The next morning was a lot of down time. Calling the police station only got me Adam’s voice mail or road blocked by anyone I got on the phone. It was clear they planned to call me when and if I was needed, not before. My appetite was shot, and I had to force down half a bagel and some apple juice. I spent time reviewing the meaningless notes from the day before. Only the map felt like it had any merit. The numbers I marked out formed a vague oval, nearly matching the space of the clearing. It meant nothing in itself, but was too symmetrical to be random.
This was all against the backdrop of my dream, which continued to cause shivers. I had been warned and threatened before by odd sensations or presences, if you like; but nothing like that dream. It was entirely more intense and real than anything I had felt before. There was no chance in a billion it was unconnected to the events of the crime scene. Someone, or possibly something, wanted me to back off in a hurry. My leg hurt, right above the knee, when I thought about it too hard. Still, I wrote it all down in the pad with every detail I could recall, rubbing my leg to soothe it. The words “stay away” were sounding like good advice.
The department called late in the morning, telling me to be ready in fifteen minutes. They were on time, down to the minute. A young cop picked me up and drove me rather quickly to the station. It seemed like he was at the end of a traffic shift and unhappy about giving me a ride. The station wasn’t busy and still managed to give off too much information. I focused on keeping it out with modest success.
*condoms-a painful, freshly broken forearm-butter-hallway of doors-despair-trees-a burnt island-vodka-harmonica-curling iron*
A long, restful break would happen after this, I promised myself.
I expected to wait and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly they ushered me upstairs to a large meeting room. Adam stood at a table at the end of the room. He looked tired and intense as he spoke with two other men I recognised from the day before. My usher directed me to Adam and quickly left. The room was modern and new; and the intensity of sensory events was much reduced from the first floor.
Adam looked relieved to see me when I approached.
*snow capped mountains-blood-shivering in the cold-plastic bags*
“That will be good enough for now, guys,” Adam said, dismissing the others. “Get some lunch before this gets going.”
We sat down behind the table and he stretched his back, looking completely burnt out. “Tell me you have something to break this one, eh, Norman?” was all he started with.
“Sorry to let you down, Adam,” I said. “What I have is awfully thin. I need to go back at least one more time.”
“I’ll start with the thin stuff, first,” he said through a yawn.
“Okay. You already know how this works for me. I was not able to get a specific read at the scene. That same intensity I told you about was still going strong when I left.” I showed him the map I made with little intensity level numbers, from tens to ones, circling the site, explaining what I did.
*a predatory bird-dice-glue-waffles-plum sauce-a wooden plate*
“Does this mean anything to you? Am I missing something?” he asked.
“On its own, no,” I explained. “I was hoping for some kind of clue or something. What is curious, and possibly relevant, is I did not observe a single animal of any kind closer than the perimeter I marked. Even those animals appeared agitated. I was told the canine unit was occupied, but I would bet those dogs would have freaked out if they got too close.”
“Well, that’s something, I guess,” he muttered. “Anything else? Please?”
I nearly smiled, except the memory of the dream blotted it out. I told Adam about the dream, even looking through my notes to cover everything off. My leg positively ached as I did so.
*darkness-strong wind-heat-a dancing crowd*
“I’m not sure what to make of that, Norman,” Adam said. “I can tell it still hurts your leg, though.”
“I never was a good faker,” I clenched through the words. “Maybe I should work on that.”
“Maybe, but for now it sounds vaguely like a cult thing, even if you’re not feeling it that way.”
“I can’t rule anything out,” I said, massaging my leg, “but dreams are not so direct. Dream imagery is highly abstract, in many respects. The message, and this business with my leg, was clear enough. Someone does not want me here.”
“You and everyone on the case,” Adam said. “Whoever is behind this is really bad news, you can be sure of it. Listen, I’ve got a ton going on, including the missing Timberton kid, so if that’s all you have, I will let you go. If you are ready for case details, you are welcome to stay. We’re having a group briefing in about half an hour, just to go over everything. If not, I understand.”
“What about going back to the site?” I asked. “If there are fewer people around, I might have a better shot.”
“The site is being cleared up as we speak,” Adam said. “I’m guessing that will throw you off, too.”
I thought about it for a moment. The briefing did not seem premature at this point. “I’ll stay for the briefing if I can still go back to the site. How about that?”
“It will have to be quick,” Adam said. “We have a press conference at five. Then we have to be careful about what we do.”
This was Adam’s polite way of telling me it would look bad for a contracted psychic to be openly associated with the case. How could I blame him?