Angel Sight: Threshold
***This chapter has been edited with plot changes.***
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor claim to own The Pretender or any characters mentioned herein the plot is all I can claim, no infringement is intended, and no money will be made.
Timeline: This takes place shortly after Island of the Haunted.
Sorry this took so long. It was long birthing process. Also I know some of you are guessing that I am the author who penned Dark Side of the Moon...nope, sorry. I am me. Just me. But I liked Dark Side of the Moon. It was an interesting take on the Pretender series. Good adventure. But this isn't like that. The last chapter isn't representative of this series.
Anyway, enjoy as it starts to get a little crazier!
Catherine cried out and looked at the two men in front of her and held her palm to her face. Already her cheek had reddened where she'd been slapped. "How dare you!"
"I know what you're planning! And it's never going to happen!"
"I don't know what you mean." She said and tried to remain calm.
Mr. Parker walked to the bar. "We have your list, Catherine. The list of seven children you were planning on smuggling out of the Centre!"
"You're spying on me? Following me? Going through my things?"
"You left us no choice." Raines threatened in a low voice. "You've compromised the Centre."
"No I've compromised your kidnapping operation, Mr. Raines! Seth, you cannot keep these children locked up for life!"
Mr. Parker stiffened when she said his name aloud. "Keep your voice down. You know our daughter's in the next room."
He went over to Catherine and took her left hand. "Now we can put this all behind us, sweetheart." He held her diamond ring and pushed it forcefully back on her ring finger. "Just promise to stay out of Centre business. No more rescue attempts, Catherine. Then we'll all go back into the dining room and finish our holiday meal. What do you say?"
She pulled the ring off again and threw it back at him again. "I told you that I'd never wear that again!"
Before the words were out of her mouth, Catherine felt a punch to her gut! Followed by successive hits to her torso.
"Stop it! Please stop!" She pleaded. She looked to Raines. He just stood there exhaling cigarette smoke. He watched each blow and kick with complete indifference.
"Momma?" A small voice was heard on the other side of the door.
Mr. Parker never missed a stride. He pulled his wife to her feet. She screamed and held her fractured ribs in pain.
"Thank you, Mr. Raines for the information. I think I can handle this from here."
"See that you do or the Triumvirate will handle her for you." Raines found an ashtray on a nearby end table and put out his butt. He looked back at Mr. Parker and Catherine with contempt and left the room through a side door in the den.
"No more, Seth." Catherine whispered, barely able to breathe.
"Not until we've come to an understanding!" Mr. Parker raged.
Again, they both heard the little girl pleading through the door.
"Go to the door and tell her everything's fine. To go eat her dinner and go to bed."
"Everything is not fine!" Catherine said angrily. "Why don't you tell your daughter what you have planned for her!"
"Tell her NOW!"
Part of Catherine wanted to run, snatch her daughter and head for Europe tonight. But she had to think of Jarod, Timmy and the others. Seth and Dr. Raines hadn't deduced all her plans. She needed more time.
She pulled her arm from Seth Parker's grasp and stumbled to the door. On the way to the door, she saw her reflection in a mirror. Already her face was swollen and bruised. She pulled her fingers through her hair to comb it back into place. She licked her cut and bloody lower lip painfully.
Catherine cracked open the den door and saw her daughter's terrified face. The girl was afraid of the terrible storm that was raging outside and inside the house.
"It's okay sweetheart. Mom's all right." Unable to look her in they eye anymore, Catherine closed the door. When she turned around there her own swollen face stared back at her. But something was out of place…she didn't look the same, and it wasn't the bruises.
"We're not done, Catherine."
She ignored her husband. She was intrigued by the reflection."This isn't me." She thought. And then she realized….
Her realization was interrupted with a blow to the back of the head. The impact knocked her into the piano nearby.
"Stop! Please, stop!" She screamed from the floor. She turned her head to avoid his blows. Then she saw herself in the glossy surface of the piano.
"I'm not you…" She said stubbornly as she passed out.
The reflection of Catherine Parker in the mirror hadn't moved when her daughter collapsed.
"You are now."
Broots flipped through blueprints at Miss Parker's desk. When his phone rang, confusion was still evident on his face.
"Broots!" He answered in his man-squeak as several of the blueprints flew off the desk.
"It's Jarod." The anxious Pretender sat in his car. "I'm at the address you gave me or trying to get there. There are sweepers everywhere."
"Yeah, I know. I was working on getting you around them. I was able to get Nigel in the Properties Development offices to blow up some specs of that property for me."
"You're not gonna believe this! Lyle has built a mega fortress on the beach. I hacked his expense report, his purchases and travel receipts for the last few months. It's like he's furnishing some kind Asian temple or something…"
"Interesting, Mr. Broots but it doesn't help me get in!" Jarod said in exasperation.
"Ok, Ok!" Broots plowed through the blueprint rolls again, while on the phone. "It looks like there's an entrance into the property up the service road."
Jarod looked up at the estate that sat high on stony rocks above the ocean. A narrow service road snaked to the east of the property.
Jarod left the car and started on foot up the service road careful to stay out of sight. Broots navigated. "Look for a small opening in the rock face. It's an air shaft. It should have an iron grill, bars covering the opening. The shaft is a straight shot upwards into the basement."
"I see it from here! I'll call you back when I make it in. Thanks!" He hung up and put the phone in his jacket pocket.
Just as Broots had said the air shaft was in the side of the rock face adjoining the house. Unfortunately the space between the bars that protected the shaft was too narrow to crawl between. A small hope flared as Jarod pushed, then kicked at one of the bars. The sea air over time had corroded them. It took him nearly twenty minutes but he was able to work two of the bars from their fittings and push them to the side far enough to squeeze his body into the shaft.
Inside the shaft, it was hot, dark, musty and overgrown with mold. As hot as it was, Jarod was glad he kept his leather jacket on. He slowly inched his way upward. He took out the flashlight he'd taken from the car's glove compartment to find footings. Sea rats scurried to and fro avoiding the illumination.
"One of these days, I'll get to use the front door!" He complained.
He pushed his way deeper into the vent and prayed it lead to the basement as Broots had said.
"It's about time." A familiar woman's voice teased Miss Parker.
Somehow the familiar voice broke through despite her throbbing headache. "Mom?" Parker opened her eyes to find eyes as gray as her own.
Miss Parker was freaked as she saw that she was in her father's office, sitting in his chair. The same office she'd been berated, denounced and dressed down in too many times.
"Don't you mean the Chairman's chair? After all, your father's been gone quite awhile, hasn't he?"
Her mother answered her thought. "How did you know what I was thinking? OUCH!" A sharp pain in her midsection cut off her question. Then Parker remembered being struck by….by…. She put hands to her face and felt the swelling. Her father? Was that real?
Catherine reached out and took one of her daughter's hands tentatively. Parker gasped and had the urge to pull away. But she was real! She felt real! Her mother was not an apparition. This vision was very unlike when Catherine had come out of the smoke and saved her in the subway tunnel after the explosion in Washington.
"But it must be another hallucination. I'm in shock or something." She told herself. Then she remembered Lyle had pinned her to the floor. "Maybe Lyle knocked me out or drugged me."
What was real? Her struggle with Lyle or her father's attack? She closed her eyes and tried to remember. At that moment, gentle fingers stroked her hair and the nape of her neck.
"Keep taking deep breaths. You're experiencing two realities at once." Her mother advised. "That was my beating you experienced. You know, since that Thanksgiving, I was more determined than ever to take you away from the Centre and your father."
Parker was near panic. "I don't understand! What do you mean I'm experiencing two realities?"
She felt her mother push her back into the office chair. A cool cloth emerged and she placed it over her daughter's eyes. It shut out the bright light from the windows in the office and gave much needed relief to Miss Parker's headache.
"Do you remember… our studio? How we talked all night sometimes in the moonlight? I know it's been a long time but…."
Parker took the cloth off her face and sat up. "How could I ever forget?" She said softly.
Catherine was delighted that nothing had tainted her daughter's memory of that time or of her. She straightened to face her daughter. "When you were a child, you had a very rich fantasy life. Sometimes during the day, I would see you sitting or standing, whispering to no one in particular. And each morning you'd wake and tell me about your strange and fantastic dreams. At the time I thought you were just lonely since your father kept you so isolated. I assumed that you had created invisible friends…."
"But they weren't?"
Catherine shook her head. "You told me you went to have tea parties with the voices. You said you climbed through the fireplace in the studio and to the funny place and then would come back again through the fireplace. I didn't think anything of your stories. I had the Inner Sense when I was young. I thought the voices were entertaining you with tall tales... until I witnessed you having an episode, a trance. You began speaking in different voices all at the same time! This wasn't how my own Inner Sense worked and it frightened me.
"You must have thought I was schizophrenic or mentally ill."
"I couldn't believe that. But I wasn't sure what to think. Then one day you went missing. Your nurse couldn't find you anywhere. We looked for you all over…After an hour of searching I heard you crying in your closet. We had looked in that closet a dozen times but there you were all of a sudden hiding. When you calmed down, you told me that you had gotten lost and wound up somewhere completely different with scary people."
"That's when you took me to see Sydney?" Parker wondered.
"Yes. I let Sydney test your brain functions. I knew that you were extremely bright but you tested at genius level! Your talents for languages and music, even memory were unbelievable! Sydney found irregular activity in your temporal lobes. He told me that those talents are temporal lobe functions but so were your hypnagogic state." She explained further. "Hypnagogia is a deeply relaxed state of consciousness that opens the mind to creative thought and intuition. He speculated that that your brain may have the ability to tap into other states of consciousness. Different realities."
"He never told me this."
"I wanted to keep it a medical confidence. I guess Sydney is still keeping that confidence. But your father found out eventually."
"So you think I have the ability to go to different realities?"
"Aren't you experiencing one now? How can you be speaking to your dead mother? How is it that you changed places with me and took a beating that happened to me in 1969? These aren't visions of the past or future. You've penetrated different realities."
Miss Parker couldn't reply. "So what did Raines do to me? What was that machine? The one Raines put me in after you…"
"Died" Catherine finished for her. "Raines had proposed putting you into a deliberate hypnagogic state. The chamber was designed to deliver various low intensity magnetic signals to the temporal lobes. I opposed Dr. Raines. I tried to convince your father that it was unconscionable to experiment on his own child. He was more afraid of the side effects ruining your abilities. In the end he forbid it.
I had no doubt that once I was out of the way, your father would use your ability. It must have been too enticing. The evolutionary possibility of a further expansion of consciousness, different realities.
I never found the importance of the Centre using you and your ability. Nevertheless Mr. Parker's goal had always been to bring about the prophecies of the Scrolls. Your Great grandfather said that the Scrolls would bring unlimited power to the one who has the Chosen and the Angel under his control." Catherine paused.
"Is that what the Scrolls say, Mom? Jarod is the Chosen? And I'm the Angel? What does it all mean? "I don't understand."
"Did you know that in the Parker family there's never been a girl child since…"
"Since the Cryptkeeper's daughter, Angel." Parker looked wearily at her mother.
"You know about her?"
"Just that she was burned alive with the rest of her family and that Great-grandfather Parker made some sort of Faustian deal for power. Jarod and I went to Carthis to find answers. We found the Scrolls, Mom. But they're gone now. Daddy destroyed them, he jumped into the sea with them... They're gone forever..."
"The evil of the Scrolls is only beginning." Catherine whispered to the air. "I had hoped to find them….I wanted to put an end to the power they held. But it seems that even though they've been lost, those prophecies still hold you and Jarod captive. I was able to learn the first line of the Scrolls. They reference you and Jarod. 'The Centre shall rise. The Chosen will be found, a boy named... Jarod. The Angel has the Sight, born from the Parker line...' The Centre and the Triumvirate will always keep your freedom from you. And from Jarod."
It was what Miss Parker always suspected. Mr. Parker had only dangled the carrot of freedom in front of her. He never intended to let her leave the Centre. Lyle had told her it was why Thomas Gates was killed. "What can we do?" A frustrated Parker barked.
She watched as Catherine came and sat on the desktop to be near her. "What do the voices say? Use your Inner Sense to find out how to destroy the Scrolls' power."
Jarod was nearly at the end of the shaft. There was a light at the end of the tunnel which he assumed came from the basement.
The basement air shaft vent had no bars only a small vent cover. He kicked it off easily and jumped down into the room. Regrettably, he jumped right into the butt of a Sweeper's gun.
Jarod held his gut and tried to regain his breath and footing however two burly sweepers surrounded him. "Been waiting for you." One of them said.
Jarod faced them. Just then the phone in his jacket rang! Jarod took the opportunity of the distraction to use his flashlight to knock one of the Sweeper senseless! The other sweeper's legs were swept from under him with a low level kick and a punch from Jarod that landed him against a wall.
When they were disarmed and cuffed with their own handcuffs to a water pipe, Jarod took their guns and left the basement. Luckily like all old basement doors they locked from the outside. He took time to dust off, draw a gun and then head upstairs.
Parker wasn't sure how to just turn on her Inner Sense. She decided to concentrate on a random object as she had to find Jarod. She leaned forward to find something on the desk. As she was searching for an appropriate object, something just appeared on the desk. A framed photo had just faded in from thin air! Without fear she picked it up. It was the strange photo that she and Jarod had been sent by email of their mothers! The two women stood together in front of a skull coat of arms. The same deadly coat of arms she'd seen in Carthis on the tomb of the dead monk who wrote the cursed scrolls.
"Margaret and I searched for answers to the Scrolls together."
"She still is. We saw her on Carthis briefly. She was shot but got away."
Miss Parker's deepest instincts kicked in hard. She needed to find Margaret. "They want her dead, Mom. She has something to tell us. She knows a secret that can help us. But how can I find her?"
Suddenly there was a heavy pressure and Miss Parker felt herself literally having exchanged places with her mother's photographic image. She was even more startled when Margaret turned to her.
"Help me, Catherine! Help me save my son!"
Parker was more than a little freaked. She could barely believe that this was real! "How?"
Margaret pointed up and despite her fear Parker looked to where the red haired woman pointed. In the distance, she saw a huge alabaster statue of a lady atop a mountain. "Where do I find her?"
Suddenly Parker was back to herself.
"Find her." Catherine confirmed. "Margaret can help you both end this!"
"I need to tell Jarod. He's been looking for his mother for years. But I'm no hero, Mom. I'm not like Jarod. You can't imagine… the hideous things that I've witnessed, even been an accomplice to." Miss Parker looked down at her hands and was afraid to look up at her mother. She was afraid to confess her sins. But she felt her chin being lifted.
"Oh God, yes I can. You don't know everything! Maybe this is purgatory and not some alternate reality, you found me in! I never meant to hurt you…Everything I did was all for you."
"You never hurt me…Momma you never hurt anyone! You protected us! I know about what you did for the children at the Centre. I know about the children you rescued."
Catherine could feel her body retreat from this faux world. She was grateful for the little time she'd spent with her daughter. "I know what they told you about me! That I committed suicide! That I abandoned you!"
"I know that's not true now." She says quietly.
"But you still believe that I abandoned you deep down!" Catherine insisted. "It isn't true! When I went away...when I faked my death, I never gave up my plan of coming back for you! Not ever!"
The world began to come apart for Miss Parker then! She noticed that the room had been enveloped by swirling particles moving from side to side very quickly. They were flowing, but all separate. Then invisible hands touched her and pulled at her. She fought against them. But she fought alone. Her mother had vanished.
Catherine was gone but Miss Parker called for her anyway. "Mom!" She stood and cried out to thin air. "Don't leave me!"
Before her eyes the sleek chrome and glass doors opened by themselves and a threshold was revealed. The hands pulled and shoved Miss Parker toward it.
Even more unreal, Parker heard music as she was dragged to the threshold. A bizarre symphony played and as strange as it sounded, it was familiar! This was her music! She'd written this music!
The weird musical score accompanied her back through the rabbit hole!
Jarod finally made it into the main part of the house. He looked around for signs of Miss Parker or Lyle. He came to the conclusion, no one in this part of the house and that made him nervous. It was immaculate. He saw nothing out of place until he entered the main room.
...Signs of a struggle! No, a knockdown, drag out fight! Broken pottery and tossed over furniture, artwork askew. And blood!
But what was Lyle doing to her? It was obvious now that cutting off visitation to Tommy and the video of St. Louis was just a ruse to lure her into this trap. But why did he bring her here?
Jarod knew if had been Miss Parker's blood she would have put up a hell of a fight! He just knew she was still alive. His first priority was to find her.
He found another door and opened it. The remains of stale incense in the air hit him. Next to the entrance was a goblet on a pedestal. Jarod picked it up. It was milk and it smelled of honey. He put a finger into the mixture and dabbed a bit onto his tongue. There was something gritty in the mixture. He had no equipment to analyze it but he guessed that it contained a ground or powdered sedative. He didn't know why he wasn't surprised.
"What was this place? Did Lyle use this place to bring his victims? Drug them and …."
Jarod wasn't going to let Parker become another victim of Lyle's. He made his way forward to the front of the room. Before he could think of where to look for Miss Parker next, he smelled the indistinguishable odor of a corpse.
On the decorated but bloody altar was. Raines! His corpse was slit open from stem to stern with organs spilling out! With a few missing!
"What the hell!"
Now he was really afraid! He had to find Miss Parker! He had to find her alive! He turned and made his way back to the hall to search when he saw thin blood trails that led from the altar to the far wall. There were two large golden friezes that went from ceiling to floor. The friezes depicted a Thai man and a Thai woman in traditional dress, both were followed by spirit attendants. As Jarod went closer he could see that one of the friezes was actually a door. He pulled it open.
Jarod stepped behind the door into comfortable apartments. It had been similarly messed about but less so. The blood trail from the altar which he prayed was Raines' blood trailed across the marble floor of the vacant contemporary apartment.
Still Jarod heard nothing. He moved from room to room when he heard movement in what must have been the bedroom. Jarod cocked his gun and was ready to use it! He burst into the bedroom, searching.
Lyle lay on the floor of the bedroom in a pool of his own blood. When Jarod moved forward cautiously, he saw that he'd been stabbed several times.
Jarod leaned over him and demanded, "Where is she?"
Lyle had unfortunately not yet sung his swan song. Although unable to do barely more than whisper from his bloody mouth he laughed, "She's a true Parker now." He said as he took in his wounds.
"Anything she did to you, you probably had coming and worse! Now where is she?"
"Did you see how she cut up Raines? She finally got her revenge for Mommy's death." Lyle coughed proudly. "She's good with a knife. Very good."
"Miss Parker didn't do this! She couldn't!"
"Don't you wish that to be true. You still hope that your childhood friend won't embrace who she really is?" Lyle mocked the Pretender.
Jarod hated that he was beginning to doubt. "You drugged her! She probably didn't know what she was doing!"
"Didn't have to drug her, Jarod. She knew what she was doing." He lolled as he lay dying, "It's just the Parker legacy."
Jarod was horrified and he wasn't interested in debating the Parker curse! He had to find Miss Parker! Lyle had talked about Miss Parker in present tense. That meant she was alive! No matter what had happened here. Parker was alive! He could help her!
He left Lyle in the apartment, sure that he'd never see the psychopath again! He went back through the altar room and into the main hall. He started for the upstairs when he noticed that there was a terrace at the end of the main hall. Its glass doors were open.
Jarod crept up to the doors and looked out. More beautiful than the ocean view, Miss Parker stood there, swaying oddly. Her suit from this morning was a bit rumpled and she cradled her midsection as though it were hard to breathe. He stepped closer but she didn't acknowledge his movement at all!
He looked over the side of the railing and cautioned her. "Trust me, it's too far down."
Parker jumped when she finally felt him approach. On autopilot she pulled the dagger out in front of her for defense!
"It's me!" He told her calmly. "It's Jarod."
Miss Parker didn't seem to respond to him or recognize him. Jarod recognized it as shock. Her eyes were wild and darted all around looking for a way around him.
"Miss Parker please listen to me."
Her attention shifted to him. She looked as if she was going to be sick. "I'm not sure where…Where are we? Is this real?" She asked in whisper.
"It's very real." Jarod paused before going over to her. Afraid that he'd spook her further, he took the dagger from her and tossed it away. "I know about Lyle. You defended yourself, Parker. I wouldn't expect less."
At the mention of Lyle's name, Parker sobbed and her ribs ached, reminding her of another time and place she'd visited.
"You're hurt. Will you let me take a look at those bruises?"
Parker nodded obediently and went to Jarod as though she were a small child. Immediately, a relieved Jarod took the dagger from her hand and tossed it to the floor. He took Parker in his arms but she responded by recoiling.
"You smell!" she said weakly.
Jarod laughed out loud. "Well, thank you! You try crawling up a moldy air duct and see how you smell afterward!"
She had no feisty reply, only an empty stare. Shock seemed to be setting in again.
"C'mon let's go." He escorted her through the empty house to the front door. Jarod spied on two sweepers discreetly from the bay windows. They guarded the Centre limos that brought her there. He made up his mind to steal one. "When I open the door, run for the front limo and get in the passenger side, ok?" He instructed her.
A dumbstruck Parker nodded.
Jarod took a breath and quickly swung open the door. He aimed at the sweeper that guarded the rear and shot him. Miss Parker did as she was told and got into the limousine, as Jarod fought with the last sweeper. He was able to knock him out long enough to jump into the driver's side and crank the ignition. He barely missed the sweeper on the ground as he drove away.
"You know you might want to make it standard operating procedure for sweepers never to leave the keys in the car especially when a pretender is around." He joked to the woman next to him. But she still said nothing.
After leaving the area, Jarod had just pulled on the highway when his phone rang. He answered it and looked over at his passenger. She had said nothing since she last spoke to him at the house.
"Jarod! Where are you?" Sydney's upset voice came through the line.
"We're safe! I'm sorry I was going to call soon."
"What do you mean? What happened to Lyle?"
Jarod was silent. He looked over at Miss Parker who stared out the passenger side window with the look of the lost on her face.
As the silence grew, Sydney assumed that Mr. Lyle was dead. "Are you headed back?" He asked.
"Not yet." He said looking over at Parker. "I think we need a little peace. Listen you'll need to send out a cleanup team to pick up Lyle and Raines."
"Raines is dead too?"
"We're safe, Sydney. For now, that's all that matters." Jarod hung up and turned off his phone.