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Marcus Bradley, coated in a cold sweat, woke from a terrible dream. It wasn't the first time this type of dream had haunted his sleep, nor did he think it would be the last. In fact, the one thing he knew for certain was that the dreams would never stop. Not unless people stopped killing other people. And all throughout history there have been murderers and victims. He didn't think it would stop now.
Marcus looked at the clock on the nightstand. It read quarter to five in the morning. He wanted nothing more than to roll over and go back to sleep, but once he was awake, Marcus was awake. He groped blindly for his eyeglasses and managed to knock a book and the television remote off the nightstand in the process. As the remote hit the floor, the TV popped on. It was an infomercial for kitchen knives that could cut through canned goods. He laughed at the absurdity of that type of culinary tool for the average homemaker, when his mind suddenly flashed back to the dream.
His breath caught in his throat as the vision returned to him. Marcus instinctively opened a drawer on the nightstand and pulled out a pad of paper and pen. He began to write down what he was seeing.
"A woman. Young. Early-thirties. Multiple stab wounds to chest and abdomen. Young girl. Eight, maybe nine. Decapitated. Body hidden in bushes behind house."
He gasped for breath as the remnants of the dream faded from his mind.
The infomercial now showed a pasta pot with a built-in strainer. He stood and turned off the television, then went downstairs to make coffee. He brought his notes with him, and the telephone.
As the coffee maker began dripping dark beads ofliquid into the pot, Marcus sat at the kitchen table with the phone still in his hands. It was far too early to call Jennifer at home, and he didn't dare call 9-1-1 about his dream. The last time he did that he spent the night in jail. The officers who picked him up didn't appreciate driving to his house to hear about what happened in his dreams. But, he never would have met Jennifer Paxton if he hadn't made that call.
Jennifer was a young, dark-skinned detective with the Boston Police Department. After a quick stint in the Army after high school, she turned her attention toward the police academy. She graduated near the top of her class and slowly worked her way up the traditionally male-dominated world of detective work. Having grown up on the tough streets of Mattapan only made her resolve for fighting crime that much stronger. Plus, it gave her a chance to work crimes in an area she was intimately familiar with and make the city safer in the meantime.
Marcus learned most of this about her during their first meeting, in an interrogation room at the police station. She never actually told him about her past; he gleaned that information when she grasped his hands while removing his handcuffs. Clairvoyance was another little gift he had–one that usually scared him more than the visions. At least the visions generally involved crimes about to happen or recently committed. When Marcus read someone's mind, or delved into their mind, which was a better way to put it, he never knew what he might find–or when.
After she uncuffed him, he proclaimed his innocence, then proved to her his peculiar ability, something he never did. Marcus wasn't sure if she believed him or not, but since he had done nothing wrong aside from waste the State's time and resources, Jennifer let him go with a warning. Before he left the building, however, she gave him his card with a phone number scrawled hastily on the back. He didn't have to be psychic to know that she wanted to discuss what he had seen.
A few phone calls, a luncheon meeting, and one prevented murder later, Marcus was instructed to call Jennifer anytime he had a vision. He usually waited until a decent hour to do so, of course, unless he felt it couldn't wait.
Looking at the kitchen clock hanging above the stove, then at the phone again, he decided this could wait another hour or so. The smell of the freshly brewed coffee opened his eyes and he shuffled to the fridge to get some cream. Today was going to be a long day, and without his coffee, Marcus was a bear.
As he sat at the kitchen table with the light of the breaking day spilling through the windows above the sink, he sipped his coffee and thought. He must have had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these types of dreams, so why did this one continue to linger in his mind. Marcus went through the dream again, without the notes upstairs, and came to the same conclusion each time. There was nothing different about this dream except who was being killed and who was doing the killing. The pattern was exactly like all the others in the way he perceived it. Why didn't he accept it?
He was working his second cup of coffee when the phone rang, nearly causing him to drop it in surprise. He fumbled for the "Talk" button and pushed it on.
"Hello?" His voice was raspy from sleep and coffee. "This is Marcus Bradley."
"Marcus," a woman's voice answered. "This is Jennifer." She sounded anxious, almost panicky.
"I was going to call you, but I thought it was too early–"
"There's been a murder."
Marcus paused, waiting for her to continue. When she didn't, he asked tentatively. "A mother and child?"
Jennifer exhaled loudly. "Yeah. Hacked up pretty good, too."
"In the bedrooms, right?"
"You saw it?"
Marcus sighed and his shoulders slumped. He was too late. "Yeah, I saw it a few minutes ago."
"I have to go to the crime scene right now, but I'll come by later to take down what you have."
"Way ahead of you. I wrote down what I saw already."
"Good. I'll see in a little while then."
She hung up. For a few seconds, Marcus listened to the dial tone before pushing the OFF button. He stared at the table and sipped his coffee. This was the first time he had failed to at least alert Jennifer of what was going to happen. Maybe that was what made this vision different.
He dragged himself upstairs and into the shower, mentally preparing for Jennifer's arrival. She was a tough woman when she wanted to be, but Marcus had the feeling today she would be even worse. A double murder had been committed right under her nose, right under his nose, and now it was her responsibility to clean it up.
After toweling himself dry, he walked to the nightstand to review his notes. It was always like looking at someone else's writing when he did this. The chicken-scratch scrawl describing the most horrible of nightmares. Sometimes the shock of what he wrote, of what he saw in his dreams and visions, was enough to make him stay awake for days. If he wasn't asleep, he couldn't dream. It didn't matter though, because eventually Marcus saw exactly what was going to happen anyway. And, like it or not, it was his self-imposed job to help prevent these crimes from happening. Only now he had failed.
Marcus threw on a pair of loose-fitting jeans and a gray dress shirt before heading downstairs again. It was now six-thirty. The newspaper was waiting for him on the front steps and the headlines thankfully didn't have anything about the murder–yet. The afternoon version no doubt would have an update of the day's events, which included his little double murder case. Marcus scanned the Sports section and saw that the Bruins and Celtics had both won last night. Then it was off to the Comics, where he read his horoscope and tried to figure out the "Whazzit." Five minutes of failure prompted him to skip to the answer. Finally, he folded the paper and decided to see if the television had anything on about the murder. He had to know what had happened, what had gone wrong.
Copyright © 2005 by M. J. Konevich