The story so far:
The coppery smell of blood and death was everywhere, choking Methra. She knew that Paige was traumatized, but they really couldn’t afford to wait and see if the man who brought Methra to the cave was still here.
“Paige….” Methra said softly as she ran her hand over Paige’s head, feeling the warm sticky liquid that matted her hair together. “We need to get out of here and get you to your mom. She is going out of her mind with worry.”
“Noooooooo.” Paige moaned as Methra attempted to get her to stand. “She’ll think I’m a monster.” Paige started crying again.
Methra didn’t know how much time they had if any before her captor came back and although she was strong, she certainly couldn’t carry Paige the entire way out. Methra moved to squat directly in front of Paige and placed her hands on either side of Paige’s face and tilted it upwards.
“Paige, look at me.” Methra said with some force as she brushed at the tears running down Paige’s face with her thumbs. Methra waited for her eyes to focus on her before continuing. “I know you’re scared, but we have to get out of here and get to your mother. The same person that did this to you could do the same thing to her. We have to warn her.”
Paige heaved in a deep breath and let it out slowly as she came to the realization that her mother could be in some serious trouble. “Okay.” She said brokenly as she moved to stand up.
Together they started making their way out of the cave when Methra stopped suddenly. “Stay here, I need to go back and get something we can use as a weapon in case we aren’t alone.”
As Methra made her way back to where she’d found Paige she glanced over her shoulder at a shuffling sound only to discover that Paige had followed her. She couldn’t really blame her, Methra thought to herself as she rummaged through the another bag sitting close to the crucifix where Barton had “tied” himself up at. She found the razor that Paige had used and wiped what she could off using one of Barton’s pant legs.
“Okay, let’s get the hell out of here.” Methra said with feeling as she turned back to Paige whose eyes and face were downcast. She grabbed a hold of Paige’s hand and squeezed gently as she pulled her along with her towards the front of the cave.
Once at the opening, they stopped again to take in their surroundings and listen for any noises that may be out of place. Methra thought it was very odd that her captor had just left, but not one to kick good fortune in the face, she wasn’t about to wait around for him to return.
“We need to hurry, sweetie,” Methra said encouragingly to Paige who had stumbled several times and each time found it more difficult to get back up and moving. She can’t quit now, Methra offered up a silent prayer. She wasn’t able to reach anyone earlier when she had “called” for help, but it could have been due to her lack of focus and the scene upon which she had stumbled.
Across town in his cell, Silent Jimmy laid on his cot covered in a fine sheen of sweat. It had taken him years to perfect his gift and still after all this time, he found that he was rendered helpless after the energy it took to control one’s mind. For the first few years, it had taken several days to recover after an episode, but now it took only a few hours if that long at all.
All the pieces of the puzzle were starting to fall into place, he thought to himself as he stared at the ceiling. He had his latest Agent take Methra to Paige knowing that she would find a way to escape or she would enlist Paige’s help if the girl wasn’t too far gone after what he had her do to Barton. Silent Jimmy liked to push his Agents past their boundaries and make them do things they would never imagine themselves doing. He never anticipated that any of them would live long after he used them to complete his work with the exception of Paige.
Silent Jimmy grinned as he thought of how good it had felt to “control” Adara’s daughter. To feel the warm sticky liquid as it hit his/Paige’s skin, to hear the silent screams in her head at the horror she was committing. To see the life draining helplessly out of Barton’s body was better than any other type of gratification he could think of.
He moved his arms so that he could place his hands underneath his head as he closed his eyes trying to drown out the noises from the prison. He wouldn’t be able to do anymore “controlling” tonight, but he wanted to envision his master plan.
Clank, clank, clank….the guard’s nightstick slapped against the metal bars as he walked by. Jimmy opened his eyes for just a second making eye contact with the guard who smirked at him before moving on to the next cell. It meant nothing to Silent Jimmy though and he couldn’t afford to become irritated with the guards. If he showed any aggression they would give him something to sedate him and he couldn’t function when they drugged him.
Once again, he closed his eyes and let the sounds fade away as he brought the faces of the people he knew came next in his plan. Methra, Paige, Adara and Franco. He was counting on Methra bringing Paige to Adara and in turn, Methra would tell Adara some much needed survival skills about the gifts they had. Not because Jimmy believed in a fair fight so to speak, but more because he loved the challenge of it. He was hoping Methra would show Adara what type of power she could possess, so that when she and Silent Jimmy had their final battle, victory would be that much sweeter.
I picked up the photo and hastily put it back in the file as I stood to answer the door. As I rounded the desk I looked around her for a weapon of some sort because with all that was going on, it was better to play it safe. The best I could come up with was a very heavy paperweight sitting on the corner of the desk. I tried to keep as little in my office so that nothing could be used as a weapon in case a client decided to go beserk.
Paperweight in hand, I reached for the door handle and called out, “Who’s there?”
“Eranza Flor” came the low muffled reply. I slowly opened the door and peaked through the crack.
The woman standing on the other side of the door was darting glances to the left and right as if to make sure she hadn’t been followed. “Please Dr. Davis, it is me, can I come in?” Esperanza asked imploringly.
I moved back and opened the door wider to allow Esperanza to come inside, shutting the door quickly behind her.
Click, the lock was thrown back into place. “Come in and sit down. Can I get you anything to drink? Some coffee or water?” I asked the other women as I made my way over to the mini-fridge. I wasn’t really feeling courteous, but I could see that Esperanza appeared to be on the verge of breaking down and was fidgeting with the straps of her purse as a way to calm herself.
“Nothing for me, thank you.” Esperanza said politely.
“Just what was so important that you had to meet with me in person?” I asked a little too impatiently.
Esperanza’s eyes filled with tears but she blinked them away before they could fall. “I know what it is to be scared that you will never see the most important person in your life again. Only my sister never came back to me. You still have that chance with Paige.”
I moved away from the fridge and sat down in the unoccupied chair next to Esperanza instead of behind my desk in an attempt to make her feel more at ease.
“If there is anything, anything at all you can tell me that will help me find Paige…..” I said with a calm I didn’t really feel.
“I can’t tell you where your daughter is, but….” The other woman began softly. “I can tell you what I do know and what I’ve come to believe.”
Esperanza jumped ever so slightly as the clock on the wall behind her chimed the beginning of a new hour. “It’s okay, you are safe here with me.” I tried to reassure her as I reached out and grabbed her hand and squeezed.
“Please look at me Esperanza.” I asked her gently. She lifted her eyes to mine and I felt a connection. Something not physical, but more of a linking of minds. As her eyes stayed focused on mine, I tried again. “What did you need to tell me?” I gave her a little mental push to answer and to stay calm as I asked the question out loud. Not know if it would really work, but it felt like it was what I needed to do.
Esperanza just sat there and stared at me for a moment before taking a long soothing breath and answering. “My sister Nona, she was a good girl. And that man killed her for no reason. Her placard said she was a false witness, but that wasn’t true.”
It’s okay, you are doing great.” I tried to reassure her while gently probing her mind to speak more quickly.
Esperanza glanced around the room and then back to Adara before continuing on a rush. “There was this thing, this man that was inside my head. Making me call you, making me say things I didn’t remember. And Nona…. Nona said it felt like there was a man inside her head too, making her say and do things she didn’t want to do. She said she struggled against the voice, the power that invaded her mind, but she wasn’t strong enough to resist.”
“Now I must go, he can’t know I was here, telling you any of this. I don’t know who he is, but I do know he is evil. I think he deliberately searches out the people he’s using or hurting, but I am not sure why.” Esperanza said this last bit as she backed towards to door. With her hand on the knob, she turned to deliver what was to be the most important part of the conversation. “I think he is after you. When he was in my mind, I felt a hatred for you like I have never know. The first time was different, almost like there is a set, two evil beings working together, to get at you.”
Once Esperanza dropped that bombshell in my lap she slipped quietly out the door without a backwards glance. I walked dazedly over to the door and reset the lock as my body collapsed against the door. I slid down till I felt my knees touch the floor and then I fell back on my bottom till I could lean against the door.
“What did I ever do to deserve such hatred? Not only from one person, but two?” I asked aloud. Of course no answer was forthcoming. I placed my elbows on my knees and leaned my head forward to cover my face with my hands.
Think, dammit. I gave myself a mental shake. And then something flashed in my mind, like the proverbial light switch going off. I had “probed” or “prodded” Esperanza to do as I asked. Never had I used my gift before to do that………
Methra and Paige had been walking for over an hour in the hot desert. The two water bottles they had taken from the cave were almost gone and any previous attempts made by Methra to reach out her mind for help had failed. She had never drawn such a blank before and the direness of their situation was weighing down heavily upon her.
“Paige, honey, lets take a break and rest for a minute.” Methra said to the girl gently, but Paige didn’t reply, she just merely stopped and stood where she was, eyes downcast yet again. The terror and anguish seemed like a living, breathing thing that rolled off Paige in waves and spilled over onto Methra.
“I need to try and call for help Paige. Don’t worry, it will be okay, everything will be okay.” Methra said reassuringly, although she wasn’t sure if it was directed more at Paige or herself.
Methra sat down Indian style on the sand and placed her hands at her knees. She breathed slowly, in and out, in and out, forcing her mind and body to relax, blocking out all that she had seen as well as the grief coming from Paige.
Her mind drifted off and she made the mental connection to the one person she knew could help them. He had been waiting for the right time to reveal his presence while secretly hoping he would never have to. He was what their kind considered a Guardian, he watched over those that needed him the most, but was not allowed to intervene until those that were over him decreed it. Methra sent her message, he had heard and accepted it and would come to help them.
She slumped over and breathed a great sigh of relief. She truly believed that things would be okay, well, not exactly okay as she glanced up at Paige and saw a new set of tears making tracks down her dirt-stained cheeks.
“Oh sweetie,” Methra said as she pushed herself to her feet and brushed the sand from her hands and the seat of her pants. “We will be home soon and you will be with your mom once again, I promise.” Methra reassured Paige again with another strong hug.
For a moment Paige didn’t move, then she slowly inched her arms around Methra till she was holding her just as tightly. “There, there.” Methra said as she squeezed one last time. “Let’s get moving again.” And because all the effort seemed to go out of Paige, Methra wrapped her arm around her waist and began walking and holding her for support.
After what had seemed to be another fifteen minutes of mindless walking they made it to the highway, if one could describe the two lane rode in the middle of no where such. Just as both girls stepped foot onto the asphalt a car could be seen coming in the distance at a very accelerated rate of speed. As the driver drew closer he slowed the car and then came to a stop a few feet from where they were standing.
“It’s okay Paige, the cavalry is here.” Methra smiled at her. As they started towards the car the driver side door popped open and a tall man emerged from the car. The sun was so blinding that Paige had to hold her hand over her eyes to shield them so she could see the driver. The driver was Franco, he was the Guardian.
“Hey baby girl,” he said to gently as he pulled Paige into his embrace. Paige buried her face into Franco’s shoulder and he felt hot tears dampen his shirt. He looked over a Methra who just shook her head sadly as a tear slipped down her cheek.
“Paige, why don’t you go and lay down in the back seat and try to get some rest now, I am going to call your mom and let her know we’ve got you. There is some bottled water behind the seat as well.” Franco said to Paige with a “push”. She turned and walked to the car wordlessly and did as he asked, never questioning him.
Franco turned to Methra and said, “I think I’ve figured out who’s doing this or at least has a part in it.” Methra opened her mouth to ask who could it be, but he held up a hand to silence her as Adara’s line started ringing.
“Damn!” Franco swore as the voicemail recording kicked on. Beep! “Adara, love, call me back as soon as you get this. I found Paige and Methra and we are coming to you. And for God’s sake, don’t, and I repeat don’t talk to Charlie if he calls or comes by, I think Paige’s dad may be responsible for all of this……” Beep!
Franco’s warning was cut short. “Let’s get the hell out of here and fast!” Franco growled to Methra. She wasn’t the least bit offended as she knew how much Adara and Paige had really come to mean to Franco, even if they didn’t have a clue.
I need to get to Franco and talk to him, I thought to myself. It’s time I told him everything, no matter what the cost. “I can’t do this alone anymore.” I cried against the fist I held at my lips.
I quickly grabbed the files I needed and headed for the door, unlocking and flinging it open in my hast to get home to Franco.
“Good afternoon, Adara, my wife.” Charlie said from the other side of the doorway. He had both hands leaning on the door jams and his feet planted far apart blocking any means of getting around him.
“Mind if I come in for a minute?” he said and laughed evilly. I attempted to slam the door closed but his booted foot struck out and kicked the door back in. As I looked up with eyes wide, he back handed me so hard my entire body spun and I fell to the floor.
Charlie walked in the office. Wham! He used his foot to slam the door shut. Click! He locked us inside……