Chapter Twenty-Three

I sat by the phone waiting for Katelynn's call. I had no idea what time it was going to come, her appointment with Dr. James wasn't until three pm yet it was still eight in the morning when I had started making sure the phone was never more than a single ring away from my grasp.

I had picked up Randi on my motorcycle the day after our first meeting of the minds. School, though she was only seventeen, had turned out to be the University of Minnesota. She was already preparing to be a Junior next month, in the process of completing her Sophomore year during the summer. She was majoring in history with a minor in astrology. I wondered how much she had used her gift on her teachers and professors to accelerate her way through the educational system, though I'm not so sure she would have needed to use it at all. She appeared to be a very bright and motivated young woman, despite her constantly changing appearance that seemed to want to beg to differ.

We held two more two hour sessions over the next two days. We didn't do any more singing, however, and I noticed that once I had left her company, I could no longer recall every word on the Joan Osborne album, but the next morning I certainly remembered enough to assure myself that it had indeed really happened, just in case I was having my doubts.

By the time we were done, we were able to hold conversations within our minds while sitting with our backs to one another. I discovered all I needed to do was think of her to receive the dominant thoughts that were in her mind. Facing her, I found that I could read a lot more.

On the third day, near the end of our last two hour session, she had purposely tried to empty her mind. Our eyes had locked, I briefly heard a mantra, a steady hum she was using to still her thoughts. I looked deeper within her mind. Suddenly (24/289) flashed in my mind and I immediately tried to tuck it away, hide it behind loud thoughts. As much as I tried not to react to the sudden knowledge of what I could only assume was to be the day of her death, I must of failed. In my mind, she said, What? I shook my head, saying nothing, and looked away from her for a quick instant, apparently successfully hiding this new knowledge before she had been able to react to my reaction. I felt suspicion and curiosity when I looked back at her.

Letting it go, she had then instructed me to try to pull a childhood memory out of her mind. I got passed the hum that had begun once again in her mind and this time felt a mixture of emotions, love, hate, disgust, fear. A door. Locked. Voices turning to shouts. Gunfire. Panic. I had closed my eyes and looked immediately at my own feet. This time, she was able to see what was on my mind.

Out loud, she said softly, "Sorry about that. That was the day my parents died. I guess it is still lingering in my mind more than I knew. It was three years ago, when I was fourteen."

"I'm sorry," I had said.

"You lost your parents, too," she said, looking into my eyes. "A car accident."

"Yes, sixteen years ago for me."

Something else we have in common, then, I had heard her think.

* * * * *

The next two days, up until the day Katelynn was supposed to return for her physical, I didn't leave the house. I was afraid of what might happen. Visions of stepping into a crowd and being overwhelmed by hundreds of thoughts had kept me at home. I had asked Randi before I had left the castle after our final session if that would happen when I went out. Her response had been, "Only if you let it. Only if you open up and try to read the whole page at once again. As you get used to the feel, you should be able to turn it on and off like a light switch. Occasionally thoughts may leak in without your initiating it, but it will become second nature eventually for you to recognize them for what they are and ignore them the same way you would ignore a conversation within ear shot between two people you don't know as you walk passed them."

I believed her, but still didn't feel quite ready to test out her theory until I had to. That time came when the phone finally rang shortly past noon.

* * * * *

I hopped on Shadow right after the call had come in. She was a half hour from town and I was fifteen minutes from her home. I had time for two Winstons while sitting on my bike in her drive before she and her mother pulled into the driveway next to me.

Katelynn had the car door open even as I watched her mother throw the gear shift on the steering wheel into park and I was climbing off the motorcycle. I took one step towards the car, she had already taken five and was flinging her arms around my neck though it was a hug, not a kiss that I received. I felt very self-conscious not knowing what she had told her mother about me, who was now getting out of the car herself and looking my way as she walked around from the other side towards us, not smiling as Katelynn had.

Katelynn released me taking a step back. "Hi John. You shaved off your beard. You look a little younger without it," she said smiling. Then turning away from me towards her mother, "This is my mother, Abby. Mom, this is John Johnson."

"Hi John," she said with a strong steady voice, an octave lower than I would have expected coming from her thin frame. She was probably in her early sixties. She had a pleasant looking face, though it had a leathery appearance of one that had worked outside much of her life. Her eyes looked dark and confident. Her hair, though a solid gray, was still long reaching the middle of her back and held together in a single ponytail. She reached out to shake my hand and her grip was firm. Still not sure of myself, I averted my eyes and glanced at Katelynn when our hands briefly clasped. I had given up on the gloves. Randi had told me I shouldn't need them. Looking back at Abby, trying not to 'turn on the light switch,' I said, "Glad to meet you, Mrs...." I paused, looking at her, then suddenly finished my sentence after only a second had passed, "Brogan." It occurred to me then that I didn't even know what Katelynn's last name was yet.

"So you're the one that thinks my daughter is going to die soon," she said boldly, getting right to the point.

"No," I corrected her. "I'm the one that thinks she doesn't have to die soon."

She studied me. I remained 'turned off' as best I could, but I couldn't help feeling her emotions which were tainted with an anger that she was concealing well on her face. "Well I hope we can get to the bottom of this today," she said to me, then looked at Katelynn who was standing by my side. "Shall we go in and grab some lunch before we go to the Hospital?"

We went inside Katelynn's house and her mother and I sat in the living room while Katelynn threw a frozen pizza in the oven. Once the timer had been set, Katelynn joined us, sitting on the couch next to her mother, I was on the La-Z-Boy on the right. For the next twenty minutes, her mother asked me questions, confirming the story her daughter had conveyed to her when she had returned to the farm. I wanted to add to the story, tell Katelynn all about my experience with Harry and Randi and all the things I had learned, but I still wasn't sure how any of it was going to help us with her situation and I assumed if I were to spill all that happened over the six days she had been gone, I might lose all credibility with Mrs. Brogan. I decided to wait and tell Katelynn about it later if we were ever left alone for a little while.

Abby Brogan fell silent after she had confirmed all she felt she could, but her eyes remained fixed on me, still trying to evaluate. A moment later, the timer went off and we all went to the kitchen. Mrs. Brogan pulled out a chair and sat as Katelynn went to a cabinet and pulled out some plates and I went to a drawer and pulled out three knives and three forks. I turned towards the table, Mrs. Brogan was staring at me. He knows where the silverware is, was in the front of her mind and I had to consciously 'turn off' again.

"Will you get some glasses, too?" Katelynn asked as she placed the plates on the table and turned to retrieve the pizza from the oven. I briefly thought of asking which cabinet, for her mother's sake, then just decided what the hell and went straight to the correct door next to the refrigerator and pulled out three glasses.

"So did you have a good week?" I asked, trying to ignore her mother's eyes that felt like they were borrowing into head. I wanted to turn on and find out exactly what she thought of me but not only was I still not confident in my control of this ability to read minds yet, but I also wasn't sure I really wanted to even know what she was thinking of me at that point.

"Yes," Katelynn replied. "Faith took to the water like a fish. She's always loves it on the farm."

By two-thirty pm, we had cleaned up the lunch dishes and Katelynn and her mother climbed back into the car to head for the hospital while I followed on my motorcycle. The day was clear and warm and the slight chill in the wind from the north felt good as I sped up on the highway leading to the hospital.

After parking in the employee lot, we walked across the street to the hospital and checked in with a nurse that Katelynn knew before sitting down in a large waiting room. Dr. James appeared a few moments later to greet us.

Dr. James shook hands with Katelynn, asking her how her week had been and then turned towards Mrs. Brogan as Katelynn introduced him to her mother. He shook her hand and greeted her and then turned to me and said hi, how ya doin', John, without shaking my hand.

"I assume they have told you everything that has lead us to this point," Dr. James said, addressing Mrs. Brogan. She nodded and he turned again to me. "Have you checked to see if Katelynn's number is still the same?" he asked.

"I haven't checked, but I assume it hasn't changed," I said, knowing he intended to have me do it again to be sure before we began.

"Well I think the prudent thing to do here would be to make sure it hasn't changed. Do you mind?"

I looked at Katelynn, her hand was already reaching towards me as she took a step my direction.

I looked into her eyes and tried to clear my mind of the surroundings and focus on Katelynn. Before, the numbers had always just appeared on contact. There was no effort involved in retrieving them. This time however, as I tried to consciously 'turn on', Katelynn's emotions flooded my mind. Fear was dominant though you wouldn't have known it looking at her face. Our hands touched. Be different, she was thinking, pleading. I concentrated harder. Tried to get past her thoughts. I saw Faith, whom I recognized from many pictures in her home the night I had stayed. I saw her father. I saw her husband who had passed away five years ago. And the numbers (29:29) suddenly lingered on my brain and I knew it had not been my own memory producing the numbers. They hadn't changed.

I shook my head slowly and let go of her hand. "They haven't changed," I said, looking down.

"Okay, thank you, John. Why don't you and Mrs. Brogan try to make yourself comfortable in the waiting room. Katelynn, you can follow me and we'll get the physical started. After that, I have ordered a CAT scan and want to take some skin and blood samples to send to the lab. The whole thing should only take a couple of hours but we probably won't know a whole lot until the results are in from the lab tomorrow morning. I have already let the lab know that I want quick and thorough results by morning."

Katelynn glanced at the two of us, a look of helplessness on her face.

"It'll be okay," I said. "I promise."

She gave me a weak smile and followed Dr. James out of sight on the other side of the nurse's station. Mrs. Brogan and I went back to our seats in the waiting room.

* * * * *

"So, Katelynn tells me you are a courier," Mrs. Brogan said when we had sat down once again. I hadn't any idea how we were going to fill two hours with conversation and was hoping she wasn't going to try.

"Was a courier," I responded. "I am between careers right now."

"Any idea what you are going to do?"

"Right now I just want to get Katelynn to September 19th. After that, I really haven't given it a whole lot of thought."

"You know she really likes you," Abby said. "I'm still trying to figure out why, myself, considering you were the bearer of this awful news to begin with, but you were about all she talked about this past week."

"I like her, too," I confessed. "But right now, like I said, I just want to help her get through this."

She looked at me a moment longer. I waited for her next question, trying to decide whether or not I should 'turn on' and get a head start coming up with the answer to her next probing question but our attention was diverted and the questions forgotten as we heard a commotion at the main door.

A man ran in holding a young boy of four or five years old in his arms. A distraught looking woman, presumably the mother, following close behind, her face covered in tears. The boy was unconscious and a nurse hurried around the counter towards them.

"He fell and hit his head," the man was saying. A purple lump the size of a plumb was growing out of the boy's forehead. The nurse called for a stretcher and a doctor and within moments both came around the corner. The man laid the boy down and the doctor and nurse moved to his side, edging away the mother and father.

The doctor asked a couple quick questions to the parents while inspecting the head injury and the eyes and the pulse and then wheeled the boy quickly away. The nurse stopped the parents from following, assured them that their boy was going to be fine and explained that they needed to remain here and start filling out some paperwork while the doctors did what they do best. She took them to the nurse's counter and handed the man some papers and a pen, and the two of them, both looking very worried for their son, sat down a few yards away to begin with the history and info on their son.

The woman's emotions of fear and worry were so strong, I had to work at blocking them out of my head when I looked at her. Successfully done, I looked at the man and tried to open up just a little bit. Rage was the emotion felt. I opened up a little more and saw him swatting his son. His son spinning on his feet, going down hard, his head bouncing off a kitchen table as he fell. I closed down immediately, feeling like I had been trespassing, not really confident enough in my new talent to trust that all I had just sensed had been real. I looked back at the mother again, this time just trying to crack open the doorway to her mind a little at a time. She was looking at her husband. Hate joined the other emotions as he began filling in the blanks on the pages attached to a clipboard. Hate and fear. How could you! was running over and over in her mind. Looking a little beyond that, I had an image of other times, words being yelled in anger, other falls the boy had taken due to less damaging swats from his father's hand. I'll take him away when he gets well...if he gets well. I won't let him do this again. And the woman broke out in fresh tears as she watched her abusive husband calmly fill out the paperwork.

Why not just call the police? I thought to myself. Then I had an idea. Randi had said she had seen her own thoughts in other people's minds from time to time, even though the recipients of the thought had no idea how it got there. I sent an idea to the woman.

Why should I leave, feeding her the thought as if it were her own. Call the police right now. He's the one that needs to leave, not us. He's the monster that needs to be stopped. Call them now while he is filling out the paperwork. Call them now and tell them the truth. Right now!

The woman stood up.

"Where you goin'?" the man asked, looking up from his papers.

"The bathroom," she said, without looking his direction.

A few minutes later she returned and sat next to her husband again. Abby had picked up a National Geographic and was flipping through the pages looking for something that was interesting enough to pass a little time with. I was the only one besides the mother that knew she had been no where near the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, the husband was standing at the nurse's station turning in the completed paperwork when two uniformed policeman walked into the waiting room. They looked at the man at the counter, then at the mother who was still seated. I followed their gaze. She nodded. They stepped up on either side of the father at the counter.

"Mr. Williams?"

"Yes," the man said hesitantly. Realization of what was going on suddenly hit him and he sent his wife a particularly ugly and nasty glare.

"We would like to ask you some questions about your son's accident," the one on his right said, drawing his gaze away from his wife who was trying to keep her focus on the floor in front of her.

"I haven't done anything wrong," he said feebly. Not only was he a horrible father, he was an equally bad liar.

"Would you come with us, please," the officer said, coming to the same conclusion I had about his ability to lie. The man turned and started to run, the second officer that hadn't yet spoken stuck out his hand and grabbed the father's left arm before he had taken two steps. The man swung a fist balled at the end of his right arm, missing the officer, exposing the same lack of self-control he had used with his son and he was immediately taken to the floor and cuffed in seconds by the two policemen.

A minute later, the waiting room was quiet again as if none of it had actually happened at all. Abby, myself and the mother, the only three people in the waiting room, the nurse had vanished behind the counter presumably to inform someone of what had just transpired.

"Wow," Abby said quietly. "Life in the big city never ceases to amaze me."

"It's not the city's fault," I said. "It's the people." I've never been a fan of people.

The mother raised her attention from the floor as I spoke and stared directly at me.

"It was you," she said softly.

Abby looked to the woman, saw her looking at me, then looked suspiciously at me herself.

"You told me to call the police, didn't you," she said. "It was your voice I heard in my head."

In my sudden desire to help this woman, I forgot that if I plant the idea, the idea is in my voice. In my brief comment to Abby about the city versus people, she had recognized my voice.

She stood and walked over to me, stopping in front of me. I was almost more aware of Abby's intense eyes on me than I was of the woman standing before me.

"Thank you so much," the mother said, holding out her hand. "I'm not sure how you did it, but it was you, wasn't it? You gave me the strength to call the police."

I stood and took her hand. I wasn't sure what to say. I looked at Abby. Her eyes were glued to me, waiting for my response even more than the woman holding my hand was.

I said nothing. Just nodded to the woman once.

"Thank you so much," the woman said again. Then she turned and went looking for the nurse.

I sat back down. Abbey's eyes never left me as I watched the woman round the corner.

* * * * *

"You want to tell me what just happened there?" Abby Brogan finally asked after the woman had disappeared around the corner.

I wasn't ready to start this discussion, at least not with Mrs. Brogan, but she was awaiting an answer. "I'm not sure," I said.

"You see more than just when people are supposedly going to die, don't you."

"Sometimes," I said, then added, "just recently, anyway."

Abby studied me a moment longer. Her National Geographic forgotten in her lap. I continued to look at the abandoned nurse's station in front of me. "Does Katelynn know that you can see inside people's minds?" she finally asked.

"No," I replied, seeing no way of escaping her questions and wishing I'd chosen a more subtle way of getting the woman to turn in her abusive husband. "I've only just figured it out myself in the last few days."

"So you did tell her to call the police, didn't you," she said.

"I was certainly thinking she should, yes."

"What am I thinking right now?" she asked me.

"I don't know," I told her honestly enough, still looking straight ahead.

"Well look at me and try," she said firmly. It was obvious that she was not going to let it go until I at least tried, so I looked at her and tried to open up just a hair to her mind.

"You're thinking your daughter has fallen for a freak," I told her. "You are worried that I might break her heart."

"And is that what you are going to do?" she asked, not even denying or trying to change the wording of what I had read.

"First we have to get her past her date," I answered. "After that, I don't have any idea what's going to happen."

"My daughter is putting a lot of faith in you," she said. "She told me that you told her that God sent you to save her, but God has nothing to do with this, does He?"


"No, He doesn't. But that was the only way I could convince her to return for the physical. She was planning on just staying at the farm and dying there if it was going to happen. I couldn't let her do that. I couldn't let her die without trying to figure out why and whether or not it can be prevented."

"Do you believe in God?" Mrs. Brogan then asked me.

I thought for a second, this being the first time in my life I had ever paused before answering that particular question. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what I believed anymore. Finally, I answered, "I guess that depends on your definition of God."

"I didn't realize there was more than one definition," she said. "But I guess I am glad you convinced her to return. You obviously care about her."

"Of course I do."

Just then Katelynn thankfully came walking around from the back of the nurse's station putting an end to our conversation, at least for now. She was still wearing the baby blue hospital gown tied shut in the rear and matching hospital issued slippers. She sat in a row of chairs facing us. "He said it'll be a few minutes before they are ready to do the CAT scan and that I could come out here and wait with you."

"How'd the physical go?" I asked, grateful for the interruption .

"He said he couldn't find anything unusual, that I appear to be as healthy as I should be. He also made me pee in a cup and took some blood but said those results won't be known until tomorrow morning."

Abby Brogan had said nothing. She was still paying more attention to me than she had been to her daughter. As though she had suddenly made her mind up about something, she stood and went to the nurse's station tapping the bell that sat on the desk. A nurse was in front of her within seconds.

"Is there an empty room we can use for a few minutes to discuss a few things privately?" she asked the nurse.

"I'm not sure," the nurse replied, "just a moment." She disappeared again, returning a moment later with Dr. James.

"What is it you need, Mrs. Brogan?" Dr. James asked.

"I just wanted to have a little pow-wow with the three of us. Somewhere private where we won’t get interrupted."

Dr. James immediately looked passed Mrs. Brogan at me suspiciously. I refrained from opening up to see what he was thinking. I was still very uncomfortable with peaking into people’s private thoughts. I looked at the floor instead, avoiding his questioning eyes.

"I suppose we can let you wait in the room where Katelynn had her physical," he said, looking back to Mrs. Brogan. "Is there something I can help you all with?"

"No, but thank you. This is family business," she replied. "We just need a few minutes."

"Well you can wait in there until the specialist is ready to do the CAT scan."

"Thank you," Abby said and turned to us, waving for us to follow her.

Katelynn jumped up on the examination table to sit. Mrs. Brogan and I took the two chairs that Dr. James had brought into the small cubicle of a room for us, facing Katelynn on the table. It was Abby’s show right now and we waited patiently for her to begin once Dr. James had finally, but still hesitantly, left us alone in the room.

"I was born and raised on the farm," she began. "I have always attributed my understanding of animals to that."

"She always knows when animals are sick or scared," Katelynn interjected. "She’s really good at that."

"But I was never guessing," Abby continued. "I knew. I never knew how I knew, but if the horses were spooked or the pigs wouldn’t eat or even if the cows were feeling depressed, as silly as that sounds, I have always been able to look into the animal’s eyes and sense what the problem was. It’s always felt like I could relate to the animals, sometimes even better than I related to people." She looked directly at me. "I want you to look into Katelynn’s eyes, John. Tell me what you feel, not what you see. Don’t read her thoughts. Try to feel what she feels. The animals can’t tell me what they feel. They don’t speak our language and I can’t speak theirs. But they still seem to always let me know what isn’t right. I want you to look into Katelynn’s eyes and try to see what might not be right."

I looked at Katelynn. She was looking at me, wide-eyed and inviting. She began to hold out her hand for me but I waved her off, letting her know it wasn't necessary. I had no idea what I was looking for. I opened up. I saw what I felt was an undeserved admiration for myself in her mind and wondered briefly if I would ever be able to live up to her expectations and trust in me. I narrowed my mind and dug deeper. (29:29) entered my mind and I shut down, breaking our gaze and looking at the floor.

"I only see the numbers again," I said.

"That’s the result," Mrs. Brogan said. "Now look for the cause."

It occurred to me that every time someone’s number had entered my mind, I had instinctively shut down. Randi had taught me to see the conscious mind. The numbers were obviously a part of the sub-conscious mind which apparently even Randi had never yet been able to enter. Yet the only thing I had ever plucked from anyone’s sub-conscious mind had been the numbers. And every time that had occurred, I had shut down immediately.

I looked back up at Katelynn. With the passage still fresh in my mind, I was thinking of her numbers instantly again. I didn’t shut down this time but instead concentrated harder. I extended my imaginary phone line deeper into her mind, past the numbers. And a new thought came instantly to the front of my mind. Appendix. It was her appendix. Her appendix! Simple as that. Her appendix was weak or faltering. I suddenly knew this just as sure as I knew when I was hungry or tired. It was like I should have known all along but just hadn’t thought of it. Not only that, I knew I was right. I had no doubt that on the 29th day of her 29th year, her appendix was going to burst. Most people, in this day of modern medicine, survive a burst appendix. But had Katelynn been out on the farm, maybe out teaching her daughter to swim in the pond out on the edge of her property line as she had been planning to do about that time, maybe they wouldn’t have been able to get her to a hospital in time to prevent that burst appendix from killing her.

Or maybe they would have. Her death was no longer the point.

A new thought, more like a revelation, suddenly dawned on me. The numbers DID NOT represent one’s death, but rather a failure within the body, probably predicted by the brain in much the same manner that Dr. James had suggested it might with his original theory on how I could predict a death. It hadn’t been Dr. Getz’s and Mr. Crawley’s deaths I had seen, it had merely been when their hearts were going to fail. If I hadn’t shut down immediately after seeing their numbers, and everyone else’s for that matter, I would have probably seen the cause for those numbers as well, but I hadn’t ever stayed long enough. If Dr. Getz had been at the hospital, maybe he wouldn’t have died. And though I had voiced the opinion that I didn’t think Katelynn needed to die several times, now I knew. I KNEW!

"Her appendix is going to burst," I said, barely able to hold back the excitement, as though a burst appendix was something to look forward to. My own words severed the connection and brought me back to the room. I was smiling. "It’s her appendix!"

* * * * *

Chapter Twenty-Four


Front Desk

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The Master Plan

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine