Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 4

“So far,” she reminded him, “we haven’t found a single one who was able to gain information for us by contacting murder victims. I mean an agent. Bonnie did it, but she wasn’t an agent. When she grows up, though-”

“She still has a lot of growing to do. Right now, she’s preoccupied with being a teenager. It’s not the easiest time of life, remember? Especially when you’re gifted.”

“Or cursed. Yeah, I remember. Bonnie aside, the few mediums we’ve found and tried to bring into murder investigations have either been terrified of opening that particular door or else didn’t have enough strength or control to do it in any way helpful to us.”

“Which is another reason you’re teamed with Hollis and why she’s in Hastings. She’s strong enough to handle the work, and her control has been steadily improving.”

“Maybe, but her field experience is zilch. And she’s not ready to open that door, not yet. Strong or not, she’s one of the scared ones. She doesn’t show it, unless you count the chip on her shoulder, but she’s terrified of facing death.”

“Can you blame her? She fought like hell to keep death at bay on her own account hardly more than six months ago. Willingly opening that door and confronting what’s on the other side is going to be the hardest thing she’ll ever have to do.”

“Yeah, which is one reason I don’t think she’s ready for this job, not yet. Look, I’m as sympathetic as anyone about what Hollis has been through, but-”

“She doesn’t need sympathy. She needs to work.”

“She isn’t ready to work, if my opinion counts for anything.”

“She believes she is ready.”

“And what do you believe?” Isabel challenged.

“I believe she needs to work.”

Isabel sighed. “This killer is vicious. The attacks have been vicious. If Hollis is even able to nerve herself to open the door, she’s going to find a hell of a lot of terror and pain barreling through at her.”

“I know.”

“I can’t push her, Bishop.”

“I don’t want you to.”

“Just be here to catch her when she falls?”

“No. Don’t focus on that. It’s not what this is about. You investigate your case. Hollis is intelligent, curious, intuitive, and observant, and that plus the training we’ve given her means she’ll be an asset to the investigation. If she’s able to use her psychic abilities, we’ll find out in a hurry whether she can handle the fallout.”

“And whether I can. She could end up a basket case.”

“Possibly, but don’t count her out. She’s exceptionally strong.” Bishop paused, then added dryly, “The more imperative problem, I’d say, is that this killer you and I are both all too familiar with has noticed you this time around. For all we know, he may remember you. In any case, you’re on his hit list.”

“Damn,” Isabel said.


Friday, June 13, 6:15 AM

HE WOKE UP with blood on his hands.

It wasn’t an instant realization. The alarm was droning on and on, and he had the vague notion that he had overslept. Again. He’d been doing that a lot lately. The bedclothes were tumbled, tangled around him, and it took a considerable amount of effort just to roll himself over and slap at the irritating alarm clock to stop the damned noise.

He froze, hand on the now-silent clock.

His hand was… there was blood.

He pushed himself slowly up on an elbow and looked at his hand, at both hands. Reddish stains covered the palms. Dried stains, not wet. But now that they were close to his face, he could smell the blood, sharp and metallic, so strong it made his stomach heave.

The blood.


He fought his way out of bed and hurried to the bathroom. He stood at the sink, washing his hands over and over until there was no sign of the red. He splashed water on his face, rinsed his mouth, trying to get rid of the sour taste of fear.

He raised his head and stared into the mirror, hands braced on the sink.

A white, haggard face stared back at him.

“Oh, Christ,” he whispered.

8:00 AM

Isabel wasted no time, at the first meeting of the four lead investigators of their combined police and FBI task force, in explaining to Detective Mallory Beck what made the SCU team “special.”

Mallory, like Rafe the previous day, took the news quite calmly, saying only, “I’d call that a pretty unusual sort of unit for the FBI.”

Isabel nodded. “Definitely. And we exist as a unit only as long as we’re successful.”

“Like that, is it? Politics?”

“More or less. Not only are we unconventional in too many ways to count, but the Bureau can’t use us and our success to improve their own image; what we do too often looks like magic or some kind of witchcraft rather than science, and that is not something the FBI wants to publicize no matter how high our success rate is. We’re becoming quietly well known within other law-enforcement organizations because of our successes, but there are still plenty of people inside the Bureau who’d love it if we failed.”

“So you haven’t yet?”

“Debatable point, I suppose.” Isabel pursed her lips. “A few got away. But the successes have far exceeded the failures. If you call them failures.”

“You don’t?”

“We don’t give up easily. Bishop doesn’t give up easily. So… just because a case goes cold doesn’t mean we forget about it or stop working on it. Which brings me back to this case.” She explained their belief that they were dealing with a killer who had terrorized two previous towns and had a dozen murders under his belt even before he came to Hastings.

“I think we’re gonna need a bigger task force,” Mallory said dryly.

Even though he smiled faintly, Rafe’s response was matter-of-fact. “Technically, we have one. Every officer and detective we have will be working on some aspect of the investigation. Overtime, more people to handle the phones, whatever it takes. But only you and I know about Hollis’s and Isabel’s psychic abilities. That’s the way it stays. The last thing I want is for the press to turn this thing into a carnival sideshow.”

“And they will, given the chance,” Isabel said. “We’ve seen it happen before.”

Great, Mallory thought, one more thing I have to hide from Alan. Out loud, she said, “I don’t know much about ESP, unless you count commercials from those psychic hotlines, but I gather neither of you can just I.D. our perp for us like snapping your fingers?”

“Our abilities are just another tool,” Isabel told her. “We use standard investigative techniques like every other cop, at least as much as possible.”

Mallory was more resigned than scornful. “Yeah, I figured that would be the deal.”

“It can’t be too easy,” Hollis said. “The universe has to make us work for everything.”

“So how will your abilities help us, assuming they do?” Mallory asked. “I mean, what specifically is it that you’re able to do?”

“I’m clairvoyant,” Isabel said, explaining the SCU’s definition of the term.

“So you have to touch something or someone to pick up information about them?”

“Touching helps, usually, because it establishes the strongest connection. But I also get information randomly sometimes. That tends to be trivia.”

“For instance?” Mallory was clearly curious.

Without hesitation, Isabel said, “You had a cinnamon bun for breakfast at home this morning and you feel guilty about it.”

Mallory blinked, then looked at Rafe.

“Spooky, isn’t it?” he said.

Mallory cleared her throat and, without commenting on Isabel’s statement, looked at Hollis. “And you?”

“I talk to dead people,” she replied with a wry smile. “Technically, I’m a medium.”

“No shit? That must be… disconcerting.”

“I’m told you get used to it,” Hollis murmured.

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