First published in October of 2014, this was my first official short story of my career. I recently revisited it, tweaked and updated it. For my loyal readers 🙂 Thank you!
Crying underneath the large, leafless oak in the field behind their house, Lysette felt the skin just below her own begin to glow with ferocity. As the sun sank below the horizon, the burning intensified; sinewy tissues smoldering in the darkness. At the precise moment, even at the age of 9, that Lysette knew if something did not happen to curb this anger that her physical body would expire, a light mist began to fall. Daedalon appeared as a foggy outline along the forest near the edge of the field. His sharply black wings were nearly invisible in the darkness, illumined by the mist when caught by the moonlight.
When he came into focus for her, no words were exchanged. She felt no fear at the sight of this dark angel; she somehow already knew him. He would help her find her peace.
Watching television shows and critiquing what the writers and directors portrayed incorrectly when illustrating people with her perception was a fascination for Lysette. Some came close, but they never quite nailed it. Like cop show dramas that would reluctantly elicit the assistance of a psychic or medium in their latest attempts to catch the bad guys. She would giggle at the way in which culture paints the laughable picture of someone with her abilities. When the character would put a hand to their head, getting some type of mental picture of what had transpired at the location in question, sometimes fainting when the premonitions were just “too strong,” would bring out a fit of hysterical laughing on her part. So when local detectives phoned her to request her assistance, she felt an inner joy at this chance to show how things are really done.
Lysette stood with the officers, ready to connect. The ground left no trace of evidence. The divots from tire treads had been filled in with melted snow, and were now frozen and hollow, making a chlunk sound when met with walking feet. Anything green had been gone for months and, though the winter chill was beginning to leave the air, anything that may have held a hint of an answer for these detectives was long gone.
In the waning daylight, the sergeant asked Lysette, “What do you see?”
Lysette’s methods of discernment were far different than what she saw on television. She took off her shoes. While standing there, bare-footed, on the still-frozen ground, she closed her eyes. She felt roots coming from the ground, up into her feet, travelling up through her legs, into her torso, and becoming finer as they moved up into her chest and finer still as they finally took residence inside her mind. “The earth is an organism,” she had learned from Daedalon, “that never forgets anything. When you connect to the earth, you connect to all of her stored synaptic firings.” The roots that she felt when she made a connection were nothing more than the earth’s dendrites; her means of tapping into the earth’s memory banks. As she searched through the endless memories from this particular location, she came upon this:
Josie Mendelsohn, age 38. Had left for the grocery store to pick up ice cream and cones for the play date she had scheduled for her son, Ethan, for that evening. Josie, standing in that location, had tried reaching her best friend, Jane, by cell phone, to double-check that her son, Dwight, would be okay with just some plain chocolate ice cream. For some reason, though, her phone kept connecting her to a lady’s answering machine; a lady that was not Jane.
“You have reached the voicemail box of: (not Jane’s voice) ‘Jane Auerbach’. Please leave your message at the tone.” (Beeeeeeeep)
Josie looked at her screen to double-check that she had in fact dialed Jane’s number. The phone’s screen showed a picture of Jane; the one with her and the family dog at the lake the previous summer, Jane’s phone number, and, clicking back one time, the screen showed that the last four phone calls had been to this same number. Jane’s number. “Oh sheesh, Josie,” she said to herself, “snap out of it.” She pressed the send button to call Jane’s number again –
Lysette’s focal point abruptly changed, and she was no longer scanning the area on which she stood; something that had never occurred before. Instead of seeing things from Josie’s perspective, she was now inside a crowded coffee shop, maybe somewhere on the other side of town, she thought.
Physically, Lysette still stood in front of the officers at 1412 Alma Lane in Detroit; but, she had connected to a memory bank at a very busy coffee shop on Pine Avenue in Long Beach, California.
Jane Auerbach was sitting at a table near the door, hands clenched together underneath the table, palms sweaty and forehead furrowed. She kept looking from her coffee, to the seating area outside the window, to the back of the shop where the bathrooms and a payphone were, and back again. Jane knew that the man she was told to wait here for would be here any minute. She would then have to tell him where to find Andreas. How had she gotten involved in this? Where had they taken Dwight? Was it even possible to stand up and have enough time to get to the payphone in the back of the shop, call Josie, and get some type of help before they got to her, or-
Lysette’s connection, strained by the physical distance, was beginning to wane. On Alma Lane, the officers witnessed what the reports would later omit. They saw Lysette, skin flaming, hair in coils above her head, get struck by lightning. After the flash, Lysette was no longer there; but a large, leafless oak was left in her place, still smoking in the light of the moon.