(Back at it with a newer story idea. This is a story about a modern day psychic. It is not quite a horror, by my standard, though it should be scary enough. Fair warning, the opening is slow, and I reserve the right to go back and add the scene before this. I do not want to give anything away, so details will be revealed as I go.)
The cop driving me to the site was young, certainly new to the job. He was clean cut and polite, and exceptionally professional. I wondered how long it would take him to adjust to a life on the force.
*Apples-orchards-happy people with smiling faces on an autumn day*
“So how long have you been, uh, doing this sort of thing?” he asked me, carefully, like he knew how awkward it was.
“If you mean assisting police investigations, then it has been several years, on and off,” I said. I had hoped to travel in silence; it helped me to focus better.
“How do you find the work?” he asked, less awkward, now that ice had broken.
I tried not to focus on him. It was easier to converse, that way.
“The work,” I said, answering the question with practiced ease, “is about as bad as anything I can imagine.”
“Sorry to hear that,” he said after a pause. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. Just curious because I’ve never met a hired psychic before. In fact, I didn’t know we used psychics until this morning.”
“It’s fine,” I said. “I have a gift, so I do it to help people. I suppose a similar sentiment motivates police officers.”
*Old century building-morning mist*
“How does it work, if you don’t mind me asking?” he inquired. If nothing else, this cop was direct.
I had long since lost track of how many times the question had been posed and answered. Almost every client, cop or not, would inevitably ask. I never seemed to give the same reply, though I had a better reserve of metaphors built up.
“It’s hard to explain,” I said, hoping to put it off. I was at a loss to come with a deflection.
“Try me,” he said, a bit of overconfidence leaking through his modest, professional shell. I restrained a sigh.
*Lost mitten-old wallpaper pattern-smoke*
“When you are working, and you walk into a room, you are trained to notice things,” I began, knowing we had another half hour or so. “Some people are better than others, but you try to take in as much as you can and make quick, likely connections so you can draw probable conclusions. Those who are especially good are almost like Sherlock Holmes’ with what they can figure out. It that department, I am getting better but no sleuth. I have a different skill set, though it has parallels.”
“So you feel things you can’t see, you mean?” he asked.
That made me smile. “Not exactly. The best analogy might be a dog’s sense of smell. With all of the modern technology at our disposal, they are still used for sniffing out drugs and bombs, tracking people. They can smell so precisely that it might as well be a sixth sense, really.”
“True enough,” the cop agreed. “The difference is that we smell things, too. We just aren’t as sensitive to it as dogs. There’s science behind that. Now, is this where you tell me that everyone is a little bit psychic?”
I laughed. It was nothing fake or forced. His intention was not mean spirited or demeaning. This young cop was bright and funny.
*a pleasant ride in the back seat of an older car-an overgrown fence in the country-a little girl with red hair*
“No,” I explained, actually happy to for the first time in a while. “Most people are not psychic. One in twenty, at most; and most of those are only marginal. People anywhere close to being like me are one in a million, maybe less. But I didn’t answer your first question properly. You asked how it works, so let me tell you. Imagine there is a whole, separate layer of visible material in the world. It almost never interacts physically with anything else, but it is connected. Now imagine that most people in the world, nineteen out of twenty, really, can’t see this at all. Most of the rest might only be able to see this layer occasionally, or weakly; like person who is nearly blind other than seeing shadows.”
“And psychics can see it clear as day,” he incorrectly attempted to summarise.
“That is where it gets murky,” I said. “One of two things is true about this other layer. It could be that it doesn’t follow the same rules as the solid world we live in; or it could be that even an extremely sensitive psychic can’t see it perfectly. I don’t know which it is.”
He grunted acknowledgement, cocking his head slightly as he processed my theories.
*slipping on ice-watching constellations*
“So do you see things, then? Visually, I mean?” he finally asked.
“How I experience it is…random,” I said, surprised at myself for enjoying the conversation. “I experience it through any of the five senses, and I also catch emotions, thoughts, memories. In most cases it is fragmented, so I usually cannot put it all together in one moment.”
“Interesting,” he said, still pondering. “How do you put it all together, then? For an investigation or crime scene, I mean?”
“I used to wing it, go on my intuition. Then, during a fairly long investigation, a cop I was working with suggested I borrow a law enforcement technique. I started making notes, somewhat police style, about what I sensed. Then, I could refer to it later and piece things together, after a fashion. Not a perfect solution, but it often helps.”
“That’s it? A notepad?” he nearly blurted.
“Oh, there are other things,” I chuckled. “As much as possible, I want no information about the case beforehand. It doesn’t affect my read on things, but might skew how I interpret it.”
“That explains my gag order,” the cop said.
“Yes, that would be about me,” I said. “Are we nearly there?”
*a formal ceremony-classical music-cold coffee*
“Just a few more minutes,” he said, checking his dashboard. We had left the highway some time ago, suggesting a remote destination. “Just one more question, if it’s all right with you?”
“Sure,” I said, already tensing up for whatever was at the end of the ride.
“This gift, is it on all the time, or can you shut it off?” he asked. “I mean, a dog’s sense of smell never completely stops. How about you?”
*a crowd of strangers-a turtle-a feeling of tension*
“I’m a lot like the dog.”
“So are you getting anything from, say, me?” he asked, a little uneasy for the first time.
I smiled, mostly to myself. This was where people got uncomfortable with me, where otherwise pleasant banter turned cold. They either dismissed me as misguided, a charlatan; or they simply got uncomfortable with the idea I could read their minds or such. I used to believe I would eventually meet people who would be more accepting.
“Bits and pieces, but I’m trying to focus on other things,” was the best, truthful answer I could come up with.
“Interesting,” was his only response.
*flat bike tire-a bee sting-a dream about a lake*