Truthseeker: Client 02

Truthseeker: Client 02

A Chapter by Mason Rayburn

After every case, he took the time to reflect on what he could have done differently to better help his client. More often than not, Adam comes to the conclusion that the choice was the client’s. Whatever their fate, the clients have to make the choice to be helped or not. This was once again the conclusion Adam reached by the time he arrived at his apartment.

The first thing Adam noticed upon entering his apartment was the message light on his answering machine. Pressing the button, Adam was buffeted by the voice of his older sister:

“Adam Pikeman it has been too long since you’ve come down to the ranch! I expect you to come visit me for the next week! Your room is already prepared! I have a surprise for you too when you come by! Love you!” The overly excited voice finally ended with an abrupt click. Adam sighed and rubbed his temples as the next message began to play:

“Ah, yes. This is Myles Vancouver. I was wondering if I could have a word-“ The message was promptly deleted as Adam stormed away from the message machine.

The rest of the day would be spent in preparation to visit his sister. She rarely made requests. Like the message, most of the time she simply made demands and expected people to follow through.

“Guess that saves me the trouble of finding something to do. I suppose it’s been awhile since I had a vacation of sorts anyway…” Adam was saying as he loaded his few items of luggage into the taxi he would be taking to the train station.

Adam had lived most of his teenaged years on into adulthood in the city and had grown quite accustomed to taxi rides. He found them relaxing and preferred them to driving himself anytime. He had fallen asleep by the time they reached the train station. After being woke up rather gruffly by the driver, Adam quickly removed his bags and ran to catch his train out of town.

The ranch was quite a distance from the city in which Adam lived, but fortunately there was a commuter train that connected with a town that was closer to the ranch. It was here Adam planned on meeting with Paul, the ranch hand that had worked at the ranch since Adam’s parents owned it. As was to be expected of Paul, he was waiting for Adam when he got off the train.

“I see the city has won you over, Mr. Pikeman. Your hair’s about as long as your sisters now-if not longer!” said Paul with a laugh as the two embraced.

“And you’re as burly as ever, you big teddy bear!” came Adam’s jovial reply as the huge ranch hand picked him up shortly before setting him down.

They both laughed as they went to Paul’s truck. As they left for the ranch, the men traded stories of what they had been doing since they saw each other last-each one more entertaining than the last. Adam soon began nodding off, however, and Paul fell silent, knowing the journey from the city was long and exhausting.

            Presently, the young man smelled something unpleasant. Opening his eyes, he was shocked at the sight of flames billowing out either side of the hood of the truck-the smell being the suffocating smoke from the fire. Pressing himself back against his seat, his left hand grabbed the driver's shoulder.

            "What are you doing, Paul?! Pull over!" screamed the startled man.

            Before the driver could do anything, the passenger found himself bolting upright in his seat. The flames had disappeared as did the foul smell of smoke. The driver chuckled lightly as he turned off the road they were on.

            "Have yourself a little fright, Mr. Pikeman? I was just about to wake you anyway. We're almost to your sister's place." said the farmer in a cheery tone.

            Adam slowly allowed himself to settle back into his seat-his breathing only just starting to return to normal. Once his head was cleared of the frightening vision, he replied to the ranch hand, "Please, Paul, call me Adam. You're practically family after all. How long have you been helping my sister at the ranch now?"

            Paul chuckled once more as the truck followed the long drive into a mildly thick wood.

            "As you like, Adam. It will be about nine years this fall." he said. “But that’s not counting the time I worked for your parents.” Paul added with a wink.

            After a short stretch of drive with woods on either side, the trees suddenly fell away to reveal a rather large clearing. Adam could see the drive as it extended a ways further only to disappear again behind a grand house-the place he was raised.

            "It's been so long since I've been over. The house looks more like a castle now...." said the young man under his breath.

            Paul brought the truck around to the back of the house and parked it just outside a barn that matched the height of the house but extended quite a ways back into the clearing. Out of habit, Adam slammed his fist against his door in a precise manner, before pulling the handle just so to make the door swing open with a short groan from the hinges.

            "I wasn't sure if you'd remember how that worked. She may be old, but this truck has served me well enough over the years. Wouldn't trade her for the world." Paul said while gently patting the steering wheel, which had been worn smooth from heavy use.

            Sliding to the edge of the seat, Adam swung a leg down to the ground which was quickly followed by the other. Breathing deeply of the old familiar smells of the ranch, Adam closed his eyes and took a moment to let the old memories play through his mind. These were cut short, however, when the sound of a screen door slamming followed by the sound of quick footsteps coming towards him filled the air. Opening his eyes, Adam only had a moment before his elder sister threw herself against him while embracing him.

            "Adam! How long has it been? My, how you've grown! How's the city life? Are you eating well?" It didn't seem like his sister was even breathing as she excitedly asked question after question into his chest.

            With some difficulty, Adam managed to pry the woman off of him and clamp a hand over her still moving lips.

            "It's nice to see you too, Meredith. Still as chatty as ever, I see. It's been about two years since my last visit but nine years since I've seen you."

            Adam stopped short when the screen door slammed a second time. His eyes left his sister to behold a young man standing on the porch of the manor. Meredith turned to inspect the sound and her eyes widened as she too looked at the man.

            "Oh, Adam, this is my fiance-the surprise I mentioned on the phone." said Meredith with slight hesitation. "Samuel, dear, come over here and meet my brother!"

            With a steady gait, her fiance made his way over to the two.

            "Name's Samuel. Samuel Fenmore." said he as his hand became outstretched towards Adam.

            The man had a baby face that made him appear unusually youthful with short hair that stuck up slightly in the back as part of a new age style. Despite his physical features, however, the most out-of-place characteristic was his clothes: dress clothes that fit the like of businessmen.

            Not wanting to be rude or upset his sister, Adam took Samuel's hand.

            "The grip of a businessman..." Adam said under his breath. Clearing his throat at their looks, he followed up with, "Er, Adam. I'm Adam. The, uh, brother of the bride-to-be."

            His cordial smile roused little response from Samuel other than a look of slight annoyance. Samuel turned to Meredith but continued to glance in Adam's direction.

            "I just got called in. Sounds like things are pretty hectic at the office." said Samuel in what could only be the no-nonsense business tone of an experienced pencil pusher.

            A look of deep disappointment appeared for only a moment on Meredith's face before a forced smile replaced it.

            "O-Ok. I'll have dinner ready for you when you get back..." she offered weakly.

            "No, that's alright. I'll stop for something while I'm in town. You know how I hate to make you cook, Merry." Samuel replied with a small smile.

            The siblings followed him as Samuel began walking to an obviously new car that gleamed in the sunlight. Opening the door, he was about to climb in, but turned and, without a moment's hesitation, moved in to kiss Meredith. As the two stood lip locked, Adam quickly looked away, scratching his head to ease the awkward moment. In a passing glance, he caught Samuel looking at him and their eyes locked for a moment.

            What is he looking at...? Thought Adam.

            Before further thought could go into the moment, it was gone and Samuel climbed in the car while offering final farewells-even a quick, "Later." for Adam. As the car began rolling down the long drive, Meredith moved to watch it disappear past the woods surrounding the property. Walking behind her, Adam had one thing to say, "I don't like him."

            At this, Meredith quickly turned around with a shocked look on her face.

            "How can you say that?! You've only just met him!" She exclaimed.

            Adam snickered at having riled her up so easily and began pacing as he collected his thoughts concerning Samuel.

            "'I hate to make you cook'? What guy is that considerate and perfect?"

            "He is! You've only just met him, so, of course, you wouldn't know all the kind things he's done for me."

            There was nothing left to be said, for her statement held every ounce of truth it uttered. Adam turned away from Meredith to look around at the old ranch. So many memories lay in every corner of this place.

            "It really hasn't changed...has it?" he said just loud enough for Meredith to hear.

            A gentle breeze swept through the clearing, gently ruffling Meredith's dress and long hair. Sweeping her bangs back with the tips of her fingers, she too looked around.

            "How could I change it...? It's all that's left of our family after all...." she replied.

            Adam's eyes returned to his sister who was now staring off into space like he had just been. He softly cleared his throat as he walked over to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

            "So, what's for supper?" he said in an obvious attempt to change the subject.

            Meredith rested a hand on his arm. She quickly looked, however, seeming to only then recognize it as Adam's arm, and gently shrugged it off.

            "Come inside," said she, as she casually wiped her eyes, "I'll fix you something..."

            Supper was satisfyingly delicious just as it had been when Adam was a child. It would be his first quality home cooked meal in quite a while, having lived in the city for the past nine years. He explained the events of those nine years in detail to Meredith during their meal. The expressions on his sister's face told the young Truthseeker that she was less than impressed with some of his work. After much reassurance from Adam, though, the wife-to-be soon found herself nodding in agreement with most of his choices.

            As the sun began setting, their conversation carried on into a large sitting room centered around a grand fireplace. Meredith stacked a pile of logs and skillfully lit the fire with a match. Settling herself in the armchair opposite Adam, her face took a somber expression as the shadows cast by the fire danced over her face.

            One look at her face told Adam exactly what she was thinking about. Trying to put off the inevitable conversation, he pretended to be fascinated by the fire. The small flame was nothing special at first, but as Adam continued to look at the wisps of flame, they began to take a familiar shape. Meredith? Adam couldn't believe it, but the center of the flame actually began to look more and more like his elder sister. With a soft snort, he said, "Hey, Mered-"

            She must have been exhausted, though, for as Adam looked over to his sister, she appeared to be sleeping. Smiling to himself at the peaceful scene of his sister sleeping, Adam settled back in his chair deciding that he, too, would take a little nap. This idea was quickly interrupted as an ear-splitting shriek filled the room. Adam jolted to attention and saw his sister flailing in her chair as flames covered her entire body.

            "MEREDITH!" Adam cried as he bolted from his chair.

            In the span of a blink, the flames that had been spreading rapidly over his sister vanished, and she now sat on the edge of her seat, staring at him as if he'd gone mad. Taking in the extraordinary change of scenery, he shakily eased himself back down into his chair. Putting a shaky hand over his eyes, he tried to understand what he'd just seen.

            "A...Adam...?" said Meredith, uncertain as to what had taken place.

            Adam raised a still unsteady hand to signal for a moment of silence as he composed himself.

            "I-I'll be alright. Just a bad dream...I guess...I-I'm sorry. What were you saying?" he stammered as he tried to bring his breathing to a normal pace and to stop his thoughts from racing.

            Meredith hesitantly settled back into her seat still uncertain about Adam, but eventually decided it best to move on.

            "I was talking about mom. How she used to sit here with us and tell us about the visions God gave her every now and then." she said, her tone returning to normalcy by the end of her statement.

            At this Adam's eyes shot open from behind his hand. That was it! That explained the weird things he had been seeing ever since he came to the ranch. First Paul's truck burst into flames and now his sister...

            "But what does it mean...?" Adam said aloud to himself.

            Meredith's quizzical look became one of worry as she sank further into her chair-her face stricken with a thoroughly exhausted look. Adam caught her eye and snapped out of his own universe. He too settled back into his chair and matched her look of exhaustion.

            "So where's your lover?" he asked in a manner that told he was expecting a certain result.

            "If I weren't so tired, I would take offense to that statement. You know how I feel about that. We were raised in a Christian home, after all...." Meredith muttered following it with a convincing sigh.

            Adam stood and offered a hand to his sister, "Come on. Let's go to bed. I'm sure if he's coming back he can let himself in."

            The pouty look in her eyes showed what little resistance she had left, but slowly Meredith grabbed his hand and allowed him to pull her up. Adam took her upstairs to her room, and then went down the hall to his own room-the guest room.

            "You could always sleep in your old room, you know." Meredith had told him.

            "I am forever a guest in this house now. Nothing more." Adam had solemnly replied.

            Before turning out his light, he glanced out his window at the long driveway, his thoughts returning to Samuel.

            I'm starting to get the feeling there's more than meets the eye to our encounter... He thought.

 

            Samuel would not return until early the next morning. Adam vaguely remembered footsteps outside his door followed by the door to the room adjacent to his squeaking close. It was quickly forgotten, however, as his mind slipped back into troubled visions consumed by fire.

            The following morning Adam awoke soaked in his own sweat. Tossing the soiled pillow into the wash room, he took a quick shower before slipping into clothes more suited for a ranch. Finding his way downstairs to the dining room, Adam was met by the happy couple enjoying a quiet conversation over Samuel's cup of coffee.

            "Since when do you drink after other people?" said Adam, completely aware he was butting in. "And since when do you drink coffee?"

            Samuel jerked around in his chair immediately at the intrusion, but Meredith just looked down at the cup she was sharing with her betrothed as her cheeks flushed slightly. The man across from her showed the slightest hint of emotion before standing to greet his brother-in-law to be.

            "Adam! How are you? Slept well, I hope?"

            Adam was taken aback by the sudden interest. Before he knew it, he was being shuffled into Samuel’s car. A faint memory of Meredith saying something about “a nice drive for you two to get some brotherly bonding time” echoing at the back of his head. Such was how Adam found himself staring blankly out the window of Samuel’s car as they took the scenic route through the local countryside. Eventually Samuel pulled up next to a lake and shut off the car.

            “Since when is there a lake here…?” Adam muttered as he stepped out of the car.

            What was even more curious was that the lake was so placid. Neither ripple nor wave disturbed the water’s surface. Adam walked over to the water’s edge to examine the odd lake. And what was that foul smell? He kicked a rock into the water just to disturb the surface. As soon as the rock touched the water, the entire lake exploded in a massive fireball, sending Adam flying back onto the hood of the car.

From his place on the hood of the car, Adam saw Samuel facing away from him at the lake. Tufts of smoke could be seen floating around his face. He slowly began turning towards Adam. When his face came into view, Adam saw his eye sockets were flaming infernos, and his mouth was twisted into a wicked grin as tongues of flame lashed out from between his lips.

“You awake?” Samuel was asking through a toothy grin with his face a few inches from Adam’s. He was standing outside the car, leaning in on Adam’s side.

            Adam cleared his throat as he came out of his dream. It seemed like they were having less of an effect on him, which was lucky for Samuel. Not to say that this latest vision wasn’t just as disturbing as the others, of course. Jolting awake from his vision and head butting his sister’s groom, however, would not bode well for his future…

            “I am now…” Adam said finally, moving to put some space between their faces.

            “Come on then. Merry told me you probably haven’t seen the lake in ages, so I’d thought it would be a good place to hang out today.”

            Adam took his time in getting out of the car. This “play date” had not exactly been his idea, but since he was here, he might as well enjoy the fresh air. There was another nice breeze out today as the sun shown brightly from the clear sky, save for a few tufts of clouds that lazily moved along in the endless blue above.

            The lake was the same as ever. Even the old tree with the rope was still there, though the rope appeared to have been replaced with a newer one.

            “Aw, but half the fun was seeing whether the rope would hold for one more person to swing into the lake.” Adam said, his lip curling downward in a mock pouty face.

            “You mean we can swim here? Awesome!” Samuel said as he ripped off his clothes down to his boxers and dove in. “Wow, the water’s great! Come on!”

            “That’s alright.” Adam said with a wave. “I think I’ll sit this one out.”

            Adam maneuvered his way along the shore to a small boulder that he could sit on. Samuel swam all around, seemingly enjoying himself thoroughly despite Adam’s refusal to join him. It took a good twenty to thirty minutes before Samuel pulled himself onto the shore so the sun could dry him off.

            “So…” he said, as he was catching his breath, “Ever since I left yesterday I’ve been thinking about where I’ve heard your name before, Adam…”

            Adam rested his chin on his hand which was supported by his knee.

            “Oh? Did you figure it out?” asked the Truthseeker in a bored tone.

            “Well, while I had some downtime at the office, I pulled your name up on the Internet and found a few hits for Truthseekers.” He had succeeded in piquing Adam’s interest. “One story in particular caught my attention. It concerned a certain Richardson, Patrick?” Now Adam was on edge. “It was a newspaper article that pretty much named you as the prime suspect for his death.”

            Adam made an involuntary noise as he proceeded to choke a little. Finally clearing his throat, he said, “Prime suspect…for a murder?”

            Samuel tilted his head to the side so he could see Adam.

            “If it makes you feel better, they didn’t say it was murder. Just that you were a person of interest in his death.” said the businessman casually.

            “That means they think I killed him!” Adam exclaimed as he stood up and began pacing. “This is why confidentiality is so important in my work! I can’t help it if people don’t want me to help them. I try my very best to do what I do, but if they can’t handle the truth, then it’s their problem!”

            Adam turned around to see Samuel standing really close to him. Before he knew what was happening, Samuel leaned in and kissed him. Adam quickly pushed him away, wiping his mouth.

            “That never happened.” said Adam while pointing a finger at Samuel. “Meredith loves you, Samuel. I’m willing to forget this happened, if you promise to make her happy!”

            Samuel just laughed as he began getting dressed.

            “Come on. Merry said she would have a special lunch ready for us when we got back.” He said as though nothing had happened.

            Clouds had moved in since the men started the drive back home. The sudden change in weather put Adam on edge. Samuel’s action at the lake did not help his nerves either.

Why would you do this, Samuel? My sister has fallen head over heels for you…How could you do this to her…? Adam’s troubled thoughts repeated over and over, the basic question being, “Why, Samuel? Why would you do this?” Adam said finally, unable to even look at his chauffeur.

“Why not?” Samuel spoke after a moment of silence. “It was the perfect time to make a move. We were alone after all. You don’t want to hurt your sister, so she’ll never know.”

“God sees everything…” Adam said in a low tone.

            He could not be sure if Samuel heard his words, nor did Adam care at the moment. They would make the rest of the drive in silence.

            As the car made its way up the long drive, the clouds started to release the rain they had been holding all day. The rain’s force quickly picked up as they reached the house. Meredith was standing at the screen door calling a warning,

            “We’re in for a heavy storm tonight. Come inside quick!”

            Adam wasted no time in exiting the vehicle, but Samuel seemed to be taking his time.

            “There’s something at the office I need to get done still. I’ll probably head into town for the night.” He called to his betrothed over the rain.

            In mid-step Adam turned around and grabbed Samuel by collar.

            “Listen here, pretty boy. We both know you’re full of it. What? Got another man on the side in the city?”

            “Why just one?” Samuel replied with a mischievous smile.

            “Not tonight. You’re staying here for a change and keeping my sister company.” said Adam as he proceeded to drag the businessman by his collar towards the porch. “Good news! Samuel remembered it’s not that important. He’ll be with us all evening.” Adam spoke with an empty smile and a tone that said to Samuel, “Agree or else!”

            The businessman had little choice but to slowly nod his head in agreement to Adam’s words. Thus the evening began.

Meredith was noticeably more upbeat with both the boys keeping her company. Supper was once again magnificent, but Adam felt that the food did not quite fill him up. It was like something was still missing.

“So, how was the lake Adam? Wasn’t that a great idea?” spoke his sister, completely oblivious to what had happened.

“Yeah, Adam, how’d you like our bonding time?” Samuel piped in, obviously sarcastic.

Adam stared at Samuel for a moment before responding.

“It was…an interesting afternoon. I’m glad to see that people are taking care of the lake and not littering in it like they used to from time to time.” Here he looked at Samuel. “Although I guess I did see a piece of trash or two there today.”

Samuel snickered at Adam’s attempt at an insult. Meredith simply proceeded to launch into a monologue about efforts to keep the lake clean for the local kids-that it was important for the adults to preserve what they had in the past for the kids of the future. Adam was very much withdrawn from the conversation, however, nodding and smiling occasionally when he felt it appropriate.

After dinner the conversation moved to the sitting room once again. This time, Adam took notice of the many bookshelves lining the walls of the room.

“I guess it’s more of a library really…” he said absently as he searched the shelves for something of interest to read.

“Yeah, I just couldn’t get rid of the books our parents took so much time to collect. They really are good books after all.” said Merry as she sat down by the fireplace, a book she had been reading already resting on the end table beside her chair.

“Guess there’s nothing better to read than this.” Adam said returning to his chair from the previous evening with an old bible.

Samuel simply fell into the sofa situated close to the other chairs.

“Hey, buddy, take your shoes off first.” Adam said sternly.

Samuel scoffed at him, but he slowly removed his shoes. Meredith just laughed at their antics.

            “You two are already behaving like brothers.” she said with a small laugh.

            Adam blushed slightly as he became suddenly very interested in the bible. Samuel just sighed and stared at Meredith.

            “You know, Adam, your sister is so cute sometimes.” said he in a whimsical tone.

            There was a moment of silence as the two siblings considered his words.

            “Only sometimes?” They said in unison looking at him.

            “Well, of course, you’re cute all the time, Merry. You just have moments where you’re extra cute is what I meant.” Samuel said, smiling as he smoothed things over.

            Meredith blushed as she became extra interested in her book now. Adam simply crossed his arms as his gaze met Samuel’s and gave him a “You’re full of it” look.

            The conversation died down from there and it wasn’t long before Meredith wished the men goodnight as she retired to her room. Outside the rain pelted the side of the house in its rhythmic fashion accented here and there by thunder.

            Adam was quite surprised that Samuel had not fallen asleep yet himself. He had only been lounging on the sofa with his eyes closed the whole time they had been here. Then Adam noticed that he was moving some part of his body at all times-in order to keep himself awake most likely.

            “Man, I thought she’d never leave.” Samuel said finally.

            “Say, how long have you been hiding this side of you from her anyway?” Adam asked casually.

            “It’s hard to say, really. We met each other a few years ago and apparently we hit it off…” he said without opening his eyes.

            “Wow, it must have been hard to keep it up for this long…” Adam asked searchingly.

            “Yeah, there were a couple close calls. I’m sure she suspects something. She refuses to come to me for some reason. I guess it’s like how you don’t want to hurt her: she doesn’t want to hurt herself.” he said with a small laugh.

            While Samuel’s words stung, Adam could compose himself knowing what he now knew. It was surely only a matter of time.

            “How have you been sleeping lately? Good?” Adam asked in a tone of mock concern.

            “Mostly. When I sleep in town I have really weird dreams. Sometimes they keep me awake. When I’m here, oddly enough, I sleep pretty good. I guess I should thank you for forcing me to stay here tonight.” he said while smiling.

            Adam nodded his head at the tell-tale signs.

            “That’s no good, you know. You have to keep up with your sleep. Especially in the business world. I’m sure falling asleep on the job wouldn’t do you any good.” Adam said as he thought of a businessman he used to know.

            Another moment of silence fell on the room as the rain and the thunder continued their concert outside. It seemed as though the forces of nature were picking up in anticipation to what was about to occur.

            “Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for Thou art with me…It’s a good psalm. You might want to read it sometime.” Adam said as he closed the bible and laid it down on the table beside his chair.

He stood and walked closer to the fireplace, resting a hand on the mantle as he stared into the flames. Presently, the sounds of heavy breathing came from behind him. It was unnecessary for him to look; he had heard this kind of breathing several times before.

“I…I don’t feel so good…” Samuel finally said.

Here Adam finally turned to look at the man Meredith wanted as her husband.

“I imagine you wouldn’t, Mr. Fenmore. It’s your head, right?” Adam asked.

“What…What’s wrong with me?” Samuel asked as he rolled off the sofa and onto all fours.

“With all the lies you’ve been telling my sister, I imagine that you have several little creatures swimming around in your brain, looking for the tastiest morsel they can find.” Adam said nonchalantly.

“Huh…?! You…You have to help me…!” Samuel was saying as he shakily crawled towards Adam, a pleading look in his eyes.

“Help you…?” Adam asked. “The man that’s taking advantage of my sister? The man who is unfaithful to my sister with other men no less? Can I even call you a man?”

“It’s your duty to help me!” Samuel screamed as he jerked on Adam’s pant leg. “You’re a Truthseeker, aren’t you?!”

Adam scoffed at Samuel’s words. He crouched down to level himself with the man at his feet.

“Ultimately, it’s my choice who I help, isn’t it?” Adam made a smile to match the one Samuel gave him earlier in the driveway.

“That’s…That’s inhuman!” Samuel said, the look of pleading becoming more dire. “You’re going to let me die?!

“No, Mr. Fenmore. I’m going to let you kill yourself. This is the result when lies consume a person’s mind. The only thing I wish I could change about this is that you didn’t kill yourself here. Unfortunately, that is impossible with how quickly the lies are developing.” Adam said, standing once he had finished.

Quite unexpectedly, Samuel broke down crying, screaming repeatedly: “I’m sorry I cheated on your sister!” Adam simply closed his eyes as the man carried on.

Suddenly, the door to the sitting room flew open and Meredith ran to Samuel’s side. Grabbing the back of his head, she supported him as she ran her other hand into his forehead. Her hand disappeared inside for a moment before she pulled it out with a handful of writhing black creatures that disintegrated as soon as they were removed. This process carried on for a few minutes as she removed handful after handful. Samuel’s eyes had since rolled into the back of his head. Finally, with one last handful, Meredith released Samuel’s head, letting it hit the floor.

“That’s the least you deserve…” she muttered as she scowled at him, a look of hurt in her eyes. “And my name is Meredith.” She said proudly.

Her eyes met Adam’s for a moment before she exited the room. Adam followed quickly after her.

“I told you I didn’t like him.” Adam said after a long silence.

Meredith abruptly turned towards him a serious look of scorn and dislike in her eyes.

“Really? That’s what you want to lead with, Adam? You were going to let my fiancé DIE in there. Then what? Huh? Were you going to take off without a word for another nine years?” tears began to well up in her eyes, “Mom wanted you to protect me, Adam. I wasn’t supposed to use my ability ever because you would always be there! Do you think that was fun for me? Do you think I enjoy handling his sin?!”

Adam suddenly received a revelation about what had been going on in his absence.

“You were keeping him alive, weren’t you? For the past few years, you were keeping Samuel alive because you thought you could change him. Is that it? Instead of just putting the trash where it belongs, you decided to come by every day and polish it up nice and clean before returning it to the dumpster! Why have you been wasting your time on him, Meredith? What is worth all this pain?!” Adam demanded, becoming quickly as upset as his sister.

There was a pause as she sat down at the dinner table.

“He knows where dad is, Adam. The first time I cleaned him out, I saw an image of dad as though I were standing there talking to him.” Meredith hid her face in her hand as she began to weep.

Adam quickly knelt in front of her, embracing Meredith as the tears began rolling down his cheek as well. The siblings would be there most of the night, crying to bring healing into their lives and talking about what was really going on.

It came out that Samuel was not Meredith’s fiancé. He simply was a guy she met by chance one day in the city who had taken a liking to her. Under Paul’s supervision, the two met in various places, but ultimately Samuel started coming to the ranch. His lies hit him for the first time at an opportune moment when he was spending the night at the ranch. Meredith helped him without giving it a second thought, and that’s when she saw their father.

Samuel realized his lifestyle would require Meredith’s abilities for him to remain alive. Meredith could not get rid of him after he knew that she could save him, so Samuel became the latest fixture at the ranch. Although they were never married, they became an unexpected duo all the same.

 

The rain had stopped sometime during the night, but the dismal clouds still hung over the ranch. Their presence brought little hope for a better day.

“Maybe…you should return to the city.” Meredith was saying as they sipped some morning tea together. “I can handle Samuel. I’m sure there are plenty of people over there that need your help anyway.” She laughed in an attempt to lighten the mood, but Adam would not be so easily convinced.

“If you need my help, then I should stay here.” Adam insisted.

Meredith just shook her head.

“I’m fine, Adam. Mom’s up there watching over me. Besides…” here she lowered her voice, “I saw another image last night when I performed the mindtap. I could see dad in an office of sorts. Behind him was a large window overlooking a city. Adam…I think dad’s somewhere close to you.”

Adam stopped mid-sip and stared at his sister. Calmly setting his cup down, he rose from the table.

“I’ll be leaving this afternoon. Where’s Paul?” said the Truthseeker.

“I think you should let Samuel take you.” Meredith replied.

Adam turned to her, unable to understand her statement.

“You realize he kissed me, right?” he said, his eyes narrowing at Meredith.

She blushed slightly and stared into her teacup.

“I-I’m really sorry about that…He knows where dad is though. Samuel works in the city. If you let him take you, I’m sure he’ll point you in the right direction.” Meredith said with a determined look in her eyes.

With a defeated sigh, Adam sank into his chair leaning over the table, his face in his arms.

“Let me know when he’s conscious again.”

“Who’s conscious?” said a voice from behind Adam.

Rising to look, Adam saw Samuel buttoning his shirt behind him.

“Well, if I’m taking you then let’s go. There’s a mountain of paperwork waiting for me, you know.” he said flipping his suit jacket over his shoulder.

Adam turned to Meredith and pointed a thumb at Samuel as if to say, “What happened?”

Meredith shrugged and offered, “Temporary side effect?” Now Adam shrugged and stood, taking a long stretch.

“Alright, chauffeur, lead the way.” he said, gesturing for him to do so.

Meredith followed the two men outside. Adam turned and embraced her, kissing the top of her head as he did so.

“Don’t hesitate to call me if you need someone to lean on, ok? I’m here for you.”

Meredith nodded as her eyes misted over.

“Well, see you later, Merry.” Samuel said as he leaned in for another kiss.

Adam quickly snatched the back of his collar and dragged him to the car.

“I know for a fact that you two aren’t getting married, so cut the crap and drive.” Adam said in a tone of sharp disapproval.

“Well, it was worth a shot.” Samuel said with a shrug as he lowered himself into the car.

Final waves of goodbye would send them on their way. As the car sped down the long drive, a gentle rain began to fall.

“Unlike you, I didn’t sleep last night, so I’m going to rest my eyes. Don’t try anything funny.” Adam said as he reclined his seat.

Samuel cleared his throat shortly.

“I just want you to know that I didn’t mean any harm to your sister, Adam.” he said, the slightest hint of remorse in his tone.

“It’s ok, Samuel.” Adam said after a moment of silence. “Once I realized your engagement was staged, none of it really mattered.”

“She made sure I knew the whole story from the start. You two are looking for your dad, right? She can somehow see what I’ve seen through the Truthseeker ability?”

“That’s correct. I’ve never experienced it, but apparently it happens to her whenever she taps someone who knows something about dad. Guess it’s her relation to him perhaps? It’s hard to say really. Kinda makes me wonder what else we don’t know about our powers.” Adam said, half talking to himself.

The car sped onward towards their destination. Samuel was a bit of a lead foot, so the trip did not take nearly as long as it should. By the time they reached the city, Adam had himself a good nap and was able to direct Samuel to his apartment.

“You’re not going to stalk me, are you?” Adam asked warily as he climbed out of the car.

“I doubt it. I’ll post your address at work and see if it gets any hits, though!” he said with a laugh.

“That doesn’t make me feel any better actually.” Adam said with a half smile as he closed the door.

He watched Samuel drive away for a moment, before turning and entering the apartment complex where he lived. The usual sounds of the building greeted him as he climbed the stairs to his room: a baby was crying, a dog was barking, someone was blasting his radio. By the time Adam got to his floor, he had heard it all.

Walking down the hall to his room, he was met with a disturbing sight: his door was ajar. Rushing into the room, he found a middle-aged man sitting on his couch.

“Ah, Adam Pikeman? I’m Myles Vancouver, private investigator.” He said, standing and offering his hand to which Adam turned a blind eye. “You got my messages, I’m sure? You’re an interesting fellow, Mr. Pikeman-or, rather, a person of interest, I should say.”

Adam walked away from the intruder, going about his usual business while he ignored the unwanted guest.

“Come on, Adam. How about you sit down and talk with me. You’re obviously unhappy about my being here which means one of two things: you either know something about what I want to talk about or you know nothing and are simply angry that I picked your lock.” Adam glanced in his direction at this statement but remained silent. “Your silence and disregard for my presence makes me think it’s the first, Mr. Pikeman…You don’t want to go down that road, son. Help me help you. Let me prove that you have nothing to do with this and you’ll never hear from me again.”

Tossing aside the mail he had been pretending to sift through, Adam slapped a hand down on the counter.

“Fine then. Let’s talk.” He said, a look of determination forming in his eye.

The ensuing conversation was a long one, dragging on into the late evening. Several names were mentioned by Myles Vancouver. Most of them were cases of Adam’s that had not gone as well as he had hoped. Adam quickly became exhausted from the conversation having to relive his past failures.

While the list of familiar names was rather long, so also was the list of unfamiliar names. Adam began wondering if he was being investigated for ties to every death in the city. He lost count after fourteen or so and grew bored with that portion of the talk.

Finally, the worst thing imaginable happened.

“You say you’re here to find the truth, but I’m beginning to wonder if that is your real intention, Mr. Vancouver.” Adam said with obvious agitation after being lead around the man’s list of names for over an hour.

“Truth…” Adam focused on Myles when he spoke. “You’ve been saying that word over and over during our conversation, Mr. Pikeman. What is this fascination about the truth with you?”

“I would hope you would have just as strong an obsession with the word Mr. Private Investigator. I would hope that everyone has just as strong an obsession with the truth. ‘The truth will set you free’ as the Good Book says.” He finished by chugging a large amount of water, exhaling with a satisfactory sigh when he had his fill.

“’The truth will set you free,’ huh…? Then why don’t you set yourself free, Adam, by telling me your occupation, hm?” The investigator demanded with raised eyebrow. For the first time during the entire conversation, Adam found himself stumbling for an answer.

In the modern age, Truthseekers have been seen as a source of problems. For this reason, the government created a law that forced every Truthseeker to be identified, licensed, and entered into the international database to prevent them from running amok and wreaking havoc on society anonymously. Adam had failed to be licensed due to his and his family’s beliefs.

“I’m…a…Truthseeker…” he finally admitted.

The P.I. settled back in his chair with a sigh.

“Now your story is starting to make sense.” He said with a nod. “I’m already aware that you aren’t licensed as such, but, fortunately for you, my employer isn’t interested in that.”

Without another word, Myles stood and walked towards the door. Adam followed him with his eyes.

“That’s it? You just leave as soon as you find that out?” Adam asked, uneasy that it was over so easily.

“That’s it.” Myles stated plainly. “I’m sure we’ll meet again, Mr. Pikeman.”

A short nod and the investigator left Adam’s home. As soon as Adam could no longer hear the stranger’s footsteps on the stairwell, he sprang into action. Starting his computer, the Truthseeker was looking for anything on Myles Vancouver he could find. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be found on the private investigator. Exasperated, Adam forcefully sat back in his seat gritting his teeth at this impossible situation.

He knew I was a Truthseeker before I told him? That I was unlicensed even! And who’s this guy’s employer? Someone that doesn’t care that I’m unlicensed? Adam’s thoughts raced down this avenue and that, searching for answers.

Stewing over the matter only frustrated him more, though, and Adam soon withdrew to his bed. His dreams would not offer any refuge from the confusing turn his life had taken. Visions of crimes he had never committed and vague silhouettes of people chasing him kept Adam tossing and turning all night.

The morning brought sunlight-a sharp contrast to the cloud Adam felt hanging over him. Uncertainty made a poor companion. Adam’s mood left him without a desire to eat, so he simply sat in the floor of the kitchen area sipping some tea. Even this small moment of comfort was taken from him at the sound of the phone ringing. Reaching overhead for the phone on the countertop, Adam answered it. His ears met with the most chillingly strange, yet familiar, voice: “Hello, son. We will be meeting in the near future. I thought I would give you fair warning.” The call ended with an abrupt click, and Adam allowed the hand holding the phone to slowly drop to the floor.



© 2013 Mason Rayburn


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Added on May 9, 2013
Last Updated on May 9, 2013