Minot: Chapter 3
Dreams & A Deal
IT WAS HAPPENING all over again.
He relived it almost nightly. Now even more than that. It was just like he'd woken up and fallen back asleep, it was in the same place as before. Again he was tied down, there was that weird music, and the candles; the figure with the knife was above him, raising it above his leg, and bringing it down.
Stop it hurts please stop
And now the robed figure spoke to him, in a voice he knew couldn't have sounded the way it did but must have in a time long ago.
You are the chosen among us, chosen to do penance and be our scapegoat for the sins of humanity. Every day you must live with your birthright. Now we leave you with the scar that will mark you as the chosen one for all time. Live with it, and never forget us, for those who do will pay the price and pay it dearly.
He couldn't understand what any of this meant. He was only a child, straining against that wooden thing he was tied down to. It gave him splinters. His leg hurt, but not quite so much anymore; the blood was still flowing but the pain had subsided into a dull throb. He felt himself starting to pass out; the world was fading around him--the candles, the figures, the knife shining in the dim light. He lost himself completely in the darkness, knowing somehow that it would be better than this.
Damien felt something pressing against his arm, and he was being shaken. He mumbled sleepily and tried to brush whatever it was away, but it only came back and shook him harder. He woke up now, but slowly, forcing his eyes open and squinting. His nightstand lamp was on; Father Damien was still asleep in the other bed, but Psyche was standing over him, in her nightgown. Her hair was unbrushed so he figured she'd just woken up, though her eyes were wide and she seemed not to be tired at all; he struggled to sit up in the bed.
"What is it, Psyche?" he asked, yawning and rubbing his eyes. He picked up the nightstand clock and saw it was just past four in the morning.
"I had a strange dream," she said, "only I didn't quite have it."
He squinted at her, uncomprehending. "Huh?"
"I mean I think I was seeing someone else's dream." She brushed back her hair and sat down on the edge of his bed, and he knew he was going to get an explanation whether he wanted one or not. "I dreamt I was in some kind of dark place, and I couldn't move; there was someone above me and they stabbed me in the left leg. Right here." She indicated the front of her lower leg, midway between the knee and ankle. "And they were telling me something about me being the 'chosen one,' the 'scapegoat.' Only it wasn't me they were talking to. Because it wasn't my dream."
"What are you talking about, Psyche?" Damien yawned again, stealing an envious glance at his peacefully sleeping uncle.
"What I mean is," she sighed, starting anew, "that someone else was having the dream, and I picked it up. Someone close. Someone we know."
He frowned. "How do you know that?"
"Because I can't just pick up something from a stranger. It has to have been someone I've been in contact with recently."
"I don't know. It could be anybody in our group. You. AJ. Officer Jenner. Puck." She looked thoughtful. "Hey, maybe it was Puck."
"Well, it most certainly wasn't me. I've never had a dream like that in my life."
"Maybe you did and you don't remember it."
"Oh, I don't know." He flopped back down in bed, tugging at the sheets. "If you don't mind, Psyche, I'd really like to get some more sleep before the morning comes. It's going to be a busy day. Why don't you ask around tomorrow about your dream?"
Psyche sighed again, frustrated. She could tell he didn't really believe her. "Sure, whatever," she said, getting up and letting him pull the sheets up to his chin as he turned over on his side and snuggled down into the mattress. "Good night."
"G'night," he managed to murmur, before he fell asleep again.
Psyche turned off the lamp, went to the door and, half opening it, turned back and stared at him a moment; she shook her head, and then exited the room, closing the door softly behind her.
Psyche took Damien's advice to heart the next day when they all went to the Falcon's Nest to eat breakfast. AJ, DJ, Dino, and Father Damien all said no; they'd never dreamed something like that. Puck asked her what the hell she was talking about. Even Phil, behind the counter, just gave her a funny look and continued polishing glasses. "These Michigan fellows," he murmured to himself, as if geography explained everything. Seeing that her quest was fruitless, Psyche flopped back down in her chair, scowling at her omelet.
"I don't understand," she complained. "It must be one of the police then. I don't know. Maybe it's Jenner."
"Maybe you just dreamed it yourself," Dino suggested, and the resulting look he got was more than enough to make him shut up on that one.
"Whoever it was, it wasn't me," Puck said, taking a drink of coffee. The morning had been chilly and they were all still trying to warm up. They heard the door open and close, and looked up to see three people come in--Kincaid, Jenner, and Mandie.
"Not again," Damien muttered to himself, scootching over into the furthest corner of the booth. Father Damien got up and obliged him by sitting next to him, getting a very relieved look from Damien. The newcomers to the group just looked at them, mystified.
"AJ, Puck, I'd watch myself around Mandie if I were you," was all Damien would say.
The three joined them, getting chairs from a nearby table. Jenner stayed standing; Damien wondered if he ever got tired, or if he knew about Mandie. In any case, it was toward him that she started shooting her looks. He didn't seem to notice, or else he ignored her. Seeing she was getting nowhere, she sat down beside Puck and grinned at him. He just nodded and turned back to the table, as if she were his little sister.
"So, has anybody learned anything from yesterday's foray?" Kincaid inquired.
"Something," Damien replied, leaning forward, his elbows on the table. "Mr. Falcon, could you come over here? I'd like you to hear this, too."
Phil left the counter and came over to their group, still polishing a glass. "Yeah?" he said. "What've I got to do with this?"
"We visited the coroner, Dr. Steiner, yesterday," Damien said. He noticed a brief flash in Kincaid's eyes, as if he meant to say, "I didn't authorize that." "He gave us a bit of information about the goat found impaled on the tree out back."
"What's this got to do with the stuff found in my apartment?" Mandie asked, still making goo-goo eyes at Puck.
"I'll get to that shortly. Kincaid, could you describe the goat as you saw it?"
"Spotted billy goat with a sign around its neck," Kincaid said.
"And what did the sign say?"
"'YOUR NEXT PIG.'"
"'PIG'--implying a policeman. And you say that policeman is you?"
"I assumed so."
"Officer Jenner pointed out that there was something carved into the skin on the goat's forehead," Damien went on. "A sign of some sort. Dr. Steiner showed us his drawing. It looked like this."
He took a napkin, asking for a pen from Phil; Phil obliged him, pulling a pen from his apron pocket, and Damien drew the symbol upon it for the others to see. They all stared at it.
"And what's that supposed to be?" Phil asked, puzzled.
"Satanic traitor," Kincaid said. All eyes turned to him. Damien raised one eyebrow inquisitively. The lieutenant shrugged. "I've seen it before."
"Where?" Damien pressed.
Puck and Damien shared a glance. "Have you ever seen it anywhere else?"
Kincaid shrugged again. "I wouldn't know."
He said nothing else, so Damien went on. "What this means," he said, "is that someone must consider you a Satanic traitor. Why would that be?"
"These people have twisted minds, Damien," Kincaid said. "I wouldn't know why they chose me to lay the blame on."
"That reminds me," Psyche interrupted. Damien sighed; Here we go again, he thought. "Did any of you have any strange dreams last night?"
Mandie, Jenner, and Kincaid all looked at her. "What kind of dreams?" Jenner asked.
"Yes, please clarify," Mandie said, with a sweet smile. "I have all kinds of dreams."
"Well..." Psyche stammered. "Weird dreams. Like being tied down and stabbed in the leg."
Jenner gave her another funny look. "What kind of dream is that?"
"Psyche here is what you might call...telepathic," Damien explained, feeling stupid as he did so. He was a skeptic himself. "She says she can pick up other people's dreams."
"If I know them a little," Psyche added. "So I thought it must be somebody in our group."
Jenner just looked confused. "But I still don't see what kind of dream that is."
Psyche tried to explain. "Well, I had the feeling of being restricted--like I was tied to something. Something wooden. It gave me splinters. And there was someone above me and he stabbed me in the leg." She indicated her leg again. "He was telling me I was the 'chosen one,' and I had to pay for all the sins of humanity. Doesn't anybody remember dreaming about that?" And she looked at everyone in the group.
Jenner frowned. Mandie stared at her as if she'd lost her mind. And Kincaid only gave her that blank stare of his. She shrank back in her seat.
"Well..." she said again, her voice faltering. "Maybe it was just me."
"I've never had a dream like that," Jenner said. "The only thing I ever dream about is women with--" He cut himself off, flushing. "Well--I'm sure you get the picture."
"Get it I do," Mandie smiled.
Psyche shook her head in an attempt to get rid of the weird feeling these people gave her. "I guess I'm just tired and mixed up. Jet lag, you know." She rubbed her eyes.
They all sat there for a few moments, saying nothing.
Damien finally spoke up, first clearing his throat. "Well," he echoed the others, "I guess there's only one person left to question."
"And who might that be?" Kincaid asked.
Damien gave a wry smile. "Chief Bowen."
They arrived back at the police station soon after; Kincaid and Jenner had tried to talk Damien out of it, both of them knowing the mood their chief was in, but Damien stubbornly ignored their warnings and went straight to the chief's office and knocked on the door. "Come in!" a voice inside called, and in he went.
Chief Bowen was sitting at his desk reading some kind of report. His office was much like Kincaid's, only bigger; it was windowed on three sides with horizontal blinds on all windows; there were papers stacked everywhere, on top of the file cabinet, on chairs, on the desk. He possessed a computer, unlike Kincaid; florescent Post-it Notes were stuck all over the place with little bulletins scribbled on them. Several books on criminology were settled between matching devil bookends (How fitting, Damien thought wryly), and he was almost pleased to notice at least one of them was about cults. On hearing the door close, Bowen looked up at him.
Where Kincaid was thin almost to the point of being underfed, Bowen was stocky in build, and Damien knew that, should the two of them get in a fight, Bowen would win--five counts of assault and battery or no. Instantly a frown came over his face, and Damien knew he was unwelcome.
"And what do you want?" he asked gruffly, as if picking up from the previous day.
"Some information," Damien replied steadily.
Bowen turned back to his file. "You've already got that from Kincaid."
"No, sir, not all of it. I'm sure you know more than you're letting on. All you cops do."
Bowen looked up at him again, with just the faintest trace of a smile tugging at his lips. "You got something against cops, guy?"
"The name's Damien. And yes, I do."
"Good. You and Kincaid should get along together well, since he does also. Now, if you don't mind--"
"If you don't mind, that's what I'm here to talk about," Damien interrupted, leaning on the front of Bowen's desk; Bowen stared at his hands as if a large fly had landed there. "Someone around here's not quite on the up and up and I'd like to know who it is."
"Ask Kinnie. He could tell you. He tells everything else," this last line muttered under his breath as he spun in his chair so his back was to Damien.
Damien came around the desk and now leaned back against the window, Bowen looking up at him with sheer annoyance. "You see, Chief Bowen, I think that's what I like about Kincaid and Jenner. They tell us things. Unlike some people."
Bowen's temper finally flared. "Listen, you, you may be some hotshot millionaire singer who drives a cool car and lounges around for a living, but I'm a working man with a lot on my mind. I don't care if you have enough money to buy this whole dipshit town; I run this station and right now, you and your pals are trespassing."
Damien's eyebrows rose. "Temper temper," he commented. "I don't have any interest in buying your town. I've got enough problems as it is in Cheboygan."
"Yeah, well go back there where you came from and bicker with your own little enemies."
Damien gaped at him a moment, then laughed out loud, startling the chief. "Little enemies?" Damien gasped. "Excuse me, but do you ever watch America's Most Wanted?"
Bowen scowled. "Yeah, so what if I do?"
"Tell me this, then, Chief--have you ever heard of Luther Broderick?"
"Of course I have. He's one of the biggest cult leaders in the Midwest...." Bowen's voice trailed off, and he looked up at Damien, squinting suspiciously. "Hold on. Don't tell me he's your little enemy."
"No, he isn't. He's my big enemy."
It was as if Bowen's face melted; he stood up and stared Damien in the eye.
"You're the one who landed Broderick in jail?"
Damien nodded. "But, of course, as you know, he's out now."
Bowen nodded slowly. "Yeah, I heard. Last winter. Tell me, how do you live with that hanging over you?"
Damien looked out the window at the busy main room. "I just do," he said, "but my sister doesn't."
"Your sister? Was she one of his victims?"
Damien nodded, one corner of his mouth twisting up. "Yeah, you could say so."
"Jeez." Bowen got up and walked away, and started pacing the room, his hand to his forehead. After a moment he stopped suddenly. "Listen, I got you all wrong," he said, and there was a trace of apology in his voice. "I didn't know you were so much into this. I'll make a deal with you--if you can help us nab whoever's doing this, I'll let you use everything at my command. Men, cars, forensics experts, you name it. Just as long as you catch this guy. And I'll keep the locals off your back. Is it a deal?" He came up to Damien and held out his hand.
Damien examined him; Chief Bowen seemed to be sincere--he appeared to want to catch these guys just as much as Damien did. So Damien took his hand and shook it.
"It's a deal," he replied.