Tehuti's Per On The Web 2.0!

Minot: Chapter 10

The Devil's Advocate

"WHAT?" BOWEN SCREECHED, whirling around to face the two men, standing nearly at attention, before him in his office. "You mean to tell me you talked with that little trollop? And actually believed what she said?"

"It's not exactly that we believe it," Puck replied evenly. "It's more like what she told us itself."

"Oh." Sarcastically. "So what did Little Miss Hotpants have to say to you about this case?"

"Nothing about the case," Damien corrected him. "More like about what's surrounding the case. 'Cause I honestly don't think we can solve this without searching out any motives."

"Motives? Oh yeah, motives. I suppose Miss Mandie has lots of motives to keep you interested."

"That, and some other things," Puck said, before finding an elbow jabbed between his ribs. He coughed painfully and spoke up. "Everywhere we go, we keep finding out a little bit more about the men on your police force. And everything we're finding out doesn't coincide with what we've so far been led to believe."

Bowen shrugged savagely. "I didn't lead you to believe anything," he scowled. "It's you guys who keep nosing around. All I want is whoever's behind these mutilations to get caught. Then you guys can go home and philosophize and rhapsodize all you want."

"It goes a lot deeper than this," Damien said, finding his words echoing Kincaid's to Phil, last Friday--as well as Bowen's own words to himself on Monday. "Haven't you heard about the death threats? Aimed toward Kincaid?"

"Aw, hell." Bowen let out a great snort and flopped back into his chair. "Kinnie's always coming up with 'death threats.' Every time something gets killed back there he thinks it's meant for him. He's just paranoid."

"Is he?" Puck said, sitting down on the edge of Bowen's desk. Bowen frowned at him but he didn't move, instead placing a hand upon one of the devil bookends; he picked it up and looked it over thoughtfully. "I wouldn't be exactly pleased either if I found the sign for a Satanic traitor inscribed on a goat with the quote 'Your next pig' around its neck. Is this stone?"

Bowen sat forward now. "Satanic traitor? What do you mean? I didn't see anything like that."

"Like this?" Bowen gaped when Puck showed him his branded shoulder. "You honestly didn't notice all that extra blood on the goat's head?"

"I noticed it, yeah," Bowen said, stupefied, "but I thought it was just a cut. Jeez. You found that on the goat's head?"

Damien nodded, emboldened by Puck's casualness to step forward and speak for himself. "Inscribed on its forehead. Cut right into the skin. Kincaid says the 'Your next pig' sign was meant for him--'pig' meaning a policeman. And 'Miss Mandie' had a similar threat in her apartment."

"Hold on!" Bowen boomed. "You mean that floozy's tied in to this, too?"

Puck shrugged. "She had Satanic emblems painted on her wall," Damien replied. "And a sort of altar was set up, with a skull and a sign that said, 'All pigs shall die by the hand of the Great Goat'--I'm sure you know who the Great Goat is?"

"Listen, where d'you think I've been all my life, Alaska?" Damien smiled faintly and cocked a shoulder. "But if this was really meant for Kinnie, then how come these scums took the time to set it up in Mandie's apartment--not Kinnie's place? Don't you think this threat would be meant for Mandie instead?" And he scowled up at them.

"Not necessarily, if Kincaid and Mandie are somehow connected," Puck answered. "And Jenner too."

Bowen's jaw dropped, and he gawked at them now. "Huh?" he exclaimed.

"From what Mandie did and didn't say," Puck put it delicately, "she seems to know more about those two than anyone's admitting."

"Hold on!" Bowen roared again, lunging up and toppling over his chair. Damien backed away; Puck stolidly kept his spot. "Don't you even dare go around spreading rumors about my men! Both Kinnie and Jenner are straight aces! Kinnie might be a little weird to you two, but he's the best we've got. And, as for Jenner--you leave him out of this, too!" He waved his hand at them, as if to smack them away. "Dismissed!"

Puck slid off of the desk and sauntered to the door, which Damien had opened already. "See you when we get any more info," he called casually.

"Yeah, whatever!" Bowen returned, righting his chair and sitting down heavily. Damien cast him an "Excuse-my-friend" look and shut the door behind him.

For once all the other officers weren't staring at him; occasionally they'd look in the direction of Kincaid's office, but the blinds were still down and nothing could be seen. Damien sighed and tugged Puck's arm. "Come on," he said. "I think maybe we should leave this place alone for a while."

"You too?" Puck murmured, and they did.

Mitchell Barnes was released later that day; the police couldn't hold him any longer without further proof of his alleged doings, but he was given strict instructions to keep away from both Falcon's and the old house outside of town. Mitch seemed changed now, not quite so cocky as before; indeed it seemed as if the police frightened him. He nodded at everything they said as Bowen took off his handcuffs, and he rubbed his wrists as Kincaid warned him to stay away.

"I wanted you put under house arrest," he said, "but Chief Bowen is against it. So consider yourself lucky for your freedom. I'd tell you to make the most of it but I'm afraid you'd take that the wrong way. So you'd better make the least of it until we call you back here."

"Yes, sir," Mitch quavered, still rubbing his wrists, as if the cuffs had chafed him badly. "Can--can I go now?"

Kincaid cocked his head toward the door; Mitchell was gone in an instant.

Father Damien stood at the end of the hall, near Bowen's office, Psyche and AJ beside him; he came forward and into Kincaid's line of vision. "Do you really think this is a good idea?" he asked no one in particular.

"I never said it was," Kincaid replied, walking past them back toward his own office. Bowen shrugged.

"We can't hold him anymore," he said, rubbing his eyes wearily. "I'd keep him longer but for this thing called the Constitution."

The priest nodded. "Chief Bowen, is it all right for us to go talk with him?"

Bowen looked at him, then shrugged again. "Guess you can," he said. "Since you're in on the investigation, there's nothing holding you back. Mitch waived his rights when he was interrogated. But I wouldn't expect anything to come of it. Life has no guarantees."

"Well, we'll just check it out to be sure. Maybe he'll be more open with us." Father Damien was the one to shrug now, not believing his own hopes. "We'll see you later then."

"Yeah, later. And try to keep that nephew of yours out of trouble, okay?"

Father Damien smiled weakly. "I'll try," he replied, "but, like you said, there's no guarantees."

He and the others left immediately in order to catch up with Mitch. He was already gone; Psyche pointed down the street randomly, and Father Damien went that way, trusting her "instincts" more than Damien did. There was a speck far ahead among the crowd, moving further away. "Come on," Father Damien said, and they jogged off after it.

As they came closer to catching up they could tell it was Mitch, striding briskly away from the station, hands in his pockets. When he heard them running after him he pivoted quickly and nearly fell over; he was ready to turn and run when Father Damien held up a hand and they slowed down.

"Mitch!" he called. "We just want to talk to you!"

"I don't want anything to do with you freaks!" Mitch yelled back, but he didn't run. When they walked forward he stepped back, keeping the distance between them. Father Damien stopped again and held up his hands.

"We only want to talk," he said again. "We're not with the police. I only want to ask you some questions."

"And try to make a point?" Mitch prompted. Several people passing on the street were watching the confrontation. "Try to change my mind?"

AJ gave Psyche a puzzled look; she cocked her head at Father Damien, and he understood. But Father Damien only shook his head.

"This is all on your terms," he said. "We can talk wherever you want. I'm not trying to make any kind of point."

Mitch looked wary, but he stood his ground as they started forward again. "Okay," he said suspiciously when they reached him. He looked around. "You're not being followed?"

Father Damien shook his head. "All the others are back at the station. Where do you want to go?"

"May as well be my place. Not like I can go anywhere else." He shrugged bitterly. "Come on." And he started off again, same as before.

Motioning to the others, Father Damien followed.

Mitch lived in an apartment much like Mandie's, only the decor was different. Seeing it, Father Damien thought, At least he doesn't have much. The walls were stark white, and mostly bare, save for a drawing here and there, drawings of Satanic emblems tacked haphazardly to the wall. There were tack holes where others had been removed. As they went by them Mitch tore the drawings down, crumpling them up and tossing them into a wastebasket; he looked even more nervous now, and spun around on his heel again, looking them over. "Well," he said, in an insolent tone, "you can sit down. It's not like I've got any guard dogs hiding around or anything."

Good for the dogs, Father Damien thought, but said nothing. Mitch nodded at a worn couch near the wall. The others went and sat down, Father Damien and AJ sitting forward and locking their fingers, Psyche holding out her hands palms down and closing her eyes.

Mitch turned to look at the wall, where one more picture, this one of Baphomet, was tacked; he appeared to debate with himself whether he should tear it down or not, then pulled it off, folding it in his hand and turning back. His gaze focused on Psyche, and he frowned. "What the hell's she doing?" he muttered. "Trying to exorcise my apartment?"

"This is Psyche Cooper," Father Damien said. "She believes she has--powers, of a sort."

"Come on out and say it already," Psyche sighed, frowning, her eyes still closed. "Psychic powers. Clairvoyance. Psychometry. That kind of stuff."

"Really?" Mitch's attitude changed; he looked almost intrigued now. "You mean you can tell things just by touchin' them?"

Psyche opened her eyes. "Sometimes," she said, looking at him.

"And you can see things goin' on far away? Stuff like that?"

"Yeah, sure."

Mitch turned back to the others. "I'm Father Damien, as you might know," Father Damien said. He gestured to AJ "This is AJ Broderick. He's--"

"Broderick?" Mitch exclaimed. "Related to Luther Broderick?"

The three on the couch started; Mitch whirled to his TV, picking up a tape and jamming it in the VCR. He turned both on, rewound the tape, and pushed PLAY. An episode of America's Most Wanted came on; Father Damien recognized it as the one profiling Luther's capture, which Damien also had on tape. Mitch motioned to the TV screen, not even looking at it. "I know this by heart!" he said, as if it were something to be proud of. "Charges, convictions, prison record--he escaped prison?" He turned back again, eager as a schoolchild.

Father Damien nodded, feeling his heart sinking.

Mitch said nothing, only gave a sort of breathless laugh and stopped the tape, pulling it out. "Good for him!"

"It's not Luther Broderick we're here to discuss," the priest started, trying to break the hold this place had on him. "Actually, I wanted to know more about you."

"Is it true that he's scared of water?" Mitch asked, not even listening. "Like it's acid?"

"Water--yes, that's true. But--"

Mitch snatched up a pen and wrote on the wall, "LB--SCARED OF WATER." Peering closer, Father Damien could tell that the wall was, in fact, not entirely blank; there were several other messages scrawled on it in pen. He dimly recognized the names of several Satanic leaders, and let out his breath.

Psyche decided to try. "You're making some kind of compilation, it seems."

Mitch looked at her, and smiled widely. "Yeah!" he exclaimed. He gestured to the wall. "This is just the tip of it. I have a log filled with this stuff."

"Stuff like--? You're keeping tabs on important people in the Satanic community?"

Father Damien flinched. The term Psyche used seemed too trivial for what was actually going on; she made it seem like an apartment complex. But Mitch only nodded enthusiastically, and scooped up a thick binder sitting under the TV stand. He opened it, paged through, then handed it over. Psyche took it; it was open to a section dedicated entirely to Luther. She showed it to Father Damien, and looked back at Mitch, giving a disarming smile. If Father Damien hadn't known better, he'd have said that the expression Mitch got was one close to adoration.

"So you know about all there is to know about Satanism," she hinted.

Mitch snorted and waved his arms. "Of course!" Then he looked a little subdued, and lowered his voice, as if someone were listening in. "Well, maybe not everything. But a lot. Enough to matter!"

"So you take your orders from someone else? Someone who knows more than you?"

Mitch nodded. "I'm not an adept yet. But I'm working at it!" He frowned at her, as if suddenly realizing what she was getting at. "But I can't tell you more than that. Not unless you're interested."

Psyche shook her head; Mitch scowled, but also seemed disappointed. "No thanks. But what can you tell us?"

"Not much, unless you're interested," he echoed himself, growing stubborn. Father Damien broke in again.

"You've obviously been keeping this for a long time," he said, paging through the binder. The names of such luminaries as Anton LaVey, Aleister Crowley, and Éliphas Lévi greeted him. He set it down on the footstool. "How did you get interested in this?"

Mitch shrugged, his suspicion melting a little. Father Damien's own suspicion had been correct; Mitch would talk, as long as the talk was on his terms. "I've always been interested in it. But I needed some kind of focus. Something to start on. I was wandering till I came upon this."

Father Damien glanced up. "This what?"

Mitch spread out his arms. "This place. This town. It's got--energies. You can feel them, can't you?" peering at Psyche.

Psyche nodded. "I can feel something, that's for sure."

Mitch grinned. "I knew you could! We could use people like you--you're sure you're not interested?"

Father Damien frowned. "Are you a recruiter? Is that what you are?"

Mitch scowled at him. "Everyone is, in their own right. That's how we all get ahead. You know fraternities?" He cast a quick look at the priest, then continued. "You get points for getting people to join. Well, this is something like that. Only we're not just some fraternity."

"What do you call yourselves, then?" Father Damien knew he was walking on thin ice, but he had to keep Mitch's interest or lose out completely. The expression Mitch gave him was blank. "Every cult has a name. Even Luther's."

"I know! Scorpio!" He was excited again, as if he'd discovered the meaning of life. "But I can't tell you our name. It's secret. There's too many of us. Even if you were to get to me, you could never stop us."

The priest bit his lip; "I know," he forced himself to say.

That apparently encouraged Mitch, for he smiled again and went on. "Now, if you were to join, I could tell you then; because we all know, of course." He could tell Mitch was forcing himself to not say something as well. "But since you're an outsider, I can't let you in on it. Or anything else we do. But just to be sure, I haven't killed anybody!" He shook a hand at Father Damien. "It's not that I haven't thought about it. But I haven't done it. I swear!"

"I'm not sure I can take your oaths at face value," Father Damien ventured. "Remember, we swear by two different Entities."

"True." Mitch looked thoughtful. "Well, then you'll have to take it. You believe in your God; I believe in mine. That's not to say that an oath by one is any better, or any less by the Other." He shrugged and snorted. "Except maybe by yours."

Psyche could tell Father Damien was straining to keep his retorts to himself, and broke in again. "So you really believe in his powers? Literally?"

"Yeah! Of course!" Mitch spread out his arms again and spun in a circle, as if encompassing his whole apartment. "He's everywhere. I can feel him. He's in me, he's in here, he's even in you guys--though you might deny that." And he chuckled.

Psyche crossed her arms. "But some Satanists say that's just figurative."

"They're wrong!" Mitch snapped. "They don't know what it's like; they can't understand. You--can't you feel him?"

"Like I said, I feel something." She shuddered. "And I don't know if I exactly like it."

"Ah! But if you were with us, you could get to!" Father Damien wondered just how many "points" it was worth to gain a soul--and if there were any shortage of women within the cult. "You just have to get to understand it--I could help you there, if my book hadn't been stolen." He dropped his arms and sighed, looking dejected. Father Damien sat forward, curious.

"Book?" he asked. "What book?"

"My Satanic Bible," Mitch replied. "Anton LaVey. The cops took it."

Father Damien frowned at Psyche; "They did? They said they didn't have it; they even went looking for it at your place."

Mitch's eyes widened with surprise, then flared with anger. "Then they're lying!" he burst out. "When I was searched, that kook took it from me."


"Kincaid!" Mitch nearly screamed, thrashing his arms wildly. "He stole my book!"

"But how could he--"

"He lied to you!" Mitch hissed. "When he searched me he took it and said I wouldn't be needing it anymore--I asked for it back and he smiled at me and put it in his pocket!" He shut his eyes and hissed through his teeth; both AJ and Father Damien stood up as soon as they noticed his mouth was bleeding. Mitch pushed them away, rubbing his bitten lip. "You get me back my book, and then I'll talk to you some more--I can't go back there without them throwing my ass in jail. But he can't keep my stuff from me either. Freedom of religion!" He spat on the floor, as if the phrase left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"We'll see what we can do," Father Damien replied, Psyche getting up and joining them. He paused. "Maybe you'd better put some ice on that."

"Naw," Mitch muttered, turning back to his kitchen. "Think maybe I'll be staying away from water from now on."

Father Damien watched him disappear, when Psyche put her hand on his shoulder. "Come on," she whispered. "Before he changes his mind about letting us go quietly."

The priest nodded; the three of them turned to the door and left.

As soon as Father Damien told his nephew about what had happened, they all sat around, wondering just how to break the news to Bowen. With all else that had been going on, they knew the police chief wouldn't take well to hearing one of his men was withholding evidence. They decided Puck would tell him.

"What the hell," Puck said as they left their apartments, locking the doors behind them. "I'm game for some open-minded hostility."

"Just in case, good luck," Damien replied. Puck only smiled and shrugged.

At the station, Bowen wasn't happy to see them; he seemed to be getting less and less fond of their presence in his quarters. Puck wasn't one to mince words, so in under a minute Bowen was steaming.

"First you accuse my men of consorting with that little floozy," he fumed. "Now you're saying one's withholding evidence on his own case."

"That's what Mitch said," Damien ventured.

Bowen groaned and threw up his hands. "So you're going on the words of a ditzy little trollop and a Devil-worshipping, antisocial punk?"

"Watch who you call antisocial," Puck threatened.

Bowen ignored him. "You guys never cease to amaze me. I wonder if this is how they go about solving cases in Che--"

"Listen, I've heard enough of your skepticism of my hometown," Damien said finally, stepping forward and jerking a finger at the police chief. "I don't go around dissing Minot. You don't go around dissing Cheboygan. We have our problems, just like you. Sure, maybe we do solve them differently--but we do solve them. That's the whole point."

Bowen glared at him, but his glare was subdued. "So what makes you suddenly believe everything that Mitch kid says? Wait, I know--he probably swore on it!"

"True," Father Damien sighed.

"But he was insistent that he didn't have the book," AJ commented. "He told us the title, and it matched what Ace said--The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey."

"That's a funny French name like 'V' if I've ever heard it," Damien said.

"That doesn't prove anything! Kinnie's never withheld evidence, and I don't see any reason for him to do so now. Watch, I'll show you." He got up and went to his door, opened it, and yelled, "Kinnie?"

A moment later Kincaid peered in; Bowen motioned him to enter, and the lieutenant did. "Kinnie, Damien's uncle says he visited Mitch earlier today. Mitch said you took his Satanic Bible from him and didn't give it back. You said he didn't have a book. Now which of you's telling the truth?"

Kincaid only looked at him.

Bowen sighed. "Let me rephrase that. Do you have Mitch's book?"

"No," Kincaid replied evenly, "I don't."

Bowen spread out his arms to the others. "See?"

"You're absolutely sure," Damien said, going and looking at Kincaid face to face. "You're certain you didn't accidentally misplace it? Or maybe forget?"

"I don't forget things," Kincaid replied. "I never saw any such book. He didn't have one."

"There you go." Bowen waved a hand. "That's all, Kinnie. Thanks."

Without a word, Kincaid departed the office.

There was a general silence as Bowen looked back at the others, crossing his arms and smiling up at them, his feet on his desk. "So. There goes Mitch's testimony. Next accusation?"

"So, anything Mitch says is to be disregarded," Damien said, frowning, his eyes narrowing. "Nothing he says can be taken at face value. Now, that's what I call police procedure."

Bowen dropped his feet and sat up, pointing at him as he had so many times before. "You watch your mouth. It can get you in trouble around here. If it hasn't already," he added, as he spun his chair around so his back was to them. "From now on, leave the interrogation to us, okay? I really don't believe you guys have the experience needed to--"

"With all due respect," Puck said, shocking them all, "I believe we do. After all, you entrusted us to this case. You've admitted you can't solve it on your own. And though it's only animals now, imagine what shit you'll be in once it turns to people."

Bowen whirled around and gaped at him. Indeed everyone in the room was doing the same thing. Mouths hung open on all sides.

Bowen stared at Puck, then at Damien. Damien forced a smile again. "Please excuse him," he apologized. "Antisocial."

"Oh," Bowen said, as if that explained everything. "Okay. Dismissed."

They left his office in single file, murmuring to themselves. Kincaid watched them from the entrance to his office, arms crossed and face blank. As they passed by Damien grabbed a hold of Officer Jenner's arm and dragged him out of the building.

"I think maybe we should talk," he said.

Most of the group dissipated as soon as they got outside, going back to their apartments or to Falcon's for a snack; however, Damien, Jenner, and Psyche stayed behind. Damien let go of Jenner's arm and sighed, sticking his hands in his pockets and glancing at the sky. He stared upwards for so long that the other two peered up, wondering what he might be looking at. Finally he shook his head and looked at the policeman.

"Okay," he started. "So far the two most open people I've met around this place are you and Falcon. Falcon's already told us he doesn't want to talk anymore. So you're the only one left."

"Me?" Jenner stammered. "But--you've talked with me already."

"True. But not nearly enough. Not about you, at least. It seems that Mandie has a lot to say about you."

Jenner's jaw dropped. "Mandie?" he exclaimed, stunned. "What's she got to do with anything?"

"Her apartment was vandalized," Psyche said, from what Damien had told her and the others. "It was the same thing as outside the Falcon's Nest."

"Only no goat," Damien added. "They didn't quite go that far, it seems. But she was pretty eager to talk about you and Kincaid."

Psyche shot him a look; that was an out-and-out lie, and she knew it. But Jenner didn't seem so convinced.

"What did she say?" he asked, looking dismayed. "She hasn't told you any of her weird fantasies, has she?"

This time it was Damien who looked dismayed. "Fantasies?" he echoed.

Jenner only stared at him a moment longer, then sighed, evidently with relief. "Thank goodness," he said. "That was it. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but Mandie's a little--" he looked around him, as everybody else seemed to be doing lately "--well--not to offend you or anything, but I think she's a little bit of a nympho."

A pause. Then Psyche tried not to burst into laughter. Damien only gaped at Jenner this time.

"It's obvious, isn't it?" Jenner prompted. "I bet she gave you the 'under-the-table-and-out-of-sight' routine already?"

Damien's face flushed red. "Maybe she did, maybe she didn't."

Jenner gave an odd smile. "Well then, she didn't. But what she doesn't do can sometimes be a little embarrassing." He sighed again. "Don't think you're the only one. She does that with everybody. Once, when she had a traffic ticket, she told me about how she fantasizes about Bowen and Kincaid--both of them," he said, with a shudder. "And she offered to show me just what it is she dreams about. This had nothing to do with getting out of a ticket. Of course I said no thanks." He shrugged and his smile changed, now looking embarrassed himself. "Maybe that's where I get my weird dreams from, huh?"

Psyche smiled back; Damien could only hang his head and walk in circles. "It must be kind of embarrassing."

"Don't I know it!" Jenner agreed. "I swear, nothing weird ever happened till she told me that. I hate to even think if she told Bowen. Or Kinnie!" Another shudder, then a curious look. "I wonder how he'd take that?"

"So she's a little unstable, is what you're getting at," Damien said.

Jenner nodded. "Yeah, that's the decent way to put it."

Damien looked at Psyche. "Well, seems we're back at square one, huh?"

Psyche didn't seem to be listening. She was still smiling at Jenner. And, as soon as Jenner noticed it, he smiled back.

Uh-oh, Damien thought.

"I tell you, I've had some pretty strange dreams myself," she said, in a confidential tone. "Especially that one I've been having lately. I just wish I knew where it's coming from."

"So you really do think you're psychic?" Jenner asked, giving her a curious look. "Like you can read people's minds and stuff?"

"Not exactly like that," Psyche replied. "More like I can pick up vague impressions, but enough to tell me something."

"Really," Jenner said. "My grandmother said she had something like that...." And they walked off, talking to each other.

Damien turned to his car and leaned on the hood. "Oh, boy," he sighed.

That night, it was Damien who had the weird dream; he found himself sitting at Bowen's desk in the police station, poring over folder after folder of news clippings about the animal killings behind the Falcon's Nest. There was a knock at the door, and he looked up, suddenly realizing that Bowen would probably be ticked if he found him here. "Come in," he called, uncertainly.

To his surprise, Jenner and his friends came in and stood in a line before the desk, as if at attention. All of them--Puck, DJ, AJ, Dino, and Psyche. They didn't say anything, but instead stared ahead as if waiting for orders.

"Uh," Damien managed, "yeah?"

"Permission to speak freely, sir!" Jenner nearly screamed.

Damien flinched back, then nodded. "Yeah, sure."

Jenner stepped back from the line, and Puck started forward, slamming his hands down on the desk and giving Damien a weird grin. "So," he offered, "any new leads?"

"What do you mean?" Damien asked. "I've been working with you all day."

"Don't change the subject!" Bowen came in now, his voice a bellow, waving his hand at Damien. His eyes were bright red, and steam was snorting from his nose. All he needs is a pair of horns, and then just try keeping him out of the china shop, Damien thought.

This time Bowen slammed his hands down; the others retreated to the back of the room, along with Jenner. Bowen lowered his face right down to Damien's. "Don't think I don't know what you're up to," he hissed softly. "Because I know everything you're up to. I know everything period."

Damien was crouching back more and more as Bowen's face came closer; he felt as if the chair would topple over any minute. "Listen, I don't know anything about what you're talking about," he stuttered. "Just let me--"

Bowen stood up with a huge bellow; he was now so tall that if he had had bull's horns they would have scraped the ceiling. Black clouds seemed to swirl around him.


There was a tiny fwick! and Bowen opened his mouth, and air rushed out. The police chief deflated before Damien's eyes, and as he shrank down, the singer could make out the little letter opener protruding from his back. He gaped at it, then looked upwards.

Kincaid stood in the doorway, his hand still poised from tossing the blade. He stepped forward and pulled it out; there was a slight fizzle as Bowen--or what was left of Bowen--completely deflated. Kincaid stepped back to look at him, then glanced up at Damien. In a movement so quick Damien at first didn't even know what had happened, the lieutenant whirled around on one foot and flung the letter opener at Puck, standing at the near end of the line on the other side of the office. It struck Damien's friend in the chest, and he deflated as well. But instead of going to pick up the letter opener, Kincaid merely held up his hand, and it returned to him, just like a boomerang. Damien watched with dumb shock while he flipped it at DJ, striking her down as well, and then at AJ.

"Make sure you sift through everything you find," he said as he hurled the blade at Dino. "You're only getting so much hot air before it runs out altogether."

He threw the blade at Jenner; instead of deflating, the officer ducked and turned into a hideous, snarling dog. The letter opener came back and he tossed it at Psyche; she turned into a pigeon--very much like the one Jenner had pulled out from beneath Mitch's shack--and flew away to escape the growling dog's jaws.

"Hold on," Damien managed to shout, very well knowing the elusive manner of dreams (and he could now tell that this must be one, albeit a very weird one), "just what are you trying to tell me?"

"I'm telling you to separate the wheat from the chaff," Kincaid replied, catching the dagger neatly in his hand. He turned to face Damien, and offered that strange blank smile of his. "Don't go on every little suspicion you have. You have to go on more than just suspicion."

"Then what do I have to go on?" He had to yell, as the air escaping from the others' bodies had created a sort of swirling, hurling vacuum inside the office. All of the papers and books that had been on and in Bowen's desk were now being sucked out the door, and he clung on to the desktop, afraid he might follow.

Kincaid stood, apparently untouched by the storm. He held up the letter opener, centering it between his eyes, balanced on one finger. "Go on your instincts," he answered. "Because everything else is illusion."

And he flicked the letter opener.

Damien sat up with a gasp as the blade pricked his forehead, flailing his arms around and hearing something hit the floor. There was a murmur from beside him, and in an instant the bedside lamp was on. Father Damien was rubbing his eyes with one hand, reaching out to steady Damien with the other. "Damien? Are you all right?"

"I--!" Damien started, as the familiar shapes of the motel room became clear in the soft light. His arms stopped flailing, and he quit jerking around, though he still shook badly. He shot several confused looks around the room. The alarm clock lay on the floor where he'd knocked it, showing the time to be 2:44. Other than that, everything else was perfectly normal. "I--yeah, I--I think so." He let out his breath; the resulting whoosh caused him to check his chest, just to make sure the air wasn't escaping. "Am I okay?"

"I just asked you that," Father Damien replied, sounding upset. "And you said yes."

"Oh. Sorry." A shuddery sigh. "I just had this really weird dream!" He touched his forehead gingerly. "Is my forehead all right?"

Father Damien gave him a puzzled look, but checked. "Yes, it is. Why? Just what exactly did you dream?"

Damien sighed once more, and lay back, rubbing his own eyes. "It's a little hard to explain right now," he said, more than a quaver in his voice. "Good night, Uncle."

"Good night, Damien," his uncle replied, perplexed, turning off the light.

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