“So I guess you heard, I need to meet someone. But I definitely want to ask you some more about this before I go. Hang on, let me just call a cab real quick.” I grimaced at my phone and started scrolling through numbers. “I think I have a number for a cab company…”
“I already called one.”
My finger froze on the screen, and I looked up at him. “What?”
“I said I already called one. It will be here momentarily. Follow me, we will meet it at the door.” He started walking toward the laboratory door, but I did not move to follow him.
“What the hell do you mean you already called one? I just found out I needed on like two seconds ago!”
He stopped, and looked back at me. “Call it a lucky guess. If you don’t come with me to the cab now, you will be late for your appointment.”
“Like hell I am! How did you know I would need a cab?”
He sighed, walked back to me, and got right in my face. “Benjamin. This is not important. What is important is what I am going to tell you while we are walking to the front door, so that you can get in the cab, so that you can get to the meeting with Dr. Wilkowski that it is important you do not miss. How I knew you needed a cab does not matter right now. Let it go.”
“Wow. Okay man. Relax.”
He stepped back, and said “I promise to explain anything you want later, when there is time. Right now you need to listen to what I have to say. Now come with me, the cab will be here momentarily.” He started walking, and this time I followed him.
He flipped a small switch on the wall, and with a whirring of gears, the door slid open. “The next few days are going to be rather difficult for you, and I need to tell you some things if you are going to have a chance at surviving.”
The gas lamps lit along the staircase, and I followed him up. “Okay, hit me.”
“I don’t have time to explain the theory behind everything, so I am going to try to use metaphor to get across as much information as I can, without getting bogged down in the details, and hope it is enough.” He opened the sliding bookcase-door into the little office with another switch. “There are forces in the universe beyond what science has discovered so far. Things that you can only sense in your subconscious. It is why we are afraid of the dark, and why the hair on the back of your neck raises when someone is standing behind you, and why you have deja vu sometimes.”
I nodded as I followed him across the little office. I had heard things like this before, from TV psychics and bad movies, and I did not believe it any more now, but I figured I would let him finish before I said anything.
“Most people have only a very limited sensitivity to these forces, and humanity’s reliance on technology and faith in science has made any mention of this the stuff of TV psychics and bad movie.” He gave me a little glance, and I got a sudden chill. Had he read my mind or something? But no, of course not. It was coincidence. Just a good guess at what anyone would be thinking when having this conversation. Right?
I started to say something to that effect, but he kept talking, so I held back. “Some people are much, much more sensitive to those forces than most of humanity. It is genetic, I think. At least it is usually passed down through families. Your great-uncle was such a person, and he believed that you are as well.”
“Wait,” I said, stopping. “That’s bullshit. If I have some kind of crazy magic sense, I’d think I would have noticed.”
He stopped as well, and turned around. “Yes. Well. It is much too complicated to explain how, but Michael was able to shield you from it. He blocked off that sense entirely, like putting a blindfold on you. His death weakened it, but it was tied to this house. Your coming here has broken the block, and it should begin to fade away over the next…well, it is hard to say how long it will take. Hours, or a few days, perhaps.”
He stepped closer to me, an intense look on his face that kept me from saying anything dismissive. “And that is why the next few days will be so dangerous. The human mind is ill-equipped to deal with seeing the things that you will be seeing, and you may not be able to handle it. Michael had hoped…but that doesn’t matter now. We will just have to see how strong you are.”
I swallowed. On an intellectual level I did not believe a word of this, but he was so intense. It was getting to me. “What happens if I’m, uh, not strong enough?”
“Most people who are sensitive, the vast majority, go insane. Most cases of schizophrenia are due to chemical imbalances in the brain, but the truly bad cases, the ones the drugs will never help…many of them were sensitives who could not handle the strain.”
I swallowed again, my mouth suddenly dry. Why was I scared? This was bullshit. Clearly! Complete and utter bullshit, and there was no reason for my palms to be sweaty.
Sam turned away from me, walked to the front door, and opened it. A red cab was just pulling up to the door, gravel crunching in the circular driveway. I shook my head, trying to dispel the weird feelings that had come over me, and walked to the door.
I started to walk outside, but Sam grabbed my arm as I walked passed, and I stopped. I realized, absently, that this was the first time he had touched me at all. His hand was cool, even through my light jacket, and bonier than it looked. He leaned toward me, the intense look still glittering in his jet black eyes. “Some people,” he said, just louder than a whisper, “in some people it works both ways. You can see the underlying forces of the universe, but you can also affect them. Your uncle was like that, and he thought you are too. It will be much harder for you. The feedback could be too much. But if you can survive, then…well. Just make sure you survive.”
He let go of my arm, but I stayed staring at him. Seriously, what the fuck was going on?
“Go. Or you will be late.” He made a little shooing motion, and I walked to the cab and got in. I told the driver where I was going, but I felt like I was in a haze. Why was I so affected by what this guy, who I had only known for a few minutes, had said?
I spent the whole cab ride convincing myself that there was nothing to what Sam had said, that I was only being affected so emotionally because of his intense body language. I let logic bring the world back into focus, clear my head, and get me ready to talk to Dr. Wilkowski and find out what she knew. And mostly, it worked.
But just for a moment, as Sam was closing the door, I thought I saw him flicker into nothing, replaced for just an instant by a big, black, flapping crow.