Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 4

 

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It took Kian’s eyes a moment to adjust, but when they did, Kian paled as her focus narrowed. There in a pool of blood lay Uncle Jacob.

Supporting her weight on the window ledge, her arms threatened to give way. But then her emergency training kicked in. Kian took one long, deep breath to clear her head and heaved herself over the sill into the room. She landed with a hard thud and a grunt. Pushing the officer out of the way, she rushed to her uncle. Check for a pulse, she reminded herself. Is he breathing? “Oh, please, please be breathing,” she sobbed. “I don’t want to lose you. Not yet anyway.”

Even as she knelt down to render aid, Kian knew it was too late. Uncle Jacob had been dead for hours. His body was waxy cold. Blood was matted in his hair and the pool under him was thick and dark. Then she saw the coronet of gold about his brow, a tightened noose around his neck, and a bowl of bloody water tipped precariously to one side. Just like in her Vision of her parents. She shuddered. “Willing sacrifice.” Jacob’s earlier words were all she could think about as she recoiled from the scene in front of her. A shiver ran down her spine and tears began rolling down her ashen face. Kian’s world crumbled before her once again, leaving her alone and scared.

The next few hours seemed like days to Kian. There were questions to answer, forms to sign, and then long hours of just waiting while others did their jobs. She used the time to call her office and have her other appointments rescheduled. She was scheduled be off for almost a week, but she figured the time would be filled working with Jacob’s son. So much had changed and it was overwhelming. Her mind raced through the things that needed to be done. His funeral. Closing the house. An estate to settle. And what will happen to Jacob’s artifacts? Will his son want them? He’d certainly shown interest in them, or at least his son’s wife had.

By the time Jacob’s body was removed, Kian knew she had reached her limit. Exhausted, she wanted to get out of there, get home, pour herself a drink, and find something to eat, in that order. She checked her cell phone. Two-thirty in the afternoon.

“Kian? Oh my god, Kian are you okay?” She looked up to see a tall lanky man rushing toward her. There was something familiar about him.

He knelt in front of her and took her hand. “I came as soon as I heard.”

She looked at the nametag prominently pinned on his plaid shirt. Officer Griffith. Recognition tickled the back of her mind. “Owen? Owen Griffith? Wow, you became a police officer like your dad.”

“Yup. Day off or I’d been here sooner. I am so sorry about Jacob. Here, I brought you something.” He reached into a brown paper bag and took out a cold coke in a glass bottle.

“You remembered.”

“I did.”

He smiled at her, a sad smile, but a smile all the same. “Never could figure out why your mom wouldn’t let you drink the stuff.”

“We used to sit behind your barn like a couple of druggies who’d just scored,” Kian replied. The memory made her eyes shine. “I don’t think your mom approved of coke either.”

Owen took an opener from his shirt pocket, popped the cap, and handed the bottle to her. “Here, drink up.”

The coke was cold, ice cold the way she liked it. It burnt as it went down. The first few swallows were always the best. “That’s good. Thanks.”

Owen placed his hand on her arm. “Kian, I gotta ask you something. Did Jacob ever explain things to you?”

“What things?”

“Just things.”

“Ow-en, what things?”

Why, she wondered, did it always feel like everyone had secrets that she was not allowed to know? And why wasn’t she allowed to know them?

“We’ll talk about it later. Kian, you look exhausted, what can I do for you?”

“Just get me out of here. I can’t deal with this right now.”

Owen stood. “I understand. I’ll take care of a few details and then get you home. You do look exhausted.”

Kian closed her eyes and sank back into her thoughts only to be aroused minutes later. She looked up to see Owen confronting some man, a dark haired man.

“I’m here to talk to her. It won’t take long.”

They looked like two bull elephants facing off. Leave it to Owen. It wasn’t the first time. Seemed he’d spent their childhood keeping others from getting in her way, fighting her battles for her.

“FBI’s got no jurisdiction here,” she heard Owen tell the man. “You want to talk to her, you come through me, got it?”

“Got it,” the man said as he stepped around Owen and took two long strides toward Kian.

She stood, grabbed her bag, and headed for the door. Maybe having a bull-headed “guardian” was a good thing after all.

The FBI agent stepped in front of her. “May I ask where you are going, ma’am?”

“Home,” she replied, without looking up. His pants were neatly creased, she noticed, his black wing-tip shoes were immaculately shined. A neatnik, she thought. She took note of the agent’s coal black hair, set off by sparkling blue, no, almost turquoise eyes. Odd combination. But effective.

“Kian, you don’t have to talk to this man,” Owen said, crossing the room. “The FBI’s got no right to be here.”

Kian looked the agent straight in the eye. “FBI? Did Uncle Jacob cross state lines or something?”

“Special division,” he replied.

“Oh, like the X–Files.” Kian moved to get past him.

“Please, not so fast. Are you Kian Radha Buchanan?”

He pronounced her name correctly. Most people said “Ky-an” but it was “Key-an.” And as for her middle name, the butchering it took was worse. It wasn’t “Rad-ha,” it was “Row-ha.”

“Look, I am tired. All I want to do is go home and sleep. I’ve answered enough questions for today,” she insisted. “If you want to know anything, talk to Officer Griffiths over there.” Owen gave her a thumbs-up, but the agent did not budge.

“Do you know what Kian Radha means?”

“Whatever,” she said as she tried to squeeze past him. She knew very well what her name meant.

“It means Ancient Vision. Radha also means red. You were aptly named, I see.”

With that, Kian swung her flaming hair around, causing him to take a step back, and this time she was able to push past him.

Interesting but irritating was her assessment.

Pushing past Owen as well, Kian hurled herself into her Jeep and took off, kicking back gravel.

Through her rear-view mirror she could see Mr. FBI dusting off his perfectly pressed suit. Definitely interesting but irritating.

 

 

As Kian arrived home, she spotted the mailman jumping back into his truck. She waved as he drove out. When she got to the front porch, she found a package sitting there. She picked it up. It had postage stamps, the kind you lick, and had been hand stamped from somewhere in New Mexico. But it was the wrapping that caught her attention. Even though the package was now covered in clear packing tape, Kian could see that the brown paper had been precisely folded into neat mitered corners and tied with white string. Who does that anymore? Kian turned the package over. Someone had carefully printed, “For the Big One.”

While unlocking her front door, she thought she caught movement in the woods. It must be deer, she decided. People never came to visit at her secluded home.

As she fed Lucky, she couldn’t push the vision of Uncle Jacob and the pool of blood from her mind. She remembered her visit, the unease she felt that morning, how spooked she was when she got to Jacob’s cabin. Who would have done such a horrible thing? Jacob had no enemies—not that she knew anyway. Who could hate Jacob that much? Who?

Her mind went round and round with that question until she decided it was all too much. She really needed that drink. A stiff one. A Black Russian with orange Stoli, the best Vodka to her way of thinking, even if a bit out of fashion. A double shot with Kahlua. It would dull her mind, make the spookiness go away. It always did. Like in the emergency room when she knew a child had been abused. Nobody would believe her when she tried to say the child was not just accident-prone. Then, as now, it nagged her and she could barely wait to get to the local bar with her friends and throw down a couple. Then she felt normal again, like she was one of the gang, not some crazy outsider. Yes, to her way of thinking, vodka was a miracle drug. Dulled the pain, dulled her senses, and with them her crazier feelings, the ones that brought the Visions, the premonitions. No, not Visions, not premonitions, she reminded herself, they were coincidences. She poured a second double Vodka, this time with less Kahlua.

Kian knew her limit was three and only under extreme circumstances. But if today didn’t count as extreme, nothing did. The long climb up two flights to her attic bedroom was the best antidote for her desire to pour a fourth drink.

As she stumbled past the dining room table, she picked up the package. She’d call Uncle Jacob’s son tomorrow, she decided. Maybe he’d know what to do with it.

When she got to her attic bedroom, Kian heard Lucky jump off her bed. He scrambled under the small desk as Kian tossed the package on top. Lucky waited while Kian undressed, turned on the fan, and crawled under the sheet. Then, with one leap, he was on top of the desk. He spent the night as if keeping watch next to the still unopened package.

 

Notes:

Drinking and psychic abilities:

Whether alcohol dulls or enhances psychic abilities is controversial. Some psychics, for instance Jane Roberts, took small amounts before going into trance.

It is clear, however, that the over-use of alcohol dulls the conscious mind, thereby limiting not only psychic input, but also the emotional effects as in Kian’s case.

 

Photo attribution:

My own.

 

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