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Intervention Part Two: What Katy Did
A Luminations story
Start at the beginning of the Luminations series
"You've developed an interest in prophecy, haven't you, Katy?"
I recoiled from her touch as much as I could. I think the cords holding me cut into my wrists. It was hard to tell. It was hard to tell where my hands were anymore.
Christina didn't react to my attempt to pull away. It was beneath her notice. She lowered her voice to a whisper, her breath on my ear the only warm thing in the dank sewer tunnel where her thugs had dragged me.
"Let me tell you your future, Katy. That's what you wanted, isn't it? To solve the mystery? To find out how it's going to end? I know how it ends, Katy. So do you. You've always known how it ends. It ends tonight. And tomorrow morning, the whole world will know what Katy did."
The shadows around her blurred. I didn?t know if the Granite Lodge punks had turned the flashlights off or if they'd left the tunnel, or whether I was just drifting back into unconsciousness.
But her voice was still clear. After a while it was the only thing that was.
"They're looking for you. Campus security is involved now, but the campus is a big place. You'll see them once or twice. Maybe one will call your name. Your friends gave them your name. You'll slip back into the woods. By then there will be snow on the ground. You'll worry about them tracking you, so you'll run down to that stream that runs past the townhouse apartments. You'll walk up the streambed to throw them off the trail. We've always admired your resourcefulness, Katy."
I was suddenly aware of the cold water soaking my boots. It was just the water they'd dragged me through when they brought me here. I clung to that, trying to believe it. But I could see the outlines of the townhouse apartments through the shadows now. I couldn't remember if my eyes were open or closed.
"Your mind has let everything slip away except the sting of the betrayal. They've set the police on you, turned the world against you. Your friends gave them your name, tried to give them power over you. You've got every reason in the world for anger, for rage. But still you've decided you're going to talk to them. You'll banish all of those dark thoughts that you're having while you stand there in the streambed and you'll come in out of the cold and talk things over. And they'll understand. Your friends always understand you in the end. They've always been there for you. You don't want to be alone anymore."
I felt her words, every razor cut of bitterness she was describing. I was beginning to lose the sound of her voice now. It wasn't fading, just blending like the shadows had blended together.
"You find the stairwell door propped open with an empty bottle. You slip in out of the cold, and you sit on the stairs. You rest. You get your strength back as you soak in the warmth and the smell of home. When you're finally ready, you walk up to the sixth floor, reminding yourself with every step that you just want to talk. You want to make things right, to make them understand."
She spoke louder now, and her voice reverberated in an echo that rang of familiarity, and hinted at all of the understanding I'd somehow lost. There was more pain in my wrist, first the left, then the right. The cords they'd tied me with slipped loose, unraveling slightly. She unwound them from my wrists and from the chair, working slowly, patiently, never letting her work interrupt the words that were echoing softly around in the shadows.
"But they never give you the chance. That's the saddest part of it all, Katy. They've had so many chances to stop this, but they just never give you that chance. They're sitting in your room, talking. Your old R.A., Kim. The two little anime fangirls. And your roommate. Steph, isn?t it? The rower. Later, you'll talk about how it was all a terrible mistake. You tried to give the gun back to them, but you hurt Steph once before, and she won't let you try again."
She moved my hands, resting them in my lap, closing my fingers around cold metal as the voice gained urgency. The echo was my own voice, or was it Christina's? Or was there any difference anymore?
She was right. I knew how it ended.
"You know that she's too strong for you to fight when she grabs for the gun, and you're trying to tell her that you just want to talk. You keep trying to tell her right up to the moment she's nearly twisted the gun out of your hand, right up to the moment she's nearly broken your fingers to do it. And right up to the moment the gun goes off. The bullet cracks her pelvis. They'll find that when they do the autopsy. The pain from that wound, it would be hard to imagine, even for you, Katy. And you?ve been through a lot of pain. She starts screaming and she won?t stop. She won't stop screaming, so you make her stop. A good clean shot in the head like you've been practicing. But by now your other friends are screaming, and all you can think of is to make the screaming..."
"Hey, Christina! We gotta get outta here!"
More shadows moving in the darkness. I was aware of the interruption, but it was an annoyance, a temporary break in the revelation of all that I had been so carefully prepared for. Nothing had changed.
"We checked her car like you told us."
"Yeah, check this out. Ski mask. Baseball bat. And a bag of... Hell, I don't even know what most of this shit is. Little spy cameras and microphones and shit. Interesting stuff to be carrying around in with your spare tire, huh?" I recognized Henessey's voice, but I was stumbling over the significance of what he said. The bag. It came from my car. I didn't think it mattered.
"Something went wrong?" Christina didn't sound impatient. She'd done her work. Tuckerman.13 had done its work. She could wait another minute before setting me to do my work. Nothing had changed.
But then Henessey said something else.
"Her roommate showed up. No, that wasn't the problem. Bitch damn near broke Mitch's jaw, but she was pretty stupid to screw with three of us. Me and Joey, we put the boots to her. You would've liked it."
Christina's attention was off of me. I felt that. My sense of smell came back. I hadn't realized it had been gone. The place stank of piss and I suddenly wanted to puke, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but the strongest thought I had was that Henessey had fucked up the prophecy.
Christina was looking at something she'd pulled out of my bag.
"This other guy showed up and we took off. No idea who he was, but I think he might have followed us. We..."
"What the hell are these?" Now Christina was impatient. She was angry. And there was something else in her voice. Fear.
"What? Fuck, Christina. How can you even see anything. Joey, turn your light on."
The flashlight beam illuminated Christina holding my baseball bat, which was covered in stick-figure drawings, little black people-shapes like you see in those cave paintings.
"Where did these come from?" Joey shone the light in my face, probably figuring he was being helpful.
"Fuck! Christina, she's got a gun!" I'd been holding the gun since Christina had put it in my hands.
"Both of you shut up. Katy needs that for later." She crouched down to look me in the eyes. Everything started to fade again. I clung to an image in my mind of Joey and Hennessey kicking and stomping Steph, even while Christina's fingers gently slipped the gun back out of my hand.
"Now, Katy, tell us where these came from." And as much as I was trying to find the will to resist her, I believe I would have told her. If I'd known. The bag and the mask and the bat and all the gadgets were mine. But the graffiti on the bat was a mystery.
"Answer her, bitch." Joey chimed in. "You draw this stuff?"
"No, you idiot. She didn't do this." Christina's anger and frustration exploded on Joey. "The car was unlocked for hours after you took her!"
She turned back to me, holding the bat to make me look at it. And I didn't realize I'd broken free of her power until it happened.
I wrenched the bat out of Christina's grip, drew back, and smashed it into her face with all the strength I had.
I don?t know what surprised me more: That I'd found the will to do it, or that it actually hurt her.
Christina staggered backward, lost her footing, and splashed into the water.
I sat there, trying to find clarity. None of what she'd put into my head was gone. But none of it was me.
"I think," I whispered, "I think... I don't believe... in predestination... anymore."
I stood. I took one step toward Christina. The light was dim, Joey's flashlight was pointing down toward the water. I remembered Joey and Henessey, then.
I was gonna die. Couldn't fight them all.
I took another step toward Christina and realized that Joey and Henessey weren't coming after me.
And then I saw the other person in the room, the man who was standing between me and Christina and the two Granite Lodge boys.
"Still one of the good guys, Katy? That's nice to see."
Chester Hall stood in the dim light, knee deep in water, pointing what looked to be a sawed-off shotgun at Henessey and Joey.
Christina stood slowly. The pistol was gone. It had slipped out of her hand when I knocked her down. Blood ran freely from her smashed nose down into her mouth and over her chin.
She slipped her tongue out and licked her lips in a smooth, slow motion.
"Chess Hall. The runes were a clever touch. Didn't know you had it in you."
Chess kept the other two at bay with his gun.
"Petroglyphs. Mi'kmaq." He said. "Turns out your Granite Lodge buddies are playing their games on sacred ground. And you've been around long enough to know you shouldn't go up against a home field advantage."
She turned to face him. I felt the rage welling inside me again.
"You won't stop this, you know. Katy was only one part, Chester."
Chess lowered the gun a little. He smiled oddly, or maybe it just seemed strange in the shadows. But I'd always been able to read Chess Hall.
His voice sounded odd when he spoke. "Oh, I know the rest. Did my detective work. And you keep calling me that name. We have things that need to be settled, Christina. And now is as good a time as..."
"Fuck no!" Their voices had been lowering. Mine shattered the quiet of their conversation.
I raised the bat and moved between them, keeping my attention fixed on Christina, even as I was speaking to Chess.
"This bitch tried to wreck my life. She hurt my friends, and she was going to make me hurt my friends. I'm glad you're here, Chess, but if you want a piece of her, you're gonna wait the fuck in line."
I faced Christina, knowing full well I was in no condition to fight her, baseball bat or not. And I didn't care.
"Round two, bitch. Let's go." I whispered.
I took one wet step toward Christina.
The scream that came from Chess Hall's lips froze me in my tracks.
It wasn't his voice.
It wasn't a sound any human being should make. It went on and on, a choking, strangling cry that held all of the despair and all of the hurt and betrayal I'd ever felt and more.
And I remembered every note of it. I'd heard it all before.
Christina stumbled backward like she'd been hit again.
I just turned and stared at Chess. Except I knew that it wasn't Chester Hall standing there. Not just Chester Hall, at least.
I'd like to think I still impressed Chess with my detective work. I had the final clue, and I put it all together like it had been obvious all along.
"Joe Tuckerman was there the night that Richard Harrington killed Mattie Ives." I spoke with all of the clarity that solving the puzzle had brought me. "The tuckerman.13 file is Mattie dying when they threw her into a pit and poured cement over her while she was still alive. The bastard recorded her murder.
I looked into Chess' eyes, the eyes I thought I knew, seeing the stranger who stared back out at me.
"Christina knew you might resist. Those wards you set up. The protection of your friends. You had strong protection, Katy, and she's desperate. Her kind, they have a hard time getting what they need these days. They're ready to try new things. Ready to feed off the fear and hurt of a mass killing and a betrayal. She knows how that tastes, and she was angry at you for screwing with her business all last year. But she went into this with backup plans. You're not the only one, Katy. There are two more, and I don?t know how much time you've got left. You want to stop them, then you're gonna have to step away from this."
Kelsie. She'd listened to the tuckerman.13 recording.
I'd spent a year angry at myself for not seeing connections. I was finally starting to see them. He'd looked worse and worse every time I'd run into him. Like he was hung over. Like he wasn't getting any sleep. And he wasn't here. He would never have missed seeing me tortured. Unless he had something better to do.
"Wayne DeLucas. And Kelsie."
The butt of the shotgun slammed into Henessey's jaw and he crumpled onto the ledge. Joey hesitated between fight and flight and got hit across the side of the head on the downswing, and he dropped like he'd been shot.
"I'm going after Wayne," I said.
"What about your friend?"
"I fought this. Kelsie can fight this too. Faith in my friends, right?"
I turned and started moving through the tunnel. The darkness closed in, and somewhere behind me in all the cold blackness Christina started to scream.
There was six inches of snow on the ground, and the campus glowed in the pre-dawn light. I stopped, leaning on the bat like a walking stick.
With the light and the cold wind and the swirl of snowflakes in the air, the pain came back to me. I didn't need a mirror to know I was a mess. I'd bled. My feet were numb from the cold, and soaked. It hurt to move and each breath I took brought a stabbing jolt of memory of the beating I'd taken in the parking lot.
I started moving, shuffling through the snow toward the Townhouse apartments where DeLucas lived. I knew when it was supposed to start. I'd seen it. I was almost out of time.
The townhouses were set back from the road in the woods with a winding driveway leading up to the parking area. I'd never been inside DeLucas' apartment, but I'd taken a look at it a few times when I'd first started digging up the dirt on Granite Lodge. I kept to the side of the driveway close to the woods. The uphill climb was taking a lot out of me. My breathing was getting raspy and I stopped halfway up the drive, doubled over coughing, leaving specks of blood on the snow at my feet.
I got my breath back and leaned on the bat as I resumed the climb. I was nearly at the top when the snow on the driveway lit up from the flashing lights of a campus police car. I froze in the headlights, and the car's wheels spun and I had a whiff of burned rubber before the car found purchase and shot past me to pull just ahead into the parking lot entrance.
The cop got out. He was fifty, thick of build but smooth in his movements.
"Miss, you need medical attention." He didn't ask or speak my name, and he only touched my hand lightly as he led me a few steps closer to the car.
He let go of my hand and reached into his open window for his radio mic. He gave me a reassuring smile as he started to call in to dispatch.
I watched the side of his head explode in a shower of blood before my mind registered the sound of the gunshot. The cop went face down in the snow and the blood spread out from his head and I looked up to see DeLucas standing out on his apartment balcony with a goofy grin on his face, waving at me with the hand that wasn't holding the rifle.
Then he raised the rifle and took aim at me.
Something hit him from behind. Someone. I heard another shot, but I never saw where the bullet hit, and I was running then.
I didn't think I could run. I did. I hit the glass of the townhouse door with the bat, then hit it again. It took a third blow to knock away enough of the glass to let me through. I went for the stairway, hauling myself up by the handrail. I slammed the stairway door open and almost tripped as I ran headlong for the only open door in the hallway.
Kelsie had one arm around Delucas' neck and she was clawing at his face, but I couldn't get through his apartment fast enough. He broke her grip and clubbed her with the rifle.
I hit him low, throwing my weight into the back of his knees. Wayne DeLucas is twice my size. He's out of shape and I never figured him for a fighter, but I was slow and weak and everything hurt. He went down, but he kicked me in the teeth and then crawled for the gun. Kelsie threw herself on him; he fought her off. He had one hand on the gun before I could reach him. I throwing punches, but I was hurting myself as much as I was hurting him. He fought his way up to his feet, and backhanded Kelsie across the face when she tried to drag him back down. I clung to him and got an elbow in my neck that sent me back down. Now we were both on the floor, and his hand were free to aim the rifle.
He took one step back to give himself room to fire as he leveled the gun at Kelsie's head.
And his back met the balcony rail, throwing him off balance.
And then Kelsie had him by one leg and I had him by the other, and he tumbled. Twenty feet down he hit face-first. Six inches of snow and then asphalt.
"Why him and not me?" It was the last question I should have been worrying about, but I had to ask her.
Kelsie didn't hesitate a moment.
"I knew you were strong enough to fight it, Katy."
Kelsie told me that faith in the Lord would get her through all of the investigations and the questions from the police. I made sure her faith was backed up by a good lawyer.
It took a few days for all the stories to come out, but in the end I think I was told as much as anyone knew. It was quite a night for my friends after I fled 6A and ran into the night. They found signs of the fight by my car, and they had a good idea of who was responsible. The night turned into a running battle between my dormmates and Granite Lodge. Rachael broke a finger punching one of them in the head, and even little Mellie came away with a black eye.
There was a lot of confusion. People got separated. Steph doubled back to the parking lot and got jumped by Joey, Mitch, and Henessey. When it was all over, I ended up beside her in a hospital bed where she assured me she'd given as good as she'd got in that fight.
Joshua got to campus around the time Kelsie was going after DeLucas. Nancy Mateo arrived around dawn when the police were taping off the crime scene and I was being loaded into the ambulance.
Wayne DeLucas broke his neck in the fall and was pronounced dead at the scene. So was Officer Brian Murphy, who'd retired from the Portland, Maine police department to take a job where he'd spent most nights giving rides home to students who'd had too much to drink or making the campus feel a bit safer for women walking back to their dorm rooms after midnight.
Two weeks later, I found that the locks had been changed on Chess Hall's office in Bedford. There was a sticky note on the door:
Go back to being a college student.
I got a pen out of my purse and scribbled my reply:
I enjoyed using your toys, Chess. But I never needed them.
You arrogant son of a bitch.
I thought there would be awkward moments with my friends. What Christina did in my head, it's not gone. But it's distant. Like some late night argument that you wake up unsure of how it ever started. Whatever voices I heard down in those tunnels have faded to a dim noise that I now realize was never mine. My friends are a close as a kind word or a hug, and the moments have stopped slipping away unnoticed. I'm back to making connections, and that's important for good detective work.
There are people out there who feed on our fears and our hopelessness. They isolate a person, cut her off from love and friendship, and take ownership of her hopes, her dreams, every little bit of creative work that she pours a piece of her soul into.
And I'm not just talking about the gossip sites and the dramamongers.
I've learned a lot about myself in the last few weeks, and I think I've learned a little bit about what we're up against. They've grown desperate, because the world has grown interconnected, and the kind of isolation that they rely on is rare these days.
I'm not going to isolate myself for their benefit. That would be letting them win. And I can be stubborn about stuff like that. What can I say? I'm one of the good guys. Time to start acting the part.
So yeah. I'm back. Friends, dramamongers, whoever is out there, I have some stories for you. Because what hurts them most is when they can't get one of us alone.
And you know what? It's the twenty-first century. No one has to be alone anymore.
Thank you for reading.
Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you about the day a woman walked into the office of Chester Hall's detective agency holding a ripped and wrinkled copy of an old pulp magazine.
Story and image by Rick Silva, Copyright 2008