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 original Roman Catholic Holy Office of the Inquisition. The Congregation’s name had been changed several times since the Inquisitions and their duties watered down to almost nothing. Father Preston, however, kept the original intent intact and functional.
God personally called upon Father Preston 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 ex-lieutenant in a plan to eliminate the “new problem” of Adana and Paige, 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 his understanding. Father Preston removed the silver crucifix hanging from his neck and 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 leaned over to kiss 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 of dreams and visions, I avoided involvement. I never tried to warn anyone; stop any of it. I never tried to make a difference. The earthquake, as a child, yes; but, no one had listened. I tried, once, to speak about my vision of a murder, only to be overheard by Father Preston and warned that such visions were the work of the devil. Father Preston scared me and I never spoke of a vision again.
Things were different now. My daughter was involved -- in danger herself. She’s inherited my ability, my curse. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it negatively dominate her life as it has mine.
If I were stronger, if I did some good with my “gift” – saved someone’s life, stopped a rape or an accident that maimed or killed, then I could redeem myself. As it stood, now, I was guilty, myself. I was an accessory to murder, to rape. I could be charged with manslaughter. I was guilty by default. As Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops here.” Well, here it would stop. I would take positive action starting right now.
I checked on Paige and Franco, both still asleep; Paige in her room, Franco on the couch before the TV. I picked up the phone and called William Defoe, the Las Vegas District Attorney. We were still friends after a brief romance that ended shortly before I’d met Franco. That, plus the nature of my call lent themselves well to calling him at home. His initial surprise at hearing from me after such a long time, segued quickly to – all business. He knew about my visions and he knew that details would be forthcoming when we met.
I awoke Paige and together we went downstairs to the den. I gave Franco a few minutes to wake up before starting what I was already calling, in my mind, our family “council of war”.
When I had their attention, I said, “You’re probably wondering why I called you here.” I was trying to lighten things up a bit. No reaction from either of them. “OK, seriously. First I need to know, Franco; what did Mrs. Doring tell you on the phone earlier?”
Yawning, still waking up, 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.”
Paige raised her eyebrows and started to speak, but I waved at her to be still. 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 bank this for awhile.
I looked at the expectant faces of my husband and daughter. I almost changed my mind. 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.
“I have some things to tell you both. It’s very difficult for me, so I’m going to ask you both not to interrupt until I’m finished. OK?”
They solemnly nodded their heads and I charged on, “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. Almost everything I envision 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 but he refrained comment. I plunged ahead and finally; I brought them to the present.
I cleared my vision and looked directly at my family. Franco and Paige both had tears in their eyes. They recognized that I was no longer in a “trance”, so to speak, and they 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. When I visualized the Nona Flores murder, I seem to have developed another – ability; astral projection, out of body experience. I felt as if I were there; that I was actually inside of her. I felt her fear, her pain and her death.”
Paige knew exactly what I was talking about. I saw it in her face and her trembling hands. I 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. Regardless, baby, you’ve got the gift. You not only saw Eliza’s murder, you were out of body. 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. Amelia’s death was the last I visualized until these new murders began. They’re all connected, somehow. I couldn’t stop Amelia’s death, Franco, but I should have said something – done something…”
“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 my thanks, squeezed his hand and got 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 – 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. After that, I have an appointment with the DA at ten o’clock.“
"Why the DA? Why not go directly to the police?” Franco asked.
I promised no more secrets, 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 he knows about my visions. He thought he could use my “talent” to make a name for himself, for us really -- to make money – oh, I don’t know what all. I didn’t care for his lack of empathy or sympathy and ended the 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. 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” style suit and a string tie. Each time a hand ended, one or the other of them would rake in the chips and then, both would lay a finger on the doll, close their eyes for a second, as if praying and then, begin betting on 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 send these sinners to hell.”
They prayed, “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.
Both bodies had deep slashes in the shape of the cross across their chests and from the base of their throat to their crotches. The wounds were deep enough to expose internal organs; of which, the intestines had burst forth to hang to their knees.
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 but 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. And then -- ****…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 dreamt another murder, a double murder this time. Bill, if I’m right – I think we can stop this one before it happens! Yes? In an hour? OK.”
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.