvorchak.


“Are you married yet, Jeff?” she asked casually.


Dvorchak sat forward. His interest a little piqued.

“How did you know my name was Jeff?”


Kelly rolled her eyes. “The guy who brought our coffees. He called you Jeff.”


Dvorchak chortled and nodded gently. “Of course. You don’t miss much, do you?”


“I try not to, not in my line of business.” Kelly replied.


Dvorchak looked at her. “You’re not just a delivery driver are you?”


“I’ve had many roles in my short life, Jeff. This one is particularly important to me right now.” Kelly, again looked at the clock.


11.15 PM


“You keep looking at that clock, Kelly. I notice things, too.” spoke Dvorchak softly.


Kelly looked down at the desk. “I don’t have much time left. I do need to go soon.”


Dvorchak looked at his notes, then at Kelly.

“Let’s get this done, you look worn out. You can go home soon. I just need to know what you saw.”


Kelly looked at him. “Sure could use a smoke.”


“You can smoke yourself to death when we’re done here. But right now? You need to tell me what happened tonight.”


They looked at each other for a moment.

Kelly let out a loud huffing breath. “Very well.”

She sat forward and cleared her throat.

“As I got halfway down the street, I noticed two guys having a bit of an argument outside the substation. They were both drunk. Young, stupid, probably high, but definitely drunk. I didn’t pay it much mind at the time. One had cropped ginger hair, the other hair brown collar length hair, wearing a leather jacket.”


Dvorchak held his finger up as he wrote it down.

“Did you hear what they were arguing about?”


Kelly shook her head. “No. It mostly went over my head, I think I heard a woman’s name being mentioned, Tara?”


Dvorchak nodded. “Tara Holden, She was one of their girl friends.”


“Anyway, as I said I didn’t really pay much attention to it and carried on walking. From behind me, I heard the scuffle intensify.

Punches thrown, swearing… the usual. I started to walk a little faster, there’s no way I wanted to be involved in that. That’s when more people came out on to the street.”


Dvorchak nodded. “How many? Roughly?”


“About six or seven. I was walking away and only turned my head a few times.”


Kelly stopped in her tracks. She thought for a moment.

“That’s when it went quiet for a second.” She continued.


Dvorchak looked up. “What happened?”


“I turned, the ginger guy had stabbed the other one. He’d slumped to the floor; some woman was screaming hysterically. The ginger guy stood over him for a second. Forgive me for saying so, but I didn’t fancy hanging around. I had a job to do, so I walked quickly to the end of the street. To number Ninety-eight.

The screams still carried on, as I turned into the garden path of the house, I saw the ginger guy running away.”


Kelly took a breath.


“Take your time.” Dvorchak said softly.


“I placed the parcel I was carrying on the doorstep, there was nobody home, so I didn’t bother knocking. I didn’t really want to hang around.”


“That’s all you saw?”


“Not exactly.” she whispered.


“I hung around the end of the street for a moment or two to smoke a cigarette. It was starting to get cold. And the ginger guy was running towards my direction. Strange as he was running in the middle of the road. People were chasing him. Then that’s when it happened.”


“What?” Dvorchak leaned forward. “What happened?”


“A blue Escort came screeching up the street. My heart was racing, I already knew what was going to happen. The ginger guy saw it and panicked. I backed up a little into the bushes, I remember holding my hand to my mouth. The guy had a look of total fear in his face, he should have just ran to the pavement.

… But he didn’t. The car rolled over him like a rag doll. I remember screaming but, after that it was a blur – I just stood there. The car – I think, skidded to a stop near me and the guy driving looked at me for a second before he did a U-turn and sped off back down the street, clipping the guy's feet as he went over him again.”


Kelly’s eyes were watering now. She let out a noise as she breathed out.


Dvorchak stopped writing.


“Kelly, Kelly it’s okay. Let’s take a moment. You're doing fine.”


Kelly wiped her eyes, smudging her mascara. She looked at Dvorchak.


“Could I have another cup of coffee?” She asked nervously.


Dvorchak looked at her.

“We’re nearly done.” He assured her.


She looked at him as if pleading. “...Please.”


Dvorchak resigned to her request and nodded.

“I could probably do with one too. Wait here.”

Dvorchak rose and patted her shoulder as he left the room.


Silence again. Kelly’s device pinged again.


“Damn it. I know, I know. I’m coming.” she huffed. She pressed a button on the device, and it went silent again.

The clock was rolling forward.

11.27 PM

Kelly pulled out a piece of folded paper. It was a newspaper cutting. A headline from a local rag. She unfolded it in front of her.

LOCAL POLICEMAN MOWN DOWN IN HORRIFYING GANG ATTACK. The paper appeared old, weathered, torn at the top. A photograph had been torn away of the policeman leaving just the top of his head. Kelly had kept it a very long time. As she

fingered the paper, she looked around the room.


It was almost time to go. She really didn’t want to be here.

A simple job that was interrupted. All she had to do was deliver that package.

Kelly slumped back in the chair and stared into space. 

Minutes passed. Kelly grew impatient, then the door burst open again.

She hadn’t meant to, but she dropped the newspaper clipping on the floor, it tumbled in the draught and it rested under the desk out of sight.


Dvorchak entered with two steaming coffees and placed them on the desk. He looked a little distracted. Kelly eyeballed him.


“Everything okay?” She asked.


Dvorchak shrugged, “I seemed to have misplaced my warrant card.”


“Oh really?” Kelly coyly replied.



“Yeah, I had it at the scene. I guess I must have dropped it there.”

Dvorchak sighed.


“Won’t the uniform guys look for it for you?” Kelly inquired.


Dvorchak glanced at her. “Yes, they’re looking for it now. You seemed well informed.”


“Just making conversation.” She shrugged.


Dvorchak sat back in his chair. “We ran a check on you, Kelly.”


“Oh really...” she looked a little rattled.


“We can’t find any record of a Kelly Smith at that address. No criminal record, No council record, no school record, nothing.”


Kelly just looked at him.


“Who are you?” He asked gently.


“I’m just a delivery driver.” she shrugged.


Dvorchak gave a cynical smile. “You’re more than a delivery driver. Aren't you?”


Kelly gave a smile and looked once more at the clock.




“It’s almost time for me to go, detective.” She said matter of factly.


Dvorchak shook his head. “I’m sorry, you're not going anywhere, yet.”


“Later when we showed up, you were still hanging around, I saw you. Didn’t pay it much mind at the time, but you were looking at me as if you were waiting for something.”


Kelly was running out of cards to play. The time was now.


“I can’t tell you why.” she murmured.


“Yes, you can.”


“Do you believe in fate, detective?”


“Fate? I don’t believe in luck, good or bad.”


Kelly smiled again.


“No, not luck. Fate.”


Dvorchak was getting impatient.


“Are you playing games right now?” He asked.


“No, no games. I never play games.”


“How did you know to pull me out of the way of that car? It’s almost like you expected it.”


They looked at each other. The clock ticking sounded.


“I just KNEW. I can’t tell you how. If I did, you’d have me committed.”




The seconds raced by. And closed on 1143pm.


“You keep looking at that clock, why?”


The second hand reached 1143pm. Kelly breathed a huge sigh of relief.


“What? What is it?” Dvorchak squirmed.


Kelly sat up. She winked at Dvorchak. She reached across the table and held his hand.

“It’s alright, you made it. You’re still here.” She started weeping.

“I can go now.”


Dvorchak reeled a little.


“What is this? Are you high?”


Kelly winked and pulled the device from her combat pants.


“No.” she giggled. “I’m not high, I’m the most coherent I’ve been in years.”


Dvorchak saw the device, a long cylinder with a panel at one end.


“What is that?” he gasped.


Kelly pressed the main red button. A low rumbling followed. The device lit up and shrouded Kelly in wash of light.


“My name... My name is Kelly Dvorchak.”


“Wait, what? That’s my goddamn name! Who are you!”


“You’ll figure it out. In time.” She winked.


Kelly’s body was now batched in light as she took one last look at Dvorchak.

“Don’t take life for granted, Daddio.” She winked once more and she folded in on herself...and vanished.

The force knocked Dvorchak’s papers all over the room. A whistling wind followed. And the newspaper cutting landed on Dvorchak’s lap. He read it.






Dvorchak’s body trembled. Confusion, disbelief. Was he dreaming? He sat there for a moment.


“This isn’t real. Time traveller? I was meant to die?” he mumbled to himself. There was a knock at the door. Tony popped his head through.


“Someone at the front desk for you, Guv.” Tony looked around the room.


“Hey, where did that girl go?” He asked.


“Oh she’s… She’s gone Tony.” Dvorchak whispered.


He shook his head and turned to Tony.

“I’ll be right out.”


Tony nodded and sloped off.


Dvorchak rubbed the back of his neck and rose to his feet.

He slowly made his way to the front desk. The station was bustling, but he was oblivious to anything at this point.

He opened the door to the reception. Waiting there was her.

It was her from the photograph. Kelly’s mother just as she was in the photo.


Dvorchak walked up to her.

“Ahh hello there, miss. My colleagues said you wanted to see me?”


The woman smiled. They gave each other a look. That look when people find their match. She shook her head a little.


“Sorry, yes. This was left on my porch this evening. I think it’s yours?” she haded him a small wallet. He took it gently.


Dvorchak huffed, smiled, and then shook his head.

“My goddamn warrant card…”


Dvorchak slumped into a chair behind him. The woman sat next to him.

“Are you alright?” she asked with concern.


Dvorchak looked at her.


“I understand now. Yes everything is alright.”


He looked at her.


“Would you care for a cup of coffee?”


“You know what, I think I would.”


Dvorchak led her out of reception. Fate had done its job tonight...



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