The story so far:
I felt helpless, more so than with any vision before. Save the fact that I had knowledge of Paige’s well being—or at least being alive—I was quickly tiring of knowing too much and not being able to do something about it in time.
As I tried to regroup, bemoaning this seemingly useless 20/20 hindsight curse, the fact that I was now seeing Paige in this vision changed something in me. I felt somehow that my training had come to completion. I could see my own growth through these visions as if standing on a hill top: Whereas in the past, I felt helplessly limited in my ability to save the victims I was seeing, I knew damn well that this was not going to happen with Paige.
As Franco tried to settle me back to a massage, my focus narrowed. I moved quickly, packing a duffle bag with clothes.
“I can’t let this happen, Franco. Not this time. Not Paige.”
Franco followed me to the bathroom, where I collected a roll of toilet tissue, a 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 I plopped toiletries into the duffle bag on my way to Franco’s nightstand. I tugged the bottom drawer open and reached for the .45 tucked in a worn leather holster. Franco tried his best to block me.“Adara, no! I cannot let you do this! You don’t even know—“ Out of the corner of my eye I could see his amazement as I opened and spun the chamber in one motion, confirming that it was loaded.
He stepped aside. “Okay then,” he argued, “I am coming with you. No. In fact, I am driving.” 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,” I said, plummeting out the front door ahead of him.
Three years with Miguel as his cellmate. It was unreal how he could get so used to having a cellmate, he never realized how much a second person in his cell was weighing him down. Miguel was always there, for the last three years, and it was offensive toward the end, the non-stop 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 the impetus for Jimmy's strong ability to focus. Jimmy smiled, eyelids large, realizing that the power he felt now was a result of having Miguel as a side show to compete with focusing on his Work.
This distraction during the last three years had all been fine tuning in preparation for now. And now, like an alcoholic who had kept the plug in the jug for three years, for Jimmy, the power he could achieve now with no distractions was like opening that jug and sniffing the contents. Oh, the exhilaration! The fun was only beginning. Drunk with potential, much like the alcoholic, Jimmy sniffed the bottle of his full potential and could only smell unleashed power, completely blind to or completely ignoring the fact that tipping the bottle and harnessing his full power could seal his own doom. Jimmy was both blind and ignorant. He inhaled for what seemed 30 seconds. A guard on duty happened by and tilted his glance, staring as prisoner G254116’s chest cavity seemed to rise and rise like yeast, yet his body seemed to slink around him. The guard strummed the night stick along the bars, “Hey, G25, are you okay. What’s the matter with you!” eyelids fully drawn, his vision was crystal. From his meditative perch he could not hear the officer and, right now, 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. An ever growing grin spilled over with drool, eyes shut, his torso stretched upward in continuous inhalation, 60 seconds now, and then easing back down, slowly, almost floating on the cell floor.
“Hey!” the guard shouted. Since there was no screaming, no blood, it was no use reporting the incident to the warden, if you could call it an incident. The guard would keep tabs on G254116 throughout the night.
After a quick argument over who would drive, I gave in, if not just to get moving.
“Where are we going,” Franco asked, revving the jeep to warm quickly.
“I don’t know,” I said. Then, as clear as the seat next to me, the voice said “Go to the desert. The Lost are West.”
“What did you just say?” I asked Franco.
“Hmm? Oh, I said I called and left a message with Officer Bohac.”
“No, before that.”
“I said ‘Where are we going.’ Is that what you mean?”
Okay, so I was hearing things. About time, I can't do this all by myself. I told Franco, “No, wait. Head west, toward the desert.”
“Where in the desert? Franco asked. I wished I had an answer for him. Instead, frustration got the better of me. “Franco, just drive! West!”
I pulled the side lever to lower my seat back and quickly drifted off. I needed Franco to drive, so I could do some traveling of my own, through the dimensions of my subconscious and hopefully get some clearer radar on Paige’s location. Though the humming engine facilitated my journey like the wind under a carpet ride, I couldn’t seem to get any clear readings. Before I could locate the dark cave, I felt like I was jerked awake as Franco cursed the speed of the yellow light turning crimson. I sat up feeling worn, and rubbed my eyes. I couldn’t tell whether I was awake or stalled somewhere in my subconscious.
I’ve known since an early age that when I seemed to wake up, I was really entering another chamber of the subconscious, a dream within a dream. The litmus for determining consciousness has always been whether I can fly.
But oh, how the mind tricks work.
Before I can leave the ground, I am distracted by Franco’s voice. “Hey Adara, you’re awake. Look who we picked up.” I follow his thumb toward the back seat. Methra. Methra. Never under estimate this one, I remind myself. This one should have a super cape. I want to ask the flood of questions that rush my mouth but I can’t quite ask them all at once. It doesn’t matter. Methra is the first to speak. Her necklace is missing, I notice, and her hair is different, much longer than shoulder length. Unusual. But I listen.
“Dr. Davis, I have seen your daughter…” Oh no, please no. I want to vomit the pit in my stomach. Don’t say it. Don’t say it! Methra inches closer, methodically, “Saint Anthony is with her…”
Trying to weigh the direction from which this feeling of dread is coming, I notice that the static charge is growing stronger with Methra’s each movement closer. Franco continues driving, oblivious. With the burn of a cornered cat, the hair on my neck stands stiff. Methra’s words morph into a voluminous barrage of unchartered symbols as she reaches her hand forward with what seems to be the missing necklace adorned with the Crux Commissa.
Words can’t describe the power of the symbols that I am witnessing coming from Methra’s mouth, so powerful that I feel dizzy trying to decipher the vast message. The rapid fire rush of symbols generates heat, and the message is communicated by the intensity of the heat: Methra is with Paige and they are a stone’s throw from my car, but underground.
So powerful, so tangible this message, that I need to open my mouth wide to scream, simply to release the tension. The hair on my neck is thick steel bristles, channeling static, a metallic, pungent sweat glistens on my pores. My heart is pounding. Although my mouth is open wide, I can’t scream, and I know for sure that I am in a subconscious chamber. I breathe deep and manage a half breath to scream myself awake.
Returning to consciousness in waves, I realized I was screaming now, and I was able to stop, but unable to stop the tremors that were seizing my body for the next few moments.
I turned to reach in the back seat for my assistant. “Methra!” I screamed out, but the back seat was empty.
“Adara, are you okay? Wake up!” I was relieved to hear Franco’s voice. He skidded to the side of the desert road, unbuckled his seatbelt and hugged me. In those moments in his arms, my heightened sensitivity confirmed that this hug was more than words could describe. I could sense through my pores that his touch was caring. Love seemed to spring out of his pores into me. 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 save 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.
“I need your help, Franco. I know where they are.”
Franco sighed. Glad to have Adara back. “I can’t wait to help. What can I do?”
“I don’t know yet.” I replied. “Let’s go.”
At first, I thought maybe the static created by 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 in his embrace, I knew that there was more to Methra's message, and she was my angel. Paige's angel.
One symbol stood out: A most vibrant pine green leaf, with all its needles healthy and alert, like antennae absorbing the carbon dioxide necessary to sustain its own life. The charge, the heat alone from this symbol communicated its relevance, though I couldn't be sure what it was.
“Franco, look for any place that might lead underground,” I said, relaxing our embrace. “And let me know if you see any pine needles or a pine leaf of any kind.”
“Okay,” Franco said, “But it’s not like basements grow on cacti out here. And I don’t expect to find a pine leaf within 500 miles. But I trust you.”
A short distance away, Franco paused and pointed, “Hey Adara, is that your assistant’s car? Adara!” Franco pulled back from the hug and motioned to the side. Yes it was, even in the dark I could recognize the beady tail lights. I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t know why, but I knew I had Methra to thank. Paige was close, I knew.
Then it all seemed to click.
Just as I had seen Paige in the background of the news report, and Paige had been a witness to Eliza’s murder, I had seen Methra in the background of the photo behind Paige in what may have been her murder avoided. I 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 being tried. A cross recognized by pagans and later associated with St. Anthony, Methra’s presence with the Crux Commissa bridged a gap that was critical to Paige’s safety.
I opened Methra’s passenger door and searched for clues, fairly confident that the clues were coming together.