Minot: Chapter 14
EVERYONE STARED AT the small object that landed next to Psyche's arm; if it had flown an inch or two more to the right it would have struck her. Psyche managed to draw her eyes away and look up at the window. There was a hole now where the letter opener had flown through; it wasn't very big as the object had struck handle first, yet there were cracks running away from the main site of impact like tendrils.
A moment later there was a rattle and Kincaid's door opened.
Chief Bowen turned to look at his lieutenant as he stuck his head out. The look on Kincaid's face was blank; studiedly blank, as Psyche was beginning to think. He stepped out of his office and toward Bowen, who actually took a step backward.
*Hide.* Psyche turned abruptly, looking for the speaker. No one appeared to notice the voice except her. Confused, she turned back to Bowen and Kincaid. Kincaid glanced down briefly at the letter opener lying on Hawthorne's desk, then back up at Bowen.
"You okay, Kinnie?" Bowen finally found his own voice to ask.
"I'm sorry about that, Chief. I was doing a little digging and I suppose it slipped out of my hands."
Bowen didn't dare say he disbelieved the story; neither did anyone else. Psyche was staring at Kincaid, looking for any kind of reaction. There was none.
A very long silence filled the office. Psyche could almost hear the other officers breathe.
The entrance door opened. Everyone turned to look except Bowen and Kincaid. Officer Jenner stepped in, stopping as soon as he saw the tableau inside. He looked back at everyone, seeming confused; then he saw Kincaid, then the broken glass, then the letter opener.
He looked at Psyche as if to ask what was going on.
She shrugged one shoulder, slightly.
"Uh...Chief. I got those reports you were asking for."
"Huh?" Bowen turned to see him. "Oh. Jenner. Yeah. You can just leave 'em on my desk. Thanks."
"No problem, Chief."
He crossed over to Chief Bowen's office. Kincaid broke the stare he'd been giving Bowen, glancing at Jenner; Psyche could swear she saw a flicker of something in his eyes. Then he turned to look right at her.
Is he reading my thoughts?
But that was ridiculous; Kincaid was no psychic.
He turned away again and headed back into his office, the door shutting quietly behind him. Bowen blinked and shook his head as if some kind of spell had been broken. Jenner reappeared, looking at the window again as he came over to Psyche. She stood.
"Ready to go?" he asked, his voice quiet.
"Yeah, I think so."
She got up, feeling dazed, and left the station with him. As soon as they were outside he tapped her arm, cocking his head back at the building they'd just vacated.
"What the hell was that all about?"
"Oh.... There was just a...little problem with Kincaid." Jenner frowned at her. "He's just a little stressed. That's all." For some reason she found herself lying for him--there was no way she could know if he were stressed or not. Jenner, however, apparently accepted the explanation. He raised his eyebrows.
"Looks like he's been taking it out on his window."
"Yeah, kind of."
He didn't say anything else. Instead he escorted her to his regular car and they got in.
Damien woke up in the evening and sat with the others to eat in his apartment and watch TV, though none of their minds were on it. He still had to talk with Bowen, find out why he'd never said anything about Kincaid being in the cult itself. Why would Bowen hide such an important detail from him? None of it seemed right.
Then again...maybe Bowen had plenty of reasons to hide it. After all, just what was he busy doing every Saturday night?
Maybe asking the chief wouldn't be such a good idea. Not when there were so many wackos around. He would have liked to ask Jenner about it, but from what Jenner had already told him he knew the other cop didn't know very much; plus, he wouldn't want to upset the guy any. He and Psyche seemed to have a good thing going, even if it had only been for about two days.
He sighed, frustrated, and ground his knuckles into his forehead. The others in the apartment looked at him. He didn't care. Of all the "adventures" he'd been on, this one was certainly the most irritating.
Someone tried the doorhandle. Everyone's head shot up. Father Damien went to look out the peephole, then unlocked it and let Psyche in. She glanced at everybody gathered around.
"How was your evening?" Damien asked.
"Oh. Okay, I guess. Now that they got that mess cleaned up."
Damien raised his head. "Mess--?"
"You didn't hear about it? Oh, that's right, you weren't there. Jenner and I found it. Earlier today. There was a--this dog hanging from a tree. And a death threat. Aimed at Kincaid."
"What?" Damien asked, surprised. He glanced at his uncle. "You didn't tell me about this!"
"I thought she was going to tell you," Father Damien retorted.
"I suppose I forgot," Psyche said, sheepishly. "I was so busy ranting and all. But it was skinned alive. There was carving on the tree that said Kincaid would be the next to die."
Damien and his uncle exchanged looks. "This has gotten worse," he murmured. "Nothing else? No other clues?"
"No. Jenner took pictures, then they cleaned it up. Just like they've been cleaning up every other mess around here." She sat down in a chair and sighed, brushing back her hair. "I just wish someone could explain how this mess involves Kincaid. Whoever these people are, they sure are bent on getting him."
Damien bit his lip. He'd been ready to tell her why, when he remembered her meetings with Jenner. He couldn't risk the story spreading. Not yet.
"How's Kincaid taking it?" he asked.
She looked up at him, and winced. "I think there may be a problem. He's acting really weird."
The uneasiness began to creep up Damien's back, to his shoulders, where it settled like some ugly vulture. "Weird as in what?"
"He locked himself in his office. Chief Bowen tried to get him to come out but he wouldn't. When he pounded on the glass Kincaid sent his letter opener through it." Everyone's eyes widened. "He just about hit me. Then he came out and said he was sorry, it slipped--just as calm as ever."
"That does sound like a problem," Dino murmured.
"How do you 'slip' with a letter opener so it flies through the air?" DJ asked, just as confused as the rest of them.
Father Damien held up a hand. "Right now that's not our concern. It's to be expected that Lieutenant Kincaid would be upset. It's not like we're finding anything useful about this case. And meanwhile it's just getting worse." He turned back to Psyche. "What did this death threat say again?"
"'Your time is up Kincaid, it's your turn to die.' The dog was flayed. I remember its tongue was sticking out--just like that poor goat's. Oh--its eyes were missing!"
Now it was the priest who flinched. "Definitely not to be considered rude--but these people are sick."
"Sick minds for sick people," Puck put in, fiddling with the remote.
"Well, sick or not, we should be getting to bed. I can't speak for everyone but I'm worn out."
"I think it's the water," Puck said, shutting off the TV and getting up, stretching his arms. The others filed out as well. Psyche was the last to go. On her way out she took Damien's arm. He looked at her.
"Dami, tomorrow I'm going to do something while you're gone that you might find silly. I'd like to use your apartment so I can be alone. Would you mind?"
He frowned at her. "Silly such as?"
She flushed and offered a tiny smile. "Well...it's hard to explain. Think of it as a cross between a séance and a Vulcan mind meld." His frown grew deeper; was she off her rocker, too? "I'm going to try to contact this person who's been having these dreams. To find out who it is."
He was almost certain who it was now. Yet he still didn't tell her; maybe she could give him some kind of confirmation. So he could tell July hadn't been putting him on.
That is, if Psyche could.
"Okay," he finally replied. "You just talk with FD. I'll give you the keys so no one gets in. But let's not have a repeat of what happened Monday, okay?"
She gave him a dirty look. "I'm not going to pass out. It caught me unawares that time."
"Yeah, whatever. Just do what you're told."
She continued with the look, then turned and went back to her own apartment.
Thursday passed uneventfully; there were no new leads, yet no new additions to the Falcon's Nest. Damien sat at the counter wondering if there was to be any solution to the case at all. He still felt exhausted for some reason; when Father Damien offered to go down to the police station and continue asking around the singer couldn't find it in his heart to get up and join him.
"I think I'll just stay here a while and then head back. Psyche can't be at her thing all day."
His uncle looked at him for a moment, then sighed. "Whatever you want. I'll see you again later."
Damien nodded, putting his head down on the counter as if to fall asleep. Phil Falcon placed a plate of fries in front of him in an attempt to wake him back up; when that didn't work he added a hot dog. Damien ate it almost in his sleep while Phil walked away to tend to the other customers.
Father Damien arrived at the station and got out of the car, casting glances around the parking lot, for no reason he could understand. He felt like knocking before stepping inside, yet there was also no intelligent reason for that; he sighed and wished he wasn't so "polite" sometimes, or else polite in the friendly, nonstressed way Jenner was. Jenner seemed to get along with himself just fine.
Inside everything was the same as usual. The officers milling around the station were busy taking calls, making calls, writing down notes, checking things up on their computers; Bowen's door stood open, though Kincaid's was, as usual, closed. His window had been temporarily patched but his blinds weren't drawn, at least not completely; inside Father Damien could see the lieutenant on the phone himself. He was frowning into space, scowling almost; once he said something and though Father Damien was no lip-reader and couldn't be absolutely certain of what he'd said, it looked a lot like I'll find you out. Growing uneasy again, he turned back to Bowen's door.
Bowen was also on the phone. When he saw Father Damien stick his head in he waved to the chair opposite his desk. Father Damien entered and sat down, though he didn't feel like it. Bowen continued talking.
"Yeah, but I told you to keep an eye out," he said. "I don't care how long it takes. I want to find out who the hell's doing this. Listen, if it happens again on your shift, you can be sure Falcon will be calling you with a complaint, you got me?" Silence. "Good. I don't want your eyes straying one inch from that place till we get this settled. Bye." He hung up the phone and rubbed his eyes. "Good afternoon. I hope you've heard already about Falcon's latest pet."
"Yes, I have. A skinned dog?"
"Yeah, unless he's got something else since yesterday." He glanced up and around the office. "What, no friends with you? Where's that nephew of yours?"
A tired smile. "Getting a little rest at Falcon's establishment. If anything else happens you can be sure he'll be one of the first to know, if Phil can wake him up." A grim smile from Bowen. "But he's still trying. We're running short on leads."
"And on time. That dog came with a death threat."
"I know. We still don't know who it could be. Have you heard from Mitch lately?"
Bowen shook his head and scowled. "Kinnie told the kid not to show his face around here or Falcon's. It's a good thing we haven't been seeing him."
"Chief Bowen, I have to ask you something, and I truly want you to listen to me. Impartially as you can."
Bowen's mouth twitched--he could sense what was coming on--but he nodded slowly.
"You remember I went to visit Mitch Tuesday."
"He had a few things to say about his arrest."
Now the chief's eyes narrowed, but he said nothing.
"He told me in no uncertain terms that Kincaid had taken his book. He said Kincaid told him he wouldn't be needing it anymore."
"You've told me this already, Father, remember?"
"Yes, I do."
"And Kinnie told you in no uncertain terms that he never saw that book."
"Yes, he did. But what if he has?"
He could tell Bowen was fighting to restrain himself. "He told you he hasn't. Why you prefer to trust the word of some punk Devil worshipper over my lieutenant is beyond me."
"I don't trust his word. But he was pretty upset about the whole thing. He was eager to talk to us if we were willing to listen--but he quit and told us we'd only get more out of him after we got his book back. I'm no professional judge of character, Chief Bowen, but I truly don't believe he was lying. Not about that."
"If he's lied about the animals, like we know he has, what's to keep him from lying about that damn book?"
"Trust me, Chief, if you'd been there you'd know. He was that mad about it."
"And so what about Kincaid? You're telling me he's lying? Why would he do that?"
"I'm not sure, Chief. That's what we've all been wondering about. But won't you admit he's been acting a little odd lately?"
Chief Bowen opened his mouth to retort, then stopped himself. His eyes clouded over. "Yeah, a little. But he's just letting off some steam. I would too. Hell, I have."
"Maybe you should just talk with him again."
A heavy sigh. Bowen got up and went to his door, casting a look over his shoulder at the priest.
"Do you believe in gambling, Father? 'Cause I could bet you twenty bucks nothing's going to come of this."
Father Damien shrugged. "Kinnie! Come here a minute," Bowen called, then went back to sit down. A moment later Kincaid appeared, sticking his head in the door.
"I just wanted to ask you a question, Kinnie. Don't take this in the wrong way, okay?"
No reply. Kincaid looked as blank as ever.
"You remember Ace's testimony that Mitch had a book. The--what was it?"
"The Satanic Bible," Father Damien filled in.
"--Yeah, that thing. LaVey or whatever. Little book, circle or pentagram on the front. Mitch insisted you took it."
The whole time he'd been speaking the look on Kincaid's face had been changing. Father Damien was surprised by the change; the policeman had appeared so calm on coming in. Now he looked almost ready to snarl; his eyes narrowed and his lip just about curled up.
"I told you I didn't have it," he said; Chief Bowen was startled as well by the tone of his voice. It was hate. "I don't see why you won't believe me."
"We just have to be sure that maybe you didn't misplace it or anything, Kinnie. That happens sometimes. You forgot to tell me you were calling in outside help; maybe you forgot this. It's just a little thing. You can't get in any trouble for--"
"You don't believe me!" Kincaid shot back. The two jumped. It was the first outburst either of them had heard from him the whole length of the investigation. "You're digging in your little corners, trying to find everything you can about me. And all the while they just keep leaving their carcasses. Why don't you investigate them for a change?"
"We are, Kinnie," Bowen returned. His voice was shaking; Father Damien realized with a start that he was truly afraid. "I never said anything about checking up on you--"
"Then why the hell are you doing it?" He whirled around and swept out of the office. Bowen stood up automatically to follow him. Father Damien got up as well; when he got out into the main office everyone was staring at Kincaid's open door. There was the sound of papers flying through the air; Bowen stepped into Kincaid's doorway to see his lieutenant digging in a desk drawer, tossing papers every which way. If he hadn't known better he'd have said the cop was throwing a temper tantrum.
"Here's your damn book!" Bowen flinched as Kincaid flung something at him, hitting him in the chest; as he looked down he almost expected to see the letter opener protruding from him. Instead, he found himself holding a small battered book. His face turned ashen white as if Kincaid had thrown a corpse at him. He reeled back out of the office, running into Father Damien; the priest saw the book too, and paled as well. Bowen opened the cover and read the name written inside: MITCHELL L. BARNES. This was no joke.
He looked back up at his lieutenant; Father Damien saw the pained look on his face. "Kinnie, why?" he asked, his voice plaintive.
"Who gives a shit?" Kincaid shot back, and his door slammed in Bowen's face.
Bowen was frozen in place, staring at the nameplate on the door. Inside the office the two could hear the continued destruction of Kincaid's desk; the crash of things falling from shelves, the sound of papers shredding. It was fully five minutes before it fell silent again, and then they could only hear Kincaid's footsteps and a thump as he obviously sat down in his chair. Nothing more.
A deep silence filled the entire station, as if someone had died. The other cops were frozen in the middle of what they'd been doing; someone's phone rang but no one answered. Bowen just stared blankly at the nameplate facing him: LIEUTENANT ALAN KINCAID. No one spoke.
There was one candle in the middle of the floor, on a plate, so that any wax it dripped wouldn't set the motel on fire. Psyche didn't want to be sued for anything like that. The candle itself wasn't necessary, yet she found the light it gave off comforting, even if it was still bright outside; she'd drawn the curtains anyway, to make her feel more secure inside the little room. She sighed as she sat down, Indian style, in front of the candle; she'd told the others not to interrupt her at any cost, and so far they'd been good keeping their word. What she needed now was concentration. She'd never tried anything even remotely like this before, and wasn't sure how it would work, especially with a mind so apparently unstable as the one she'd been contacted by. The only thing she could do was try it.
She closed her eyes and settled herself, trying to clear her head of all thoughts. That was difficult, concerning all that had been happening lately; yet she finally managed to do so, till there was only one thought left, which she kept repeating to herself, like a mantra:
Let me in. Let me in.
It was the only thing she could think of.
Behind her eyes the colors swirled black and red. She kept repeating the phrase Let me in till it sounded fuzzy, even in her head; it echoed far behind her eyes as the colors took shapes. She couldn't concentrate on any of them for long or else they'd break apart, along with her concentration; she simply let them come, dissolve, and form again. After what seemed to be a long while she found her words were changing; the voice in her head changed with them. It echoed faintly in the back of her head; she let go of the phrase and let it be twisted around, pushing its way closer to the surface.
Let me in...let me in...coming in...come in...come here...come here a minute...
The phrase resolved itself into a command.
Come here a minute.... The voice changed, making itself familiar again. Calling me back again. Over and over.
Who are you? she tried to ask. There was no reply.
Now she couldn't hear distinct words, but a feeling of anger washed over her suddenly. She managed to keep it apart from herself and was surprised how strong it was; but the anger was joined by other feelings, particularly hate, helplessness, fear...
Fear? What did the combination of fear and anger form? She found herself glancing at the windows, as if someone were looking in at her. She shivered and shut her eyes again.
The feeling grew so much that it almost enveloped her. She had to struggle to keep it off. Then, slamming into her like before--
She gasped and nearly fell over. The candle toppled over and went out with a fizz. The voice continued screaming in her head, furious and maniacal; it was joined by another, less strident, yet also as angry and hateful.
*They don't believe you! They don't believe you!*
The two voices were shouting almost in unison. Psyche dragged herself back up, putting her hands to her head and gritting her teeth. She almost screamed, wishing it would stop.
You don't believe me-- *They don't believe you--*
"Who are you?" she shouted into the empty room.
And now the second voice, very quiet and soothing, stopped the other voice with two sentences:
*It's okay now, Kinnie. I won't let them get to you like they got to me.*
Psyche let out her breath and fell over again. There was a pounding on the door; DJ's voice rang hollowly in the back of her head. The other voices faded away, and after a moment she found herself lying on the floor in the empty room, her head splitting and the pounding at the door continuing unabated.
"Psyche! Open up! Psyche! Are you okay?"
She dragged herself toward the door, managing to pull herself to her knees and unlock it. DJ and AJ came in, catching her before she could fall again. She found herself grateful, that they'd broken their promise not to enter, before she lost consciousness.
Damien slammed the door of his car and ran up the flight of steps to his floor. Several minutes ago Phil had received a frantic call from the motel, asking for Damien to come over right away. It was something about Psyche. He knew he shouldn't have let her do that crazy thing.
He pushed the door open and burst into the room, looking around breathlessly. DJ and Psyche were sitting on his bed, DJ attending to Psyche's bloody nose. They both looked up as he came over.
"What the hell happened?" he demanded. They stared at him a minute, both realizing he very seldom swore. Psyche spoke up first.
"I'm okay, Dami. It's just a nosebleed."
"I want to know what's going on! I heard about this accident--"
"I'm sorry about that, Dami," DJ apologized. "I thought there was a problem--"
"And so there is!" He cast a furious glance at Psyche. "You told me this wouldn't happen again, Psyche. Now what was it?"
She sighed and pushed DJ's hand away. "It was angry. It was angry and afraid. I got this feeling--it doesn't trust anybody anymore. There were two voices."
"Yeah, I know that. Now what the hell happened?"
"I know who it is," Psyche said, getting up to look him in the eye. Her hands were twisting the cloth DJ had been using to dab her nose. "I heard his name."
"Who is it?"
"It's Kincaid," she replied. "And I know who the other one was, too."
She nodded, and took a breath. "Because he's not alive anymore. I've never heard him before but I can tell just by what he said. The other voice was definitely Mark Kincaid."