The world was painted in amethyst tones. She was both awake and asleep at once. She was in her room, but she couldn’t stay there. Something, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on, called her away.
She stood up, and was surprised to see herself sleeping below. She studied the face with an odd sort of detachment, noting the flaws she worried about in front of the mirrors for hours. Her nose, her acne, the baby fat around her cheeks.
“Yvette,” a voice called. It was what she had to go to. She forgot her fascination, and started to glide away, feet not touching the floor. She felt a tug, and saw there this evanescent version of herself was tied to the sleeping body. She pulled away, and continued. She must find the voice.
She knew what path to take without knowing where she was going. She moved confidently, excitement pounding inside her chest as she drew closer, down a hall and up a staircase. “Yvette.” It called again. She was coming.
She found herself on the roof edge, arms outstretched waiting to fly. “Yvette.” The voice was here. She was here. She leaned forward expecting to voice to carry her upwards. Everything was perfect except one thing. She was not Yvette.
Therese woke up sweating. It was two o’ clock, on the dot. She heaved a sigh of relief, knowing she had not slept too long. She stretched quietly, glancing at her sprawled roommate in the dark. She was still asleep. Soundlessly, Therese slid out of bed and into the communal kitchen/living room area she shared with eight other girls in her dorm.
She opened her laptop, and put a kettle on the burner. She yawned loudly, randomly checking her e-mail while waiting for the water to boil. Finals had already begun this week, so she pulled up her physics notes and started scrolling through them. The tea kettle began to whistle, so she poured herself a cup of chamomile, and continued scrolling through.
After she finished her cup of tea, she glanced at her watch. It was two fifteen. She could probably try and get another hour of sleep now before waking up and repeating the procedure. She yawned again, shut her laptop, and began to shuffle her way back to her room.
There was a clear knock on the door. Who would be demanding their way in at such an early hour? A party straggler, who had six too many drinks to manage the finesse of putting a key into a lock? While this would normally be her best guess, it seemed like a strange occurrence on a Tuesday right before finals.
It knocked again, loudly. It seemed like a very clear knock for a drunk. She shrugged, and decided to open it. Figuring whoever it was would be very grateful of her insomnia.It was two men in suits. One flashed a badge at her. They were both wearing sunglasses despite the late hour.
“Do you know where Therese Evans is?” one of the men asked.
“Excuse me, but why do you want her?” she asked, suddenly her throat was tight. She was looking between the two of them very quickly.
“Could you step out in the hall, Miss Evans?” the other asked.
“Wait, why? Could I see your badge again?” she asked. Her heart was thudding, they couldn’t know, could they? She didn’t even know who ‘they’ were.
“FBI, Agent Clementon and Agent Necker.” The badge was whipped out again. It looked legitimate, although she had no past experience to compare it to. “Please step out into the hall and we will talk.”
“Um, I going to get some clothes on really quick, but I’ll be back,” she said, suddenly feeling very exposed in her tank top and jersey shorts compared to the suited men.
“There is no need, Miss Evans. Step out into the hall, please.” She was beginning to realize this was not a request, but a demand. She stepped out, and closed the door hesitantly behind herself. She gripped her laptop tightly.
“Please follow us, Miss Evans,” an agent said. The other pressed a hand to her shoulders ushering her onward.
“I don’t mean to cause trouble, but what is this about? It’s two in the morning, what is so urgent? I’m no one, and I have a chemistry final tomorrow, well, later today. Where are you trying to take me?” she asked, attempting to hide all the fear that was creeping in. How did she know these were FBI? Did FBI regularly take college girls out of their dorms at night?
“This is for your protection, Miss Evans. This, however, is not a safe place to discuss the matter. We are going to transport you to a secure location. The van is waiting outside.” The other man was still pushing her forward, and she subverted the urge to run.
“You must have me confused for someone else. I’m no one,” she protested.
“If so, then this should take only a moment of your time. Please, Miss Evans.” She followed. She could think of no other response.
As was said, there was a black SUV outside with government license plates. At least she knew they were the authorities. As she entered, she noticed the windows were so tinted that she could not see out. Agents Necker and Clementon climbed in after. She felt distinctly trapped.
“Can you please hand me your laptop,” an agent, she couldn’t differentiate the two, asked. She hardly noticed she was still clutching it. She gave it to him.
“Did I do something wrong?” she asked, wondering if she was going to be handcuffed.
“All your questions will be answered in time.” And that was the end of the conversation. So other words were spoken for the some thirty minutes before the SUV stopped again.
She was escorted to a concrete room through indistinguishable halls. They left. Without any words, she knew it was an interrogation room. It had one table with one chair on both sides. It was well lit, and had a large mirror on one side, through which she guessed they were watching her, whoever they were.
It was cold. She sat upon one of the chairs and wrapped her arms around her knees. This was not protection. They were going to interrogate her about that. It had so altered her life, controlled it, yet the thought of actually talking about it aloud was none too appealing. She never talked about it with anyone.
She could see her breath, and she pulled her knees closer. The Texas heat had long since been lost. She really wished the agents would have allowed her to change.
Two people entered, different agents, a man and a woman. The woman sat down across from her, flashed her credentials, and introduced herself as Agent Morgan. The man sat in the corner, and said nothing.
“Do you know why you’re here, Miss Evans?” Morgan asked.
“I think so. Did the police finally trace back all those anonymous tips I left for the girls’ deaths to me?” she asked. She didn’t want to look at the people, so she stared at her knees. “I just really didn’t want to go back to the police as myself after what happened with Tessie. I didn’t like them treating me like a criminal, but I knew I had to tell them, so I just left anonymous phone calls, e-mails, letters, and stuff. To be honest, I try to avoid thinking of it because there are no answers.”
She looked up and was surprised to see incredulous expressions on their faces.
“But you knew nothing about that, did you?” She was already internally kicking herself. Now she was probably going to get arrested. She didn’t want to go to prison.
“Please, Miss Evans, may you explain what happened with Tessie and these girls. From the beginning, please.” Therese thought it was strange that all these officials added “please” when they spoke, but they were far from requesting and very close to demanding.
She took a deep breath. This wasn’t going to be fun. She looked at her knees again.
“My dad died when I was thirteen. Heart Attack. That night, I had the most difficulty falling asleep. I kept hearing his voice, kept seeing him when I closed my eyes. All the sudden, however, I just felt really, really tired, and I fell asleep.
“I guess you could call it a dream, except it fell much different. I was in my friend, Tessie’s head. Everything was purple, and a voice called to me, well her. She followed it, but she wasn’t ‘Yvette’ so she fell off the top of the house instead of joining the voice.
“When I woke up, I was in the street. I couldn’t think how I got there, but I knew I had to check on Tessie. I found her outside on the lawn with a broken neck. I woke her parents up and spent the next few days at the police station trying to explain myself. It was horrific. My best friend had just died, and I felt as if I was being tried for her murder.
“They eventually ruled it as an accident, as there were no signs of struggle and my mother had seen me moments before the estimated time of death. My experience was considered a combination of coincidence and grief-induced psychosis. I thought that was the end of it, and I partially believed them myself. My father had been close to me; maybe I was just playing myself.
“Then, the next day, when I got a full night’s sleep again, I was another girl. Natalie was in high school. I saw her sometimes as she worked at the movie theater. She followed the voice to her pool, and drowned.
“I dismissed it as a nightmare, until I saw her death on the news. I couldn’t turn to my mom, and I didn’t want to go to the police. I wrote an anonymous note saying that I thought the two deaths were related, but nothing came of it.
“I couldn’t sleep well for weeks, but eventually, I did. This time, it was Brianna. She was younger than me, still in elementary school. I mentored her for a few days when they had the fifth graders teach the first graders. She drank bleach, and I wrote an email to the police under a self-destructing email address.
“That’s pretty much when I stopped sleeping for more than a few hours at a time. But, they came anyway so I slept less, and less, until I had no time to dream. I’m down to about an hour now. The last girl was Anne, a freshman in my year. She died of a drug overdose.”
She took a deep breath, steadying for the work, and looked up. As expected, Morgan was considering her with a very careful glance usually reserved for the possibly insane.
“So, you say you have seen the deaths of these girls,” Morgan said slowly.
“Not just seen, I was the girls. And, I, I, think I might be related to the cause of them. I wake up in strange places and they only happen when I dream. I looked it up. The only deaths of young healthy girls occurring in the last five years, first in Boise, where I grew up, and now in Houston, I have watched. There have been fourteen,” she said. “I know you don’t believe me. I don’t believe myself half the time.” She had said it aloud, that she might be the cause. She had tried to destroy that thought so many times over the years; it was strange to tell someone else. Her stomach knotted, her mouth went dry, and she kept repeating the sentence in her head, I think I might be related to the cause of them.
“Well, Miss Evans, can you recount these fourteen deaths for us please, in chronological order?” Morgan asked.
“Definitely, they never left me. I knew each girl who died. I felt their fears, their worries, their hopes, their soul, if you will, when I was them. I’ve felt like I’ve died fourteen times.” She noticed that any talk of feeling was not going over well with Morgan, as every mention of the word caused a little wrinkle across Morgan’s brow. She got to the facts.
“After Brianna, there was Trisha. She was in my math class, and she electrocuted herself by a hair dryer. Danielle, early twenties, babysat me when I was little. She had a deathly allergic reaction to peanuts. McKenzie, she did soccer with me when we were kids, choked on some marshmallows. Michelle, the daughter of my English teacher, cut her wrists. She was only seven. Abby, the theater goddess at my high school, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Nell, my friend’s lab partner, jumped out in front of a car on the freeway. Karen ran the high school yearbook. She locked herself in her father’s hunting freezer and froze to death. Josephine, she was supposed to be my roommate in college. We met over the summer. Her hair caught fire when she was drenched in paint solvent, as she was a painter. She died. Holly I met in my first semester biology class. She injected herself with chemicals she was working with in her research lab. Opal, she was my TA in math. She climbed an electric pole and touched the wires. Then, I already told you about Anne.”
Therese felt exhausted. The deaths played out in front her eyes. She felt each one anew, as if for the first time. She felt guilt clawing up her throat. I think I might be related to the cause of them.
Morgan did not write any of this down. Therese was not sure if it was because they already dismissed her as crazy. She was staring down at Therese intently, which made Therese intensely uncomfortable.
“Excuse me for a moment,” Morgan finally said, and left with the man sulking in the corner.
Therese was alone again in the very cold room. She hugged her knees. Had her mother been notified? She wondered if she would only realize something had happened when she never returned to visit after Spring Semester. What about her roommates? Would they just think she left early, as she sometimes did, for some unspecified activity? She was usually the first one up. Maybe they would realize something was up when they never saw her that night.
Was she going to go to prison? She had all but admitted to being a part, albeit an unintended part, in the murders of fourteen girls. Maybe that was the point of an interrogation room, to psyche a person out so much that they admitted to much more than the law force knew.
Some part of her heaved a sigh of relief. This burden of guilt had been resting so heavily on her shoulders, like Atlas. Now, someone knew. Someone else would now have to wrack their brains to help her understand and thus circumvent this. Maybe they could tell her it wasn’t her fault. Maybe.
Maybe it was for the best, if she was the reason the girls was dying. Maybe if she was in prison, no one would die. Maybe she did need some psychotic help they could provide. She didn’t know, but it didn’t sit well in her stomach. She could be the cause.
Eventually, Morgan and the other man returned. The man handed Morgan a folder, and she present a photo from it to Therese.
“Have you seen this man before, Miss Evans?” she asked.
Therese looked. It was a mean-looking man with a tight mustache and glaring eyes that she could not identify. She shook her head.
Morgan pulled out another photograph; this time of an Indian man was a scar on his cheek. Therese shook her head. Morgan pulled out two more before she drew out the final one.
“I think I’ve seen this one before,” Therese said. The man was in his twenties, had dark hair and thick eyebrows. He was smiling benignly in the photo.
“Where?” Morgan asked, “Do you know who he is, Miss Evans?”
“No, I don’t know his name or anything. I was studying at the library yesterday, and he asked if he could sit at my table. The library was pretty crowded, and I was alone. I said ‘yes,’ but just then a couple of my roommates walked by and asked if I could help them with their math, so I left with them. Why is he important?”
“Do you know what he was carrying, Miss Evans, when we picked him up?” she asked. She passed another photo of the man’s backpack and its content. There was a needle, duct tape, a gun, and, most disturbingly of all, a small photo of Therese herself. “That was supposed to be for you.”
Therese’s mouth went dry as her mind raced, she couldn’t comprehend was she was seeing.
“The man’s name is Mathew Breckenridge. He is a hired hand for many criminal organizations. A couple questions beg answers: which one he is working for currently, and why do they want you?” Morgan was looking at Therese as if she expected the girl to spout off the details of the situation.
“This is news to me. Obviously if I knew he was going to try and kidnap me, I wouldn’t let him sit at my table,” Therese was shaking slightly. Someone could have killed her yesterday. They would have least kidnapped her if Calli hadn’t needed help with trigonometric substitutions.
“Your story checks out, Miss Evans. The Boise police department has reports of anonymous tips declaring the deaths of the girls related, and now Houston does too. The girls you named did die in the ways you explained. But, you understand that this does not validate your story and casts you in a somewhat unsavory light,” Morgan said.
Therese was listening in shock, with the wave of information slamming into her brain; it was hard to comprehend it all. And now they were accusing her of murder, just like the police had done with Tessie so many years ago. She didn’t kill them, at least she didn’t think she killed them. Maybe she did. Maybe she was a murderer. That possibility consumed her thoughts.
“Now, Miss Evans, if you can list any of the people involved with the deaths of the girls, we may be able to reach some sort of agreement.”
“I’m, I’m telling the truth. I have no idea. I just have these dreams, and people end up dead. I haven’t slept for more than a few hours in over five years. Believe me, I do not want this. I knew these girls, I liked them, I could never hurt them. I hate doing this. I don’t know what it is, who’s hurting them, if I, myself, have anything to do with it, why it happened after my dad’s death, or who this Yvette girl is.” Therese said breathlessly. “I don’t understand it, but you have to believe me.”
Morgan said nothing.
“Excuse us for a moment, Miss Evans.” Morgan and the man left again.
There was no clock in the room, and Therese had taken her watch off to sleep. However, the time that had passed must have been hours before Morgan and the man reappeared. It left Therese alone with many unpleasant thoughts to mull over. She was feeling distinctly ill as the pair appeared.
This time, the man spoke to her. “You are going to be transferred to another facility, Miss Evans. We are going to run a few tests to see the veracity of your statements.”
Tests very much had a bad connotation thanks to years of schooling, but this seemed all the more sinister. Not to mention her chemistry final. However, she noticed they didn’t even say please. It seemed very much like they would drag her, even if she was kicking and screaming.
“What kinds of tests? You’re not going to make me sleep for too long and have another girl die, are you? Please don’t,” Therese said.
“That will be discussed later, Miss Evans,” he said. “Will you follow me please?” Therese followed.
There was a longer ride in a similar black SUV, during which no words were spoken. Therese was not sure whether to feel scared at what might happen, or guilty at what had happened, or relieved that something was happening. Instead, she felt numb.
Again, she was led into another building of which she had not seen the exterior and into a plain room with a table. This time, a man with silver hair and a mustache already sat there, along with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Hello, Therese,” he said. He had used her first name. He was different. “Please sit down.”
“I thought you might be hungry. This is rather short notice for me, and no one deemed it fit to give me your file, thus I tried to prepare something as allergen-free as possible. That is brown rice bread and the nut butter is actually sunflower seed butter. And, since I am sure you are wondering, it is 6:42 PM,” the man said quickly. “And, I almost forgot, my name is Dr. Bagley.”
Therese nodded slowly, and noting the trouble he went through with the meal, deemed it polite to take a bite despite the complete lack of hunger stress had caused. The brown rice flour had a funny texture and the sunflower butter did not taste like peanut butter. Still, she felt obligated to continue nibbling at it.
“So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a few question,” he started, flipping a few pages around on a clipboard. “How old are you?”
“Eighteen,” Therese had not spoken for a while, and her voice felt a little scratchy. She reached for the water present with her meal. “I turn nineteen in August.” He scribbled a note.
“Any medical history?” he asked.
“Nothing of consequence.”
“Do you have any mental illness in your family?” he asked.
She frowned as she stared back at him. “I am not crazy and neither is my family,” she said emphatically.
“Now, could you tell me a little about these dreams? Whenever you dream, do people die?” he asked.
“No. Only when I sleep for too long,” she said. “Sometimes I have regular dreams too.”
“How long is too long?”
“An hour currently. At first it was four hours, but it keeps getting shorter.”
“When you are these girls, do you know the difference between yourself and them.”
“No. I don’t know who I am until I wake up again.”
“Do you know who they are?”
“Yes. I remember everything after waking up. “
“Do you recognize the voice?”
She was quiet for a while, afraid to speak. “It sounds like my dad. But he’s dead, I saw his corpse, and I saw them bury him. And he would never do anything like this.”
“Have you ever met an Yvette, or even an Yvonne?”
“No. Not that I can remember.”
“How far do you get, when you wake up in strange places after these dreams.”
“It varies wildly. Sometimes it is within my house, but other times, it can be close to a mile or more.”
“How many times do you wake up during the night?”
“Five usually. Four sometimes, Six or Seven if I have extra time and no one is up.”
All this talk of sleep was beginning to make Therese tired. She yawned, and the man smiled. She decided she didn’t like his smile.
“Okay, Therese, it looks like I’m finished. We are going to monitor your sleep and then wake you up after an hour to examine the results. Sound alright?” he said.
She nodded mutely.
“Can you please follow me?” he asked. She followed him through a few more halls, yawning several more times; she really was very tired.
The room he led her to felt very much like a hospital. There was a single bed with side rails and wheels which had bands attached, and several machines buzzing about. There were two women and a man in scrubs standing. Suddenly, Therese did not feel tired anymore.
“Therese, if you could please get in bed.” Dr. Bagley said. She did as was bidden.
The people began to buzz around her in activity while Dr. Bagley narrated. “These restraints, which Ron is strapping you into, are so that you do not try to move during your sleep, like you said happens when you dream. These sensors Janis is applying to your head are to monitor your brain waves. Kate is just attaching the heart monitor and is going to give you an IV, just so we can medicate you quickly if something goes wrong.”
Therese’s heart beat rapidly, as she now saw evidence of on one of the machines. She did not like the restraints. She felt trapped and helpless, and was beginning to think that there plan was not to wake her up after an hour, but to flirt dangerously with the point when one of the dreams begins.
Dr. Bagley was not looking at her, but at the machines. “Now, just take a few deep calming breaths for me, Therese. Nothing is going to happen.”
She did as ordered. The brain sensors felt like they had taken over her head as the woman continued to apply them. The woman did not look at Therese.
“Okay, Therese, we are going to leave the room. The sandwich had a mild sedative and some melatonin in it, so you should be pretty tired. Just try and get some sleep. We’ll know more when you wake up.” He smiled again, and left with the three minions. The lights turned off after them.
Therese stared at the ceiling. She was afraid of what might happen if she fell asleep, and the equipments and restraints made the idea of slumber laughable. She was concerned that the man had secretly drugged her. She was concerned that she missed her chemistry final. Would Professor Cox let her retake it? Her physics final was tomorrow. She probably wouldn’t get to that one either.
So, she decided, she would lay here and stare at the ceiling, pretending to be attempting to fall asleep. She didn’t trust them.
Her eyelids drooped a little, but she fought back fiercely, pulling them as wide as possible. They would droop again, and Therese responded in the same way. An hour must have passed in this matter as the battle raged between Therese and sleep.
Dr. Bagley came in with a needle. “Looks like you need a little boost in melatonin. Sorry for the pinch.” He injected it quickly and smoothed Therese’s hair back while smiling. “Get some sleep, Therese. You look like you haven’t slept in a week.” Therese wanted to tell him to get lost.
She didn’t want to, but the pull of sleep was stronger. She was falling, and falling fast, into slumber. She didn’t even know if Dr. Bagley made it to the door before she was asleep, for better or for worse.