A Tiny Light To See By, Part 9

(Psychic horror)

When I returned to the hotel, I was burnt out.

               Forensics was crowded and busy, not to mention unfriendly.  I was half expecting the maelstrom to have followed the corpses, but it did not.  Still, places like that still manage to overwhelm me.  I fought through it.  What I came away with was helpful, sort of.

               The bodies did not give me anything, in particular, other than the slightest feeling of resigned calm; a strange sensation for me to pick up, considering.  It was not universal, but highly prevalent.  I managed to confirm from overtired forensics staff that the bodies had not, as far as they could tell, been touched by scavenging animals.  The cuts had not been precise, but what did the cutting had been incredibly sharp.  The details were so unusual that most of the staff felt the RCMP would be involved soon.  After too long getting all of this, I called a cab and returned to the hotel.  I had taken enough cruisers for the day.

               Adam had not responded to my earlier text but I sent another update, anyway.

               I was still in over my head, yet I had a nagging feeling there was something familiar about it.  I might manage to find myself above water if I could pin it down.  The hotel room kept giving me a feeling of drunken joy, a strange and welcome distraction.

               Sleep beckoned.  It had been a second rough day in a row.  The forensics area was loaded with psychic energy, above and beyond the mess of recent corpses, which automatically burnt me out.

               The dream was remarkably similar to the last.  I walked into the clearing, which was empty and devoid of the overwhelming energy I first encountered.  Then, the figures appeared, the same as before.  I was surrounded before I thought to run, only having enough time to brace myself before they held me as before.  Their hands were cold and felt like they were biting into my skin.  I strained against them, trying to force my way out, but they were too strong and too many.

               “Last warning,” one of them said, more sinister than before.  The same bladed object appeared, stabbing me in the same spot, only this time the pain was much more intense; and I was not able to awaken quickly.  They were holding me for a moment, just long enough to prove they could.

               I woke with the same shock as before.  Only this time the pain in my leg was agonizing.  It was as though a hot poker had been driven in and electrified.  It felt numb from the knee down.  It was barely four in the morning, but there would be no more sleep for me.

               The pain left me slowly, certainly slower than the day before.  Sensation below the knee also returned in a similar fashion.  I shook like a leaf for a good hour before my nerves returned.  Only one positive came from nightmare number two: I remembered why the maelstrom and void from the crime scene seemed familiar to me.  It was a tainted positive, really, but better than the dead end I had been facing.

               It wasn’t until nine that I felt halfway normal.  I searched my phone contacts for what I needed.  Gary Tellmann, luckily, was still on my list.  Gaetan Boucanne was not there, but Gary would likely connect me, if we got that far.  I was getting ahead of myself, and knew it.  Adam needed to approve anyone or anything I might bring in that was out of the ordinary.  The media would be involved, and I did not need to be psychic to know that police scrutiny would be high for some time.

               I sent a quick text to Adam, stating I needed to discuss something fairly urgent.  I made a handful of internet searches on Tellmann and Boucanne to make sure no recent activity of theirs was especially odd.  Breaking anything like this to Adam meant due diligence; and I was proposing to introduce a pair who were unusual, even by my standard.

               It took me a nearly an hour to jog my memory on Tellmann.  How long ago was our last communication of any kind?  I knew it had been several years since we visited in person.  It was my best guess that our last, meaning exchange was nearly two years before.  We exchanged a few professional emails in a debate over subtleties related to language interpretation during psychic events.  Tellmann was psychic, for certain, but his real strength was academic.  He had studied all things psychic to a nearly ridiculous level.  I mostly used my abilities by feel, like an art more than science.  It could be studied, I was sure, and rules found that could be applied and honed; where I fell off with Tellmann was the degree of personal interpretation involved made that study dizzyingly complex.  He believed that over time, with enough scientific research, the human psychic nature could be fully understood and explored.

               I remember, in one of our earlier exchanges, explaining how I saw the positive application of psychic ability.  The vast majority of the world was living completely blind to an entire sense, and probably the poorer for it.  Most of those who could sense it either lived in denial, thought they were crazy or explained it away with some rational nonsense that in no way applied.  Those who could see it could only catch a glimpse, looking through a tiny keyhole into a large, cluttered, shadowy space; but we could see, at least.  I told Tellman that psychics were tiny lights to see by.  The light we caste was small, but better than nothing.

               Tellman, being on an academic mission, disagreed.

               Boucanne was the one I really wanted to get on board.  Tellman had psychic skills, but certainly weaker than mine.  Boucanne was on another level.  His abilities were extraordinary, much greater than anyone else I had ever encountered.  Unlike Tellman, Boucanne had gone in the opposite direction of science, embracing all kinds of supernatural, paranormal, mystic and occult practices.  The weirder the better was how I saw his approach to adopting new approaches and practices.  He was a brilliant psychic, through all the other nonsense, and wrote prolifically about all of it.  Even as a I skimmed his most recent blog entries (oh yes, he had a blog) it boggled my mind at the volume of information he churned out.

               Adam would be fine with Tellman, even though he was unaware of his worst quirks.  Boucanne would be harder to sell, but I needed him more.

A Tiny Light to See By, Part 8

(Psychic horror. And on we go.)

There are times when you feel like you are in over your head.  My return to the crime scene convinced me the water line was well above me.

               I had braced for a repeat experience of my previous visits.  I ate light and was well hydrated, expecting to brave the maelstrom.  It was a tense ride in another cruiser, driven by another unwilling young cop.  I kept my head clear and actively forced myself to keep from clenching my jaw or squeezing my fists.

               Before I stepped into the clearing I knew something had changed.  There was nothing.  It was almost the opposite of before.  The mad rush that had overwhelmed me was replaced by an almost equally mad void; and it had the opposite effect on me: peaceful tranquility.

               It felt as though every speck of psychic energy had been sucked out of the area.  I walked to the middle of the clearing and it felt like there was nothing there.  Only the faintest, distant traces of anything could be felt from the nearby officers.  As disconcerting as it was for my sixth sense to fade out like that, it was also joyous, peaceful.  It was like walking out of a rock concert and into a sensory deprivation tank.  I lost track of time as I simply enjoyed the moment, unprofessional or not.

               The moment was disrupted by the approach of more officers, and the void did not resist the intrusion of energy.  The canine unit arrived with two German shepherds, almost frantically sniffing at the ground.  They were as unbothered as I was.  What had changed?

               I made some notes and began moving to the perimeter I had mapped out.  The void felt like it was unstable, probably collapsing under the weight of surrounding energies, yet I managed to determine it mirrored the earlier maelstrom.  It was new territory for me, and left me feeling awkward and uncomfortable.  I was in over my head.

               I had been in over my head before, just not that far.  It was like sitting down to an exam after attending only half the lectures, doing none of the reading and no studying.  All I could think to do was walk through the area as systematically as possible, maybe to catch a trace of something.  I refocused as I trudged through the brush and cleared areas, enough to stay open to whatever I might pick up.  It was nearly supper time when I had finished, and nothing came through.  The police presence was easily discernible from the nothingness of the scene, which was eroding rapidly.  The center of the clearing remained calm, when I returned, but not as much as before.  It was slowly and surely losing ground to the surroundings, a psychic equilibrium wearing it down.

               Still, I took the time to enjoy the relative peace of the moment.  It was almost therapeutic after the earlier scorching.  As I basked, my mind started to go over the case.  The details, even factoring out my psychic observations, were going to be a challenge.  If forensics failed to get any traction with the physical evidence the investigation faced huge challenges.  Who were these victims?  How did they get here?  Who were the perpetrators and where did they go?  It meant a lot of uncheck boxes if the science came up empty.

               Adding to this, I had come up with nothing.  This was nothing new for me; sometimes there was just nothing, frustrating as it was.  The wrinkle, this time, lay in the strange, unprecedented experiences I had faced; the overwhelming sensations of the raw crime scene, the matching void that followed, and the threatening message from the dream.  I needed more time and more access to the physical evidence, even though it would be hell.  Forensics labs, cemeteries and morgues are all nightmare scenarios for me.

               I sent a quick text to Adam, whose cell number I had managed to acquire, then asked the officer in charge for a lift downtown.  I made notes while I waited for the ride, which got me to thinking about the situation and how strange it was.  The more I thought about it, the more it jogged my memory.  The experience of the void, especially, seemed to ring familiar.  The ride arrived, breaking my train of thought; doubly so because it was the same cop who had given me my initial ride to the crime scene.

               “Hey,” he greeted me.  “How are you doing?”

*steep, wooden stairs-clover-bright lights*

               “Been better,” I admitted.  “How about you?”

               “Busy,” he said with a smile.  “Things have been buzzing with all this going on, so they are running us steady.  Overtime is going to be mandatory for a while, I think.”

               I checked his name, which I had deliberately avoided before.  Melvin Farthington.  “I suppose that won’t hurt, then?”

               “I am always good for more hours,” he said, putting the car in gear and driving out.  “Have you cracked this case, yet?”

*poker chips-a poorly played violin-a paper cup-a box from a cheap chemistry set*

               I nearly laughed out loud.  “A stand still, really,” I answered.  “This has been a unique experience.  I need to cover more ground before I draw any conclusions, though.”

               He frowned at that.  “Really?”

               “Yes, really,” I said.  “Something about all this is heavily charged on a spiritual, psychic level.  Until I cover my bases, there is not much more I can determine.”

               “Well, that makes sense considering the scale of what happened,” he reasoned.  “I mean, that’s more murders than we’ve had in the last ten years.  Nothing normal about that.”

               We rode in silence for a bit, my mind rolling over things.  Awkward silence gave me time to process.

*blue paint on a wall-a feel of rough fabric-a stained coffee mug*

               “Did anything ever come from that missing person?  The kid from Timberton?” I asked.

               “I haven’t heard anything,” he said.  “You think there’s a connection?”

               “Awfully long shot,” I replied, “but I hate ruling anything out, especially when the timing is so close.”

               “Fair enough,” he said.  “I’m sure they are considering that, too.”

               “I hope so,” I said, letting the ride return to awkward silence the rest of the way.

*walking on hot pavement-a wine cork-smoke*

A Tiny Light to See By, Part 7

(Psychic horror. A long delay from the last one. Combination of factors, but mostly holiday season related. I expect to post more regularly.)

The meeting was longer than I expected, based on past experience.  Then again, I had never been involved with a mass homicide investigation before.  I took notes with as much detail as I could; there was a lot to absorb and too much to risk forgetting.  It also helped me block out the volume of sensation from the gathering.  In my seat at the back of the room, it was easy to be ignored.

               There are times when hearing the case details make me feel like my input is negligible, if not a complete waste.  This was not one of those times.

               The scene had been discovered by a game warden, looking for poachers, and locked down within hours.  Apparently, I was on the scene the next day.

               What was known, or highly likely, boiled down to a few, limited details; all of which I noted.

-The victims were a mix of adult, Caucasian males and females who had been killed at the scene roughly three days before discovery.  The exact count was somewhere between fifty-four and fifty-seven people.  (the pieces were literally being matched up by forensics)

-The majority cause of death was blood loss from dismemberment, though there was evidence some were killed by decapitation.

-The bodies were dismembered with extremely sharp, almost surgical quality blades of some kind.

-There were no signs of bruising, forceful restraint or other trauma usually associated with victims like this.  Additionally, forensics had not yet found any signs of drugging.

-No traces of clothing, jewellery, eye glasses or contacts, tattoos or anything were found.

-A few traces of footprints were found, in poor condition, but likely belonged to the victims.  Tire tracks in the area were being examined.

-No other materials were found in the way of weapons, restraints, drug paraphernalia, gang symbols, serial killer trademarks or anything suspicious.

-Finally, though some of the faces and finger prints were in reasonable condition, none of the victims had been identified.

               As they went over the details, I just kept rolling things over and over in my mind.  I scratched down a few point form questions as they started wrapping up the exposition.  If the floor opened to questions, I was dying to ask.  When they finally did open the floor, I decided to leave the opening round to the police, hoping they would ask the same questions.  A number of questions were asked regarding the condition of the bodies, foot and vehicle traffic in the area, and so forth.  The general sense I had was that they really had nothing to work with, and the prospects for more were poor.

*Ravens-gasoline-tadpoles*

               Nothing really hit on the points I wanted addressed, anyway.  I managed to catch Adam’s gaze as the questions wound down; I cocked my head, silently asking if I was good to ask anything.  He glanced up at Sergeant-Major Guranovich, the Provincial cop in charge of the overall investigation, who was running the Q and A.  He shrugged and reluctantly nodded.  Not a vote of confidence, yet better than a hard no.

               I stood amidst the early mumblings of the group, feeling self-conscious and awkward for no good reason.  A moment of instant regret passed over me.

*smell of cut grass-apple sauce-dragons-Christmas lights-the sound of a flute*

               “Sergeant-Major,” I asked as politely and confidently as I could, “I have a few questions that have not been addressed here.  Apologies if they are already under review.”

               “Go ahead, then, mister…” the Sergeant-Major said; fishing for my name and, probably, my rank or position; he clearly did not know who I was.

               “Norman Garrickson,” I said.  “The victims were killed three days before discovery.  Were there any sign the bodies had been scavenged on by animals after death?”

               Guranovich raised an eyebrow, looking to the head of the forensics team.  A shoulder shrug was his reply.  “Nothing of that nature was reported to me,” the Sergeant-Major declared.  “The area is rural, but the nearby road is reasonably busy.  We would have to look into that.”

*stacks of money-butter melting on waffles-a broken necklace*

               I decided that went well enough to keep on asking.  “Will a canine unit be sent to the site?”

               That one earned me a furrowed brow from him.  “We have made arrangements for a provincial canine unit to come in today,” he said, sounding touchy.  “The local unit has been occupied on another case.”

               “Okay,” I said, preparing to wrap up with one more.  “Who owns that land?”

               “It is crown land,” he said, “but within a few yards of a farm.  We are looking into that, too.”

               “Thank-you,” I said, taking my seat and ignoring the unmistakably derogatory muttering from the group.

*a strong, warm wind-a freckled child-a damaged, cardboard box*

               “If that is all,” Guranovich said, returning to his rigid, confident form, “I want to suggest that we have very little to go on.  Normally, we would have far more evidence at this point in an investigation, so we need some traction very soon.  We have approval for as much overtime as we need.  I am overseeing things, but expect a fair bit of time dealing with the media.  For now, Chief Carter will be heading the investigation and reporting to me.”

               There was a bit of wrap up as specific duties were assigned, none of it directly pertinent to the case.  It was a big case getting a lot of attention.  The bureaucratic machinery of the investigation was engaging.  If I was going to help, I needed to get moving before that machinery pushed me out.

A Tiny Light to See By, Part 6

(Psychic horror)

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?

*smoke-bright lights*

A Tiny Light to See By, Part 5

(Psychic horror)

The ride back to the hotel with Kirby had mostly been in silence.  He said little, other than telling me how this was the worst thing he had seen.  I became aware that I did not have Adam’s cell number; having hoped I could text him about the animal thing.

               “Kirby,” I said to him as I was getting out, “I know how I’m perceived by people, police included, and I know Adam is probably taking a chance by bringing me in.  If I can’t help, I’ll be the first to say so.  It happens.”

               He looked at me like he was trying to read me.  “The chief mentions you, once in a while,” he said.  “Not casually, but he says you helped him solve a big case a long time ago.  He’s a loyal guy, so I don’t think it bothers him to stick his neck out.  Have a good night, Norman.”

*Lemons-a small dog-a sitting room filled with men smoking cigars and pipes-the entrance to a house*

               The hotel was rife with sensations, which I did my best to ignore.  Hotels were always a pain.  So many people coming and going left a lot of psychic energy behind.  Sleep would not come quickly, I was sure.

               I showered quickly and got to bed, trying not to over analyze the day.  I decided to forgo a review of my notes; usually a must, except that my sprawling comments had no real substance to them.  It was a vague compilation of negative feelings and emotions that had battered me every second I was there.  Not much to review.  Sleep did not come quickly.

               When I dream, it is a very odd experience; and odder still compared to how ordinary people relate dreaming.  My dreams always feel very real, and often connect with the ambient energy of the room.  I am pretty ruthless about back checking a hotel room to see if a death had happened there, and I am pretty good at sniffing out the truth when I am on site.  But even avoiding that massive, psychic thrill ride is no guarantee other nasty business has been avoided.  The best practice, I have found, is to take the newest hotel in the nicest area.  It generally works out.

               The room had an even mix of energy, leaning to the positive; so it was a win.  Dreams, however, had a way of reaching out beyond the walls of a hotel.  This was the other downside of a hotel: all new energy around me.  At home, I was so used to the surrounding vibe that it was practically background noise.  An extended stay anywhere else was an adventure.  The general impressions I was getting were balanced enough; and the upside of my day was that it left me a bit numb.

               The dream was like almost all my dreams, in that it was more of a psychic event than a dream.  In the dream, I walked to the clearing, wandering to the middle of it.  The bodies were not there and overwhelming psychic energy was absent, yet I was not alone.  I looked up to see figures enter the open space from the trees.  I had the sense they were men, though they were heavily obscured; as though someone had taken a pencil and thoroughly scratched over their image, leaving only a trace of a form.  Their suspicion and curiosity wafted into the clearing like the smell of smoke.  I was not welcome or desired, and yet they surrounded me.  There was no way past them.

               With more time I might have overcome my fear and disorientation enough to ask a question.  Instead, they began to close in, remaining obscured in their penciled out fashion.  I began to sense a bit of strain from them, and felt certain it was related to the blocking of their images.  It was clear to me they were hiding themselves deliberately, but with great effort.  A moment later they set upon me.  I resisted as best I could, but they were strong and numerous.  I was dragged to the ground and pinned there, helpless and terrified.

               “You should not have come,” one of them hissed.  “Stay away!”

               A bladed weapon appeared, perhaps a knife or dagger, but possibly a spear or sword, and I went into shock at the sight.  It pierced my leg, delivering agonizing pain and I began to scream.

               I jumped from the hotel bed to a shaky stand in one violent motion.  My leg ached where the blade had touched me, yet no mark could be found.  I was drenched in sweat and shaking like a leaf.

               “What the fuck have I gotten into?” I asked myself out loud.

A Tiny Light to See By, Part 4

(Psychic horror weirdness)

I decided on an unorthodox approach to my return.  Presuming the same feeling I got the first time, I would not try to focus.  Instead, I would try looking at the forest instead of the trees.  There was no way I could focus any harder or better than I did the first time.

               Adam told me he would probably be in touch the next day or so, unless I had a major revelation or something.  Other than this, he let me wander the carnage again.

               Deliberately not focusing was much easier, even though the general nausea and headache were there.  It was a random approach, like sticking your hand into a river and hoping to catch a fish.  I started making notes on the intensity of the energy coming through, to see if it varied from spot to spot in the clearing.  The results were inconclusive, although it was clear the feeling dropped substantially after being only a few yards from the edge.  I started wandering the perimeter, mapping this feeling on a scale similar to a pain index.  I made a rough sketch in the pad to map it out.  It was during this process that I noticed something that escaped me earlier.  I noticed a squirrel in the distance, much further from the crime scene than I.  It was agitated and nervous.  It was not a pure psychic connection I made at that moment; however, something definitely clicked.  I went looking for Adam directly.

               He was busy, an officer advised me when I returned.

               “Then maybe you can help me,” I suggested, politely, despite my sense of urgency.  “Have you had the canine unit in here?”

               “No,” he said, sounding annoyed.  “I think there was a missing kid in Timberton, so they would be on that before we called them here.  Why?”  His question was laced with suspicion.  I ignored it.

               “Have you noticed any animals in the vicinity?” I asked.  “Birds, squirrels, chipmunks, or anything like that?”

               That earned me funny look.  “I haven’t, but this is a homicide investigation.  Unless you think this was done by animals or something.”

               One of the fantastic perks of being a psychic on a police crime scene is the attitude you get.  I had heard worse from better cops than this.  You learn to roll with it, like when you get pulled over; or it only gets worse.

               “This is just an observation, and I only noticed it a few minutes ago,” I said, being as deferential as possible, “but I have not seen an animal within fifty yards of this place since I got here.”

               “Listen…” he glanced at my badge, “…Norman, I know the chief called you in and I’m sure you’re trying to help.  But we are really busy.  I’m sure the chief will get in touch with you.”

               If I had been in a better state I would have known better, but I wasn’t, so I pressed.  “It does not strike you as odd that there are no animals anywhere near here?”

               “There are a lot of people around, I’m sure the animals are just not used to that.  Now please go back to whatever you are doing.  Thank you.”  And that was that.

               I returned to mapping the range of my reading.  It was starting to get dark when I finished.  Sergeant Kirby approached me as I returned to the scene.  “We are starting to wrap up, here,” he advised me, “so if you have anything left to do, now’s the time.”

               Adam was nowhere to be seen, and I was beginning to suspect he had left.  It did not matter.  In my second round of mapping, I confirmed that no animals were within fifty yards or so of the scene.  Steering clear of human activity only held so much water for me, even accounting for the rural setting.  That none of them had got closer across a whole day was strange.  I definitely needed to chat with Adam.

               “I was hoping to speak with Adam,” I said to Kirby, keeping my voice down, “but another officer said he was too busy.  Any change in that?”

               “I haven’t kept close tabs on him,” Kirby said, “but that sounds about right.”

               “I asked about the canine unit,” I said, carefully, “and the other officer said they were tied up in Timberton.  Do you think they will be called in?”

               Kirby glanced over in the direction of the officer I spoke to earlier.  “I doubt they will be in here today, anyway,” he said.  “And don’t worry about him.  He’s part of the provincial unit.  The collars are on tight but they do good work.  Tell you what, I’m out of here in thirty, I can drive you back.  It’s been a long day for all of us.”

A Tiny Light to See By, Part 2

(More psychic horror)

A handful of quick turns through farm country ended in a bumpy entrance to a wooded location.  The car only stopped when the entrance ended and the trees denied further access.  The cop put the car in park and turned to me.

               “I hope the ride was okay,” he said, sounding slightly apologetic, “and I hope your day isn’t too unpleasant.”

               “Thanks,” I said as I got out.  It was too late for that, anyway, but the mixed feelings of angst and foreboding were ascendant.

               A cop stepped from the trees and waved me as the car backed out.  He identified himself as Sergeant Kirby, checked my ID and issued me a badge.  All standard stuff.  He radioed my arrival and we waited a few moments for a response.  The usual feelings I had to fight going into this were being pushed aside by a stronger feeling; something supernatural, rather than psychological.  It was very wrong.  I nearly jumped when the radio chirped back.

               “I understand you do not want to know about the scene,” Kirby explained carefully, “but it’s important you understand this may be very shocking, even if you have seen crime scenes before.  Do you understand?”

               I nodded, more concerned about the bad feeling coming from beyond the trees.  This was going to be rough.

               A cow path through the trees led straight in where the vehicle entrance ended.  Bits of litter peppered the edge of the path, which was like any other path through any other trees.  What I was sensing ahead was only getting more intense as we advanced.  In the distance, I could just make out voices and radio chatter.

               “I need a second,” I told Kirby.  I was starting to sweat, and nausea was stepping up, too.  I bent over and threw up.  It did help much, though it was a personal comfort to know I wouldn’t get vomit on a crime scene.

               “You all right?” Kirby asked, sounding both sympathetic and judgemental at the same time.

               “I will be fine,” I said, wiping my mouth.  “Let’s go.”

*cats-lamp posts-broken glass*

               The trees opened on a clearing about forty by twenty feet, and it looked like something out of a slasher film.  Human bodies, mostly dismembered were strewn about.  The smell of human rot, which I had been exposed to a few times before, was fierce.  It looked and smelled like a slaughter house in the woods.  I could not figure how many bodies lay there; though it must have been many.

               The shock from the standard senses was minor compared to what was bombarding me from the psychic side.  A tidal wave of malicious, raging evil hit so hard I actively had to fight it.  It was like nothing I had ever experienced.  The unbridled volume of sensations coming from the place made it nearly impossible to focus, which was unusual because it was normally so important to focus.

               “Norman!” a familiar voice called out, cutting through the blare of sensation for a second.

               I looked up, squinting in the direction of the voice.  Adam Carter was walking toward me, his face turning from a grimace to a concerned frown.

               “You don’t look so hot, Norm,” he said. “I hope this isn’t too much for you.”

               “I just need a second, Adam,” I said, backing down the path a little, out of the smell and sight of that hell.  Adam stayed with me, looking quite concerned.

               “Listen, there no shame if you can’t hack this,” he began, before I raised a hand to cut him off.  I was just starting to catch my emotional breath and needed explain.

               “Yeah, it’s bad,” I said, wiping sweat from my forehead despite the cool air of early autumn, “but that’s not it.  Not really.”

               “You mean you’re getting something here?  Already?” he asked.  Adam knew all about my abilities.  I had worked with him years before, when he was just a rookie detective.  He was soft believer.

               I nodded.  “But it’s not the usual stuff,” I said, working through it myself.  “This is something else, something spiritually powerful.”

               He gave me a look of patient concern.  He reached out to put his hand on my shoulder, intended to reassure or comfort, then withdrew.  He remembered that I did not like to be touched.  “We are going to be here a while,” he said.  “Take your time and do what you have to.  We still have a ton of work.  I’m glad you’re here, Norm.”

               It was cold comfort from an old associate, but better than none, perhaps.  After several minutes of centering myself, I was able to focus enough to start thinking with reasonable clarity.  I took my notebook from my coat and began recording what I could.  I noted the date and time, wrote a few points on the location and then blanked.  This was new ground for me.  What I was feeling from the clearing did not break down into tidy little sights, sounds, smells or feelings.  It was like an amalgam of these so thoroughly intertwined they were now just one thing.  Rather than focus on the sensations from the scene, my instinct was to block it out.  I wrote the gist of this in the notebook and stood to face the music.

A Tiny Light to See By, Part 1

(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*