The story so far:
Prisoner S183479 walked into a windowless gray room.
“Sit there,” the officer instructed him.
He pulled out the chair and took a seat. Moments later, Father Preston walked through the door.
“Miguel, my child,” he said, glancing back at the police woman as she closed the door. “You’re looking good.” Once he turned back to him, there was a fierceness in his eyes that should never be seen in a man of the cloth.
Miguel was taken aback. “Father Preston,” he said, regarding the man, “or should I call you Damian?!” Miguel said, mocking the priest.
“Listen to me and listen very closely,” Father Preston said, leaning in and beginning to whisper. “We have a new problem.”
Miguel looked at him, quizzically.
After picking up the medicine, we drove home in complete silence. Paige, completely confused by my behavior, had immediately become engrossed the latest gossip via her cell phone and I was left to ponder the events of the day.
“Honor your father and mother…ring…RING…RING!!!” The voice of a killer. I was sure of it. It had been the one that the cops were currently looking for. I couldn’t get his voice out of my head or the school bell ringing. The school bell ringing! There had to be someone that saw him if…no, when he was making the call at the school.
I pulled into our garage and Paige hopped out, oblivious to the utter and sheer terror that had gripped me all day. I stepped into the kitchen, assaulted by the smells of a beautifully prepared dinner.
“Hi honey,” Franco said, warmly. He came over to kiss me on the cheek. “How was your day?”
I waved at him and fell into his arms for a hug. The smells were intoxicating!
“It’s been a hectic one,” I said, keeping myself calm. “I’m sorry I couldn’t talk earlier.”
He smiled. God how I loved that smile! “No problem. I have dinner almost ready.”
“Thanks,” I said, heading towards the stairs.
I stopped short when I heard a blood-curdling scream.
I half-fell, half-ran up the stairs, Franco inches behind me.
“Paige! Paige?! What’s the matter?” I screamed as I got to her bedroom door.
What I saw next surprised and terrified me at the same time. Paige was asleep; deeply asleep. She looked fine. Then who had screamed?
Franco got to Paige’s bedroom and stood in the door.
“Adara? Are you alright? I heard you falling up the stairs.”
Falling up the stairs? Hadn’t he heard the scream?
“I’m fine; it’s Paige that I’m worried about. She was screaming.”
Franco looked at me, puzzled, no concerned. “No one was screaming, Adara.”
He put his hand on Paige’s shoulder and gently shook her.
“Paige, honey?” he said, softly.
When she didn’t respond, he spoke a bit louder. “Paige? Are you alright?”
Almost in answer, Paige turned over and readjusted herself on her bed, never once opening her eyes. Her breathing was normal and methodical.
“I guess I was hearing things,” I said. “Let’s not disturb her.”
Franco nodded, and walked out of the room.
I walked back down the stairs to the kitchen, once again taking in the invigorating aromas. Once there, I forgot why I had the need to go to the kitchen. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back upstairs.
When I got to our bedroom, Franco was already there. He stared at me as I changed out of my power blue pinstripe suit and stilettos into one of his t-shirts and a pair of oversized Tinkerbell pajama pants.
“Adara? What’s going on with you?” Franco looked concerned.
“Nothing,” I lied. “I’m fine. Dinner smells great!” I added, in a failed attempt to change the subject.
Franco ignored the compliment. “I’m serious, honey. No one screamed. I came running because I heard you falling up the stairs. Please tell me what’s wrong.” His voice was desperate verging on terrified.
Franco had always worried about me, though there wasn’t much he could do. From the time we met, our relationship had been fraught with disaster. First, my divorce from Charlie shortly followed by the death of my mother, Paige’s grandma. Then, the inexplicable absence of my dreams.
We had met at a particularly inconvenient time in my life. A time where my dreams had finally stopped and I thought I’d finally be able to continue on with my life. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I shouldn’t be getting involved with anyone, not since Charlie. But the little girl longing for romance in me took over and I moved in with Franco a month later. Then the visions returned. Horrible, dark images flashed through my mind and not just in my dreams.
During a session, I had been “impaled”. The vision had been so realistic that I was on the floor, clutching my side, while my patient stood and cowered on the chair in sheer and utter panic!
It was that day that I saw the murder of Franco’s sister. However at the time I didn’t know who it was. I didn’t tell anyone about it. Why should I? My visions had never helped anyone before. The one and only time I had mentioned my visions to anyone, I had been told that they were the work of Satan.
Two days later, Amelia’s body had been found. She had been deemed the victim of some kind of ritualistic murder. Crude symbols had been carved into her body along with a note that hung around her neck. Thou Shalt Not Covet
I was at Franco’s side through it all, though he never confided in me. He would talk vivaciously with his mother, sister and brother-in-law, however whenever I entered the room, he would all of a sudden get quiet and distant. I had a feeling he knew what the sign meant. I think they all knew.
It wasn’t until two weeks after the body was discovered that I placed the face in my mind. I had seen her murder. I was plagued with that fact even to this day. Could I have helped her if I had told someone about the dream? Would Franco blame me if he ever found out? I couldn’t bear to think on these quandaries for fear I’d lose my sanity.
And now, almost two years later, it was happening again. And once again, I was powerless to stop it.
Just then, the phone rang.
“I need to speak to Adara Davis,” said a woman, sounding urgent.
“This is Dr. Davis. Can I help you?”
“No. But I think…” she paused. “I HOPE I can help you. Where’s your daughter?”
“She’s in her room, sleeping. Who is this?”
“My name is Esperanza Flores. Nona was my sister, and if you don’t listen to me and do exactly as I say, your daughter will have the same fate as my sister.”
The phone dropped from my hand. I looked at Franco, as I sank back onto the bed.
“Go,” I mouthed more than said. “Go check on Paige.”
I laid there on the bed awaiting the news that I already knew. I listened as Franco called for her all over the house. When he reappeared in the doorway, I allowed the tears to flow.
I reached for the phone. “She’s gone. Why are you doing this to me?”
“He doesn’t like sinners, Adara.” It sounded like the woman was holding back tears. “Little girls that dishonor their parents,” she choked on the last part, “should be punished.”
“Punished, what do you mean? Where are you? What have you done with my daughter?”
The phone went dead.
“Esperanza? Hello!? Where is she?” I screamed into the receiver.
Franco rushed to me as I tried to stand and quickly fell back onto the bed.
“He has her,” I moaned. “He has my daughter. She’ll end up with one of those damned signs on her…DEAD!”
“What do you mean, Adara? Who has Paige? What’s going on?”
I grabbed for my journal, hoping I’d written something that would help me find her. Franco took the phone and dialed 911.
“Yes hello. I need to report a kidnapping….no I didn’t see who took her. My daughter was in her room and now she’s gone…No she wouldn’t just run away!” Franco was beginning to get agitated. “Why are you asking me stupid questions when you could be out there, finding my daughter?!”
I didn’t hear anything else that he said. At the moment, I decided to flip on the television. Images of police cars and flashing lights assaulted my vision.
”Police are on the scene of what appears to be yet another murder victim in connection with the ComKiller. No word has yet been released on if this is officially another victim. Viewers may remember when Amelia Degli, sister of renowned Las Vegas restaurant owner and head chef, Franco Degli, was brutally murdered and adorned with the crudely written sign, Thou Shalt Not Covet. Though that was almost two years ago, with this latest discovery, police have officially stated that the city of Las Vegas has a serial killer on the loose. More on this story as it unfolds.”
I turned off the TV. It was Paige and I knew it. The phone would ring shortly and it would be a police officer requesting that I come down to identify my baby.
The phone rang.
I stared at it, tears welling in my eyes. Franco leaned over and grabbed it.
“Hello, is this Franco?”
“Yes. Can I help you?”
“Franco, this is Mrs. Doring from across the street. I was watching the news, you know, of that girl that was murdered downtown? And I saw the strangest thing.”
Franco spoke animatedly into the phone, and then told me to turn on the TV.
“Police have released the name of the newest victim. Fourteen year old Eliza Crawford has been named the third victim of the ComKiller. Found around her neck was the commandment, Honor Thy Mother and Father. Back to you, Jack.”
I went to turn the set off again when something caught my eye. In the background, behind the overly made up news reporter was Paige! She was alone and fine.
I grabbed the phone and dialed her cell number. I heard it ringing somewhere in the house, but I couldn’t figure out where.
Oh God, I thought. She doesn’t have her phone.
Then, to my surprise, after two rings she answered. “Hello?” There were tears in her voice.
“Paige?! My God, I just saw you on television. What are you doing down there?! Are you alright?”
“Down where, Mom? I’m at home, with you and Franco.”
I could hear the tears in her voice. So strong, so sad. I raced to her bedroom, but saw nothing. I turned on my heel and peeled down the stairs, almost tumbling. Outside, underneath the ancient oak tree sat my daughter, perfectly fine, tears staining her little, innocent face.
I ran out and scooped her into my arms.
“Oh Paige! Oh my God! I thought you’d been taken from me. And then I saw you on TV at that murder site…” I lost the end up my thought as I smothered her.
“Tell me, Paige. Tell me why you went down there!”
“Mom, I didn’t go there! I saw it. I saw Eliza…and I saw her…I saw what happened to her…” she choked back tears. “He killed her, Mom. I saw it…” she paused. Then, continued in a whisper, “In my dream.” She looked into my eyes. “And then, without going anywhere, I was there. I was standing behind him, Mom. I don’t know how it happened, but I was there. I watched him…I saw it all over again. Mom, what’s happening to me?” She collapsed into my arms; sobs erupting from her and making her little body shake.