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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 6

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"I saw it come from behind those oak trees," Sherlock said, pointing, "moving slowly, hesitantly, like it didn't know where it wanted to go. But look now, it's moving fast, in a straight line to the senator's bedroom window."

Savich said, "I'd hoped it would come down from the roof."

"Easier to yank up, you mean? For the instant vanishing act?"

"It seems the easiest way for human hands to control it." Savich raised his cell phone, zoomed in, and snapped several pictures of the apparition fast approaching the second-floor bedroom window. They watched it close in, then simply hang there a moment before it began moving about, billowing, then dancing up and down.

"You know it's got to be human hands, Dillon, given that enthusiastic performance," Sherlock whispered. "I'd say a standard-size pillowcase, like the senator said, a whole lot of thread count, very fine material, probably Italian."

"Let's go find how they're doing this," Savich said, took her hand, and turned into the woods. They stopped cold at odd huffing sounds from behind them, like someone trying to breathe, Savich thought, like the senator's dying wife trying to breathe. It seemed to be coming from the house. The senator had nailed the sound.

"There must be some wires, something." Sherlock adjusted her night-vision goggles. She always kept her feet planted on terra firma. "I'll bet you're thinking it's someone in the family, too, admit it. Family-it's depressing. Cursed money, it's behind too much bad in this world.

"I'm glad whoever's behind this believed it was just fine to perform tonight. I don't see a wire or anything, do you, Dillon?"

They stood quietly at the spot where the apparition had floated out of the woods, staring up, looking for a wire, anything. "Not yet," he whispered.

As she scanned the trees, she whispered back, "I wonder how the person responsible for this ghost performance plans to get the senator's money? Surely he or she doesn't expect the senator to die of fright or run screaming to an asylum, so they can pronounce him incompetent? And why would he flip out now if he hasn't already? Why keep it up? Sounds like a real long shot to me."

They combed through the oak and maple trees. No wire in sight.

"So it's a very fine wire, or could the whole thing be radio controlled? But it has to originate from somewhere, somewhere in sight," she said.

Savich opened the back gate that gave onto the small access road at the back of the property. When they'd left the senator's house that morning, they'd checked the area behind the property. They saw only the same two crushed empty beer cans, the same half-dozen cigarette butts.

There was no sign of anyone or any sort of vehicle, no sign of any mechanism they could see orchestrating the flight of the dancing pillowcase.

"I don't get it," Sherlock said. "Where is it?"

Savich paused, became perfectly still and focused. He heard the sounds of the night-a single owl hooting, crickets and cicadas clicking, rustling bushes as small animals moved through. He became aware of the air, warm and soft against his skin, an early fall feel to it, promising change, but not here just yet. Then suddenly the air seemed curiously charged, like a live wire sparking against his cheek. The air seemed to have tangible weight now, physically pushing against him. Now what was this all about? Then the air stilled and became warm once again, and he would swear the sounds of the small varmints scurrying around in the woods became louder.

They walked back toward the house, but saw nothing. It was gone. He whispered against Sherlock's ear, her curly hair tickling his mouth, "I'm thinking this whole thing has nothing at all to do with the senator's wastrel sons. I think it's about something else entirely."

"You think it's maybe some sort of hologram? But who's projecting it, and from where?"

He shook his head against her hair. "No, our manifestation isn't a hologram."

"Please, Dillon, don't tell me you think it's really woo woo."

"Well, there's something different happening here," Savich said, and kissed her ear. "We'll just have to see."

Sherlock rubbed her arms even though the night was warm. "You think it's the dead wife, don't you? You think it's Nikki?"

He nodded. "I felt as if something or someone is trying to communicate. It would seem the senator isn't able to understand. But it keeps trying. His wife, Nikki? Maybe."

Sherlock said, "But we're here and it was here as well. If it is Nikki, you think she came because she thought you could help? You'd recognize who and what she was?"

"All good questions. It's been over fifteen minutes, and there's nothing here now. Let's go home."

"Dillon, there's something I don't understand." She was frowning toward the senator's bedroom window.

He waited, his fingers rubbing the back of her hand.

"I would expect you to see it. But what about me? I've never seen anything. But I saw it too, clear as day."

"So did the senator."




Monday morning

Savich was wide awake at two a.m., listening to Sherlock's even breathing, wondering if a ghost was going to come tell him a story.

Nikki, where are you? I saw you, you let both Sherlock and me see you. Were you trying to tell me something about the senator? Is there some sort of trouble heading his way?

There was nothing from Nikki.

He finally fell into a surprisingly deep sleep and didn't stir until the alarm went off at six-thirty a.m.

He opened his eyes to see Sherlock, on her elbow above him, staring down at him. He shook his head. She leaned down to kiss him when-

"Papa, Mama, you're still in bed! Gabby will be here soon and I've got to be ready for her to take me to the Gumby Exhibition."

The Gumby Exhibition at the Throckmorton Center didn't open until ten o'clock. Sherlock grinned at her son standing in the doorway wearing only SpongeBob SquarePants pajama bottoms, his black hair as tousled as his father's. He was so beautiful it made her heart ache. "I'll be right in to help you, Sean. Go brush your teeth."

When she heard him whoop down the hallway, Sherlock kissed her husband, and cupped his face between her hands. "Stop worrying about it. Things always happen when they're supposed to."

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