20 Jan 2017

The Soul Blade - Chapter 17

"Gracie, stop being annoying."
"Ever feel like the world is passing you by?"
"So, if this serial killer of ours was following a pattern, she'd be going after mousy brunettes with hormonal problems."
"I still need my big sis."
The women broke out of their group hug and started walking to the parking lot.  Brenna and Grace returned to the lavender Savana while Missy and Krista went to the latter's Toyota Tercel.  As they left, Brenna brought her van in behind the Tercel, keeping Krista in sight as they drove down to the beach.  After a few minutes, the vehicles were parked close to where Missy thought the murder happened.  The tall blonde led the group to the public showers.  Police tape crossed the entrances to both the men's and women's side.  "Must be the place," Missy said.

"Everyone keep watch," Brenna said.  She closed her eyes and let her focus shift.  When she reopened them, her friends basic nature was open to her.  Her sister, on the other hand, was muted, as usual.  The ocean appeared as completely black to Brenna, though the swimmer and sun worshipers stood out.  Brenna turned her attention to the taped-off building.

Nothing surprised Brenna from the building's residual auras.  The showers weren't used long enough by anyone to really pick up much more than a smattering of the basics.  Most people going in and out were happy; being at the beach tended to mellow people out, relax them.  A few had worries that only the traces of were found.  Hints of lust from people looking for a quickie twisted through the aura, but nothing Brenna could follow, even is she wanted to.  "Nothing," she reported.  "At least from here."

Missy took the young brunette's hand.  "He was found in a shower stall according to the paper.  They're along the wall."  She led Brenna around the corner.

"Wait!  There!"  Brenna pointed at a section of wall that, to her sight, was blank, sterile like the office was.  "That's it."

Krista looked over at the wall.  "I don't see a difference."

"It's wiped, though," Brenna said.  "Just like the office.  It's the same person."

"You're sure?" Grace asked.

"Positive, Gracie."

"I'm convinced," Krista said.  "Too bad my editor won't accept Brenna's word.  But, I can still do the interview, right?"

"Hang on."  Missy let go of Brenna.  "Bren, could you, you know, read the wall and find out how this woman is killing everyone?"

"I suppose."  Brenna took a deep breath.  "I mean, sure, I could try reading the wall, but I'll be watching the murder.  It's not that pleasant."

"It might help prevent another killing, though," Krista said.  "If I could get the story published with how it happened without going through the police.  I can just call you a source."

"All right, I'll try."  Brenna walked over to the sterilized section of wall.  Taking off her glove, she pressed her right hand against the wall and concentrated.  Normally, images of events that happened in the building would flood into Brenna's mind.  This time, though . . . "Nothing."

"Nothing?" Grace repeated.  "Like, what, a dead TV channel?"

"Not even that.  Just nothing.  Blank.  Not there."

Missy shrugged.  "Whatever sterilized the shower might have erased that bit.  What if you tried somewhere else."

"The door!" Krista said.  "Everyone has to go in and out the door."

"Unless you're in the boys' dorm after hours at camp," Missy said.

Krista's cheeks turned light pink.  "I can't believe you still remember that."

"Remember?  I still have the photos."

Brenna cleared her vision, returning to seeing reality.  She walked over to the doors.  "Which side?"

"Duh, Bren," Grace said, "the men's."

Steeling herself, Brenna laid her bare hand on the men's door.  She closed her eyes and concentrated.  In her vision, she saw men of all ages and sizes going in and out.  One man in particular caught her attention.  Brenna slowed the flow of events to watch him as he changed.  Her palms became sweaty; her breathing quickened.  "Oh, wow . . ." she breathed.

"Brenna!"  Grace's voice sounded so far away.  "Brenna, are you okay?"

"Mmm . . ."  Brenna forced herself to break away from her interest as he entered the shower.  "Yeah, fine."  The flow of events picked up again.

"What was it?" Krista asked.

"Just . . . just saw a cute guy."

"Not now, Brenna," Grace said in a stern tone.  "You got me worried there."

Brenna tuned her friends out.  She recognized the victim from his photo in the paper.  She slowed the flow down, watched the good looking young man as he talked to someone Brenna couldn't see.  Whoever it was had to be on the sand.  The young man entered the change room, looked around, then returned outside.  He then lead--

The vision disappeared.  Brenna froze.  Her mind was surrounded by a void.  She felt a tug leading her deeper into the nothingness.  Unable to resist, she followed, letting herself be pulled along.  Something went wrong, horribly, somewhere, but Brenna couldn't figure it out.

From somewhere, Brenna couldn't tell where, someone called her name.  Two someones, getting more frantic.  Brenna tried to call back but found herself frozen, held.  A third voice called out.  Brenna recognized her sister but hadn't heard her like that.  Grace's voice sounded panicked, truly scared.

A heavy weight ran into her.  The void tore away.  Brenna cried out without words.  She struggled to get her bearings, then fell into the sand.  A body landed on top of her, knocking the breath out of the young brunette.  "Brenna!" Grace yelled, almost in the woman's ear.

"Ow, Grace, not so loud."  Brenna tried to sit up, then realized her sister was partially on her.  "Get up."

"Brenna!"  Grace rolled on to the sand.  "Don't ever do that to us again!"  She smacked her older sister's shoulder.

"Gracie!"  Brenna rubbed her shoulder.  Her body felt sore.

Missy and Krista ran over.  "Brenna, are you okay?" her tall friend asked.

"You just froze there," Krista added.

Brenna closed her eyes to try to clear her thoughts.  "I'm okay.  Sore.  I saw the poor guy go in, look around, return, then . . . " Brenna paused, trying to find the right word.  "Nothing.  A whole lot of nothing.  But something was pulling me."  With Missy's help, Brenna got back to her feet.  She felt her left side, checking for broken bones.  "Why does my side hurt?"

"Sorry, Brenna."  Grace brushed the sand off her clothes.  "I couldn't think of anything else.  We tried to pull you off, but you were completely locked up."

"Locked up?"

"You went stiff," Krista explained.  "Grace tackled you.  Are you okay?"

Brenna tried to wipe off the sand from her jeans.  "A little sore.  I think I landed on my back."

"What do you think, Bren?" Missy asked.  "What do we do now?"

"I think we have to find this woman," Brenna said.  "She's dangerous."

"How?" Krista asked.  "Bren, the police can't even find her."

"I don't know."

"Maybe if we sat down and worked on it, we'll figure something out," Grace suggested.  "Find a bar, have a few drinks, and see what we can come up with."

Brenna held up a hand.  "No bar.  My morning dose isn't working anymore."

"My place, then," Missy offered.  "No one's going to bother us there."

"Sure," Krista said.  "Hey, mind if I crash there tonight?  My paper's expecting me to stay with family.  Mom and Dad moved to Arizona last year, though."

"Not a problem.  Brenna, you remember where I live, right?"

"Yeah.  I won't get lost."  Brenna started back to her van.  "See you in a few minutes."

Grace hurried to catch up.  Brenna unlocked the van's doors, then climbed in.  As she put on her glove again, she heard Grace closing the passenger door.  Without looking, the older Halliday girl said, "You knew what was coming."


"Don't pretend, Grace.  You saw what was going to happen tonight."

"Okay, and if I did?"

Brenna reached over and hugged her sister.  "Thanks."

"Brenna, people can see us."  Despite her protests, Grace returned the hug.  "I'm not letting some bitch take my sister away from me."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Grace sighed.  "Because you never want to believe me.  And sometimes, no matter what I do, the future happens."

Brenna let her sister go and sat straight in the driver's seat.  "But you came tonight."

"Yeah.  What I saw was you locking up, then your friends getting stuck to you as they tried to pull you off.  By the time someone even noticed you, it was too late.  You'd be alive, but . . .."

"But?" Brenna prompted.

"There'd be no you there.  Missy and Krista, they would be in worse shape.  Comas.  At least you could walk and eat and respond to everyone.  But the core you was gone, Bren."  Grace wiped away tears gathering at the corner of her eye.

"I'm here, though, Gracie, thanks to you."  Brenna gave Grace a moment to compose herself.  "Did you see who was doing all of this?"

"No.  Christ, Brenna, I've been able to see the murder victims just before they die, but never the killer.  It started after you went out of town last week."

"Oh, Gracie."

Grace leaned back on the headrest.  "I'm surprised I didn't see you get attacked.  Maybe it's because you didn't die."

"Are you going to be okay?"

"Fuck, no.  But, we go on.  We must go on.  We have to find the bitch who attacked you and killed that guy last night and stop her."

Brenna started the van.  "Did you see anything else?"

Grace shook her head.  "No.  Nothing past my graduation.  Hell, not even that."  The young blonde shrugged.  "No idea what that means, but I don't like it.  I can usually at least see which beaches have the best looking guys on it for Fourth of July by now."

"Right."  Brenna put the van into first gear and started making her way to Missy's home.  "Is that what you use your ability for?"

"Also good for avoiding traffic jams."  Grace rolled her eyes.  "I do what I can, okay?  I see a deadly traffic accident, and I try to cut off the guy who causes it, you know, to delay him.  And it works.  But I can't control all the variables.  Sometimes, instead of dying, someone gets confined to a wheelchair.  Or gets hit crossing the street instead.  And then I wonder why I bothered.  And that's why I've been out drinking every night since you got home.  If I can't stop the murders, why am I seeing them?"

"Maybe you can?  Maybe we can?  Grace, there has to be a reason we have these stupid abilities."

"I don't know, Bren.  Not anymore."

Brenna let the van roll to a stop in front of Missy's building.  She saw Missy and Krista waiting at the front door.  "Ready, Grace?"

Next Week:

"Oh, Missy, our little Bren is growing up."
"Okay, if we can't talk to the police and can't find this woman, what can we do?"
"'Hi, your killer is a woman mystically cleaning crime scenes after her murders."
"You guys stay there, away from me."

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