“Where are you going?” she asked.
Waving back as she hurried down the steps, Océane replied, “It’s about my internship, I’ll tell you about it later! Au revoir!”
Janine shook her head in confusion, “Um, alright, I just need to tell you something.”
Océane stopped briefly? “Oui, Janine?”
“This weekend I’m going to Le Havre up north for a friend’s birthday, so our joint study will have to be over phone.”
“Oh, that’s fine! You have fun!” Océane blew a kiss and waved and hurried to the curb side as the bus pulled up.
Janine blew a kiss and waved back, happy to see her friend having fun with the internship.
Océane fell into the closest seat on the sparsely loaded bus. All day she had planned what she was going to tell the Lieutenant and at last she decided. Judging by how Claire had not shown up to tell her otherwise, she could only assume her ghostly companion was on her side.
Already she was thinking of her as a real person. She had given up explaining her away as a hallucination or delusion, there were only two possible explanations for being able to talk with the dead. Either Claire was a ghost or was someone else pretending to be her dead friend. And it did not matter anymore whether she was being visited by a shade of the past or an impostor, she was going to step forward into this new world. Because what she did to Renoir was real, the last few days were real, her power was real, should she question the dead girl speaking to her?
All night she had dreamed of the gift granted her by Claire. Now she was ready to practice.
She blinked and she was standing in an endless meadow, the sounds of the city a distant rumble in her mind. Her bare feet cushioned on the soft grass, free of shoes and the brace. An eternal white sky illuminated this temporary realm where all her ailments slipped away.
“Glace,” she muttered, picturing Claire’s face in her mind. The transparent scythe blinked into her hands, refracting the light from above like a many faceted prism, causing rainbows to shimmer across the grass.
Dozens of scattered mirrors rose from the ground, reflecting her appearance. She twirled the staff, its curved blade becoming near invisible with the movement. Twisting around, she spun the weapon from one hand to the other, over her head, behind her, and before her then jabbed and swiped at the air while keeping an eye on her form through the mirrors.
Finally she made one last dramatic back-swipe and froze looking at her fiery gaze in the mirror. She blinked and she was back on the bus, the passengers around her oblivious to her momentary absence. Sweat beaded on her brow as her pace quickened. The thrill of power flowed through her. It frightened her. For the briefest of moments she considered how she could with so little effort throw the entire bus into terrified chaos, and no one would ever discover it was her.
Excitement is was what she felt now, the fear quenched. She was not the same girl that cried in her bed last night in remorse for bringing justice to a wicked man. Why should she feel sympathy or fright? Did she not do a service to everyone around her? Did it matter that her reasons were merely a personal irritation at being plagued by a child’s nightmare? She re-imagined what she had done to Pierre, and what she could do to anyone else like him. The temptation tasted sweat.
As the bus came to a halt and she rose from her seat, she found herself at a crossroads. She could do one of three things: Sit back down, return to normal life, and never think of Michael, Pierre, or Claire and just keep her power as her little secret; Go through with her meeting with Michael, conjure some form of a lie and insist on pursuing a career in law enforcement where she could experiment with her abilities with few moral consequences; Or lastly, tell Michael the truth, prove her abilities to him, and see whether he was smart enough to think of an answer for her.
The first option vanished as she stepped off the bus, only a block away from the police station. The last two options she left to what felt best in the moment, she planned out what to say for both scenarios, but was content not to make decision until the moment she needed to. She lived most of her life imprisoned by her leg, so she was used to taking things slow.
By the time she had finished her musings, she was in the lobby of the police station. She looked across the room through the glass panes and saw police, suspects, citizens and lawyers milling about. She spotted Michael, leaning back in his chair talking to Sarah. The latter lifted up a pile of paperwork from his desk which he had just finished.
Océane smirked as she approached, imagining how awkward he sounded while faking a casual tone, in an attempt to hide his blatant affection for his co-worker. She entered the office, showing her internship badge to the policeman by the door who nodded in recognition.
She greeted them. “Bonjour, Lieu. Michael, Sarah,”
They both returned the greeting, and Sarah touched her shoulder in encouragement. “Océane, your intuition is good, Renoir confessed yesterday just out of nowhere. It must have been your and Michael’s visit to his workplace that shook him up.”
“Oui, must have…” she replied awkwardly as Michael shot her a knowing look.
“Sarah, I can finish up with Ms Lafayette, you have reports.”
Sarah sighed and glanced at the teen, “A word of warning if you do pursue law enforcement as profession; it is not at all as exciting as the dramas make it seem.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” she replied, taking a seat on the edge of Michael's desk.
Once they were alone, Michael only waited a few beats before asking, “So, you are going to tell me how you were involved with Renoir's confession.”
She nodded. “Oui, on one condition; don’t laugh.”
The officer was thoroughly confused now, he had expected something more akin to ‘Am I going to be in trouble,’ or ‘don’t get angry.’ But laugh? He relaxed a bit, knowing she might not have done anything as risky as he had thought.
“I will not laugh.”
She sighed and began, “I knew Pierre did it, because…”
Michael leaned forward very interested but waited for her to continue.
“… I can see dreams.” She winced, knowing how insane she sounded.
His eyes narrowed. “So, you are a psychic? Are you certain it was not just a memory?”
'At least he is not laughing.' She sighed. “And I don’t just see people’s dreams, I can make dreams too.”
It would have been difficult for Michael’s face to seem any more incredulous. “Listen, perhaps the excitement has gotten to you too much--”
“Non! I’m serious, and I’m going to prove it.”
He could not deny his curiosity, “Really? How?”
'I have his interest.' She thought. To her satisfaction, serendipity smiled on her with the entrance of two police and an angry but subdued ruffian, the stench of alcohol assaulted her nostrils as he passed toward the cells at the back.
“Him, he is going to shout and grab his arm.” she declared not even looking to see Michael’s doubtful stare. She focused on the man, reaching out and touching his bleary, sticky mind. She grinned when she found his fear and acted on it.
The drunk did not know what came over him, but he felt a crawling sensation on his arm. He looked to see a seething mass of black spiders coating his sleeve and crawling up towards his face. He let out a gasp and shook his elbow but the police held tighter.
He screamed at their grasp, feeling something wrong. “Stop squeezing!” he blurted out as he felt his flesh disintegrate. A black creeping mass fell away, and his sleeve fell limp, without an arm or a shoulder to support it, only a pile of spiders swarming on the floor. His head rolled back and he lost consciousness. The police shrugged, assuming he had merely succumbed to his intoxication.
The Lieutenant squinted in suspicious disbelief. “You got lucky.” his voice betrayed doubt.
Océane swallowed hard, knowing if she did not do something she was going to find herself admitted to a sanatorium. A faint smile touched the corners of her mouth. She had finally found a way into Michael’s near impenetrable mind.
“I think you need to look around,” she suggested.
Glaring at her with one eye he slowly looked away. His mouth dropped as he did. Everyone was still, caught in the middle of their actions like a photograph. In the corner a detective was pouring coffee, the liquid still like dark glass.
Océane raised a finger to her lips. “Hush! You don’t want people thinking you’re crazy, do you?” she asked with dry sarcasm. "Time is moving on for everyone else."
“What’s going on?” he asked, lowering his voice.
“I altered your perception of time with only yourself and myself as exceptions. At least I think that is what I did.”
She shrugged. “I am kind of new at this. But I saw that you have a focused mind, which means to your subconscious everything that is not in focus, stops moving. In brief, this is how I got Renoir to confess. I can control perceptions, or make illusions… or something like that, but whatever it is I do, it has to be based on something already in the person’s mind. Now, I’ll let you see everything as normal again, but you have to promise to tell no one. If I am crazy, then so are you.”
“I promise!” He nodded furiously, his eyes betraying uncertainty, but not fear or anger.
She sighed in relief. For a split second there was a flurry of blurred colours and everything was back as it was.
Michael looked down at his desk in thought, then looked at her, and back at the desk. He was thinking of anyway to explain this, but he had not drunk or eaten anything recently, so he had not been drugged. Not that he even considered this girl capable of such things. There was only one thing he could do now; accept her story.
“So, I guess that means you put Mr. Renoir through a nightmare.”
She nodded hesitantly, “You don’t think I broke any laws? I suppose it could be called a form of assault.”
He let out a nervous chuckle. “Not that I know of… yet. Even if there was a law, I don’t think anyone would take you to court.”
“That is a relief. I didn’t feel good about it though.” she lowered her face forlornly.
He gulped, looking around to see if there was anyone within hearing. He leaned forward, lowering his voice. “You don’t think there are more… people like you?”
Océane looked in wonder at him. She had never thought about it. Were there others besides Claire and herself? It was hard for her to believe that she was the only one. But how would she go about looking? Would she want to look? She considered telling Michael about Claire, but shot the idea down. Then he would surely think her crazy.
Taking the silence as her answer, Michael settled back into his seat. “Well, at least a cold case is solved. I can’t imagine how hard it has been for you, having those memories.”
Océane shook her head. “They aren’t mine. I started dreaming about it three months ago. It’s someone else’s nightmare.”
Michael’s eyes went wide as he turned to his computer and brought up a page. His stunned expression confused her.
“The child of the victim, an eight year old boy, moved into the apartment two floors above you… three months ago. He lives with his father and stepmother.”
Océane covered her mouth as her eyes filled with tears. “He would have been a toddler when-!”
Michael stared at the girl in wonder. He kept trying to deny that what was happening was some strange dream, and he would wake up soon and it would all revert to normal. But those tears were real, what happened the last few days were real. Since all of it was so hard for him to accept, he wondered what it must have been like for her. To have such a weighty secret…
He cleared his throat, getting her attention. “Océane, you want to meet him, the boy, I mean?”
She opened her mouth, but did not have an answer. 'How can that help?' she thought, 'Is digging up the past going to help him at all?'
As if he too had mental powers, Michael continued. “You can’t bring back his mother. But couldn’t you at least put his mind at ease, that he’s not the only one who knows what happened that night?”
He’s right… she nodded slowly.
“Great, I’ll arrange a meeting tomorrow. You should probably go home now.”
“Oui…” Océane rose and walked out of the office. Her face was frozen in worry. For three months she had been sharing a nightmare with a child, and she was not at all sure about meeting him.
Absorbed in her thoughts as she walked out onto the sidewalk, she was completely unaware of the eyes watching her.
“Is she the target?”
“I don’t know, she’s one of four potentials.”
“Four? That’s few enough, why don’t we just kill them all?”
“I would tend to agree, but we’ll need approval first.”