Obscura – Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Every Breath You Take
Victoria lied in her bed awake. She had been rolling from side to side, thinking about what she had seen.
When Victoria was a child, she had discovered that she could see and talk to people that others couldn’t. Her parents had brushed that aside as imaginary friends until she had started school. The other kids had started bullying her about this.
It wasn’t long until Victoria’s parents had been called to the principal’s office on the account of Victoria having hit one of her bullies. This incident lead to that Victoria was sent to a therapist and she had got her first prescription medication.
The therapy sessions and the drugs had the effect that she no longer saw imaginary people. Victoria’s parents considered the problem solved. Victoria, however, grew bitter from the whole experience and she decided that she wouldn’t be victimized ever again.
She grew an impenetrable shell, under which no one had access to. She learned how to manipulate people to do her willing and soon became one of the most popular girls in her school. She also became one of the meanest girls to those, who wouldn’t see eye to eye with her.
Victoria always had a group of people around her, who would do anything to please her. Inside though, she felt one of the loneliest people on earth.
All that began to change, when a small freckled hipster girl came to Blackwell Academy, where Victoria was starting her senior year.
The last spring semester at Blackwell had been the happiest time of her life so far, and not least thanks to Max, who had been able to see the real person under that impenetrable shell.
During spring semester she had again began to see what she now at older age knew to be the spirits of dead people. She had first tried to ignore them, hoping that they would just go away but that didn’t seem to help.
Victoria felt helpless. All the spirits seemed to have issues but she didn’t know how to help them. She would’ve wanted to confide in Max about this but she didn’t dare as Max probably would thought her crazy and she didn’t want to lose her friendship.
So she kept it to herself and just tried to cope with it. She considered renewing her prescription but she didn’t like how the drugs made her feel emotionally numb.
First time she had actually tried to make contact with a spirit was, when she and Max had moved into their flat. The spirit was a former tenant of the flat, an elderly nice lady, who had lived in the building in the 1970s.
The reason why she couldn’t cross over was that she had hidden a jewelry box in one of the closets and she wanted her grandniece to get them. Victoria was able to locate the box and deliver it to the lady’s relative, enabling her then to cross over.
Max had wondered how Victoria knew that there was a jewelry box hidden inside the closet. Victoria had just shrugged it off as good luck and intuition.
It had been pretty peaceful, until this night, when she had seen the figure in the corner. She was sure that it had been a spirit, and even though she had just caught a quick glimpse, she had a pretty good idea, who that spirit was.
Chloe Price had attended Blackwell for a short time before being expelled and even though she and Victoria hung around in completely different circles, Chloe was a hard person to forget.
What is she doing here? Victoria asked herself. Has she been hanging around Max all these years?
She turned on her other side and cuddled around her blanket. Should I tell Max? – No! She’d think I’ve completely lost it.
Victoria let out an audible sigh and looked at the alarm clock. The digits read ‘6:15’. She sighed again. Oh crap! Have to get up pretty soon. She hid her head under the pillow.
Max was in an empty room. She looked around to see that there was no door. The only thing was a small picture on the wall held by a drawing pin. She walked to it. It was the picture of her with Chloe as kids.
Max looked around again to make sure that there indeed was no exits in the room.
So does this mean I have to focus on the picture to get out? she asked herself.
“Are you sure you want to do it? Remember what happened last time,” a voice said next to her.
Max turned her head and saw her 13 year old self standing next to her.
“But what if I don’t change anything?” Max asked her younger self and turned to look at the picture, which had now changed to the one of the blue butterfly.
“If you don’t do anything, then I end up dead,” Chloe said from her other side.
“But wasn’t that what you wanted?” Max asked her dead friend.
She turned to face the picture once more. It had now changed to the one, where she was standing in front of her photo memorial wall.
“You could always try tearing it apart,” a voice that made Max shiver said from behind her. She turned and saw Mark Jefferson standing behind her.
“Well, you’d like that, wouldn’t you, you bastard!” Max said angrily.
“Dude, what’s it gonna be?” Chloe asked her.
“You have to make up your mind,” the young Max said to her.
“We don’t have all day, you know,” Mark Jefferson added. “So what’ll it be, Max?”
“Who you’re gonna choose, Max?”
“Make up your mind already, Max!”
All three started to tug her.
They kept on tugging and shaking her until everything became blurry. Max closed her eyes and tried to scream but nothing came out of her mouth.
“Max, are you awake?”
Max opened her eyes and saw Victoria trying to shake her.
“Wha-, what? Victoria?” she said with a groggy voice. “Aagh, my head is fucking exploding!” Max squeezed her eyes shut.
“Well, no wonder, considering that you single-handedly emptied almost a bottle of chardonnay,” Victoria said to her in a preaching tone. “It’s almost seven. Aren’t you supposed to have a photo session with Julia this morning?”
It took a few seconds for Victoria’s words to sink in. When they did, Max’s eyes went wide open and she was fully awake.
“Oh shit! I’m going to be late!” Max said as she jumped out of the couch. “Why didn’t my alarm clock go off?”
“Oh, it did. – In the bedroom,” Victoria said to her, slightly peeved. “And a good morning to you too.”
Max took a moment to look around and saw that she was still in the living room.
“Sorry, good morning, Victoria,” she responded slightly embarrassed. “How was your date?” she tried to change the subject.
“Well, I returned home a lot earlier than I expected,” Victoria summed up her mystery date.
“That bad, huh?” Max asked.
“Pretty much but I don’t really have time to go into the details, and neither do you,” Victoria answered. “I’ve already been to the shower, so the bathroom is free.”
Max headed to her bedroom to get undressed and hit the shower.
“You were sleeping a bit restlessly,” Victoria said to her half way.
“I was having a bit of a nightmare,” Max commented.
“Care to share?” Victoria asked.
Max stopped and thought about her dream. It had been a while since had seen a nightmare related to her experiences. Even though they had been close friends for years now, Max had not dared to confide in Victoria about what had happened four years ago.
“Nothing special,” Max just said. “Y’know, stuff.”
Victoria knew that there was more to that and it hurt that Max wouldn’t tell what was on her mind.
“How about you?” Max asked back. “Sleep well?”
“Didn’t sleep at all,” Victoria answered. “I’ve been rolling around in my bed the whole night.”
“Something on your mind?”
Victoria felt a sting in her heart, when she answered: “Y’know, stuff.” Well, here’s the pan calling the kettle black.
Max continued her walk towards the bedroom, trying to rub her throbbing temples. “Any chance I could hitch a ride from you to work?” She turned to ask her roommate. “I don’t think I should be driving this morning,” she continued with slight embarrassment in her voice.
“What you shouldn’t be doing, is to drink so much on a weeknight,” Victoria chastened. “You know, I’m becoming slightly worried about you.”
Victoria’s words hit Max pretty hard. Her roommate wasn’t entirely wrong. Max had noticed also herself that she needed to ease her pain with alcohol more often than before, but she didn’t think of it yet to be a problem.
“You’re probably right,” she answered as she stepped into the bedroom and began to pull off her top. “So how about that ride?”
“Sure, I can drop you off!” Victoria answered. “Just go into that shower or we’ll both be late!”
God, I need a smoke! Chloe was standing outside of the building, where Max and Victoria lived. Apparently being dead didn’t help to nicotine withdrawals, at least the psychological ones.
She was observing the people on the sidewalks, hoping to find a smoker. A-ha! She spotted a man down the street, wearing a business suit just about to light up.
Chloe ran swiftly to the man and phased inside of him, taking over the man’s body. She took a long drag, which she then slowly exhaled.
This was one of the abilities that she had gained, when she became a spirit. She could completely take over a living person’s body by phasing herself into it. There were some drawbacks, though. Chloe would still be Chloe with her own memories and mannerisms, and with no access to the possessed person’s memories, therefore she couldn’t impersonate the possessed person simply by just taking over the body. After Chloe left the body, the possessed person would have no recollection of the event.
This ability had become handy on a couple of occasions, when she had been watching over Max. One time, some low-life with knife had tried to rob Max on a dark alley. Chloe had taken over the thug’s body and stabbed the thug’s own thigh with the knife, knowing that when possessing a body, she would feel all the pain that the body felt. She clenched the thug’s teeth in agony, but she had to make sure that Max made it to safety, before releasing.
Chloe took another drag, when she slowly walked to Max’s truck. She couldn’t help smiling at the vanity plates Max had got on the truck, when she had moved to Seattle. ‘QNTMLP’ stood in bold letters on the new Washington plates. As kids, Chloe and Max had been big fans of the Quantum Leap TV series, when a re-run had been going on some channel. They had been watching in awe, when Sam Beckett had jumped in time and set right what once went wrong. Had we known back then…
“Can I help you with something?” a familiar voice asked. Chloe had been so preoccupied with Max’s truck that she didn’t see its owner coming.
“Dude, I was admiring your truck. The plates are hella cool!” Chloe blurted out, before she realized, what she had said. Uh oh, time to bail out! Chloe left the businessman standing dumbfounded in front of the young woman.
Chloe watched as Max took a tripod out of the truck’s storage box and then ran to Victoria’s BMW. The two then revved away. Chloe didn’t follow. She could sense, if Max was in distress and could be with her instantly, if needed.
Chloe transported herself into Max’s and Victoria’s living room, walked to the photo album on the shelf and frowned upon it. Until yesterday, Chloe had thought that Max’s powers were gone for good. Max’s focus on the picture after her self-induced guilt trip left no room for doubt, though.
Chloe sighed. The time had come to fulfill the task she had been given. It would be her ticket to cross over. Maybe that would also help Max to move on.
Chloe looked at Victoria’s bedroom door. She was certain that Victoria had seen her last night. Rachel had told her that she wasn’t completely invisible to the living. Animals, children and few select adults could sense and see her. Chloe could have never imagined, though, that Victoria was one of them.
But that didn’t matter. Chloe would wait here until Max came home and then she would do what needed to be done.
Officer David Madsen parked his patrol car in front of the Arcade Bay police office building. His wife, Joyce had just offered him a tasty breakfast over at the Two Whales and he had taken a coffee to go, which he would enjoy at his desk.
David stepped into the building and was about head towards his desk, when Marcia, the office clerk called for him.
“Morning, David! There’s a detective from Seattle that would like to speak with the officer in charge of the Jefferson case,” Marcia said. “Anderson’s not in yet.”
“Patch him through to me,” David said. “I’m as familiar with the case as he is.”
“‘Her’,” Marcia corrected. “Her name is Stacy Kowalski.”
“Oh, okay,” David said. “Patch her up, then.” He went to his desk, sat down and picked up the earpiece.
“Officer David Madsen,” he said when the line was connected.
“Good morning! This is detective Stacy Kowalski from Seattle P.D.” a female voice said on the other end. “I’m investigating a homicide and the M.O. seems to have similarities to a case that happened four years ago in Arcadia Bay.”
“The Jefferson case,” David said to the phone.
“That’s the one,” Kowalski said. “Were you the officer in charge of the investigation?”
“No, that would be officer Berry,” David answered. “Truth be told, I wasn’t even in the force back then.”
“Well, would it be possible for me to talk with officer Berry, then?” Kowalski sounded a bit annoyed.
“Officer Berry hasn’t arrived yet but I am quite familiar with the case,” David made the best effort to let Kowalski’s tone slide. “I was working as the Blackwell security guard back then. I was the first to arrive at the scene, where the Prescott kid shot-” David exhaled quietly before continuing. “-where the Prescott kid shot Chloe Price.”
“I had been conducting my own investigations on suspicion that Nathan Prescott was dealing drugs to other students of Blackwell,” David continued. “Some of the material I gathered during my own investigation linked Nathan Prescott to Mark Jefferson.”
“So did this material lead the investigation to what Jefferson had been doing?” Kowalski asked.
“Not by itself but apparently Nathan Prescott fell apart in the preliminary hearings and told everything what he had been doing with Jefferson,” David answered. “Including the overdosing of Rachel Amber.”
“So Jefferson’s intention was not to kill the victims but just to incapacitate them for his shoots?”
“At least based on what he told in the hearings,” David told his colleague. “But after the incident with Rachel Amber, there’s no telling when things would have escalated. – And in a way they did, and my-,” David paused. “-my stepdaughter, Chloe suffered the consequences.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize that Chloe Price was your stepdaughter. I’m so sorry for your loss,” Kowalski said.
“Thank you,” David sighed. “It’s been four years but it still hurts, especially, when I tried all my best to keep her out of trouble.”
“I take there is a complete list of all the victims?” Kowalski changed the subject.
“Yes there is, including the two that Jefferson had planned to capture but never got the chance to do so,” David said. “Both are actually living in Seattle now, by the way.”
“Would it be possible to get the material related to the investigation and if you have the contact info for those young women, that would be great,” Kowalski requested politely.
“Sure thing, I’ll send those over,” David answered as he wrote down Kowalski’s email address. “Anything else I can help you with?”
“I think we’re good, thanks! Nice talking to you,” Kowalski said.
“You’re welcome!” David ended the call.
David took a sip from his coffee. It was slightly lukewarm. He leaned back on his chair and looked around him. You sure have come a long way from a school security guard, he thought. And all thanks go to Max Caulfield.
The following weeks after Chloe’s death had been burdening. He had to try to comfort Joyce, while trying to cope with his own loss. He and Chloe had never gotten on the same page. Chloe was still going through the loss of her real father and was feeling abandoned, whereas David, still suffering from PTSD, tried to make sure that his family would be safe. Somehow, those issues never seemed to find a common ground and caused massive fall outs between Chloe and him.
Still, David loved and cared about Chloe as much as he did for Joyce. Chloe’s death made him really feel that he had failed as a husband and father. Only thing that kept him going was that Joyce needed him.
Then one evening, Max Caulfield had come to their home. She had bought this old Ford Ranchero, which barely run and had almost no brakes. She had walked to David and asked, if he would help her to make the truck roadworthy.
He’d taken a quick look at the truck and said that this truck would be better off in a junkyard. Joyce had joined them and asked him to at least fix the brakes, so that it would at least stop, when needed to.
Reluctantly, David had pushed his own project car in the yard and taken the truck in the garage. He’d started fixing the brakes. Max had offered to help and asked a lot of questions about the mechanics of the cars. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty either, so David had suggested that they’d take the engine off and do a bit of an overhaul.
When working on the car, they had talked about different things. Mostly about Chloe but other stuff too. For some reason, Max seemed to be inside his head better than anyone else, like she understood, what he was going through. Then, one evening, when they were reassembling the engine, Max had brought up the topic of his own investigations on Nathan Prescott. To this day, David didn’t know, how Max had found about that.
Max had told him that since he obviously had a thing for solving mysteries, he should put it to proper use.
“What are you suggesting?” David had asked.
“You should join the police force,” Max had answered.
He had thought Max was joking but she assured that she was dead serious. Later that evening, he had brought up the subject with Joyce and she had been very encouraging about it.
On the spring of Max’s graduation, David had taken a leave of absence from his job and enrolled into the police academy. He’d passed the course with good grades and half a year later, when an opening at the Arcadia Bay P.D. had come available, he’d applied for the position and got chosen.
This was his third year on the force. He liked his job and was respected among his colleagues. The pay was better than a security guard’s and the benefits included psychological consultation, where he could discuss his PTSD in confidence.
Funny, how things will work out, David thought as he emptied his mug.
John Korhonen returned to the precinct. The students who had found the body had not been able to shed any new light into the case. They didn’t know who the victim was or hadn’t seen her before.
Finn had spent most of the morning going through missing persons reports but there was no match. That could mean that no one had yet noticed that the victim was missing or that she didn’t have any next of kin living here in Seattle.
“Any luck with the students?” Stacy Kowalski asked him, when he arrived at his desk.
“Nada,” Finn answered. “They don’t know the victim or haven’t seen her at the campus area, which isn’t surprising, considering the size of the campus. What about you?”
“I was in talks with an officer, who had been first on the scene, when the school shooting occurred,” Stacy answered. “It turned out that the victim of the shooting was the officer’s stepdaughter.”
“Aw crap! That must’ve been hard on him,” Finn said. “Can’t think what I would though, if I found my Minnie dead,” he continued.
“I just got all the material on the case,” Kowalski continued. “I also got the contact info of two students that Jefferson had targeted but had not yet made a move on them. Maxine Caulfield and Victoria Chase. Both live here in Seattle. They share a flat together in Capitol.”
Finn took a cup of coffee from the wending machine and turned to his partner. “Well, I guess we need to have a little chat with Ms. Caulfield and Ms. Chase, then.”
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