What's that, Lassie? A Psychic is in the Well?
By Mahiri Chuma
Disclaimer: I do not own any recognizable characters, settings, themes, etc. It all belongs to USA Network. If I did own it, oh the whumpage there would be!
As he began his descent into the deep, dark abyss, he couldn't help but berate himself for ever trusting a man who owned a well.
The remnants of the latest unmanly shriek burned in the back of his throat as he tried to catch his breath as panic began to override his body. He could feel his arms and legs flailing, desperately trying to find purchase. He didn't seem to have any direct control over their movement; something he was quite grateful for, as he could hardly even begin to make sense of the images whipping past him.
Seriously. He was sure he had made a mental pact with himself to never even approach one ever since 'the Ring' fiasco of 2002. What was he thinking?
His breath caught in his throat as his his fingers caught the walls surrounding him and his heart dropped when gravity continued to do it's work, wrenching him away from any apparent salvation from his frightening fall. He could just barely feel the abuse his limbs were experiencing as the adrenaline coursed through him; they must be bloody stumps by now.
"Urghhh, Gus!" He managed, finally taking control as the light above him grew farther and farther away.
His own voice, laced with an inkling of feminine panic, reverberated through his skull as it bounced of the walls – he doubted his friend had heard him and if he had it would probably sound like a dying animal ensuring the quick to flee man to stay clear. That and 'the Ring' made Gus scream like a nine-year-old girl.
Suddenly, and quite painfully, his descent came to a halt. The little breath he had left in his lungs was forcefully pushed out in a painful grunt. He felt himself sinking deeper into the terribly cramped space, his head brushing against stone and his sluggish and shocked mind trying to regain control of his currently paralyzed body.
Move! Do something! Anything!
He tried to force his body into action but felt himself continue to sink deeper into what his mind had realized was freezing cold water.
Come on! Doggy paddle! The butterfly! Move!
He tried to channel his father, hell, even Lassiter as his body remained painfully unresponsive.
C'mon, Shawn! You're better than this! Take control of the situation, kid!
He twitched, his foot finally responding. Unfortunately it caught the wall, hard, and pushed him violently into the opposite side.
Spencer! Does your incompetence know no bounds? Some psychic, you are …
He felt his shoulder blades make contact with the bottom and felt a small rush of fear when what he hoped was seaweed brushed against his face – he had been, after all, looking for a dead body and he didn't think he could handle occupying the cramped space with a corpse.
The thought got his heart pumping slightly faster and much to his relief, he felt his body become responsive. It was just in time; he was beginning to see yellow spots, despite the murky, dark water. He righted himself and kicked against what seemed to be a silt-covered bottom and grasped wildly at the sides, trying to increase the speed of his ascent.
Just as he was sure he was about to black out, Shawn broke the surface, choking as he took in a bit of the disgusting, stagnant tasting water. He gulped in the air; he felt like crying, in fact he could have been but it was impossible to discern the source of the wetness on his cheeks.
He shook as his breaths came in raggedly, his body feeling heavy as the adrenaline rapidly began to wear off. He waded for a moment as he tried to regain his composure, his toes just barely brushing the bottom when he sunk to chin level.
He began to feel more in control and even took a moment to mourn the iPhone he knew was in his pocket before finding his voice once again.
"HE-HELLO!" He choked slightly; coughing up a bit of water that had found it's way into his lungs, "HELP! GUS!"
He tried a few more times and couldn't help but fight the feeling of dread as it settled in his stomach. He wasn't loud enough; he was pretty sure his voice just barely reached the surface – the acoustics seeming off in the tight space.
He forced himself to breathe through his nose to keep the panic at bay. Gus would find him, he had to find him – if he didn't he would haunt him Samara style for the rest of his days.
Just take deep breaths … in and out … just like you taught when you were a Lamaze instructor for three hours …
As he began to steady his breaths, he decided to take a moment to take inventory of his injuries. The icey water had brought their existence to the forefront and everything was beginning to throb – he was pretty sure his body was just one giant bruise by now.
The bottom of the well was terribly dark and the moldy smell was almost overpowering. As his eyes began to adjust he could begin to make out the shapes of stones and in front of him, his hands clutching the wall like it was his safety net.
His fingers glistened in the scarce light and they felt sticky and warm. His fingertips burned as he shifted his weight, lifting one hand closer to his face. He wrinkled his nose as a coppery scent wafted towards him.
The fall had torn his hands to shreds. The back of his knuckles burned terribly and his hands shook as he rotated them, trying to get a better look despite the lack of light. He was certain one or two of his fingers had to be dislocated or broken as they were beginning to look and feel somewhat bloated.
Shakily, he placed the hand back on the wall, grunting as his fingers made contact.
He could have gagged as he realized the source of the pain; he was missing fingernails. He wasn't sure exactly how many had been torn off or ripped during his fall and he didn't really want to.
At least someone will get to use those awesome scratch-n-sniff Pineapple Band-Aids … and Gus said it was a waste of $3.99 …
He moved on, taking his mind off his deformed and bloodied fingers, only to find the next injury. His ribs and back ached fiercely, though he suspected that was from his rather abrupt landing into ice water. Still, it took some effort to breathe evenly and avoid a bout of hyperventilation.
He could also feel something was terribly wrong with his knee, the one he had injured previously on his motorcycle – he decided to test it, stretching it to touch the bottom.
It proved to be a terrible idea.
"Aghh…" he grunted, trying to stop the stabbing needles of agony that ripped up his leg. He breathed in heavily, trying to will the pain to stop and panicked when his head went under.
Shawn kicked and broke the surface once again. He clung to the wall, carefully treading with his left leg whilst keeping the right as still as possible – he wouldn't do that again.
"Okay, okay – bad idea." He rested his head against the stone, doing his best not to accidentally inhale the stagnant water.
He coughed slightly, his muscles tightening as he disturbed his bruised and possible cracked ribs. He continued his self-assessment and found, much to his relief, that despite the fact that he felt like a giant walking scab, he seemed to be mostly intact.
It could have been far worse. He was almost thankful for the fact that the large, lumbering mass of a man that had thrown him down here had done so by lifting him by his shirt and pushing him butt-first. The well had been wide enough to allow him some clearance, keeping his head from bashing into the side, but was small enough for his arms and legs to attempt to stop his fall.
Then again, he could have NOT strayed from the car as Gus had told him to do or he could have actually waited for Lassiter before deciding to traipse into the woods to look for the body. Or maybe he had gone wrong by peering into the old and decrepit looking well.
Either way he figured this should have ended with him sitting at the station with a pineapple smoothie and a nice, fat SPBD check endorsed by the Chief.
"GUS! BUDDY!" He tried again and once more for good measure. He was hoping that Gus would appear at the top, his eyebrow quirked and a witty insult ready at the tip of his tongue. As expected, he received no response.
He shivered and increased his grip on the freezing stone, doing his best not to panic as he began to wonder just how much daylight was left.
Carlton Lassiter resisted the urge to roll his eyes when he pulled up beside the blue Yaris, the one they insisted he call the 'Psychmobile' on one too many occasions. There was no sign of Spencer or Guster and he was beginning to wonder whether he was being set up.
Shawn had called him, on his day off, claiming to have made a break in the Sepikova case, a case the psychic consultant had not actually been consulted for – he had denied knowledge of such a case, one he happened to be pouring over when he received the call, and hung up.
All of thirty seconds later he received a second call; then a third. Finally, he relented and on the fourth call he agreed to meet the so-called psychic at the address the younger man had provided.
The car was parked around the edge of what looked to be a dirt driveway, just out of sight of a run-down cottage styled home – leave it to Spencer to drag him out to the country, miles away from the crime scene and anything remotely related to the case.
He climbed out of his beloved Crown Vic and approached the other vehicle warily. Everything looked in order, nothing out of the ordinary and no signs of a fight – had the two morons wandered away from the car?
He didn't see anyone occupying the driver's seat and it didn't seem as though there was anyone in the passenger side; until he got closer. Peering into the passenger seat he could see Gus who had somehow managed to cram himself into the small space for the passenger's feet.
Carlton sighed. He really didn't understand how these two had survived into adulthood, if you could call their current state that.
He rapped his knuckles against the glass and couldn't help but feel some variation of satisfaction as the man in the car screamed and did his best to appear threatening, holding his fists up.
"Guster," his voice caught the other man's attention and he looked up, something akin to relief on his face, "just what the hell are you doing?"
Gus did his best to extract himself from the cramped space and climbed out of the car, straightening his shirt as he stood, attempting to look like he hadn't just crawled off the floor of his own car.
"I was being stealth." Lassiter shook his head, unable to fathom just how Guster considered that to be anywhere near stealth-like, "I thought I heard something!"
"Yeah, you heard my car pulling up."
"That could have been anyone."
"Guster, I swear there better be a good reason for calling me out here," he looked around, expecting to see the consultant come bounding in, seizing or convulsing or whatever it is he does claiming a vision had led him to evidence; however, he was nowhere to be seen, "where's Spencer?"
"Shawn wandered off. I told him to stay put and wait for you, but he wanted to take a look around," Gus had told him to stay behind, that much was true, but they both knew Shawn would have the incontrollable urge to scout the area; he needed to find that body so he could perform another mind-blowing psychic performance, "he said the spirits were pleading, no, begging him to follow –"
"Because I'm in a decent mood, Guster, I'm going to go ahead and ignore the part with the spirits and psychic mumbo-jumbo and move this along," he said in a voice that hardly resembled a 'decent mood' as he adjusted his Aviators, his mouth set in a thin line as if fighting a scowl, "which way did he go?"
"He went that way," he said pointing towards the back of the cottage, into the woods, "he said the magnetic nature of the mountain would act as a gu-"
Lassiter rolled his eyes, sighing and fighting the urge to scrub a hand down his face. He never understood why Gus indulged in Shawn's behavior, he seemed at least halfway sane and whenever he felt that Gus might be someone he could tolerate he became Magic Face or Head or whatever and proved him wrong.
"And you didn't follow, for once?"
Gus made a face and shook his head.
"Hell no. This area is known for its high incidence of Lyme Disease in its tick population," he brushed imaginary dirt off his shoulder and continued, "my skin is way too sensitive for the cefotoxamine treatment."
"Okay, well have you tried calling him?"
"Of course I did, detective. Please. Three times. It went to voicemail." Lassiter detected a hint of concern and he couldn't help but wonder if the faux-psychic had fallen in a hole or had been mauled by a bear – not that he hoped that had happened but Shawn had a knack for getting in trouble and he wouldn't have been very surprised.
"Right, look, you stay here," he said in a voice he would normally reserve for a child, a really stupid child, "and I'm going to take a look around –"
The sound of a shotgun being cocked cut him off midsentence. He turned around, putting himself between the unknown offender and Gus, his hand already at his holster.
Before him stood a man, who for lack of other words, was gigantic. He had at least four inches on him and his frame was that of a linebacker. His meaty hands clutched the shotgun confidently and he seemed unfazed by Lassiter's own department issue handgun.
"Look around fer what?"
"Ugh," Shawn grunted as he fell back into the water for the fifth time, "come on!"
He banged his fist against the well wall and gathered his breath. He had always figured that climbing out of a well would be kind of easier than this – he had always been so good at climbing entryways.
He pushed his back against the wall and decided to try again. The cold water had mercifully numbed his aching and bruised knee just enough to make his attempts tolerable though he was sure the movement was making it worse.
"Okay, Shawn. This is no different than that time you almost placed for American Ninja Warrior," he grunted as he got into the right position, "this is way easier than Jumping Spider and Gus totally didn't know what he was talking about when he said your legs aren't muscular enough – we all know I have the calves of an Armenian horse trainer."
He took another deep breath and pushed against the wall, his right knee shaking with the effort. He stopped for a moment and was rewarded when the knee didn't buckle.
He continued, moving himself upwards with his arms as he shuffled slowly with his feet, his left leg taking the majority of the weight. His arms shook as he did his best to keep hold of the slick surface and he scrunched his eyes shut in an attempt to ignore the pain in his hands.
"Psh, feminine calves my a-" His hand slipped and he let out a yelp; just as soon as it began it ended and he found purchase once more. His heart was just about to leap out of his chest and he had to steal yet another moment to breath.
"Whew, okay," his chest, heaved and he shut his eyes, resting his head back as his body shook – an after effect of the adrenaline, "the name of the game is focus, okay, got it."
He continued his slow shuffle and mentally celebrated when he realized he was now above the water level by a good foot. He craned his neck upwards, looking towards the well opening, trying to judge the distance – the light wasn't as bright as it had been before, he couldn't have more than two hours of daylight left – it was now or never.
"Okay, left foot, right hand, right foot …" he breathed the mantra, putting all his focus in the climb – a sheen of sweat had broken out on his forehead and his hands were getting more and more slippery and he scraped and scratched the open wounds.
Much to the fake psychic's surprise, he was making decent progress/ He was sure the ring of light was getting bigger and he couldn't have been too far from the top.
It took his mind a moment to process the sound, but it was too late – he felt his right leg slipping and heard the spilling of bits of rock.
"No, no, no …" He arms tensed and he was sure he was about to pull something in his desperation. He was trying to compensate for his sudden upheaval but it proved useless.
His foot slipped and ten feet from the top he began to fall.