I walked slowly around the room, trying, unsuccessfully; to ignore the blood splatters on the wall, and the hostility oozing from the kneeling woman in white paper coveralls. I’d seen her a few times and knew her first name. We’d never been introduced, though. She was doing the same job I was trying to do, but hers was a more conventional method. I watched her combing the faded carpet with latex-gloved fingertips.
“Are you getting anything, Kerry?” Detective Sergeant Foster asked me. “We need a lead on this quickly. We hope there’s a good chance she may still be alive. The mother called this in, less than three hours ago.”
Foster’s aura was red and purple, anger and concern emanated from him in waves. I didn’t need special talents to pick up on his mood. His voice conveyed urgency, and his face wore a worried frown. The third, unsolved child abduction case in as many weeks weighed heavily on his conscience.
I noticed the lilac haze from the corner of my eye and ignored Dave. I took a deep, settling breath to help me focus. Lilac was the colour I saw when a young child was present. Children always made me uncomfortable. Taken before their time, these lost souls were often confused, needy and helpless and the effort I had to put in, to communicate with them, drained me quickly.
“Kerry?” Foster interrupted my concentration again.
“Dave, please!” I put the palm of my hand in his face. He could be really irritating sometimes. “Be quiet and let me tune in.”
I saw the eye-roll from the paper-clad woman. Helen didn’t even try to hide her animosity. She didn’t like me being there. She had no faith in my abilities and, to her; I was as much a distraction to her work as she was to mine.
I ignored her negativity and turned my attention to the lilac glow. The haze was taking the form of a little girl. She was about waist height, and I guessed she’d been around four-years-old.
I closed my eyes and cleared my mind, preparing for the expected bombardment of unintelligible white noise and jumpy, video screen images. It didn’t happen. My mind stayed blank and silent. After a few seconds, I opened my eyes and saw her clearly. The child was fully apparent. I could even see her clothing. She wore a red, polka-dot top and blue denim shorts. She wore silver, glittery sandals on her feet and no socks. Her hair was light brown and tied in pigtails with unadorned elastic bands. She held her hands behind her back, and she was watching me warily. I’ve experienced this clarity of manifestation before, but usually the spirits are older, savvier. I’ve rarely witnessed a fully apparent child. She’d probably been dead a long time to gain such clarity.
‘Hello.’ I began, speaking the greeting in my mind, pushing the meaning through the atmosphere towards her. ‘What’s your name, sweetheart?’
She didn’t answer me. Instead, she brought her hands from behind her back. They were covered in wet, sticky blood. I tried not to react but my heart jumped and began to beat more quickly. I swallowed and nervously licked my lips. ‘Are you hurt? Is that your blood?’
I watched her shake her head.
‘Who is hurt, darling?’
‘The man that took her.’ Her finger pointed to the window.
I breathed a sigh of relief. She was communicating with me. Sometimes they didn’t. I looked to where her red, dripping finger pointed. I saw a silver photograph frame with a picture of little girl displayed inside. The girl was a brunette and wore a garland of blue flowers in her hair. She was smiling. Her dimpled cheeks and sparkling eyes touched my heart. I went to lift the photograph.
“For goodness’ sake, Dave, will you tell your pet freak to leave things alone! I’m trying to piece together a crime scene here!” Helen gave me a look of pure disgust. Her aura turned bilious-green, tinged with puce. It was not a pretty sight.
“Is this the girl taken from here?” I carefully replaced the photograph frame.
‘Her name is Georgie,’ the spirit child told me.
“Georgie?” I turned to Dave, to confirm the name.
He nodded. “What can you see, Kerry?” His aura became infused with orange and flashes of yellow. He was radiating hope with a touch of anxiety.
I tuned in to my visitor. ‘Do you know where she is now?’ I asked in my head. ‘Can you tell me who has taken Georgie?’
‘The bad man.’ The little spirit girl held up her stained hands. ‘He’s bleeding.’
‘Where is she?’ I persisted. ‘If you tell me, we can help her.’
‘I have to go, now.’ The image of the girl became blurred as the lilac fog closed around her. ‘He’s coming closer.’
‘Wait!’ My mind called. ‘Please don’t go. Not yet.’
‘She’s asking for her daddy. Tell Georgie’s daddy to go to her. She’s waiting in their secret place.’
‘Wait, where…?’ It was no good. She’d gone.
I stumbled away from the window. I needed a moment to collect my energies and my thoughts. I crouched in the middle of the room and put my head in my hands, shielding my eyes from Dave’s scrutiny.
I’d learned the name of the victim, but Dave would have already known that, and neglected to tell me. He tested my powers each time he asked for my help as if he didn’t quite trust me yet. I found it irritating. If he gave me more to go on, I might have a better chance of helping him. As it was, I lurched around in the dark for the first few minutes or hours of each case, waiting and hoping for a reliable contact to tell me the basics.
Sometimes nothing came through, and I had to endure the whispered comments and uncomfortably bright auras from his colleagues when they ridiculed me. I wish I could turn on my hidden sense as easily as a light switch, but it didn’t work like that. Life would be simple if it did.
I gathered my thoughts and analysed the brief conversation I’d had with the girl. It wasn’t much, but maybe Dave would think it was important. “Have you questioned the father?” I knew he would have. The family were always prime suspects in these cases until they could be ruled out.
“He’s squeaky clean.” Dave shrugged and pulled his beige Mac closer around his large frame. “He wasn’t in the country. His flight was still in the air when this happened.”
“You need to ask him about a secret place. Georgie is waiting for her daddy in their secret place.” I knew it wasn’t much and as clues go it was ambiguous, but it was all I had. For now.
“What secret place?” Dave ran a hand over his face. His aura spiked and shimmered. “Is she alive? How badly is she hurt?” His eyes fluttered to the blood-splattered wall. “Where is she? For God’s sake, Kerry, give me something I can work with!”
“That’s all I can tell you, Dave.” I straightened my legs, easing the kinks from my shoulders and knees, stretching and rolling my neck as I got to my feet. “I don’t think she’s dead.” I thought about the blood on the spirit girl’s hands. “You might want to run a DNA test on that blood.” I pointed to the wall.
The kneeling Helen turned her head to me. She sneered. “Please don’t tell me how to do my job. We are already cross-matching the DNA with the family to confirm it’s the child’s.”
“Then you’ll be disappointed. It’s not her blood.” I felt a small spark of satisfaction seeing the woman’s face flush pink. “I think you’ll find the perpetrator of this crime was hurt. It’s his blood.” I was smug. I even used the correct terminology for the kidnapper to earn points but I needn’t have bothered. They would never treat me as one of them. I’m not an official part of the team.
Helen sat back on her haunches, looking up at me. “How could you possibly know that?”
“Freaky, isn’t it?” I shrugged, and then, just for the hell of it, I bent closer to her face and yelled, “Boo!”
“That’s enough, Kerry.” Dave warned and took my elbow. He marched me through the kitchen, and I glimpsed two women seated at the table. One was being questioned by the other who was taking notes. I guessed the first woman was the little girl’s mother. I didn’t get a chance to form an opinion or an impression before Dave pulled me outside into the frosty garden.
“Did you have to be so childish?”
“She started it!” I sulked and put out my bottom lip for good measure. They didn’t take me seriously so why should I behave like a good girl?
“Is it true?” Dave lit a cigarette and blew the smoke away from me. He knows I can’t stand the smell.
“About the blood?” I asked to clarify.
“No! About the price of fish!” he snapped. “What do you think?”
I couldn’t blame him. If my aura was the same colour and texture as the one he displayed now; I’d be spitting fire. I decided to placate him. “Sorry, Dave. Yes, it is true.”
“How can you be sure the blood belongs to the man who took her?”
I was distracted for a second. I thought I could see a lilac glow in the hedge at the bottom of the garden. It was there for a mere second before it disappeared. I shook my head and peered into the foliage, willing the colour to come back. It didn’t.
“Sorry, I thought I saw something.”
“What did you see?” Dave was looking at the bottom of the garden too, now.
Two men were in the garden. One was taking photographs of frosty footprints, the other one, the blond one, I knew well. I’d worked with him before. He was nice. His aura was mostly calm and turquoise with pale-pink highlights. He was my type of man but he was married. The good ones always are. He was searching the bushes. I suspected he was looking for a weapon.
I called to the one I knew, who was searching. “You might want to try over there, Marc.” I pointed to where I’d seen the lilac glow.
Dave glanced at me with curiosity before hurrying to where I’d pointed. Marc joined him at the hedge and they dropped to their knees to peer under the lower branches of the thicket. After a few seconds, Marc reached into the darkness and pulled out the bottom half of a broken wine bottle. I couldn’t tell from that distance whether the bottle was stained with blood, but Marc was holding it very carefully.
“How do you do that?” Marc was shaking his head as he got to his feet.
I shrugged. I’ve tried to explain how I get my information but they don’t understand. It’s all smokescreens and mirrors to them. They think I’m a freak. A lucky freak. I don’t often get things wrong, but when I do, it’s usually because a rogue spirit feeds me wrong information. It’s happened a couple of times.
I watched Dave and Marc walk back over the frozen lawn. I pointed to the bottle. “Is that what you were looking for?”
Marc held out the bottle so I could see the congealed blood on it. “If I were a betting man, I’d say it was.”
“So who do you think used it?” I asked.
“The kidnapper?” Marc answered, making it a question.
I shook my head and pointed to the blood. “Why would he hurt himself?”
“Are you saying this is the kidnapper’s blood?”
Dave pulled on some latex gloves and took the broken bottle. “Only one way to be sure. I’ll bag this and send it to the lab.”
“Before you do, Dave.” I caught his arm. “Would you like to bring me up to speed on some details?” I was tired of being kept in the dark. I needed to know more about these cases if I had any chance of helping Dave find the three missing girls.
“You know how these things work, Kerry. We operate on a need to know basis.”
“I need to know.” I insisted.
“You’re not part of the team, sorry.” He shook his head and shrugged my hand off his arm.
I watched him leave the garden, feeling anger and hurt welling from my chest.
“Don’t take it to heart, Kerry. We do appreciate your help.” Marc’s aura was soft and mellow. I knew he meant well. “But we have protocols to follow.”
“I know you do.” I smiled sweetly, and then pulled my lips tighter. “But you can stick your protocols up your proverbial backsides. I have better things to do with my weekends. If you can’t let me in, then I’m out! Find this monster on your own.”
“Kerry, don’t be like that.” Marc called after me, but I was already walking back to my car.
Arrogant pricks! Who do they think they are? They’d still be poking around in the dark if I hadn’t shown them where the weapon was. Well, that’s not strictly true. The little girl showed us where it was. She told me about the blood, too. I wish she’d come back. I felt sure she knew much more about this abduction. I wanted to know more.
I opened my car and sat at the wheel, but I didn’t start the engine. I tried to relax and to open my mind. I concentrated on the facts that I did know. A little girl was reported missing about three hours ago by her mother. The living room, of the house she’d been taken from, had blood splattered on one wall. Whoever was bleeding was bleeding a lot! A broken wine bottle was discovered under the hedge at the back of the house, and it had blood on it.
I didn’t need the qualifications of a detective to work out that someone had been attacked by a broken bottle in the living room. Anyone proficient in Cluedo could have worked that out in a flash.
Was the attack connected to the abduction or was it a separate issue? Where was the other part of the bottle? I can’t remember seeing it in the living room. What was the mother’s story? Where was she when her daughter was taken? I could feel my anger bubbling. I needed to know the details! Why did they not trust me? After all I’d done for them already! I was sick of being treated like a weirdo and kept in the dark.
I closed my eyes to concentrate on my breathing. In, out. In, out. In through my nose and out through my mouth. Nice and slow. Calming; soothing; settling breaths. When my anger lowered to a simmer, and I felt calm enough to drive, I opened my eyes and blinked at the brightness. My car was full of lilac light. I looked behind me. The little girl was sitting on the rear passenger seat. I could see her red, polka-dot top through the light. I waited. Opening my mind to accept her communication, I closed my eyes again.
‘Georgie is frightened.’
‘Can you tell me where she is?’
‘The bad man is asleep, but he came really close to me.’
‘Why is he coming for you, sweetheart?’
‘If he finds me, he won’t wake up.’
I heard the words and thought I knew what the little girl meant. ‘Is the bad man dying?’
‘His arm has stopped bleeding now. I don’t think he’ll find me. Georgie is crying. She wants her daddy.’
‘What’s your name, sweetheart? Will you tell me your name?’
The car interior grew darker as the lilac glow disappeared. I thumped my fist on the steering wheel. Spirits were bloody exasperating sometimes. They spoke in riddles, never giving the whole truth. Why couldn’t they be easier to understand? Why didn’t I get it? Why was I left wanting and needing more? The spirit world kept me in the dark just as much as the flesh-and-blood people did.
My stomach rumbled. I hadn’t had time for breakfast this morning, and now it was four in the afternoon. The street lights had just come on. It would soon be getting dark, and I was hungry. Saturday night and I had nowhere to go, no one to be with and the most interesting thing I had planned was watching Casualty on the television while eating a warmed frozen pizza. I seriously need to get a life.