You Can't Help Who You Are, Part I
A Miracles Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)
Chapters: 1 of 2
Rating: Sup13+ (some elements might be too intense or scary for those under 13, bad language)
Word Count: 21,716 total
Dates: Written throughout the middle of 2005 'til the end, and into January 2006. Slight revision in October 2008.
Summary: "We don't choose how things happen, do we Paul? We just adjust." A policewoman from Alva's past comes for a visit, and recognizes Paul. Seems he was there, in a small ski resort town, at the same time Alva was, handling SQ's first supernatural investigation. A case dealing with the infamous Mothman.
Warning: Has a little bad language, including the F word. Contains spoilers for a few of Skeet's movies, including Ride with the Devil and Into the West. Doesn't really spoil The Magic of Ordinary Days although it's mentioned.
Beta Thanks: Thanks to Kaija and Joe for beta'ing this!
Notes: This is my fictionalization of the casefile "The Mothman" on . The story was written in an attempt to give Alva Keel his own experience with the infamous Mothman. It could be called a sort of cross-over with Richard Hatem's film "The Mothman Prophecies" because it contains my own versions of scenes right out of that movie. At the end of this story, I will detail exactly what I took from the film.
The name "Julietta" comes from Evie's dossier in "The Friendly Skies" from a section that seems to detail Evie's siblings.
My friend Kaye typed about a third of this story for me from my handwritten master. Thank you Kaye!
More notes at the end of the story. If I put them all here, you would fall asleep before you could even read the thing. ;)
Part 1: That Night in Mountaineer
"Keel, we are not taking a chupacabra case."
"I believe we should."
"We are not."
Sighing, Evie called from a nearby desk, "You might as well give in, Paul. You know if he really wants to take a case, Alva's going to get his way."
Alva appeared to see this as a victory, two against one. "So we take it."
Paul laughed; taking such a case would be ridiculous. "We will not."
"My, my. Same ol' Alva."
Both Alva and Paul turned to see a blonde female standing in the hallway leading into SQ; she wore a police uniform and a big, warm smile of familiarity. Alva suddenly grinned back. "Marie. Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?"
She chuckled as he crossed the room toward her and gave her a fond hug, which she returned. "Hello Alva. Still up to your old, bizarre tricks, I see."
"What are you doing in Boston?"
"My sergeant and I are here for a convention on sensitivity on the beat. Cops are still having to look after their reputations these days."
"It's so good to see you again..."
While they chatted, Paul ambled over to the desk where Evie was working on SQ's taxes. "Who's that?"
Evie shrugged. "I don't recognize her."
"He seems to like her." Paul was reacting to the feelings he gleaned off of Alva through his empathic link. "What is it with Keel and sultry blondes, anyway?"
"Sultry" was a fairly good way to describe Marie, for though she wore little makeup, she was still quite pretty, with long wavy hair under her brimmed police issue hat. Evie knew all about being a "hot cop;" it was something that sometimes worked against you, and sometimes worked to your advantage.
Alva brought Marie over to introduce her. "Evelyn Santos, one of my partners in this business."
"Well, you decided to share the wealth, hm?" Grinning, Marie shook Evie's hand. "Pleased to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too. I was a cop also, four years with District 8 in South Boston," Evie boasted.
"Really? We should compare notes."
Alva turned the introductions to Paul. "And this is Paul Callan, my other co-worker. Paul, Marie."
He looked at her as if she was vaguely familiar to him. "Pleased to meet you."
Marie shook his hand while she examined his face quite hard. "Your name is... Paul Callan?"
She paused, trying to decide if she should pursue this further. Ultimately, Marie decided to ask, "Have you ever been to Mountaineer, Vermont?"
Within seconds, Paul's eyes had widened and his face had gone white when that question brought it all back for him. He suddenly knew where he had seen Officer Marie McCann before.
"Paul? Are you alright?" Alva asked, confused.
Paul said nothing. He swallowed hard, turned, and retreated to Alva's office to get himself together... or maybe to hide.
"Marie, what's going on?"
Shocked and bewildered, Marie turned to Alva. "That's him. I'm sure of it. Alva, he was in Mountaineer at the same time you were. I will never forget Paul Callan, because it was the most bizarre case I ever saw."
"Oh, Marie..." At first, Alva had been ready to dismiss this as a mistake, but then he recalled Paul's reaction to Marie and Mountaineer, just moments ago. "Are you sure?"
"Yes!" Marie leaned on a nearby chair, still shaken by the revelation. "I probably shouldn't be telling you about this, but he's your associate."
Evie cut in, "What went on here? What happened in Mountaineer?"
"It's the Mothman case, Evie."
"Oh, that one. You didn't know Paul then."
"But he was there," Marie repeated.
"Start at the beginning."
With a sigh, Marie sat down. "While you were in Mountaineer, and we were investigating this creature that the citizens of my town were seeing, this Mothman, my partner and I picked up a young man wandering the streets in a daze. It was him, Paul Callan. He couldn't speak; he barely responded to us. I'll never forget his eyes... huge, dilated pupils, glassy... so help me, I swear his pupils fluttered."
"I've never seen eyes do that before."
What they heard disturbed them. Evie asked, "What was wrong with him?"
"We were never able to figure out exactly what caused all the strange symptoms, but we did test his blood, and that explained the daze he was in." Marie looked at the office where Paul had gone. "Mr. Callan's blood was full of barbiturates. The lab technician who did the testing said it was almost like sodium pentothal."
"Yeah. It's a barbiturate and an anesthetic. How he got that in his blood, we may never know. Mr. Callan had a serious memory lapse."
Although Alva was confused by how bizarre this whole story was turning out to be, he still nodded in understanding. "It's also thought it can be used as a mind control drug."
"Either way, he eventually threw up and came out of his stupor. A priest drove all the way from Boston to pick him up. A Father Ca... Canero?"
"Father Calero," said Paul from the doorway of Alva's office. He still seemed shaken, but ready to talk. "I recognize you. You were one of the cops who picked me up."
"Paul, what happened?" Evie gently asked.
"I don't know." Paul stepped more into the room, moving closer to the desk where Evie sat. "I have no memory of how I got to Mountaineer. Witnesses said I drove, and my car was there. But I just remember being in the Student Lounge at school, and the next thing I knew, I was vomiting in the jail cell." He addressed Alva directly. "I've never spoken of the incident with anyone but Poppi because I was embarrassed. But now I'm hearing that you were in Mountaineer at the same time that this happened to me. That's too strange of a coincidence not to pursue it."
"You want to know how you got there, and why?"
"Yes." Paul looked at Marie, then back at Alva. "What was happening in Mountaineer at the time I was found there? What is the Mothman case?"
Morning sunlight attempted to stream in through the window of Alva's upstairs apartment, finding its efforts blocked by heavy green curtains. Still, a sliver of sunlight snuck around the edge and fell across Alva's chest; he had fallen asleep on his couch again. The phone rang. It awakened him, and he sat up, just enough for the sun to shine right into his eyes. Alva moaned, squinting, and reached for the receiver. "Hello?"
"Have I reached Sodalitas Quaerito?" asked a female voice.
He sat up straighter and tried to shake the sleep out of his voice. "Uh, yes, yes. This is Alva Keel. How may I help you?"
"Did you say Alva Keel?"
"Are you any relation to John Keel?"
Alva had to pause at the unexpected question. "Actually, no. Who am I speaking to?"
"I'm sorry for the weirdness, but it's just a very strange coincidence. My name is Officer Marie McCann. I'm a policewoman from Mountaineer, Vermont. Something is happening here that I'd like you to consult on."
"How did you find Sodalitas Quaerito?"
Officer McCann replied, "Once the citizens of Mountaineer started seeing all the weird things, I read up on it, and I found the parapsychological association's listing of groups that investigate strange phenomena. I've already called three teams from the New York area, and..." she paused; embarrassment crept into her voice. "I'm sorry, you weren't my first choice. But the others were either already busy with other cases or they thought I was a crackpot. I was trying to find a group close by. You're in Boston?"
"Yes. What's going on out there?" Alva asked.
"This is a ski resort town. Most of our revenue comes from tourism. Nothing this bizarre has ever happened here before. People have been seeing a weird man lurking around. Their descriptions match the eyewitness reports of incidents from years ago in Point Pleasant, West Virginia."
Alva recognized the name of the city. "You're saying..."
"I think Mountaineer is being visited by the Mothman."
There was a long pause as Alva took that in. "You're quite serious?"
"Yes. I read up on it. The Mothman is described as a six foot tall grey humanoid with a wingspan of ten feet; instead of a head, he has two glowing red eyes spaced between his shoulders. That matches the descriptions I have taken from eyewitnesses in my reports. It's happening again." Officer McCann sighed. "Will you bring your team to investigate?"
Now it was Alva's turn to be embarrassed. "I... don't exactly have a team." The fact that he was speaking to a woman, and a woman who sounded quite attractive, had flustered him. Alva wondered how what he was now saying must sound to her.
"How many investigators can you bring?"
He paused. "I'm really quite capable of doing it on my own."
"There's just you?"
"Well... Sodalitas Quaerito began only recently."
"Oh." Officer McCann ruffled some papers on her end. "How many cases have you investigated?"
"Technically? This would be Sodalitas Quaerito's first," Alva said a little sheepishly. There was that flustered babbling again. But it went against his personal principles to lie to a woman who was asking for his help.
Clearing her throat, Officer McCann finally asked, "This is pretty big for a first case, huh?"
"The return of the infamous Mothman? A bit, yes."
"And you could have it all to yourself..." she said teasingly.
Alva had to grin. "I could."
"So you'll come?"
He checked his calendar. "I don't have any other pressing appointments. I'll get there as soon as I can."
"You want me to pick you up at the airport?"
"If you don't mind. I'll call you once I know when I'll arrive."
Officer McCann gave him her cell phone number. "I'm glad I have a real paranormal expert on the way to help me sort this out. The weirdest thing we cops usually see is naked drunk people fighting in the street."
"This is quite a switch then."
She laughed. "You could say that. Except this time, it's a naked moth." Marie didn't usually make jokes like this; she was, for the most part, pretty no nonsense. But that accent... why were women always so charmed by European accents?
They said their goodbyes and hung up. Alva had to wonder if any of that could have been classified as flirting; it felt like it in a twisted way. Then he wondered what he'd gotten himself into. The Mothman? It was quite an amazing thing to claim - no wonder other investigators had called her a crackpot. But what if her claim panned out? What if the Mothman was being seen in Mountaineer? Alva wanted to be in the middle of that. Last time, the sightings had ended in death when the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River, sending many motorists to their death. How would this one end?
Before he got up to get himself ready for the trip, Alva checked the calendar once again. It was January 23, 1998.
"SQ's first case?" Paul had momentarily forgotten his own place in this and whistled at the gravity of the situation - the first case of the group to which he now belonged. Just the idea of the story he was about to hear impressed him. "January 23, 1998? That was around the time you met Evie, wasn't it?"
"A few days after, yes. She hadn't yet joined SQ," Alva said, and looked at Evie.
"Wow. It was a monumental time for the group, then." And what part had Paul played in it? He brooded over that for a few seconds, his face troubled.
Like her mother, Evie always played the matchmaker, attempting to be subtle, but failing miserably. "Well, Marie, when you first met Alva, what was your initial impression?"
She didn't expect the question. Marie glanced at Alva, then smiled. "Eccentric."
The first thing Marie noticed when Alva stepped through the door into the terminal was his eyes. The light caught them in such a way that they seemed to glow bright grayish blue. She was instantly, unprofessionally attracted to him, but would have to put that aside. Marie waved to him. "Mr. Keel?"
He smiled, closed-mouth, as he walked over with a small suitcase in one hand and his other extended in greeting. "You must be Officer McCann." There seemed to be some surprise in his expression, as he hadn't expected a police officer to be so lovely.
"That I am. As long as we're going to be working together on this truly bizarre case, I think we can drop the formalities, don't you? Please call me Marie."
Nodding, Alva said, "I agree. I'm Alva. My father is Mr. Keel."
"Well, Alva, follow me, and I'll take us back to the station."
On their way to the squad car, Alva started asking questions to get a feel for the case. "How did this whole thing start?"
"People call the police for all sorts of ridiculous things. But really, who do you call when you see an enormous creature with wings flying alongside your car?" Marie shrugged at him.
"Is that what happened?" Alva asked in an amazed tone.
"The first sighting, yeah. I'll let you talk to the witnesses. They said this 'Mothman' pursued their car like it was racing with them. No matter what they did, they couldn't shake it. It was fast. It finally flew off once they reached the parking lot of the Cold Hollow Lodge."
"Very, very similar to the Mothman's behavior in Pt. Pleasant all those years ago." Alva held the door open for her as they stepped out into the cold mountain air. "How did you happen to connect this creature with Pt. Pleasant's Mothman?"
Marie grinned and replied, "I have a cousin who likes reading about UFO's and other weird stuff. He subscribes to 'Fortean Times.' Once all this started and the story hit the papers, he called me."
"How much of the original story did he tell you?"
"The basics. I did a little reading, enough to understand what happened, but I was hoping you could fill in the rest."
Filling in the rest was exactly what Alva did on their way back to the police station. He spoke of the Mothman with such enthusiasm that one might think he studied Fortean creatures for a living, but it was the wonder and the sheer lack of embarrassment with which he spoke that really made the story so fascinating, coming from him. Some people would have found the telling of such a story about sightings of a giant half-man half-moth to be embarrassing and silly, but not Alva. He spoke with an intensity, a flair for the theatrical, that made nothing about the story seem silly; instead, Alva's mere tone imparted how mysterious and scary the tale really was. Marie could finally imagine how frightening it must've been to encounter that huge, strange beast, to be pursued by it, and not be able to communicate with it.
When he finished the story by describing the collapse of the Silver Bridge, they were sitting in the Mountaineer police station, she on the edge of her desk and Alva in a wooden chair, his arms resting on the rail-like arm rests. "Many people died when that bridge collapsed into the river. To this day, no one knows if the Mothman was there to warn everyone of the disaster, or if he caused it."
"Wow..." Marie shook her head in disbelief of how amazing the story was. "The way you tell this story, you'd think you were there when it happened."
Alva only shrugged. "I do my research."
But she knew it was more than that. His desire for knowledge of the paranormal had become so intense that the curiosity consumed his life - but the enthusiasm he felt was not necessarily bad. He possessed a certain contentedness within this odd lifestyle, along with a prevailing feeling of loneliness. Alva needed comrades in this business; she hoped someday he'd find them. Marie doubted he had such a willing audience to "perform" to often. His eccentricity only made him more attractive. More interesting.
"Do you want to talk to some of the witnesses now?"
The stories were all very similar, not only to each other but to the sightings of the Mothman from Pt. Pleasant in 1966-67. People were chased from their cars to their homes by a giant moth-like being that squeaked. The creature pursued their cars at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. People saw this "Mothman" flying over the Cold Hollow Lodge performing aerial stunts. Alva found all of the witnesses to be sincere and believable beyond reproach. They had obviously seen something real, something that terrified them. But was it really the Mothman? Or, the more important question, was the Mothman real?
The day ended with a news report hastily put together by a friend of Marie's at local TV station, featuring a live interview with her and Alva. They spoke of the sightings and encouraged anyone who had seen the Mothman, but not yet reported it, to come forward. The number of the police station and Alva's cell phone number were given out for people to call.
The two of them chatted into the late hours back at the station. Marie had to clean the sinks in each of the holding cells; they were a small police force and they had no cleaning staff. Alva stretched out on one of the bunks to chat with her while she performed the menial task. "This city is so close to Lake Champlain..."
Marie laughed as she scrubbed at a drain stopper. "The home of the lake monster, Champ. I've heard all about it."
"Some think he's related to Nessie, from back home."
"Back home?" She grinned at him, lying on his side with his head propped up on his hand. "Is that where your accent comes from? Scotland?"
"What is your professional opinion on this case so far, my Scottish friend?"
Marie's tone was so playful, Alva knew she was half serious about discussing the case and half flirting with him. He didn't mind. He just grinned back at her. "Something is happening here. Something real. It's unclear whether the same creature from Pt. Pleasant is at work again, here in Mountaineer, or if it's a copycat event. I'm hoping those details will become clearer as the story unfolds."
"You think they really saw something?"
Marie trusted him at his word; he knew more about this stuff than she did. She pretended to be engrossed in the cleaning as she casually turned the conversation over to more personal details. "Do you ever wish that you had a full team of investigators to help you?"
Alva shrugged. "It would be a lot of help. But I'll have that someday."
"Do you have a lady friend?"
He smiled at her quaint phrasing of the question. "Not currently."
"Don't you ever get lonely?"
"Everyone gets lonely. Even those who do have lady friends."
They just smiled at each other for a moment. "I suppose you're right."
"I have loved ones out there. People I will work with, side by side." Alva turned over on his back and stretched. "Just haven't found them yet."
Marie stopped cleaning, took off the rubber gloves, and walked closer to Alva, standing over him. "How do you know that?"
He looked up at her. "You don't have to be a psychic to get feelings about your fate."
Marie put one hand on either side of him, leaning down on the bunk, and said, "That's poetry."
"You've been reading some pretty bad poetry, then."
She grinned as she lowered her face closer to his... and his cell phone began to ring.
They were leaving out details of the story; Evie knew it, and Paul knew it. Evie knew because of women's intuition; Paul knew because he could feel the remembered sparks between them as they recalled what happened. Time had turned the sparks to faded embers, but there was still a great affection between them. He didn't know why it surprised him that Alva had real, human, carnal feelings; he supposed it was sort of like knowing that your parents had sex.
But those details were not important to the telling of this story.
"I began receiving phone calls in response to the news spot," Alva explained. "A few were pranks, but we did get some new reports of Mothman sightings. Marie and I recorded all the calls we received to make the transcription process easier."
"I gather some of the calls were interesting," interjected Evie.
Raising an eyebrow, Alva replied, "Extremely. I got a call from the Mothman himself."
Evie and Paul froze before reacting. "What?"
"When I got back to my hotel room, a man called me claiming to be the Mothman. His voice sounded very peculiar."
Paul leaned forward. "You recorded this call?"
"Let's hear it," Paul requested.
"I knew you'd say that."
"You don't have to be a psychic..."
A few minutes later, Alva had the tape player set up with one of his old cassettes ready to play. It was labeled "Mothman 1." He glanced uneasily at Paul. "Before I play this, Paul... there's something you should know."
"Yes?" Paul's dark eyes darted over Alva's face, reading his body language. Another secret.
"The Mothman brought up the word 'hemography' and told me I should pursue it, that it would lead me to you."
Paul, letting out a held breath, said, "Wow." The way he felt could hardly be expressed with words. He was glad that this secret hadn't been quite as explosive as the one about the "God is Nowhere" people; it was almost the same, really. What shook Paul up was knowing that this bizarre, infamous creature knew who he was, and had been concerned enough with him to put Alva on the path to him. The reality of that was too creepy to be understood.
"Are you ready to listen?"
His hands folded as if in prayer before his lips, Paul closed his eyes for several seconds and nodded.
Alva started the tape. His voice came on as he answered his phone. "Alva Keel."
The sound of the voice brought troubled looks to both Paul and Evie's faces. Alva and Marie had heard it before. Evie had only looked over the basics of the file, but had not had the time to read it all the way through, nor listen to this tape. The voice sounded unnatural. It was decidedly male, but fluttered, as if mechanically altered. The voice most reminded Paul of someone speaking into the wind of a fan, or what a voice would sound like if it had been interposed with the fluttering of insect wings.
"Hello. To whom am I speaking?" Alva asked on the tape.
"I am your 'Mothman,' " the voice replied.
On the tape, Alva paused because the claim the caller had made was quite outlandish; it took him a few seconds to realize he was serious. During that pause, Paul had a flash of his own terrified face in the mirror with those fluttering pupils that Marie had described. He put his hands to his throat as he started to cough horribly, trying to clear an obstruction that choked him. Paul realized the vision was now happening to him in real life when he saw Alva and Evie standing over him, concerned. He coughed and gagged as if there was something lodged in his throat, but as the vision faded, he realized there was nothing there.
"Paul? Are you alright?"
He found it hard to speak for a moment. "I... I couldn't... breathe."
"I saw something, and suddenly - "
The tape was still playing. As the others went silent to listen to Paul, he heard a little more of the Mothman's voice. "...The other man named Keel was skeptical too, at first."
Gripped by another violent coughing fit, Paul doubled over, trying to clear an object that only existed in his memory. Alva clapped him on the back in hopes that it would help.
Acting on a hunch, Evie turned off the tape player. Paul's coughing fit cleared up within seconds.
Marie had stood up in surprise when Paul started coughing; she looked at him, then at the tape player. "He's reacting to the voice of the Mothman. It's just like when he threw up in the jail cell. He couldn't breathe, and he coughed up this sludge..."
Alva fully understood now. "The sound of the Mothman's voice brought memories of what happened in Mountaineer out of your subconscious. Have you ever tried to remember what happened while you were drugged, Paul?"
He shook his head. "No. I was ashamed." This subject made Paul grow sheepish. "Poppi came to get me. He thought what everyone else thought - that I had deliberately taken the drugs. I didn't, but it still felt like a failure. I just wanted to forget it. Poppi suggested that maybe someone had slipped the drugs into my food as a prank, and that sounded as good a theory as any. We both eventually accepted it as the truth."
"But it might not be the truth. You see that now, don't you?" Alva said.
Paul nodded, resigned.
"Your body is trying to get you to remember what happened. Are you ready to remember?"
He nodded again. "I can't pretend it didn't happen anymore. I really want to know."
"Then we should find someone to hypnotize you. I'm not sure how long it will take to find one."
"We can get it done today," Evie interjected. "Alva, you're forgetting, I have a shrink in the family."
Having never been hypnotized before, Paul was understandably a little nervous about it, but as soon as he saw Evie's older sister, he relaxed somewhat. She looked a great deal like Evie, with the same long black curly hair and lovely appearance.
"Paul, this is my sister, Dr. Julietta Santos. She's a professional psychiatrist and she hypnotizes people all the time, so you don't have to worry about her damaging your brain any," Evie said mischievously.
Julietta added, "No, I stopped doing that after that nasty malpractice suit." Although she was dressed professionally for the session, with her hair pulled back on the sides and her reading glasses firmly on her nose, she still had a sense of humor for her younger sister.
Paul let out a laugh. "You really know how to instill confidence in a guy."
"Julietta's your age, Paul, but I swear her degree is real. Only cost her six box tops." The two sisters snickered at that one.
"I ate so much Captain Crunch, the roof of my mouth was in shreds," Julietta snickered.
"Paul, I know we're making Julietta seem really unprofessional here, but trust me, she's great at what she does. It's just impossible for me to keep from teasing her. I have to get my revenge for all the things she did to me in childhood somehow." Evie nudged Julietta with her elbow.
Grinning, Paul replied, "No, it's really okay. Watching you two together is putting me at ease." He noticed another woman standing shy and quiet behind Julietta. "Who is this?"
"Oh!" Evie dragged the girl out to introduce her. "This is my other sister, Gabriella. She's doing her internship as older sis's office assistant. She'll be here to observe and take notes."
"Hi." Gabriella held out her hand. She tried to hide it, but the look in her eyes said she found Paul just dreamy. He smiled and shook her hand with both of his own.
"The Santos family is just full of lovely women with beautiful names. Which parent has the romantic flair?"
Julietta replied, "Mama."
"What do you think our brother's name is?" Evie asked.
Paul looked to Gabriella for clues, but she only blushed at the fact that he'd said she was lovely. "I couldn't guess."
"Julietta, Evelyn, Hector, and Gabriella."
"We're convinced he's adopted," laughed Julietta. "And you've almost got the order right. It was me, then Hector, then Evie, and finally Gabbi a few years later. Mama and Papa were like rabbits for most of the 70's."
Paul chuckled. All his nervousness was currently gone. This is exactly the angle Julietta had been aiming for, to relax Paul for his first session by making him feel a part of the family. "Gabriella, how did you get the red hair when your sisters both have the black?"
Now she really blushed in embarrassment. "Umm..."
Julietta put an arm around her. "She inherited her shade from Miss Clairol, Paul."
He cringed. "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry..."
Evie and Julietta chuckled at their little sister's expense. Gabriella wanted to kick them both in the shins for embarrassing her in front of Paul.
Alva and Marie came down the stairs from his apartment. "The room is ready."
"Paul, you head on up and get comfortable. We'll be right along," Julietta instructed. She waited for him to head up with Alva and Marie before playfully hugging Gabriella closer. "Sorry about that, kid."
Gabriella ran a hand through her shoulder-length colored hair. "I'm going to murder you in your sleep."
"He's cute, huh?"
Evie barked, "No. No, he's not."
"Uh oh, Evie wants him for herself," Julietta teased.
"No, I don't, I just don't think he's right for Gabbi."
Julietta spoke to Gabriella again as if Evie wasn't standing right there. "Evie doesn't like the idea of her co-worker pawing her sweet little sister."
Gabriella hid her face behind the little notepad in her hand. "Juli..."
"He had some nice hands too. Good for pawing."
Now Evie said, "Juli..." She pushed both her sisters toward the stairs. "Time to stop messing around and get professional."
Alva had prepared his living room the way Julietta had told him to on the phone. The couch had a few extra comfortable pillows on it, the lights had been dimmed, and some incense of a scent Paul liked burned nearby, all to set a relaxing mood. A person could not be hypnotized if they were nervous and uptight. Paul laid down on the couch as instructed, his hands folded over his abdomen. Alva, Evie, Marie, and Gabriella stayed in the background to observe while Julietta pulled a green patterned chair up beside the couch. Evie carefully set up the video camera and tripod that divided their time between being the official capturer of Matty's formative years and SQ's visual archivist.
"Alright Paul, you'll want to close your eyes. Most people find it easier to drift into a hypnotic state with their eyes closed," Julietta said.
Paul closed his eyes. Evie checked the angle through the camera's viewfinder to make sure his face and upper torso were well framed.
"I want you to relax your mind. Relax your muscles. Take deep, slow breaths." Julietta spoke in a slow, soothing tone. "Let my voice guide you down. You will from time to time hear other voices, like Alva's, as he fills in details for me. This session was spur of the moment, so I didn't have time to get your full history. Alva and my sister filled in a bit over the phone..."
"I understand," Paul replied. "Keel probably knows more about me than I do, he's so good at stalking." He grinned when he said that.
Julietta didn't know what that meant, but she still chuckled. "Okay, deep breaths." She let him do that for a minute, waiting for the telltale signs. If Paul didn't respond well to this method, then next, she'd have him focus deeply on an object, which was the most like the "watch the watch" stuff always used in the movies. Once he seemed more relaxed, Julietta instructed, "Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. When your breath leaves your mouth, I want you to watch it slowly drift past your lips. Do that for me until I give you further instruction."
Such an instruction would give most people pause, but not someone who was already drifting into a deep hypnotic state. Paul breathed as he was told, imagining his breath leaving his mouth.
Soon, Julietta added, "Now add colors and patterns to your breath. The colors represent all of your current worries... inhibitions... fears... everything weighing on your mind. See it all floating away on your breath. I see red... blue... green... now look, it's even rainbow colored. There go some black thoughts. Those are your worries."
Evie yawned, then blinked several times. That soothing voice was going to put her to sleep if she wasn't careful.
Paul slowly exhaled, his brow furrowed, as if he was glad to be rid of these thoughts.
"There are more you need to be rid of. Do you see them leaving your mouth, Paul?"
After exhaling, he answered, "Yes," in a slow, trance-like voice.
Gabriella smirked behind her pad. "Do you see them leaving your gorgeous mouth with the soft, kissable lips, Paul?" she thought to herself.
Julietta smiled lightly, because this method seemed to be working. "Exhale again, and tell me what color it is now."
Paul did. "Blue with yellow dots."
Chuckles and grins passed through the room.
Julietta smiled with them. Very imaginative. He was responding beautifully. She loved it when they were this easy to hypnotize. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she dealt with a person so open to it. "Very good; yes it is. Now, as you continue to exhale all your worries, and other things cluttering up your head, your body will begin to fill with liquid. Warm... soothing... like a hot bath."
A calm expression, like he enjoyed that thought, spread across Paul's face.
"The liquid starts at your toes, moving up your legs very slowly. It's your favorite color. What's your favorite color, Paul?"
"The water is white - "
"Like milk?" Paul suddenly asked inquisitively.
Julietta grinned again. "Sure, like milk. It has the consistency of milk. Feels like milk too." She had Paul imagine the liquid moving up his entire body. "So soothing..."
Evie had to hold back a laugh when she saw Alva almost nod off and blink hard, then rub his eyes. Good, so she wasn't the only one.
"The liquid keeps flowing up, and up, until it reaches the top of your head. When it touches the crown of your head, you will feel completely relaxed and at ease, and respond to all my questions truthfully." Paul seemed to be responding perfectly, but Julietta had to test that he was as deeply hypnotized as possible, so he would respond to the regression. "Paul, can you hear me?"
"Yes." That slow, relaxed voice.
"Slowly lift your arms up above your head."
Paul did as he was told, keeping them up.
"Now quickly put them down."
Abruptly, Paul snapped his arms down at his sides.
"That's good, Paul. You can rest your arms any way you like now."
He folded his hands together over his chest again.
Evie, joking, leaned over and muttered to her sister, "You're not supposed to play with your patients, Juli."
Julietta whispered back, "He's not an official patient." She put her attention back on Paul, satisfied that he was ready. "I'm going to take you back to a day from your past now. You will feel relaxed as you recount for me what happened on this day. Do you want to go back, Paul?"
"Fine. Then let's go back a few years. See the seconds ticking backward. They're moving faster... becoming minutes... hours... now days. Months are passing like seconds. We're now in the year 1998. You remember 1998?"
"Go back to January. Late January. Where were you then in life?" she asked.
"Going to Tufts University. And seminary school," Paul said.
Julietta glanced back at the others. Alva hadn't had a chance to mention that. "This character almost became a priest?" she questioned quietly.
Alva nodded, confirming it.
That was interesting. He obviously wasn't a priest now. What changed his mind? "How do you feel at this time in life?"
"A little down."
"Rebecca and I broke up before Christmas. She was my true love... but she was seeing someone else. I know it," Paul said with some bitterness to his tone.
Again, Julietta turned with confusion to Alva. "He was going to become a Catholic priest?"
"Yes," he replied.
That was also interesting. Julietta's natural tendency to analyze people was coming out strong. Why was he dating a woman seriously when he knew he was eventually going to have to take a vow of celibacy? How long had he had doubts?
Gabriella frowned. How could anyone cheat on someone so cute?
"Well, it's understandable you would be blue, then," Julietta said to Paul, putting her attention back on him. "Why don't we focus on one particular day in late January? I want you to go back to the night you drove to Mountaineer, Vermont."
Paul's brow creased, and he looked quite apprehensive, almost scared, in reaction.
"You will be able to observe everything that happened and describe it for us. Take us back a few hours before you started your drive." Julietta leaned forward slightly, eager to guide him headfirst through these memories.
Paul seemed to relax again. Whatever made him apprehensive before hadn't happened yet.
"What are you doing, Paul?"
"Eating dinner in the dining hall."
"How's it taste?" asked Julietta.
A tremor of chuckles passed through the room.
"So what are we doing after dinner?" She tried to sound a little younger, to relate to younger Paul.
"I have some studying to do," he replied.
Alva was amazed to hear Paul's voice actually sound more youthful, somehow, as he recounted these past memories. How old would he have been at the time? Almost 25?
"Where are we going to study?" the psychiatrist questioned.
"There's a lounge on the second floor with a balcony, in my dorm. My favorite. I like to leave the doors open, smell the air and stuff. Helps me think." Younger Paul shrugged and smirked.
"Ah, I can understand that," Julietta began, and started to ask, "Which subject - "
A look of disbelieving terror contorted Paul's face so suddenly that it took everyone by surprise. He took in a deep, loud, gasping breath.
Taken just as aback as the others, Julietta took a few seconds to ask, "What's wrong, Paul?"
"What is that thing?"
A chill swept up Alva's spine. The pure terror in Paul's voice, the way he whispered that question so desperately, as if he needed to know, but was afraid the "thing" would hear him if he spoke any louder.
Julietta listened to her instincts, and acted quickly. "Freeze the moment in time. Whatever you're seeing, Paul, I want you to freeze it in time and describe for me what you see. What does this thing look like?"
"It's on the balcony. It's right there!"
"There's no reason to be afraid - "
Paul hissed through his teeth. "It's coming in here..."
He was too gripped by fear to listen. "Paul - "
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done..." His voice was utterly terrified, as if he was right back there in the same room with whatever was scaring him so.
No one was laughing now. They all looked at each other in alarm. Alva started toward Paul and Julietta, to help calm the man somehow. Just to do something to help.
Julietta took hold of one of Paul's hands to ground him. She spoke in a commanding, loud voice. "Paul! Freeze this event in time! It is NOT happening again. You are only observing what happened that night. You are only observing!"
Paul finally seemed to hear her. He relaxed quite a bit, though he still appeared to be on his guard. His eyes moved back and forth underneath his eyelids, like the Paul of the past was scanning the room.
Alva also stopped where he was, and moved back. He looked down at the seated Marie, who looked back at him, swallowing hard. They exchanged theories with their eyes. They both knew what was in the room with Paul that night in 1998. The mystery was coming together.
"Good, Paul. Good." Julietta patted his hand. "Now that you've frozen the moment, tell me what's happening. What do you see?"
Paul swallowed down his fear as if it was so thick, he could taste it. "Something landed on the balcony. I think it flew in, because it has wings."
Alva put a hand to his mouth and paced the room for a few seconds. It was just as he and Marie had begun to suspect; that was all the confirmation he needed. The real question was why? The answer would likely be fleshed out as Paul told them more, but Alva wasn't sure he could stand to hear it, knowing how it horrified Paul. How it would have horrified anyone.
Julietta looked confused, listening to Paul's story. Something with wings landed on the balcony? What terrifying flying thing could have flown in? A giant bird? "Describe it for us."
"I'm not even sure it has a head. It's at least six feet tall, with huge wings - a ten foot wingspan, at least. It's got these red glowing eyes in the middle of its chest. I... I have no idea what it is, but it's massive compared to me," Paul said with repressed hysteria.
"Oh, God," Marie muttered to herself, her hand over her mouth. Alva started to rub her shoulders. They were all feeling the horror that Paul must've felt.
For several seconds, Julietta said nothing. She stared at Paul in confusion and tried to figure this out. People normally did not make up outlandish details when repressed to a past event in their lives, nothing like this. She suddenly asked, "Did you take any drugs earlier in the day, before you saw this thing?"
Alva and Evie glanced at each other. They knew, because of the events, that Paul wasn't hallucinating, but of course, Julietta had to eliminate all the mundane possibilities.
"No!" Paul barked, his tone annoyed and offended at the question.
"So... you believe you really saw this... would you call it a man?"
"It's too big to be a man. It's almost like a giant butterfly, or a moth."
She opened her mouth to ask him if there was a history of mental illness in his family, but realized quickly that such a question was better saved for later.
Marie and Alva exchanged looks again. They could have spoken those words, or a moth, with Paul, because they were realizing that the reason why Paul had been in Mountaineer is because the Mothman had wanted him there.
"You said it came into the room with you. Was anyone else around to see it?" Julietta asked.
"No, I was alone."
How unfortunate. And coincidental. "What did you do?"
Julietta shifted anxiously in her seat; this was about to get even more bizarre. "What did this moth person do?"
"He... he advances toward me. I have no idea what this thing is going to do - I don't even know what it is! So I started to scream and - " Instantly, Paul stiffened, arched his back, and threw his hands up over his head. He made very realistic sounds of gagging and choking. Horrible, scary sounds.
Everyone reacted with alarm and concern once again. What was happening to Paul? Before anyone could rush in, Julietta again grabbed up one of his hands and assured, "Whatever happened to you that night, it is not happening now! Listen to me, Paul!" He thrashed in fear on the couch as she continued, "Remember, you can observe what happened without feeling it. Observe, Paul! You are not experiencing it again. Only watching."
Breathing hard, he stopped making those choking noises, and began to relax.
"That's it. That's it. You have the ability to watch what is happening to your past self, but you will not feel it again." That seemed to do it. This Paul Callan character really believed he had been attacked by a moth monster. Either he had tripped out on drugs or experienced a mental breakdown that caused him to hallucinate the whole episode. Or he was the best actor she had ever seen.
Of course, Alva and Marie thought Paul had been attacked too, but not by a hallucination. Alva looked as if he'd been put through a wringer, watching Paul act as if he was really choking to death. Evie's expression was quite troubled also.
Once the man relaxed again, Julietta put his hand back across his chest. "Why did you start choking Paul?"
"It... it... oh God." He was shaking.
"Paul of today can step into the scene and observe what is happening to Paul of the past without feeling it. Do you understand?"
"Alright." Julietta was finally satisfied that she could get this story out of Paul without him having another dramatic physical reaction. "What did the moth thing do to the Paul of the past?"
"I tried to scream, and the thing rushed at me and grabbed my arms, pinning me to the wall. This tube came out of its mouth... I guess it was its mouth... and..." He swallowed hard. "...it shoved the tube down my throat. I could hardly breathe... couldn't talk at all. Couldn't scream." Paul ended that sentence at a harsh, frightened whisper.
"Why did it insert the tube in your throat?" Julietta queried, keeping the amazement out of her voice. The things he was coming up with...
"It put a pod in there. Attached to my vocal cords," said Paul.
Everyone looked at each other uneasily.
"To take control of me and speak through me."
Julietta was glad Paul had his eyes closed and could not see the utter disbelief on her face. Her eyebrows were furrowed, her mouth slightly open in shock. She had counseled, and still treated, many people who used various methods to get attention, most of them bad for them. Julietta had never treated anyone who used being molested by a supernatural being as a way to feel special. "Why you, Paul? Why did it pick you?"
"Because I'm so open. So susceptible. It's just how I am. Plus, the Mothman appreciated the irony of using me for this task."
No one fully understood yet what that meant, but some understood it more than others.
"Oh? And just how did this seed pod work?" Julietta said, hoping that tougher questions would trip him up. The only way to help him was to break through this elaborate hallucination he had created. She would build up to what Paul meant by being "open" and "the irony."
"It secreted controlled doses of a drug that the Mothman produces naturally, but when introduced into the human system, acts as an anesthetic and mind-control agent." Strangely, Paul's voice had changed subtly while he rattled off this explanation. It became slower, deeper, more clinical. Hearing it, Evie shuddered. "The process was necessary to gain control."
"How do you know all this, Paul? Did the Mothman tell you?" asked Julietta.
"No." That deeper voice again. "Paul does not know how the pod worked."
With a bewildered pause, she said, "Then who does know?"
"The forces within Paul."
The entire room fell silent. Alva almost cringed as he shot Evie a look; he hated that outsiders had heard that. What they must think... there was so much they never would know. All they could do was sit back and judge Paul's sanity with ignorance.
Julietta's head spun. It took her several seconds to form her next question. "Are we talking to those forces now?"
"They are always here, to clarify."
My God... was she talking to a genuine Multiple Personality Disorder sufferer? What had her sister gotten her into? Either way, he had pretty much just admitted that drugs were involved, even if it was through a "pod." That was a good beginning on the road to recovery. "Thank you for stepping in. Can you describe the pod a little better?"
"It was black on the inside, with a lime green skin."
Marie looked up in shock and recognition, staring at Alva. "The sludge Paul vomited up in the jail cell..."
Alva nodded. "Black and green?"
She just nodded back.
It suddenly occurred to Evie how all this must sound to her sisters, how insane it must seem. She turned to Gabriella, to check on her, and her stomach sank at the expression on her little sister's face. Being the youngest, Gabbi had received the most sheltering and doting parental attention. It made her unprepared for such suffering in another human being, especially one she was attracted to. Sure, she'd suffered herself, they'd all suffered when their father died, but the girl had never seen anything like this. Her face looked absolutely stricken. Gabriella gazed at Paul with such sympathy one thought she might cry. "Did those things really happen to him?"
Evie sighed. They spoke softly, as to not disturb the hypnotism session. "After some of the things I've seen, I'm inclined to believe it."
Gabriella stared at Paul for a good 10 seconds. She obviously swallowed back tears for him. "God... what he went through..."
"Hey..." Evie rubbed her younger sister's back. "Calm down, it's okay."
"How could it ever be okay?" Gabriella's eyes filled with anger. "It's almost like that thing raped him. How could it ever be okay again?"
Julietta had continued her questioning with the query that revealed the Mothman's entire plan. "What was the purpose of the Mothman's attack, Paul? Why did it want control of you?"
Paul instantly replied, "The Mothman wanted to force me to go to Mountaineer, to use me to make phone calls to Alva Keel."
You Can't Help Who You Are is (c) 2006 Demented Stuff
Miracles is (c) 2003 Spyglass Entertainment and Touchstone Television