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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 9

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“Interesting possibilities,” Mallory agreed. “Okay. Grab your flashlight and let’s check it out.”

Isabel turned her gaze to the bulletin boards across the room, which had, Rafe noted, acquired what looked like canvas drop cloths that could be conveniently lowered to cover the boards whenever unauthorized persons were present.

The cloths were lowered now, presumably because Alan had been in the room.

Absently, she said, “Mallory thought the drop cloths would be a good idea, so she fixed them. We can keep the boards covered most of the time, unless we’re in here working. Less chance of too much information leaking out.”

“Isabel? Could a visionary killer gain control over his voices for years between killing sprees? Could he live normally during those years?”

“That would be… unusual.”

“But would it be possible? Could it be? Are we dealing with a killer who really isn’t responsible-at least legally-for what he’s doing?”

“That might depend on the trigger-and the reason or reasons behind all this.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean the human mind, the human psyche, is a very complicated beast. Generally speaking, it knows how to protect itself, or the most fragile aspects of itself. If he’s hearing voices or seeing visions, and they’re commanding him to do things utterly alien to his nature, then sure-he could forget about them the moment the voices or visions stop.”

“For years on end?”

“Maybe. And then something happens in his life to trigger this psychosis, and his sick and twisted alter ego comes out to play.”

“For six weeks. Six women. Six murders.”

“The number, the time period, both have to be relevant, either tied to an event somewhere in his past or tied to the psychosis. To his voices.”

“Which is your guess?”

Isabel thought for a moment, then said, “Childhood. The majority of the traumas that affect us most deeply occur in childhood. It’s when we’re most vulnerable.”

“What about the idea that he’s schizophrenic?”

“There are schizophrenics able to function, with medication and other treatment. No pharmacy within a hundred miles has filled a prescription for the sort of medication that would be needed.”

Rafe lifted his brows. “Already checked that out?”

“Well, the profile noted the possibility of schizophrenia, so it seemed prudent. An inquiry from the Bureau tends to carry a bit of weight, and since we weren’t asking for specific patient information or identification, all the pharmacies were happy to cooperate.”

“Okay. So we can be pretty sure he isn’t being treated for schizophrenia.”

“Which doesn’t rule out him having it. Or that he’s getting psychiatric treatment without medication. We haven’t checked with doctors.”

“Because they wouldn’t disclose the information.”

“Not willingly. They have a responsibility to report it if they believe a patient has committed or is about to commit a violent crime, but that sort of treatment can take years before the doctor truly begins to understand his or her patient.”

“And understand what the voices are making him do.”

“Exactly. In any case, my guess is that our guy isn’t getting treatment of any kind. Whether he’s aware of being sick is an open question; whether he knows what he’s done is another one. From the information we’ve gathered so far, there’s just no way to be certain.”

“Earlier, you said some schizophrenics were, literally, possessed by another person, another soul trying to take over. Is that possible in this case?”

Isabel shook her head. “So far, we’ve never encountered a person in that condition who wasn’t in a mental institution and under restraints or drugged into a stupor. We don’t believe such a person could function normally under any conditions-far less something like this. There’s just too much violence going on in the brain itself to allow even the appearance of normalcy.”

“And our killer appears normal.”

“Yes. No matter how screwed up his childhood may have been, or how many voices he might be listening to, he’s able to function normally to all outward appearances.”

After a moment, Rafe said, “I think I’d prefer an evil killer who knows exactly what he’s doing, sick as it is. At least then it would be…”

“Simpler,” she agreed wryly. “Black and white, no shades of gray. No agonizing over who or what is really responsible. No reason to hesitate or regret. But you know as well as I do that it’s seldom that easy.”

“Yeah. As Hollis said, the universe never seems to want to play it that way. Listen… we aren’t talking about a psychic killer, are we?”

“Christ, I hope not.” With a sigh, she returned her gaze to his face. “True visionary killers are delusional, Rafe. They believe they hear the voices of demons or the voice of God. They’re being commanded to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, for reasons the sane among us would find completely nuts. They aren’t psychic; what they’re experiencing isn’t real except inside their own twisted minds.”


IT HADN’T TAKEN ALAN long to find the information he was looking for on Jack the Ripper, and he was somewhat chagrined to see just how much information was readily available via the Internet on the case.

Just as Isabel had said.

She hadn’t exactly thrown a gauntlet at his feet, but Alan nevertheless felt challenged to somehow best the federal agent. And Rafe, of course. It would be nice, he thought, to get the upper hand with Rafe.

Just once, for Christ’s sake.

The problem was, Alan hardly had access to the sort of databases of information the police and feds could command. But there was one thing he did have, and that was knowledge of this town and its people.

The question was, could he use that?

He wasn’t able to speak to Mallory as he left the station, since she wasn’t there, so he didn’t know whether to expect a visit from her tonight. After last night, he figured he probably wouldn’t see her for days; whenever she showed him any signs of vulnerability-falling asleep in his arms would definitely be listed in that column, he knew-she tended to retreat for a while both literally and figuratively.

In any case, he had learned the hard way not to plan his days or nights around her. He got in his car at the station and checked his watch, debating silently, then started the car.

It was time he tapped all his sources.

4:45 PM

Rafe had a hunch Isabel’s explanation contained a but, so he asked. “But?”

“But… we’ve encountered serial killers before who also happened to be psychic, so the two aren’t exactly mutually exclusive. In fact, some researchers believe that serial killers and psychics have something in common: an unusual amount of electromagnetic energy in the brain.”

“Which means?”

“Which means we are or could be kindred spirits, scary as that sounds. The excess energy in a psychic seems to activate an area of the brain most people don’t appear to use, an area we believe controls psychic abilities. The energy in a serial killer tends to sort of go wild, building up in different areas of the brain, especially in the rage center, and since it has no way to be channeled, you end up with synapses misfiring right and left. Burned-out or overloaded areas of the brain could trigger the compulsion to kill.”

“So that’s one theory.”

“One of many. And that theory holds something else to be a possibility. That a serial murderer can also become psychic. Which comes first in that case, the psychic ability or the insanity, is still an open and much debated question.”

“Does it matter?”

“Well, yeah, for some of us.” Her voice was light. “I hear voices, Rafe, remember?”

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