“It’s not too late, mommy. Please?”
The little girl stood at the door, a pink helmet and knee pads on. The clock in the hallway read five-thirty-three.
“The sun will be setting soon. I don’t want you out this late.”
With her hands on her hips, the mother stood inches away. She had dinner on the stove and two other kids who needed help with homework. She was already exhausted and tangling with her seven-year old was not making her evening any easier.
“I promise I will just ride down to Chloe’s and back. Three blocks, mommy. Please?”
“Thirty minutes. Ride down there, talk with Chloe and then back home.”
The mother had given in and an exuberant girl had charged out the door and onto her bike. Thirty minutes passed, then an hour. The mother frantically called Chloe and few of the neighboring kids’ homes. No sign of her daughter. Panic set in and she called the police. Sirens wailed. Police canvassed the neighborhood, but no one had seen the girl on the bike or riding down the streets. It was dinner time and everyone had been inside. A search party began. The girl’s bike was found behind a row of houses in a deeply wooded area. And the girl, she’d simply vanished.
Rayne relayed everything she’d seen in the vision. Had it just happened? Or was it from the past? She couldn’t be sure. The girl was a soft caramel, had brown hair and onyx eyes. Was she African American or Hispanic? Rayne couldn’t tell. The mother was white. She hadn’t seen the other kids or a husband.
When the vision started, Rick had picked Rayne up from the kitchen floor and moved her to the sofa in the seating room. Jenna sat by her side. Unlike the other visions they’d witnessed, Rayne didn’t speak for nearly thirty minutes. Instead, she’d curled into a ball, whimpering and occasionally calling out in pain. As soon as the vision stopped, she’d slowly opened her eyes and sat upright. The pain in her stomach hadn’t been nearly as intense and she recovered quickly.
Jenna went into the office and brought out her laptop. She searched news reports in Fairfax and the surrounding areas. It was a bust.
“Can I see the pictures of those girls again?” Rayne asked in desperation.
Rick retrieved the file and brought it to Rayne. She glanced at each one, but none of them matched the girl she’d seen.
“Maybe it’s unrelated to the serial killer,” Rayne offered.
“It could be a victim we don’t know about yet,” Jenna stated.
Rick sighed. “Or worse. Maybe it is one he is planning to grab next.”
Rayne lowered her head and clasped both hands around it. She rocked back and forth on the sofa. “I told you my visions aren’t always reliable. I feel so useless,” she said through tears.
Jenna pulled Rayne close to her. “Don’t torture yourself. This isn’t your fault.”
Rick agreed. “We need to get you to the field office though so we can get an artist to draw the girl, put out feelers, maybe even show the sketch on the news.”
Rayne lifted her head. “I can sketch her here.”
Rick grinned. “You are full of surprises. I didn’t know you were an artist.”
Rayne sat upright again, but she couldn’t even fake a smile. “Just another of my talents,” she said softly.
“Where’s your sketch pad and pencils?” Jenna asked as she stood up.
“In the office on the third shelf behind my desk.”
As Jenna went to the office, Rick sat down beside Rayne. He patted her gently on the knee. “No blaming or shaming here. Do you hear me? We’ve been on this case for a while now and you are the only one giving us leads.”
“Your boss doesn’t think so.”
Rick chuckled. “Troy’s an office agent. He hasn’t been in the field for decades. Let me worry about him.”
Rayne nodded. “Okay, Agent Harris…”
“Please, call me Rick. I hate that agent stuff.”
“Okay, Rick,” she whispered. “I just don’t want you getting your hopes up too high. I may not be of help at all.”
“And you may be our only hope,” Jenna interjected as she returned with the sketchpad and pencils. She handed them to Rayne. “Rick has good instincts. If he thinks you are helping, then you are.”
Rick grinned at Jenna and stood up. Leaning over the sofa, he flashed Rayne a smirk. “Since you have no coffee in this joint. I am headed into town to get a cup or two.” He stood upright and turned to Jenna. “Want to join me?”
“Maybe one of us should stay with her.”
As she opened her sketchpad, Rayne waved a hand at them. “Go. Both of you. I will be fine for a while. Besides, I need to concentrate on this sketch.”
# # #
The drive into town started off quiet, which was unusual between Rick and Jenna. Their time together usually resulted in endless back and forth exchanges about their cases. Rick would spout out wild theories while Jenna brought him back to earth with facts. It was just their way, but today was different and Rick couldn’t put a finger on it. He glanced over at Jenna, who was staring out the window. As far as partners went, Rick was satisfied with her. His previous two partners had been sticklers for details too, but they’d never shown him any real trust. Chasing serial killers took a lot out of an agent. Davies had lasted a year, while Parks had only lasted six months. Rick was proud of Jenna. She came to him straight out of the academy and had stuck with him for nearly a decade. After nearly twenty minutes of silence, Rick couldn’t stand it any longer.
“What’s going on in that head of yours?” he finally asked.
Jenna turned her head and shifted in her seat. “Just thinking about Rayne. I still can’t imagine what she goes through.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, she has this gift that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. She wants to help, but fears people won’t believe her. That creates a whole lot of anxiety.”
Jenna sighed. “Yeah, and I didn’t help any yesterday.”
“Don’t beat yourself up. You were only reacting on your factual instincts. That’s why we make such a good team – I use my gut; you use facts.”
“I guess you are right, but facts cannot explain what’s been going on the last couple of days.”
“Do you believe her?”
“Maybe. I want to believe her.”
Rick grinned. “Well that’s a start. Maybe she’ll get you out of that head of yours and more into your heart.”
Jenna smirked at him. Rick always said she used her head too much. Never thought with her heart. Her heart was reacting now, so maybe there was a chance for her after all.
They pulled up outside a small diner. Rick turned off the car and unbuckled his seatbelt, but didn’t move for a long moment. Jenna didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get out either.
Rick broke the silence again. “What else is bothering you?”
“The way she described this last vision. It’s just different than the others.”
“From what she has told me, that is normally how she sees things. The other visions are abnormal.”
“I admit, Rick. I am struggling with all of this. I don’t know how to interpret her visions. I don’t know which direction to go with them. And I certainly don’t know how to help her.”
Rick opened his car door, but before he stepped out, he looked back over at Jenna. “This is different for me too. I mean… I’ve had Mazi’s guidance for years now, but this is the first time I’ve encountered anyone quite like Rayne. We’ll just do the best we can… like we’ve always done. Okay?”
“Great. Now, if I don’t get some high octane in my blood, I won’t be of use to any of us. Let’s get some coffee.”
# # #
Rayne had moved into her office after Rick and Jenna left and sat at her desk. The lighting was better in there and she felt more confident surrounded by her stones and crystals. She’d pulled a citrine off the shelf when she came into the room. It now sat beside her absorbing negativity as she sketched. Every now and again, she would close her eyes to remember a detail. She couldn’t get the shape of the girl’s head correct nor the hair length because of the helmet. Eventually, she stopped trying and just drew the girl with the helmet on. The eyes were the most important, or so Rayne felt. If she could get them right, any mother should be able to identify her child from them. She agonized over them, closing her eyes as she struggled to get them the right roundness and color. They were onyx alright, but there was something else about them. Finally, it hit her. One of the eyes was slightly different. The pupil was just a tad more dilated than the other. Was it a birth defect? Rayne wasn’t sure, but she put it in the sketch anyway. Next, she concentrated on the nose. It was a bit flat and flared. She thought back to the mother’s face. Her nose was straight and a bit on the perky side. The girl did share her mother’s lips – full and rosy. With all the details now sketched in, Rayne began coloring the girl’s face a soft caramel color, and then a slight darker color for the hair. She held the sketch up and stared at it for a long moment. It couldn’t have been any clearer, the girl had African American traits. She sat the sketchpad down on the desk and wandered off to the kitchen.
As Rayne waited for the kettle to boil, she stared out her kitchen window. The sun was just about to set and the reds and oranges in the sky warmed Rayne’s heart. She wasn’t much of a sunrise kind of gal. She preferred sunsets. For that matter, she’d always been a night owl too. Even long before her grandmother and mother had died and she had started her own business, Rayne had spent more time in the woods behind the cottage at night, than she had with her grandmother in the garden during the day. She had an affinity with owls and often visited a brown one that sat high on the old hickory tree behind the house. She could hear it hooting now, which would seem ridiculous to most because that old owl had died years ago. It was far from silly to Rayne. She often heard the echoes of the past.
The kettle whistled and Rayne poured the water into a pot. She picked up the pot and a cup and wandered into her bedroom. Since Rick and Jenna hadn’t returned yet, Rayne figured she would start packing for the trip. She put the pot and cup down on her dresser and went to the closet. She lifted out an old suitcase and placed it on the bed. She had no clue how much to pack. Would she be away a week, several weeks, or even a month?
Pack in eighths, she could hear her mother say. Wash once a week and you will always have an extra set of clothes to wear while you do it. Her mother hadn’t been the most practical person in the world, but she did make sense now and again.
Rayne went to the chest of drawers and pulled out items in sets of eight – undies, bras, stockings, four nightgowns and four pajama sets. Then she went to the dresser and gathered several t-shirts, sweaters and jeans. Inside the closet, she removed three dresses, two blouses and two skirts. She picked out a couple of flats and a pair of sneakers. She stared at her boots for a few minutes and decided she would take them as well. Finally, she grabbed her robe and slippers. After she’d stuffed all those items into the suitcase, Rayne bent down and pulled another smaller suitcase out from under the bed. She roamed from room to room gathering objects she would need – grooming and personal care items from her dresser and bathroom, three crystals – a citrine, quartz and amethyst – her laptop, and phone charger from the office, and her tarot cards and crystal ball from the seating room. In a last-minute decision, she gathered serval tea cans from the kitchen and tossed them in with the other items. She carried the two suitcases into the seating room and returned to her bedroom for the tea. By the time she settled back into her office chair, Rayne was exhausted. She poured the tea and sipped it as she stared at the girl in the sketch. Her mind wandered for a bit and then a question popped into her head.
Are you still safe and alive, little girl?
Seeing You (a working title) is the story of Rayne Fallon, a witch with the power to see into the past and future, although not always accurately. She gets tangled up with FBI’s SA Rick Harris and SA Jenna Styles as they search for an 8 year old missing girl, thought to have been kidnapped by a Serial Killer.
Seeing You ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
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I am participating in NaNoWriMo. Each day I will try to write at least 1667 words for a total of 50,000 by the end of November. Today’s total: 2185 words. Total words so far: 15,670