Chapter 1 - Sight
Lynn screamed, clutching her head between her hands as anguish poured from her spirit with the intensity of an animal in torment. The pressure failed to arrest the terrors of her mind but eased the misery of helplessly seeing fate unfold.
“No,” she whispered hoarsely, struggling to get to her feet. She had no idea why she was in the hallway or how she got there. The last thing she remembered was being curled up on the couch.
Earlier, she saw Death entering the room of a boy. It lurked in the shadows with ugly hollow eyes saturated with darkness, reaching out with clawed hands to steal an innocent soul, and wearing a human face beneath its guise. Her connection with the victim grew stronger, her visions crossing the barrier between metaphor and truth.
It did not matter how intensely she wished her abilities away or how hard she pushed them from her mind and dreams—they always returned. They were the one constant in her life. Her cross.
The harder she fought to ignore her gift, the more it tormented her, and it worsened with each episode until it consumed her, or she gave in to its demands.
The innocent child’s terror filled her mind with loss, fear, guilt, and the familiar images he remembered. His accusing eyes followed her everywhere. She knew it was a fabrication her mind created to play on her conscience and unwillingness to expose herself, but it worked.
“Shit! Enough!” she groaned, half angry and endlessly tired.
The flashing visions almost shattered her mind before stopping abruptly. Her insides shook with terror not entirely her own, and she could not loosen herself from the icy sensation of The Abyss. She shuddered, locking her arms around herself.
“Thank God,” she said, slumping against the wall.
She forced her tired body to walk to the kitchen and filled the kettle, hoping hot tea might warm her insides. She retrieved a cup from the dishwasher with trembling fingers and fumbled for a spoon in the dish rack, and, flinching, rubbed her temple with her thumb.
“Come on, boil,” she encouraged the kettle, restlessly tapping her foot as she rested with her hand on the counter.
She had blocked the images from her mind for too long, and it brought her gift back in full force to haunt her with merciless insistence, she admitted bitterly. Why did she never learn? She wondered.
When she resisted her gift, the experience sometimes continued for days until she collapsed from exhaustion. Her visions would grow more potent, more intense, detailed, and terrifying until only the conscious choice to act would end her suffering.
Lynn remembered her helplessness as she had watched her mother fight against this accursed “gift” for years until it sent Angela careening over the edge of sanity. The memory made her heart ache.
Angela’s ability had possessed an erratic inconsistency bordering on chaos. Her visions sometimes appeared irrational, surreal, and nonsensical, but a moment later, she would speak truths that scared Lynn. She wished she could have helped her mother.
Lynn’s own visions were seldom distinct and often needed translation in those early days, never achieving the same startling intensity she acquired over time. She had not slept much, and she rubbed her aching neck.
Back then, images plagued her; thoughts, ideas, and persistent feelings. She often ignored these things until the horrible, lonely night when she had stepped over the line, and everything changed. Lynn instinctively wanted to avoid the thought and its destination but didn’t allow herself the luxury. The truth often hurt, but it also healed.
That night had forced her to start over and helped her escape her former life to claw a new existence from this unforgiving world.
She had built a reality without Tommy and a life without their… she stifled the painful memory, briefly closing her eyes and taking a deep, soothing breath. Some truths hurt too much, and there were wounds so deep they never quite healed.
Her uncle Barry often says, “One cannot outrun your past—it always comes back to confront or haunt you. Just like you cannot flee from your memories because you take them with you.” She would be the first to admit that his wisdom and knack for being right often saved her from doing the wrong thing.
More than resistance and dread made her reluctant to resurrect the past. She had avoided the acute agony and guilt that turned her heart into a block of ice for the longest time, and she had fought it tooth and nail, refusing to end up as her mother had.
The promise she once made to herself that this “affliction” would have no place in her life seemed to have empowered her “gift” instead of ridding her of it. It governed her every choice and limited her friendships, keeping her isolated from the world in a sense. It was a secret she did not share, and it turned her life into a lie.
She had avoided its effects for most of her life, but her disregard cost her everything she held dear, turning remorse and anguish into constant companions… even intimate friends. She scoffed.
The kettle’s whistle startled her, and she almost dropped the cup.
“Shit,“ she cussed again and shook her head.
Over the last ten years, nothing brought her the peace she had hoped to find, and this admission tormented her. She poured the water and spilled some, grabbing a towel to wipe it off.
“Damn it!” she was too tired to deal with minor irritations.
Lynn brewed her tea with slow, methodical movements, hoping to distract herself. Picking up the cup, she held it for a moment to warm her hands before blowing on the scalding liquid and taking a careful sip. Perfect.
She hoped it would ease the icy coldness inside her, but it had settled in her soul—an echo of the frigid ground where the killer… The thought shuddered to a halt in her mind, and with a defeated sigh, she set it free.
A bone-deep chill invaded her body, as unforgiving as the solid ground where the predator buried his victim. The walls closed in, threatening to suffocate her, and panic drove her past the last tattered vestiges of inner peace. Without another thought, she emptied the cup into the sink and rinsed it before placing it upside down on the drying rack.
She made her way to the foyer, snatching her coat and scarf from the antique rack next to the door, grabbed her keys, and shoved her wallet in her pocket as she left the safety of her house.
Once outside, Lynn sensed the coming storm in the telltale bite the air had acquired since noon. The snow would settle on the ground before nightfall, as it had done for the last five nights, she realized. The plummeting temperatures would turn the ground rock-hard, and she was running out of time.
She fished the gloves from her pocket to protect her cooling hands. A part of her lay entombed beneath the snow with the child, and the sensation settled into her core, not allowing her to change her mind. She squared her shoulders and strode off with her hands in her pockets.
If she wanted to make it stop, she would have to tell the police again, but this time in person. They had to listen and take her seriously, and without making a conscious decision, she found herself outside the police station where Barry worked. She hesitated outside. Why did it feel as if her body belonged to someone else? She wondered, shivering. She should have taken her beanie; her ears were freezing.
Confronted with the reality of what she had to do, Lynn wanted to flee. Despite her utter aversion to the consequences of her choice, she climbed the steps, faltering with her hand on the door.
If she walked inside and told her truth, it would change everything, and there would be no turning back. Her revelation will rip her comfortable existence asunder, costing her everything she had built for herself.
Lynn’s rational mind shouted for her to leave, but her weary body and exhausted psyche only wanted the torment to stop.