Part 4: Your Young Men Will See Visions
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28
Jim woke with a start, feeling a strange tingling all over. Something about that feeling... He extended his hearing to check out the loft. There was Blair’s heartbeat. Somehow that calmed the sudden panic he’d been experiencing. It was the dream that had started it. What was it? Animals. A bear and a…
Jim jumped out of bed, hurrying to Blair’s side. His roommate’s heart was beating abnormally fast now. By the time he got to the bedroom, Blair was already awake, breathing as if he’d just run a race. He was rocking back and forth, mumbling so low only a Sentinel could hear.
“Not again. Not again. I can’t do this again. She’s awake. She’s awake and now she’s got a Guide.”
“Then you saw it, too? The bear and the cat?”
Sandburg nodded slowly.
Jim knew what it meant now. A bear and a large cat—a bobcat. No jaguar. That was strange. But it was Alex. He just knew it somehow. Alex Barnes had come out of her coma—only now she had a Guide. She was dangerous before, but with someone to help her… Jim stopped that train of thought. Alex was in an asylum for criminals. Even if she got better, she’d then be moved to a jail. No way was she going to mess up their lives again. No way. If Jim had to kill her this time to make sure…
“Things are going good now, man! Why does she have to get better and screw up everything? I try not to think bad thoughts about people, Jim—that’s so not me. But I really, truly haven’t had a problem wishing her the worst of all possible fates. Waking up and getting a Guide wasn’t what I had in mind.”
“Same here, Chief. Same here.” Jim went to the phone and looked up something in the book.
“What are you doing?”
“Finding out exactly what we’re dealing with.” He dialed the number. “Hello? Yes. This is Detective James Ellison with the Cascade PD, Major Crimes Division. I’m calling to check on a patient. Yes. Her name is Alexis Barnes. She was brought in almost two years ago, completely catatonic. I’ll hold.” Jim directed his senses towards his partner while he waited. Sandburg’s heart rate was much calmer now, steadier. His breathing was almost even. But Jim didn’t like the anxious look in his eyes. And his hands… His hands were shaking. Blair suddenly seemed to know he was being watched and clasped his hands together in his lap. “Hm? Yes. I’m still here. Has there been any… Oh. I see. How long before..? Thank you. Thank you very much.” Jim hung up the phone, but didn’t move from the spot, his hand still on the receiver.
Blair came over and put a hand on Jim’s arm to get his attention. Jim was grinding his teeth again. He kept telling him that was a bad habit. But did Jim listen? At least he hadn’t zoned. Blair sighed, almost afraid to break the spell of silence. “She’s awake, isn’t she?”
Jim’s voice was low, his eyes hidden from Sandburg in the early morning shadows. “Not exactly. Not yet anyway. Her vitals started improving yesterday. A little while ago her brain activity suddenly shot through the roof. Everything seems to be getting back on line. She’s still in a coma, but not as deep. The doctors believe that if she continues to improve at this rate, she’ll be fully awake in a few days. They don’t understand any of it. They never could find a physical reason for her to be in a coma in the first place and now they can’t explain why she’s suddenly starting to come out of it.”
“I can think of one. A Guide. The bear in the dream.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t think we ever really gave her condition much thought. I know I certainly didn’t. Most days I just wanted to forget she ever existed. But this coma she’s in could work like a very deep zone-out. I suppose if you went deep enough into one it might look like a coma to someone who didn’t know about your senses. It’s usually my touch, or voice, or heartbeat that brings you out of one. I think somebody brought her out. Maybe we should check and see if she’s had any visitors lately—someone who’s presence jumpstarted her.”
Jim was relieved to see Sandburg acting more normal. He was pacing with his usual energy, working his brain. Having a Sentinel-related problem to sink his teeth into seemed to give him focus, make him less anxious.
“Jim? Is my slip showing or something? You’re staring at me. Jim?”
“Hmm? Oh, nothing. Just thinking. And if you’re into women’s clothes now, Sandburg, I really don’t want to know about it.”
Blair just laughed lightly at the look on Jim’s face, some of the tension seeping out of his knotted shoulders. Then he got back on the subject both of them wished they could avoid forever. “Jim. We have to go to the asylum.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Maybe I should…”
“Maybe you should trust me on this. I need to see her. I know you want to protect me from things, but I’ve earned the right to do this—more than anyone else. Including you.”
Sandburg’s eyes were like steel. Jim knew he was in stubborn mode and wouldn’t give in. He held up his hands in surrender. “You win, Chief.” Jim headed for the bathroom. “I’m going to take a shower. We can head over there after our shift, ok?”
Blair nodded. The two of them continued with their morning routines with no more mention of Alex Barnes. It was hard enough that she was already there in their unspoken thoughts—they didn’t want her poisoning all their conversations, too. They were determined not to let her ruin every moment of their lives.
After breakfast the two of them went back to Sisters of Mercy to interview some of the people who knew Sister Sarah. They couldn’t find anyone who held even the slightest grudge against her. The patients thought she was an angel because she always gave them comfort and made them laugh. The nuns all admired her selfless devotion to God and the calling of their particular order. From the way everyone talked, it was almost as if she had walked on water.
As they were leaving, Blair couldn’t help but comment on it. “What’s driving this nutcase? The words he carved into their foreheads suggest he thinks these nuns were terrible sinners who needed to be punished. But what criteria is he using? All of the murdered nuns were well respected inside the church and in the community. Why these three? What made them unclean to him? What’s his connection to them? Jim, do you think… Jim?” Sandburg turned to see that Jim was no longer walking beside him. He looked back to find his friend staring in the distance, zoned. He raced back and took a hold of Jim’s arm. “Come on, Jim. Slow, deep breaths. Listen to my voice. Come back to that sound. Dial everything else down. That’s it.”
Jim shook himself, focusing in on Sandburg. “How long?”
“Just a few moments. What did you zone on?”
“Look at the grass, Chief. Don’t you see that same disturbed pattern to the grass?”
“Nope. Must be too obscure for us non-Sentinel types. Is that the same thing you saw at the last murder scene?”
“That means the killer’s been here! Can you track it?”
“You don’t understand. The flattened grass—it’s everywhere. I thought at first it was someone trying to erase his footprints. It’s the nuns, Sandburg. The nuns. The long habits brush the ground as they walk, leaving a pattern.”
“Oh, man. I don’t think I like where this is going.”
“I don’t, either, but it’s a connection. I need to see the crime scene photos again to be sure.”