The story so far:
Adara felt helpless. Save the fact that she had knowledge of Paige’s well being—or at least being alive—Adara was quickly tiring of knowing too much and not being able to do something about it in time.
While she was seemingly beaten by this 20/20 hindsight curse, the fact that it was now happening with her daughter seemed to make all the difference. She could see her own growth now: Whereas in the past, she felt helplessly limited in her ability to save the victims she was seeing, she knew damn well that this was not going to happen with Paige. As Franco tried to settle her back to a massage, Adara moved quickly, packing a duffle bag with clothes.
“I can’t let this happen, Franco. Not this time. Not Paige.”
Franco followed her to the bathroom, where she collected a roll of toilet tissue, her toothbrush and a small travel tube of tooth paste. “Adara, wait. What did you see this time? Do you know where Paige is? Who has Paige?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know I don’t know, Franco, okay! All I know is that my baby girl is in a dark place right now, a cave, I think, and there’s not much time. Franco followed back to the bedroom, where Adara plopped the toiletries into the duffle bag on her way to Franco’s nightstand. She tugged at the bottom drawer and reached for the 45 tucked in a worn leather holster. Franco blocked her.
“Adara, no! I cannot let you do this! You don’t even know—“
Adara’s glare from under the bridge of her brow seemed to pierce right through him, leaving him paralyzed. She reacted like a cornered rat, he thought, with none of the fear that any cornered animal might possess. He stepped aside. Okay then, I am coming with you. No. I am driving in fact. He raced downstairs and swiped the car keys off the kitchen table in an effort to convince himself that he could add some control to the situation. “I’m calling Officer Bohac,” he said, grabbing his cellphone.”
“Fine,” Adara’s words trailed behind her as she plummeted out the front door.
A decade with Miguel as his cellmate. It was unreal, Jimmy thought, perched on the floor facing away from his bunk, that he could get used to having a cellmate, that he never realized how much this second person in his cell was keeping him back. He noticed in the silence now, ever growing, that Miguel would always be there, for the last ten years, and especially the last stretch, talking, filling the air with vaporous vibrations that proved to be more distracting than he could have imagined. I’d have killed him off a lot sooner, Jimmy thought, had I known how distracting he was. But no, in all fairness to hindsight, Miguel’s distractions were what allowed Jimmy to learn to focus even stronger. Jimmy smiled, eyelids large, realizing that the power he felt now was a result of having Miguel as a side show to compete with his Work. The last decade had all been finely tuned in preparation for now. And now, like an alcoholic who had kept the plug in the jug for 10 years, for Jimmy, the power he could achieve now with no distractions was like opening the jug and sniffing the contents. Oh, the excitement. The fun was only beginning. Drunk with potential, much like the alcoholic, Jimmy sniffed the bottle of his full potential and could only smell great success, completely blind to or completely ignoring the fact that tipping the bottle could be eternally perishable.
Jimmy was both blind and ignorant. He inhaled for what seemed 20 seconds. A guard on duty happened by and tilted his glance, watching as prisoner G254116’s chest cavity seemed to rise like yeast. And Barton was a man on a mission. Once this woman in the car was bound, he would make the side winding trip back to the suburbs for one more.
After a quick argument over who would drive, Adara gave in. “Where are we going,” Franco asked, revving the jeep to warm quickly.
“I don’t know,” Adara said. “No, wait. Go toward the desert.”
“Where in the desert? Franco asked.
“Franco, just drive!”
Adara pulled the side lever to lower her seat back and drifted off. She needed Franco to drive, but she needed to do some traveling of her own. Subconsciousness. Light shone through the window. Was I out long? Have we been driving all night, she wondered. Coming out of the subconscious gave her a disorientation similar to the jetlag that time travel might cause. Adara knew the litmus for determining true consciousness: Can I fly? Early on, coming out of a dream might feel like she was awake, only to find out that she was in a dream within a dream. It was real enough, so the standard test became well, if I can fly, then I’m not awake yet. I’m still traveling.
But oh, how the mind tricks work. While attempting to fly, Franco spoke from the driver’s side. “Hey Adara, you’re awake. Look who we picked up.” Her eyes followed his thumb toward the back seat. Methra. Methra. Never under estimate this one, she thought. This one should have a super cape.
A flood of questions filled Adara’s head, but she couldn’t quite ask them all at once. It didn’t matter. Methra was the first to speak.
“Dr. Davis, I have seen your daughter…” Oh no, Adara thought, don’t say it. Don’t say it! Methra inched closer, methodically, “Saint Anthony is with her…” Trying to weigh the direction from which this feeling of dread was coming, Adara noticed that the static charge grew stronger with Methra’s each movement closer. Franco continued driving, lacking the gift to be anything but oblivious. With the burn of a cornered cat, Adara couldn’t stop the hair on her neck from standing stiff. Am I out of body? She thought, because all of this was happening around her. Methra’s words morphed into a voluminous barrage of unchartered symbols as she reached her hand forward with what seemed to be the necklace adorned with the Crux Commissa. The racing symbols formed a message so clear, so absolutely pure that it made her sick, but none that could be written. Adara’s instinct told her that while she was still weighing dread, the proper response was now fear. Adara opened her mouth wide to scream, if for nothing than to simply release the tension. The hair on her neck was thick steel bristles, channeling static, more than her body could absorb. Her heart pounded. She couldn’t scream in the dream, but she did manage one more half breath to scream herself awake. Returning ever more to conscious ground, she realized she was screaming now, and she could stop, but she was unable to stop the tremors that were seizing her body for the next few moments.
Screaming from Franco. “Adara, are you okay? Wake up!” Immense relief to hear Franco’s voice. He had pulled to the side of the dirt road with a skid, unbuckled his seatbelt and hugged her. In those moments in his arms, Adara’s heightened sensitivity confirmed that this hug was more than a hug that could be written on paper. She could feel with the skin over her triceps, which touched Franco’s arms under hers, that his touch was caring. Love seemed to spring out of his pores into her. Not the pure Love that can sometimes be felt by those of pure heart. Franco was no angel, but he was true. His Love couldn’t hold up humanity, but it could probably enable him to lift a car by the bumper in order to free a loved one who might be pinned underneath.
Why all these random thoughts, she thought, but the answer seemed to be, Don’t ask. At first, she thought maybe the intensity from Methra was the source to be feared, but no. Just as the word “hug” on paper could not fully express the communication emanating from Franco’s pores to hers, Adara knew that when her instinct told her it was time to fear, this was the other litmus test that proved she was dreaming. Fear can reap havoc in dreams, but reality never invokes the type of fear simulated in dreams. Maybe her faith made this a fact. She tried unsuccessfully to recall the flurry of symbols presented to her, but what, like 2,000 per second? For three seconds? The last symbol stood out: A most vibrant pine green leaf, with all its needles healthy and alert, like antennae receiving the carbon dioxide necessary to sustain its own life. Now where to put this puzzle piece, if it is one….
“Adara, is that your assistant’s car? Adara!” Franco pulled back from the hug and had grabbed Adara by the shoulders, shaking to get her attention. She looked over. Yes it was, even in the dark she could tell. Adara breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t know why, but she knew she had Methra to thank. Paige was close, she knew.
Adara realized now that she was in her comfort zone, the out-of-body experience where she could see Paige, could “be” Paige, or at least be a witness from Paige’s perspective. Just as Adara had seen Paige in the background of the news report, and Paige had been a witness to Eliza’s murder, Adara had seen Methra in the background of the photo behind Paige. She couldn’t put the words or the math on paper, but somehow, St. Anthony, patron saint of lost and stolen articles, walked with Paige, according to Methra. Methra, Mithra, sun god, paganism. Somehow, Paige’s card was drawn, by whatever card shark was out there, and her number was put to the test: You shall have no other gods before Me. A cross recognized by pagans and later associated with St. Anthony, Methra’s presence with the Crux Commissa was critical to Paige’s safety. Adara opened the passenger door and looked around, fairly confident that the clues were coming together.