AN: It's odd the way that events that are happening in the world can influence a person. A documentary about a cult can make one really think and have some intensely wicked nightmares. What does one do with those dreams? Write them down so it forms into a story.
Who started this mess? Drotuno and Suebee did. I thank them for the amazing inspiration.
Alice's White Rabbit is my beta and made this lovely. Suebee helped me with my summary. I cherish both of their friendships.
This ride is a mix of scares, romance, and a few chuckles.
Into the Light
"I think I might have just been stressed out a lot in school," the woman explained. She brushed her dirty blonde bangs out of the eyes. "I knew they wanted me to succeed so badly."
The metal chair was uncomfortable. She found herself shifting in order to find a more comfortable position. The questionnaire was only twenty questions but this emotional evaluation was going on for hours, digging into all aspects of her past. She wouldn't be surprised if they asked about her emotional reaction to her first period next.
She was just so damn tired. This room, for all the steel surrounding her, was stifling hot. It would be nice just to be over this. To think she felt special because they wanted her to take the next step away from the dorms, from all of the others who were doing menial tasks for the good of all.
"Are you sure you aren't leaving something out, dear?" the man who was evaluating her asked skeptically. The woman thought he was beautiful with his wavy hair the color of ink. His almost black eyes were framed with long lashes. She couldn't stop staring at his lips that were perfectly shaped for pressing against. "The machine doesn't lie when finding the truth of our innermost thoughts and desires."
The way he mentioned desire made her lick her lips and shift in her seat—not from the metal but from the heat traveling through her.
This sterile room was lit from a single light hanging from the ceiling. The shadows made everything in the room seem sinister yet also alluring. The machine that was strapped to her arm would cause the box to light up in a series of colors that made her think of the prisms that hung up in her bedroom window. Drouth
"No, I don't think so," she whispered.
The man stood and approached her. Slowly, he lowered himself in front of her and placed his hands on her waist. The girl realized his eyes were rimmed with red, but she cared not as he rubbed his lips against her collarbone. "It's my job to decide your purpose, little rabbit. You aren't helping me very much, are you? Will I lead you into the light or will you be given a job to help our cause, hmm? Maybe the answers are so deep inside I'm going to have to pluck them out from the inside and tug them into the air with my fingers."
His voice was musical. The notes of his words floated in the air, making her at ease when perhaps it would have been better to be terrified.
He popped two buttons of her shirt, revealing the lace of her bra. He placed his ear on her breast and sighed as his other hand stroked her waist. "Your heart is beating so fast. It's positively intoxicating."
The line between lust and fear was so thin. This wasn't like her. She wasn't the type to succumb to a strange man in this way. A part of her wanted to push him away and flee. The other wanted him to ravish her in this tiny chair, making her scream to the heavens.
"Rabbit, some of us use desire and some of us use pain to determine the path." His smile was chilling. "I find the best method is to apply both for diagnostic purposes."
His finger cut into her skin, causing blood to pool up on the tan flesh. His tongue lapped it up, causing her to tremble. "Let us begin."
Outside in the hallway, a tall man, with wavy hair left loose to fall down his back, was walking past. A smile was upon as his lips as he heard the screams that were coming from behind the closed doors .The outcome of this evaluation was still unknown, but he would find out soon enough.
He had the patience of a saint and felt like a god. He could wait.
Sources can be a pain in the ass.
Mostly, when your boss was giving you shit for doing your job.
"Swan, you do realize we can get sued thanks to that little stunt." My editor-in-chief complained as his fist pounded on my desk.
This was a small paper in a big city, so getting attention was important. You would think he would be more thankful for a big story. Every large publication was trying to get a scoop on the Blacks and their unsavory dealings, and we beat them all.
Waylon Jennings was a huge man whose belly hung over the top of his khakis. I had the most unfortunate view of the bulge from the way he was perched on the edge of my desk. I couldn't stop staring at the way it giggled as he bitched.
He continued to whine, "Our lawyers would feel slightly better if you would name your source in this matter so they can clarify a couple facts."
I started spinning in my chair. "We protect our sources, chief. Listening to lawyers is complete bullshit. You need to grow some balls."
Angela started giggling behind her computer screen.
"Weber, this isn't funny!" Waylon had both hands fisted into his thinning hair in distress. "The Quileute tribe is not one to mess with if all the facts aren't completely verified! This casino is of huge financial importance to those people, and I don't feel like losing this paper because they're going to sue our asses into the poor house."
"My source's information is tight. He's also far, far away someplace safe. The tribe is going to celebrate us for revealing this. It was William Black who was the villain of this piece. You worry too much," I informed my cranky boss. "This is about doing the right thing, chief. Where is your journalistic integrity?"
He snorted and stood up, making my desk shake. "It's taking a backseat to my panic over paying for two college tuitions without a paycheck."
"There are always scholarships, boss," Angela interrupted. She peaked over her computer as she pushed her thick tortoiseshell glasses back up her thin nose.
"Kid, they're both too damn stupid to get those," he whined. "Swan, can you please promise me this article won't make me end up in the unemployment line?"
I held up my pinky finger, adding a wink for good measure. "Shall I give you a pinky swear?"
"Smart ass," the chief muttered.
I didn't want to lose my income either, but sometimes, doing what's right wins out over thinking about one's self. My goal was to protect my source, and he was where no one could get to him. Seth Clearwater was safely sunning himself while sipping margaritas on some tropical island. Hopefully. Our contact had been limited since he took that flight to paradise. You would think being the son of the leader of the tribe would give him some protection, but he was terrified of Black. That tribe was being split into two factions, and it was hard to see which side the players were truly on. Seth had hacked into their computer to prove the casino was having a detrimental environmental impact on the reservation. Inspectors were being paid off, and they were cutting corners in the management of waste disposal. Those pristine beaches were becoming toxic waste sites.
Seth told me there was more and it was much worse. He was sitting on the information, but I knew whatever it was scared the fuck out of him. I just needed to get him to trust—
"—have to interview that drummer, Weber. His name is something like Tom or maybe Jim." Our boss rubbed his belly in thought like a pregnant woman caresses her unborn spawn. He was probably trying to soothe the gas pains from that foot-long meatball sub he wolfed down at lunch.
"Tyler Grant? I handle the crime beat, Waylon. Jess is your fluff girl," Angela pointed out with a huff. My friend was not a fan of celebrity gossip. She crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it at the dartboard by the window. "Does his band have a concert in Seattle? I hadn't heard anything about them being in town."
"He'll be in Forks actually. Our Jess heard he was invited to visit that religious group who built their headquarters in town. She was already in town to interview that actor who's in it. They're a bunch of kooks, in my opinion." He gave a shrug. "Our Features girl must have been taken with them because she called and gave her notice. She's joining up. Not even two goddamn weeks' notice. After all the stories I gave that girl."
"You sent Jessica to Into the Light? I haven't heard much good about them," I told them. "You know she's easily swayed by influence."
Into the Light was some religious group that had popped up sometime in the seventies. I didn't know much about them except they were intensely secretive and a bunch of nuts. It started with a book about finding your true path from what I heard. Then it became a religious cult that somehow sucked in previously reasonable individuals. In the last few months, they had moved right into my hometown. Between the Quileute putting up a fuss about them, and my dad having to deal with carloads of their followers filling up the motels to fawn over some pretty boy actor of action flicks, the town was in an uproar over them. Unfortunately, money talks, and politicians were quite happy to fill their pockets. Rumor had it that crazy religions gave better bribes than the tribal casinos. Dad tried to talk the city council out of approving the Into the Light permits, but they never did like to listen to a lowly policeman, even if he was the chief of police.
Angela's nose wrinkled, and she had to shove those glasses right back up. "One interview with Edward Cullen and she's joins a cult? I mean, he's handsome and all, but she has a brain in her head."
Our boss tossed a folder from Jessica's messy desk onto mine. She never came back for all her bedazzled frames filled with images of her sorority sisters and her collection of good luck wild-haired troll dolls. It was odd. Concern and curiosity filled me. Something here was rotten. I flipped it open to see the smiling face of Edward Cullen looking back at me. Auburn hair and matinee good looks made the ladies swoon, I guess. I was usually more into weathered war correspondents, but I could see the appeal. Jessica could have easily fallen for his charm.
"Jess and having a brain? It's debatable, Ang." I beat my pen on my desk with a rat-a-tat tat. Jessica Stanley had stars in her eyes and her head in the clouds. There was no way she could be capable of making a good decision. Don't get me wrong, I liked Jessica. She could be great fun to hang out with, but she could be rash.
"Be nice, Bella," Angela admonished with a grin. She knew me too well. There was a reason the dark-haired woman and I became fast friends. We cherished both our similarities and differences. She was the Diana to my Anne of Green Gables. We were kindred spirits.
"I think it might be good to be worried." Eric Yorkie stood up from his desk with his big, pensive eyes taking us all in. He had been so quiet as he downloaded the photographs he took of the bridge repairs for next week's edition. "My cousin joined up a few years ago. It was when they were still located in Alaska. He sold everything to give to the church and just stopped talking to everyone. I mean, we're his family, and he just cut all ties."
I looked into the forlorn face of my coworker and knew the damage a group of zealots could cause.
Waylon crossed his arms and sat in Jessica's empty chair. It creaked under his weight. "This is the alien cult, right? I get all those crazies confused."
"Nah, that group is a different one . When Jeff was trying to sell us to come with him, he made it sound like some entrance into the light of true acceptance. He never mentioned any alien influence but also didn't mention any links to other organized religion like Christianity, Islam, or anything else major. I did some digging on the Internet, and other than their website, there isn't much else around that talks about them. I mean, this is the digital age, and there isn't anything but celebrities praising them? That just doesn't sit right with me," Eric said. He squirted sanitizer on his hands and started to rub vigorously. It was a nervous habit I noticed he performed. "It isn't like people haven't had concerns about it, but somehow everything gets swept under the rug? I mean, why hasn't anyone reported about them before?"
"Son, sometimes, unless it isn't at your front door, one finds himself ignoring things happening around them. It happens to the best of us." Waylon rubbed his stomach again. "I need fifty antacids."
I gave him a big smile, and the boss looked like he wanted to upchuck all over the laminate floor.
"We should look into it, chief. I'm finished with the casino story for now. An investigation of this place is a great next article. It could put our paper on the map! At least, it will be a way to check up on Jessica. Make sure she's okay." It would be a win either way. If this place was just a prayer circle and Jess was fine then great. If this was a cesspool of crazy, I could get my Pulitzer and save Jessica.
Waylon shook his head. "Those types of groups haven't ever been written about without suing. The joined suing power of the Quileute and the religious nuts will make me bankrupt."
"She's one of us, chief," I said. "We can't just leave her there."
Angela and Eric nodded in agreement.
Our boss grimaced, "I better stock up on the peanut butter crackers. You kids will have me living out of a cardboard box."
Angela nodded in my direction. "Are you ready for the next adventure?"