Click to read Chapter One
Click to read Chapter Two
Click to read Chapter Three
Click to read Chapter Four
Click to read Chapter Five
Click to read Chapter Six
Click to read Chapter Seven
Click to read Chapter Eight
Running through the long white hallway, dodging people and equipment, spotting Rose sitting outside a room.
“What happened, how is she?” panting slightly, “where’s the doctor?”
“She’ll be fine, they weren’t intending to kill her. The doctor’s in there now”, gesturing to the closed door, “but he won’t know what happened, he’ll think it was an allergic reaction to something or dehydration, low blood pressure. I told the ambulance attendant that she just collapsed, fainted.”
“What do you mean, who didn’t try to kill her?” sitting down and texting – she’s okay -.
“It was Imps, looked like three of them, they use a sharp stick dipped in a poison, it feels like a sting, the person passes out or faints and will eventually wake up, if the doctor checked every inch of her skin they’d find some tiny puncture marks. But I don’t think we should suggest that, let them assume she just fainted.”
The door opened and they saw Sara, pale and still in the hospital bed.
“Are you with Ms. Jenkins, which one of you called the ambulance?” the doctor stepped towards them, draping a stethoscope around his neck.
“I did,” Rose stood up “is she okay?”
“All her vitals are good blood pressure is normal and the cut on her head from falling isn’t deep enough for stitches. The CT scan doesn’t show any swelling or skull fractures. I’m concerned that she hasn’t woken up, do you know if she is on any medications or has any health issues?”
“No, you could call her brother, I gave the number to the admitting nurse, he’s the emergency contact at work, so…”
Starting to move back into the room the doctor pauses and asks, “there is one odd thing, did she mention getting stung by anything? There’s a tiny mark on her calf, the nurse noticed it when they put her in a gown, it’s inflamed, looks fresh.”
“Um no, she never said anything, she was just out at the family farm, maybe something happened there,” a nervous laugh, “that would be odd though, it’s winter, nothing should be flying around stinging, right?”
“Okay thanks Doc, we better get back to the station, we’ll check in later to see how she is, shall we go Rose?” purposefully taking Rose by the arm and moving toward the exit doors.
The doctor watched them walk away, a look of frustration on his face, a feeling that there was more to this ‘fainting’ situation than he had been told. Entering Saras’ room he sighed, what was keeping her asleep? And how long would it last?
Pulling into the station parking lot they were ready for an onslaught of questions and cameras but the gaggle of reporters had dispersed, if no one is talking there’s not much point in hanging around.
“Hey Baxter, how’s the search going, did you manage to locate the folks on that list?” leaning on the the front desk, tapping Baxter on the shoulder.
“Hi, how’s the plant lady?” looking up from his computer, “is she going to be okay, what happened, someone said she passed out in the parking lot and wouldn’t wake up.”
“Yeah, um, they think low blood pressure, or something like that. So, the search, how did you do?”
Glancing over at Rose, standing to the side, “well, I’m not sure if…maybe we should talk privately,” lowering his voice, “it’s kinda police talk, you know… not for civilian ears.”
“It’s fine, Rose is in the loop and helping us with the investigation, go ahead.”
“Well okay, if you say so. I put the report on your desk but I’ll give you the highlights, of the six names, two people are dead, died in the last year, both unusual deaths. They seemed totally fine, healthy, happy but both walked into the woods and died, separately. Weren’t found for a few months, animals had helped themselves so there wasn’t much left, just enough for identification, dental for one and finger prints for the other, woman was in the system, she was a social worker,” Baxter paused as Rose stepped forward, her eyes wide.
“June Hellon? It was June Hellon,” her voice faint, “she’s dead? Are you sure, sure it was June?”
“Hey you’re back, I got your text how’s Sara?” striding to the front desk, looking tired, anxious.
“She’s still out, I’ll explain later, one sec. Rose, who is June Hellon, did you know her?” reaching a hand out to Rose, hesitating before making contact.
“Yes, we are…we were cousins, we were close when we were younger, we nicknamed her jellion, she was so energetic, always creating chaos, making us laugh. I hadn’t seen her for a few years. Her mother and mine were sisters.” Rose pressed her hands to her face for a moment, “I was going to call her, to see if she was still able to bind” she stopped talking, looked at Baxter, “to bind, um, quilting, it’s for quilting,” smiling at him and looking away.
“You know, Baxter that’s good for now, we’ll review the report, thanks so much, great work. Talk later.” Quickly leading the way to the bullpen.
“Rose I’m really sorry about your cousin, we’ll find out what happened, I promise. Where’s the report? Ah got it, let’s see,” flipping the pages, “There are three still living in town, Baxter spoke to two of them, last names Noble and Barlow, they’re fine but we’ll want to go talk to them in person. He couldn’t get a hold of a Mrs. Miller, no answer at her home, there’s a note here that a couple of uniforms are going to drive by tonight, but they haven’t reported back yet. Rose do you know her, Mrs. Miller?” looking up to see that Rose had wandered over to the window, “Rose? Mrs. Miller, do you know her?”
“It’s spectacular, isn’t it? So perfect and remote, quiet. I bet it’s really peaceful there.”
“What is, what are you looking at?”
Moving to the window and looking up to see the moon, a perfect ball of glowing white light, the three of them stood, transfixed.
“What did you say?” breaking the spell Rose turned her back to the window, “do I know who?”
“Miller, Mrs. Miller, do you know her?” moving back to the desk and sitting down, “I need coffee.”
“Me too, Rose, coffee? talk loud so I can still hear,” moving to the coffee alcove.
“No, no coffee, thanks. I know Mrs. Miller, she taught my mother and aunt how to bind, my grandmother was apparently very impatient and not a good teacher,” Rose smiled as the memories of her mother teasing her grandmother about her teaching technique came flooding back, “my mother used to say Mrs. Miller saved her from a fate worse than death, having to take lessons from her own mother. It was a family joke. Did you say Mrs. Miller is missing?”
“We don’t know yet if she’s missing.” turning to accept the cup of coffee, “thank you, thank you. Can you follow up with those uniforms that were supposed to check on Mrs. Miller? Baxter said he asked Jones and Williams.”
“Sure, I’ll call them.”
“The last name on the list you gave us is Lucinda Garcia, what about her Rose? Baxter said there is no record of a Lucinda Garcia here in town, does that name ring a bell?” placing the report back on the desk and focusing on the coffee.
Leaning against the side of the desk Rose nodded, “We all know Lucinda, even if you never met her you’d know the stories. Stories about her relationships with Imps, and demons. Stories about her dark side, her interest in the next world, her betrayal of Heritage.” Rose paused, and returning to the window she stared again at the moon.
Keeping her back to the room she continued speaking, “I never understood why my mother kept her photo on the mantle, she told me it was a reminder, a reminder of how easily a person can become corrupted, and she still loved Lucinda, she still loved her sister… your mother,” turning around, voice insistent, “she’s your mother, Lucinda is your mother. I know it and I can prove it.”
“Before you prove whatever it is you two are talking about, we might have something more urgent to figure out,” striding back into the room, “I just talked to Jones, it’s not good news. They went to Mrs. Millers house, the house was dark but the back door was slightly open so they went in. They found her passed out in the bathroom in really rough shape, blood and bandages everywhere, they’ve taken her to emergency. Looks like she’s been in the house alone for a couple of weeks, trying to self manage having her hand cut off. They said she must have tried to cauterize the wound, there was a metal spatula on the stove, blackened with what looks like bits of flesh and cooked blood all over it.“
To be continued.