The story so far:
Miguel’s insolence in addressing Father Preston as ‘Damien’ was further proof that he had become a burden. He had too much information and his arrest had scared him badly; enough so that he could, conceivably, bring down the entire organization. Father Preston had spent many years building his own “Holy Office”, an off-shoot of the Roman Catholic Holy Office of the Inquisition. The Congregation’s name had been changed several times since the Inquisitions (1184 – 1840), and their duties watered down to almost nothing.
Father Preston had heeded God’s call to re-instate the Holy Office and to expand its influence to include all people instead of only those baptized in the Catholic Church.
“Listen to me and listen very closely,” Father Preston said, leaning in and beginning to whisper. “We have a new problem.”
He had come to enlist his lieutenant in figuring a way to eliminate the “new problem” of Adana and her daughter, but he saw now that Miguel presented a new problem of his own.
Father Preston was nothing if not flexible and he immediately changed his plans for Miguel who saw it in his leader’s eyes. Miguel wasn’t surprised. His bluff had been called. He bowed his head and began to softly mutter a prayer.
He heard Father Preston talking, but didn’t acknowledge until he heard, “You did well, Miguel. You will be richly rewarded.”
Miguel slowly raised his head. A tear trickled from the corner of his right eye. He merely nodded that he understood. Father Preston removed the silver crucifix hanging from his neck and, holding it by the chain a few inches above the cross, began to swing it back and forth. Miguel followed the swinging medallion with his eyes. Several minutes passed before the priest began to speak.
Father Preston replaced the cross around his neck. He walked to Miguel’s side of the table and leaning over kissed the top of his head. “When next we meet it will be in the glory of God.”
Paige was asleep. It had taken me almost an hour to calm her down, get a sleeping pill into her and finally watch it take effect. Franco was glued to the television, watching reports of the most recent murder. I thought that it must be very hard for him. In a sense, he was reliving the death of Amelia. But, I couldn’t let that distract me.
All these years I’d been watching things happen. I’d never really tried to get involved. I’d never tried to warn anyone, stop any of it. I’d never tried to make a difference. Sure, years ago I’d warned about the earthquake, but no one had taken me seriously. And then, the one time I’d mentioned “seeing” a murder at school, Father Preston had overheard and warned me that such things were the work of the devil. He’d scared me. He scared me badly and I’d kept my mouth shut from then on.
Things were different now. My daughter was involved -- in danger herself. She had also inherited my ability, my curse. I’d be damned if I was going to let it negatively dominate her life as it had mine.
If I’d been stronger, if I had done some good with my “gift” – but, I hadn’t and that was my problem. I was guilty. I was guilty of murder, rape and manslaughter, if you considered the visions I’d had of accidents that resulted in someone’s death. I was guilty by default.
If I’d only saved one life, one victim from the lifelong agony of rape or the accidental death or maiming; it would have been worth it and I would not be where I was now.
But -- I’d had enough and after checking on Paige and Franco, I called William Defoe, the LA District Attorney. We were still friends after a brief romance that ended shortly before I’d met Franco so I had no qualms about calling him at home. After his initial surprise at hearing from me after such a long time, he was all business. He knew all about my visions.
I awoke Paige and together we went downstairs to the den. Franco had fallen asleep in front of the television and I gave him a few minutes to fully awaken before starting what I was already calling in my mind, our family “council of war”.
“Before I get to the purpose of calling this family meeting; Franco, what did Mrs. Doring tell you on the phone earlier?”
Still half asleep, he waved his hand in dismissal and replied, “She told me some BS about seeing Paige at the scene of the murder during the news report. That’s why I had you turn on the TV. Obviously, she was mistaken.”
I thought about it for a minute. If Mrs. Doring had seen Paige, that would mean that she, too, was psychic. What are the odds? I decided to weigh into this new development later. First things, first.
I looked at my husband and daughter and almost cancelled the whole thing. Damn this was going to be hard. Taking a deep breath, I set my mind on automatic. I knew I couldn’t look directly at them. I would look through them and I would tell them everything.
“Franco, Paige – I am psychic. I have visions that usually come to me as dreams, but sometimes simply “hit me” at inconvenient times. I’ve had this gift, if you want to call it that – I’ve always thought of it as a curse – since I was a child. Everything I “see” is something bad; a murder, a rape, an accident or a calamitous act of nature.”
I told them about the things I’d seen as a child. I told them about the murders, the rapes and I told them about Amelia. I heard Franco’s intake of breath and felt the anger. I ignored it, plunged ahead and finally; I brought them to the present, but I wasn’t finished.
I cleared my vision and looked directly at my family. Franco and Paige both had tears in their eyes. They recognized that I’d been talking to them but not seeing them and that I was “back.” Both of them moved forward. I’m certain that they wanted to hug me, to tell me that everything was okay; that they loved me and, most importantly, that they believed me. I stopped them with both hands up.
“No, there’s more. I’ve told you about my visions including the murder of Nona Flores. It seems that, recently, I’ve developed an additional ability – it’s called “astral projection” or “out of body” experience. Not only did I visualize the murder of Nona, I felt as if I were there; that I was actually inside of her. I felt her fear, her pain and her death.”
I looked at Paige and reached forward to take her hand. “It seems that you’ve inherited these psychic abilities. I don’t know how else to describe it, other than to say, inherited. I don’t really know where it comes from or how I got it. Regardless, baby, you’ve got the gift. You not only saw Eliza’s murder you were out of body the first time. You were actually there. I saw you on the news report.”
“Adara, that’s impossible,” Frank said. “We watched the same program. I didn’t see her and besides, she was in the backyard the whole time. Right?”
Before I could answer, Paige spoke, “I was and I wasn’t. I think what Mom is saying is that physically I was here but my – what, Mom – spirit?” I nodded. I wasn’t sure about that, but it sounded reasonable. “My spirit was at the murder and again at the news report. I saw – I saw…”
Franco grabbed her in a bear hug as she started to break down. I moved closer until we were all three in a mass hug.
Ten minutes later we’d all composed ourselves. I felt the closeness, the love but, most of all, I felt the strong will to do something about the situation; the will to fight.
Franco spoke first, “I think I understand. What I can’t get my head around is what do we do about it?”
I answered, “For years, I’ve felt cursed. I’ve done everything I could to deny this psychic ability. For while the visions stopped. They started again with Amelia, but at the time I didn’t recognize her and afterwards – afterwards, I was too ashamed and afraid to say anything. I –“
“I don’t blame you, honey. It’s over and done with, a long time, now. I’m only a little sorry that you didn’t trust me enough to tell me. But, I understand that, now, too.”
I smiled at him, “Thank you, Franco. I promise never again to keep secrets – any secrets from you.”
I got right back to business. “What I was getting at, is that I’ve always tried to subdue the visions. I would see them and try to forget them as quickly as possible. Well, that has to change and it’s going to change here and now.”
I was pumped up and, as Franco told me later, “You sounded like a field marshal…”
“Here are some facts,” I said. “First, Mrs. Doring. In order for her to have seen Paige, she has to have some measure of psychic ability, too. You’ll have to trust me, I know. I could write a thesis, but I don’t want to waste time going over the details. OK?”
Franco and Paige nodded. “OK. So, first thing in the morning Paige and I will pay her a visit. Franco, I would like for you to visit Esperanza Flores. She was Nona Flores’ sister. I don’t know what she knows and I don’t think she’s psychic. She called me today to warn me that Paige was in danger. I think she had reason to believe that Paige would be the next victim. Instead, it was Eliza, but we have to know her connection in all of this. We will all meet back here, compare notes and then, we’re all going to see the District Attorney.”
“Why the DA? Why not go directly to the police?” Franco asked.
I wasn’t holding anything back anymore, so I told him, “Because the DA will be intricately involved in the investigation and because I know him. I dated him for a couple of months before we met, and because he knows about my visions. He discovered it when I had a dream while staying at his house. He thought he could use my “talent” to make a name for himself, to make money – oh, I don’t know what all. I didn’t care much for his lack of empathy or sympathy and that was the end of our relationship. He’s still a friend, though, and I know he’ll help us.”
Franco was nodding his head. I realized again how much and why I loved him so much and I felt another pang of guilt for having kept him out of the picture for so long.
“And, finally, Paige; you and I are going to school. We are going to learn how to control our abilities. We’re going to treat these visions as gifts and we are going to find a way to make them work for the greater good.” I was relieved to see the confident smiles on my family’s faces. Relieved and empowered.
The main gambling floor of the Golden Nugget was crowded as usual. A couple, in their early forties, were cleaning house at the black jack table. Sitting on the table between them was a doll. It looked like a Cajun gambler with a wide black hat, three piece “country” suit and a string tie. Each time a hand ended, one or the other of them would rake in the chips and then, both of them would lay a finger on the doll, close their eyes for a second as if praying and then, begin bidding for the next hand.
The suite consisted of three rooms; a master bedroom, a second smaller bedroom and a huge living room with sunken floor. The living room and the master bedroom opened out on a very large balcony that commanded a view of the entire western part of Las Vegas and a magnificent sundown.
In the master bedroom, two crosses had been constructed and leaned against the wall. Two shadowy figures moved around the room placing hammers and spikes neatly on the floor in front of the crosses, laying two large knives next to the tools and then, printing signs.
The couple that had been playing black jack with the doll lay unconscious on the floor. They’d been stripped naked, their hands and feet tied and a ball gag tightened around their heads.
Two men, wearing long Monk-like robes, knelt next to them, knives in hand. One of them suddenly looked up and around the room.
“Do you feel that?” He asked the other.
“Feel what?” He looked around the room and then said, “Come on. I don’t feel anything. Let’s get this done.”
“It feels like someone’s in here with us. It’s spooky.”
“****. God is the only one watching and He sent us here, didn’t He?
“Yes, yes, of course. Let’s pray before we wake these two sinners up.”
Together they began to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name ---"
The bodies were hung on the crosses. Her breasts had been sliced off and thrown against the wall leaving a smear of blood that ran down to a blob of jelly looking substance on the floor beneath. Her genitals had also been cut out and stuffed into the man’s mouth.
His were stuffed into hers. Both had had their throats cut. The signs around their necks read “Thou Shalt Have No Other God Before Me” and written in blood on the opposite wall, “Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy.”
I awoke with a start and immediately jumped out of bed. I stood on trembling legs for a second, the horror of this dream blinding me to coherent thought.
I forced myself to wipe the dream from my mind. All of it except the one thing that gave me a ray of hope. I ran to the phone. While I was looking for and dialing Bill Defoe’s number I was thinking about the commandment on the wall. Today is Friday. We’ve got lots of time until Sunday. I’ve done it -- I’ve gotten ahead of the dreams. No, no…wait, the “Sabbath” was Jewish. It’s Saturday, tomorrow. ****…the Sabbath actually starts tonight at sunset.
“Bill? Bill, it’s Adara again. I’m sorry for such an early morning call – what time is it? Four a.m.? Damn, I’m sorry but, I just dreamed another murder, a double murder this time. Bill, if I’m right – I think we can stop this one before it happens! Yes, I’ll meet you at your in office in an hour.”
I hung up and heard Paige crying. I shook Franco awake and headed for Paige’s room. I figured she’d had the same dream.