Chapter One

“In my dreams, the dead don’t speak to me. I am the dead person—what happens, happens to me. It makes it harder, because most of the time the dead are in such a state of shock when they died that their vision is colored by their emotions. Nobody wants to hear that the woman who was stabbed to death in the chest never got a good look at her killer, but it’s the truth. The rare times the vision is clear, is when the killer was someone familiar, intimate even. So even when the visions do come, it doesn’t always mean I’m able to identify the killer.
“Sometimes ghosts come back to talk to me in dreams. But they’re never helpful, showing me glimpses of everyday life that has nothing to do with their death, as if they cling only to insignificant moments devoid of passion or joy.
“But it all usually starts with a dream,” said Rachel, feeling self conscious as she spoke into the tape recorder.
“All right. Thank you Miss Martin. Excuse me, I mean Mrs. Wheeler.” The psychologist for the FBI reached across the table and switched off the tape. He had been meeting with her for a week now, but it was all part of her job. As a bona fide psychic detective, she went through tests every six months or so. Tax payers’ money had to be accounted for. Rachel was always explaining herself, explaining her talent, explaining her method of work, although, to tell the truth, she had no idea how it worked.
Her ex-husband, Daniel, had theorized that her subconscious put together puzzles. ‘An imagination with no limits coupled with an almost pathological need to decipher events’, was how he put it one day. As Daniel had been a scientist, and a doctor, his theory, so far, was the one she trusted the most. She spouted it off whenever she had a psychological exam, and the shrink would nod over it, as if it made sense.
“It must have been hard to make friends.” The FBI psychologist looked up from his papers.
She thought about that. “No. I made friends easily. What was hard was keeping them.” She looked closer at the man. None of the other shrinks had said that to her. He was younger than last one, with the requisite hooded stare, thin mouth, and long, nervous fingers that laced and unlaced as he listened to her. He had delicate bone structure and dark skin, with a faint pattern of scars on one cheek, as if a bird had pecked him in a circle…
She blinked. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“What made it hard to keep friends?”
“I think I scared them.”
“Did you predict things about them that happened? Is that it?”
“No, never. I can’t predict the future. I can’t touch someone and see what will happen to them or do any fancy hocus pocus.” She couldn’t keep the acid out of her voice.
“Yes, but you can touch someone and see what has happened.”
“Sometimes.” She waited.
“Would you touch me and tell me what you see?” He sounded genuinely curious, not skeptical.
She shrugged, and when he reached his hand out to her, she grasped it firmly.