What's that, Lassie? A Psychic is in the Well?
Chapter Two: The Departing Sun
By Mahiri Chuma
"Look around fer what?"
"Santa Barbara Police Department, put your weapon down," it was so second nature, the words simply tumbled out of Carlton's mouth – unfortunately, so was the urge to un-holster his gun.
The man responded with an aggressive step forward, his shotgun barrel no more than a foot from Lassiter's face. Lassiter frowned deeply, wondering who in their right mind would respond that way to what he had just said – a guilty man, that's who.
"You two 'r trespassing on my property."
The poorly stifled 'oh' of surprise coming from the man behind him confirmed Lassiter's earlier apprehension – had Spencer even thought to check whether or not someone might live here before gallivanting onto the property? No, of course not.
Either that or he had neglected to inform the man he so often dragged into these precarious situations – neither one would surprise him.
This wouldn't even be the first time Shawn would be in trouble for trespassing, nor would it be the first time Lassiter would haul him off the scene whilst Shawn shouted that it wasn't trespassing unless you got caught, to which the head detective would respond that he had in fact been caught, all while slamming the car door in his face.
Carlton put one hand up, trying to placate the man as he slowly pulled his weapon from his holster; he had managed to unsnap the safety strap and had just gotten his hand around the weapon when the man shoved the rifle in his face.
"I am Head Detective Carlton Lassiter of the Santa Barbara Police Department," his voice was steady and confident and he hoped the man before him would believe his white lie. "I have reason to believe there is evidence pertaining to an ongoing investigation located on this property."
It wasn't really a lie, per say. Spencer *had* claimed he had found something related to the Sepikova case and Lassiter was going to have to, much to his overwhelming chagrin, trust him.
"Yeah? Y' have a warrant?"
Lassiter took a small breath. He hoped his trust wasn't misplaced as he prepared another lie; not even Chief Vick would be able to protect Shawn if he was wrong about this.
"Yes, I do."
He could hear Gus shift slightly behind him; the man was clearly growing uncomfortable and he wanted to get him out of this situation as soon as he was able; that, and he was slightly concerned that Gus would take off screaming, prompting the man to shoot.
"Is that right?" the man nodded and lowered his weapon slightly, "Well there ain't nothin' 'round here. Why don't you come in and explain to me what it is yer lookin' for."
It was clear that it wasn't exactly a suggestion.
"Maybe I can help."
Lassiter felt his gut churn; he didn't like where this situation was going, not in the least.
"Right. Let me just send my," he paused for the barest second, wondering just what to call Gus; he settled on something vague," associate back to the station and I'll take your statement."
By now this man had climbed to the top of his 'Reasons-why-Spencer-is-MIA' shitlist and adding a quaking Guster to the situation seemed to him like dousing a fire with gasoline.
"Yer 'associate' will come too." He eyed Gus who had begun a slow creep towards the front of his car, "We can all have a nice little chat."
"Actually," Gus said with a bravado Lassiter knew was reserved for these insane situations Shawn got them into, the one that was a small amount of bark and absolutely no bite, "he's right. I have a lot of paperwork to catch up on and I see my job is done here, so I'll just be on my way."
"Just what *was* yer job, son?" Lassiter's internal alarm was now screaming at him; his gut felt warm with an almost uncontrollable urge to act. The man took a threatening step forward.
"Well, you see –" Gus didn't have the chance to continue to formulate a lie that was probably going to be as good as his stealth technique.
Lassiter watched as the man before him allowed his attention to settle on Gus, his rifle moving unconsciously in that direction as he turned, and he struck – his arm thrusting outwards with adrenaline laced speed, his hand just making its way around the barrel before the man responded.
He distantly heard a loud bang as his hand began to burn and his ears started to ring, his own breathing echoing in his head – the gun had been fired. He just barely caught a glimpse of Gus as he dove behind his car for cover.
"Go Guster!" his own voice filled his ringing ears, distorted and muffled. He grappled with the man for a moment, just trying to keep balance as the larger man threatened to toss him to the ground.
The brute pulled the gun towards him, trying to force Lassiter's grip from the weapon. Carlton took advantage of the sudden shift in momentum and pushed, forcing the rifle into the man's face, a spurt of blood and a large cracking noise signaling he had managed to put enough force in the blow to break his attackers nose.
The man stumbled back momentarily and Lassiter dug his knee into his groin eliciting a pained grunt. Instead of falling to the ground, as the detective had hoped, he swung the rifle out, catching Lassiter's right hand as it attempted to curl around his own gun, still firmly in his holster.
"Son of a –" The man wheezed as he forced himself to remain standing as Lassiter held his throbbing hand. He moved towards his car, hoping to put some distance between himself and the behemoth. He got his aching hand around his Glock once more and found it slippery, thanks to the small amount of blood covering his hand, but was finally able to extract it from the holster.
He lifted the gun, pointing it at the man who was no more than three feet from him, his face a mess of blood and spit.
"Stop, stop where you are or I'll shoot." the wind changed, blowing against his back and with it came a sound, the barest hint of shouting and it didn't take much imagination to guess who it was. He turned his head, just slightly, giving his opponent an opening.
The giant man swung his rifle upwards, closing the three-foot gap with a single step. Lassiter fired his gun but he could not see whether he had hit the man or missed completely. He was betting on the latter. His vision exploded into black and white spots, his head flying painfully backwards and he was vaguely aware of his Aviators falling from his face.
He landed on his back and blinked, trying to clear his vision. His jaw and chin ached fiercely and he could taste the gush of coppery liquid coming from his mouth.
He spit to the side, clearing his mouth of an uncomfortable amount of blood and tried to sit up. A shadow appeared over him and he propped himself up on his elbows. He squinted, trying to clear his vision with little success – he blindly groped the area around him for his gun. He hadn't realized he dropped it until it was too late.
He grunted as something struck him in the face once again, this time at the bridge of his nose at the beginning of his brow. He felt warmth flow into his right eye and the world spun.
Falling for a second time was no less frightening than the first, though he had at least learned something from the previous fall.
His feet had begun the fall first, thus he was falling feet down rather than the more terrifying rear-first. He did not attempt to grab the wall or stop or slow his fall; he knew by now that that would only result in more injuries to his limbs and a possible head injury.
He felt his feet breach the water and he held his breath. He quickly learned the downfall of the feet first position when his feet hit the bottom, his knees – thankfully – bending rather than locking. He exhaled as he was reacquainted with the pain in his right leg. He did his best to propel himself upward with his good leg and found himself back at the surface.
He resumed his position on the wall, coughing and sputtering as he breathed in.
"Damnit," he muttered as his teeth chattered. His stomach was in his throat, the adrenaline almost overpowering him causing his skin to tingle, "come on…COME ON!"
He shouted. His voice echoed and swiftly died making his isolation even more terrible and apparent.
Than came a resounding bang, so loud that it echoed even in the well's depths and he felt the air vibrate.
His stomach twisted and he could feel the blood drain from his face. Gus was out there. His best friend was out there and he had just heard a gunshot.
"Hello! Gus? Can you hear me, buddy?" His voice was hoarse and barely breached his immediate vicinity.
There was no response.
As his panic mounted he suddenly remembered, with a small amount of relief, that he had called Detective Lassiter before his impromptu swim.
"OK, calm down. It's probably just ol' Lassie needlessly discharging his weapon as he often does. He probably just can't contain his excitement over my disappearance - "
Another gunshot. His stomach twisted further.
He listened for a moment longer and soon there was nothing but the sound of insects and the wind breaching the mouth of the well.
"Any second now," he peered up at the mouth of his prison, "Gus will show up with an awesomely snarky comment about wells and kittens and Lassie will scowl, I'll say something about his hair and than he'll find a rope or something to get me out of here - "
He continued to wait, staring at the darkening sky.
"And then Jules will show up and say," he cleared his hoarse throat and adopted his signature girl voice, "oh, hey Shawn, you're so wet and toned, let me warm you up with my body heat and then maybe later we'll go and get some chalupas and watch a movie back at your place …"
The wind answered with a low howl.
He rested his head against the cool stone. He began to shiver and he realized with a small amount of horror that it had gotten very dark. He could feel the walls around him rapidly begin to cool as the precious little sunlight faded from the sky.
He tried to ignore the fear that was rising in his throat and the throbbing of his injuries. Images of his best friend bloodied and dying flit through his mind. How could he have dragged him into this? Gus was right; he should have waited for Lassiter. He should have gone alone. He should have give up this game a long time ago …
His thoughts were interrupted as bits of rock pelted him in the back of the head. He looked down at the water and could just make out the ripples caused by the falling bits of stone.
He looked up and his breath hitched.
At the mouth of the well there was a shadow. Though it was dark he could make out the shape; a head and shoulders, peering down at him through the dark. Unless Gus or Lassiter had bulked up considerably since that morning he was rather confident the shape above wasn't friendly.
Before he could process the danger further he took a deep breath and dipped his head under the water. He pushed himself down to the bottom, his heart pounding in his chest. Though he had never been very good at keeping his eyes open underwater, he forced them to gaze upwards at the surface.
The water lit up dimly and Shawn realized that the man above, likely his attacker, was shining a flashlight into the well. He was making sure he was dead and had he not looked up, he surely would have been by now.
The light flickered as it searched like a prison spotlight and he found himself pressed against the scummy wall. His lungs ached and he fought every muscle in his body to keep from surfacing.
He continued to watch the light move up and down, left and right until it finally disappeared. He waited a moment longer, not quite trusting the man to just walk away, and only until he was sure his lungs were about to burst did he surface.
He gasped, taking the air in greedily all while trying to stay as quiet as possible. The last thing he needed was to alert the man to his presence after such a close call. He looked up again. The shadow had disappeared.
Forget the Ring. This would give him nightmares for weeks.
He was also pretty sure his adrenal glands would be rendered useless in the very near future as he felt yet another adrenaline rush begin to fade away, leaving him with the familiar cold and fatigue that marked it's departure.
This is bad …. this is Cabin Fever bad …
If the man at the top of the well had been his attacker that could only mean one thing, those gunshots he heard earlier had been his own – that or he had been on the winning side of a gunfight.
That meant Lassiter had shown up and something had gone wrong. Or maybe Lassiter had decided not to come at all and the man had done something terrible to Gus. The thought made him sick.
He clenched his jaw, suppressed another violent shiver and did his best to forget the pain that seemed to inhabit every inch of his body. This man had to be stopped. He had to find Gus and get them out of this redneck nightmare.
Though his hands shook and his legs barely supported his weight, he began, once again, to climb.
Gus had been running for fifteen minutes, weaving back and forth, before realizing no one was following him.
The crack of the gunshot had nearly frozen him in place as he took cover behind his car, then, Lassiter was shouting at him and he was running, and though he wasn't sure, he might have been screaming as well.
Now he was beginning the laborious task of back tracking to his car without being seen. He dodged behind trees and army crawled through the brush, swatting at bugs and avoiding the taller grasses that ticks seemed to inhabit, when he spotted the farmhouse.
He moved closer, channeling every war movie he had ever seen until he could see the Psych Mobile. He quickly scanned the area, barely able to see over the car from his position.
"Detective –" he whispered across the dirt lot, "Lassiter …"
The sound of something mechanical made him duck down behind what looked to be a thorn bush. He peered over the scraggly twigs and could just make out the backside of the man that had stuck a gun in his and Lassiter's face. Gus crept closer, trying to see what the he was doing, though he had a pretty good idea.
The sound of snapping cables and crunching metal confirmed his suspicions; he was removing the police radio. He then moved to the trunk and searched its contest; Gus could hear his grunt of bafflement as he lifted a baseball jersey up before tossing it back.
He proceeded to rummage and after finding what Gus suspected was mace and brass knuckles – really? -he moved back to the driver's side to push the car into neutral.
Gus watched silently, nearly holding his breath for fear of being heard, as the giant man began to push the car towards the back of the house.
When the man disappeared from view he stood, looking for any sign of Lassiter before running towards his car. His heart hammering, he pulled at the car door handle, eyeing the cell phone sitting atop the passenger seat; he pulled at the handle, hoping the sixth try would work, and silently swore when it didn't.
Gus patted his pockets before remember the fact that Shawn had them.
He dove over the hood with the grace of a drunken buffalo, landing on his back before scrambling to the passenger door. Locked.
"Damn." He leaned against the car, trying to think of the best plan of action.
If he couldn't call for help he had to find Lassiter. He had expected to come back to an extremely annoyed Lassiter and a very handcuffed criminal. It was becoming apparent that Shawn's disappearance was not just due to poor time management or a complete inability to realize how boring it was to wait in the ' Psych Mobile' listening to the Men at Work CD over and over again.
He decided not to dwell on the fact and did his best to swallow his worry; if Shawn and Lassiter were in trouble it was up to him.
He heard the crunch of boots against gravel and he pushed himself away from the blue vehicle, scrambling to the side of the house. He pinned himself against the white paneling and watched with a heavy heart as he pulled out a pair of keys.
So Shawn had encountered the man … but if he had Shawn's keys, where was Shawn?
He took a deep breath trying to mentally prepare himself for the serious amount of responsibility he had just inherited and as he did so, something bitter and acrid burnt his nostrils.
He didn't need to look for the source to know what it was. Blood.
He held back a gag; he would never be able to call himself a man ever again if he let himself be caught and potentially murdered because of a gagging fit.
He could just make out the congealing puddles of crimson spotting the ground, leading towards the house. The trail started somewhere around the corner and extended past his feet and through the screen door to his right.
Inside, he had to go inside.
The horror movie connoisseur inside of him was screaming in blind panic. He couldn't just go wandering into what he was sure was a murderer's home. It was a sure way to die in, what, every single horror film ever made?
The sound of the car rolling over the dirt road brought his attention back to the assailant and as he passed from view he steeled himself and took a deep breath.
As he pushed the side screen-door open he decided Shawn would be buying him breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next year.
A million apologies for the loooong period of time between my updates. The RL has been hectic, too hectic, and I haven't had as much time as I would like for writing, though I sure wish I did…
I hope you enjoyed the chapter, it was fun to write, who doesn't love whump? And there is more to come! Whoo! Also, Jules and the rest of the SBPD will be showing up in the next chapter, in case you were wondering. Another also … Cabin Fever anyone? Pancakes! Ahem, moving on.
I also wanted to thank everyone for the lovely reviews. Your feedback means so much to me and is the bright spot in my somewhat difficult year! Thank you!