(coming soon from Solstice Publishing!)
As a Certified Mental Health Therapist, Scott Reid has his share of interesting experiences, though nothing compares with the time he spends with the psychic, Alex Elson. Plagued by terrifying images and dreams, Alex turns to Doctor Reid in the hopes of learning to control his visions. Instead, Scott is pulled into Alex’s world, where dreams and reality mix and nightmares are real.
Two young men, brothers, have been abducted from the lake outside of Oakton without a trace of who took them. That is, until Alex receives a silver pocket watch in the mail belonging to the elder brother, a taunt from the kidnapper for Alex to come find them. Alex’s visions turn at once into nightmares. Images flash in his mind of an abandoned well and a terrified, lonely boy slowly dying at the bottom. The shed looms close by, holding a horrifying secret, a dark place Alex’s frightened mind refuses to go.
With the help of Scott Reid, Alex endeavors to control his visions and find the brutalized victims before death claims them. But the watch is ticking away and time’s running out.
“Hey Alex…” Justin’s voice trailed off, and he put the coffee pot on the warmer and went over to him when the man didn’t respond. Scott joined them, leaving his computer on the table as he passed. Alex’s eyes were wide, unfocused as he stared out the window. His breath came quickly and sweat beaded his forehead.
“What do you see?” Scott asked, voice mild, placid.
“It’s hot here. Grass is dry.” Alex’s whispered words sent a shiver through Scott. He sounded…detached. “The forest is dark across the way. Crows circle above the trees.”
“Alex, where are you right now?” Scott made the question a demand.
A shudder ran Alex’s lean frame. “I’m in your office, Dr. Reid. I see the garden through the window. But I’m also here, in this empty field. Talk to me! I want to come away from here.”
Scott touched his hand. “Come home, Alex.”
“It’s hard. Something’s drawing me to the forest. God! I don’t want to go in there.”
“Jane would want you to come home,” Scott said firmly, using the ace up his sleeve. For a second he didn’t think even the deep love Alex had for his wife could draw
him back, but then he blinked his eyes into focus, and gave Scott a slight smile.
“Thank you. That’s a terrible place.”
“Is it a real place, do you think?”
Alex’s expression turned bleak. “Yes,” he whispered. “The crows were the ones from my dream this morning, and they had this.” He pulled the soft cloth holding the silver watch from a pocket and showed it to Scott. “It came in the mail a few days ago. No note. And now it shows up in my dreams. There’s a connection…somehow.”
He turned the watch over and showed Scott the engraving on the back. “There’s a picture of a man and woman inside as well, but no way to identify them.” Alex made a discouraged sound. “Who would send this to me? God, Scott, I don’t want go through this again. Can you make it stop?”
Scott drew a quick breath, feeling panicked, out of his depth. Was Art Peters right? Could he help this special man or would he cause even more emotional damage? He swallowed a sigh. There was no one else and Alex desperately needed hope to keep him sane during the madness of his visions.
He exchanged a look with Justin, who poured them all coffee while Scott pulled a chair from the table for Alex. Alex sat and tangled a hand in his hair, dragging the bangs down to cover his eyes. He snorted when Scott brushed them to the side as he sat beside him.
“Janie doesn’t let me hide, either. I suppose you want details.”
“If you feel up to it.”
“Hell with that.” Justin took the chair opposite Alex and leaned toward him, saying firmly,
Alex nodded. “The dreams are different but I’m sure it’s the same place. In this one I was standing in that field looking at the forest. The one this morning, I was in the forest.”
“And?” Justin prompted when Alex stopped and they watched a shiver run through him.
“And the crows led me along a dark path. I smelled something rotten, found a child’s grave. And something else. An old shed that terrified me for some reason.”
Justin’s eyes narrowed. “What are you leaving out?”
“Hell, Justin! Let me tell this my own way.”
Scott watched the two friends. Alex glared, clearly furious, but Justin gave him a cool look in return, unruffled. Slowly the flush left Alex’s face, leaving it pale, his blue eyes enormous. “Bastard,” he muttered, but his voice lacked heat. “The child tugs at me. The grave would suggest he’s dead, but I don’t think so. Oh fuck, Justin. I thought it was over! I thought I could give Jane a normal life, be a good husband to her. If the visions are coming back…”
Alex covered his trembling lips and looked away from them. Scott’s heart squeezed with pity but before he could say anything Justin slammed his hand on the table, making them jump.
“We’re not playing it this way, Alex,” Justin informed him. “You tried to push us away two months ago. You’re trying again. Pre-emptive strike. But I’m not going for it. I know Jane won’t either. Now man up and we’ll see what the good doctor here suggests we do next.”
Scott blinked as two sets of eyes turned to him, hope in one, caution in Justin’s. What did they expect him to do? He wasn’t a detective. He couldn’t solve a crime, if any had been committed. The pain when he bit too hard on his bottom lip recalled him from the edge of panic.
“First things, Alex,” he said gently. “Just now at the window, did anything warn you that a vision was coming on?”
The strain left Alex’s face and he tilted his head, thoughtful. “I think so. These last few times I’ve noticed that everything becomes clearer, more focused, sometimes almost painfully bright.”
“Any scents involved? A certain odor?”
Alex looked startled, then shook his head. “I don’t think so, though I can smell as well as touch the things in the vision, as if I’m really there.”
“Maybe you are,” Justin put in.
It was Scott’s turn to be surprised by an idea, but Alex scoffed. “Hardly, Justin! Let’s not add astral projection to my weirdness.”
“You’re not weird,” Scott and Justin said in unison, then the three of them burst out laughing, easing the tension that had been building in the room.