Unfortunately, try as I might, it didn’t seem like I was meant to live in peace anytime soon. The very same day, only a couple of hours later, Jeffrey called with some less than good news.
“Could you please come to the station for a chat with some colleagues of mine?”
The knot in my stomach tightened. “Why?”
His hesitation made the knot twist uncomfortably. “They want to ask you some questions about what has been happening to you.”
My next question came out with difficulty. “Is it bad?”
He hesitated again. “Not really, in that they don’t have anything against you. Yes in that they want to believe it’s you.” His voice dropped. “Look, I can’t talk about it now, I’m at the precinct.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be here.” His voice went back to normal. “Can we expect you here in, say, an hour?”
Oh wow. This was happening fast. “Sure.”
Talya came with me, but they wouldn’t let her in. Quite the contrary; they took her into another room to question her alone. They would probably want to corroborate our stories.
Jeffrey was there at the door waiting for me. He smiled and showed me into an interrogation room straight from television.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I muttered, eyeing the setting. Was this some kind of joke? It looked like it was straight out of a popular cop show, including the faces of the investigators who were there to question me.
We went through the usual civilities – turns out their names weren’t, regrettably enough, straight out of a cop show. Quite the contrary; they were the most boring names ever, Jones and Thomas.
I was keeping up an internal monologue to keep myself from freaking out; it had the unfortunate effect of alienating one of the investigators.
“Anytime you would like to join us, Mr. Baynes,” he sneered. “We have all day.”
I shook my head a little. “I’m sorry. I’m just a little nervous.”
Mr. Thomas’ eyebrow rose by about an inch – a feat I would have far more appreciated had I not been so stressed. “Why?”
“Enough, Thomas,” Jeffrey snapped.
“He’s right,” Mr. Jones said. “Let’s get on with it.”
They shuffled their papers around.
“Could you please tell us, in your own words, about your experiences in the last six months?” Mr. Jones said.
“Everything?” I said. I’m afraid it might have come out a little squeaky. I hope not.
Mr. Jones nodded. “And, if you don’t mind, we’d like to record it.” He pointed to the little recorder at the center of the table.
“Sure,” I said. Did I really have a choice?
Mr. Jones fiddled with the recorder, recorded the time, the location, recited the names of everyone in the room then repeated his request.
“OK,” I said, taking a deep breath. “Six months ago, I was on vacation with my wife and children. We were in Africa, at her family’s villa. It was a great three weeks; Talya – my wife – hadn’t seen her family in ages, the kids were taken care of by everyone and got along splendidly with their cousins, I got along with everyone else, it was a fantastic vacation.” I had to stop the needless details; Mr. Thomas seemed to be getting more antsy by the second. “So that day, I was at the beach with my brother-in-laws. I feel asleep, and that’s when I had my first dream.”
I told them about the entire dream, not sparing any details.
“We didn’t think much of the dream itself; we were more concerned with the sleep waking. That had never happened to me before, and it’s quite unusual for an adult to start sleep walking.”
“You weren’t concerned with a violent death such as the one you witnessed?” Mr. Thomas said.
I hesitated. “Well, at the time… I mean… I didn’t think it was something real. We had had a horror movie marathon the evening before, and we were convinced that was the reason I had had that dream. Now we know that it had actually happened. When Talya and I started to piece things together, we gave her family a call and asked them to look into a possible event of the sort that had happened. ”
Jeffrey, who had yet to hear this story, straightened in his chair. “And?”
“Well it did happen, but about fifty to sixty years ago. Talya’s grandfather isn’t certain.”
“Why didn’t you see a more recent event?” Jeffrey asked.
“Well we think that might be because nothing much had ever happened in that particular area,” I said, “and I just tapped into the most recent thing that did happen.”
Jeffrey slowly nodded.
“Could you continue, please?” Mr. Jones said.
I nodded. “I didn’t have any more dreams in the last 6 days we were in Africa. However, the very day we got back here, I had a second one. By the third, my wife suspected this wasn’t going to stop anytime soon, so she started building a sort of chart on me.” I was still very proud of my wife for having done this.
“Why?” Mr. Thomas said. “It seems a little morbid to me.”
I shrugged in what I wanted to be a nonchalant way. “We’re scientists. We’re deeply curious and trained to explore that inherent curiosity. It also made it a little easier on me.”
“What do you mean?” Mr. Jones.
“You guys,” I said, gesturing to the three of them, “are in this job because you are made for it. You have the strength to do it, and your training has further reinforced that strength. Not me. Even horror stories give me the willies. To see these events in their full glory was – and still is – a shock to my system, each and every time. By looking at it through a scientific lens, each dream became an opportunity to study a curious phenomenon rather than a hell I had to walk through.”
Mr. Jones nodded. “Go on.”
I told them about the most striking dreams, the ones that gave me walking nightmares for weeks. I told them about being caught in the cold, in the rain, in woods, in mud, I told them about the fear, the anxiety, the depression, I told them about Talya’s breakthrough…
“How did she figure it out?” Mr. Jones interrupted me.
“It was because of a particular dream,” I explained. “I had ‘seen’ a woman raped then strangled, and it rang a bell in her head. She remembered hearing a woman at her office call that alleyway a dangerous place for women after sunset, and how at least four of her friends had been raped there. So she looked on the Internet and found a couple of articles about the rape and murder of Geraldine Forbes.”
“I remember that case,” murmured Mr. Jones.
“When she checked the case files we had started on each dream I had had, she realised that I had actually seen something that had happened, rather than something straight out of my imagination. We took it from there.”
Silence fell for a few moments; the only sound was the rustling of papers as Mr. Thomas was going through the pages of what I now saw to be a photocopy of the ‘chart’ Talya and I had made.
“That’s it for me,” Mr. Jones said.
Really? I was expecting some big counter interrogation and a potential breakdown. Or had I just watched too much television?
“I have a couple of questions myself,” Mr. Thomas said.
It would have been too good to be true.
“You say, Mr. Baynes, that you have now ‘seen’ close to one hundred criminal effects, many of which you do not have an alibi for. How can we know if you are not behind this entire charade? That you and your wife aren’t trying to bury some of your own past transgressions by creating this ridiculous story?”
I knew it was coming and yet it still upset me. There was only one way I could convince this man. “Why don’t you do what Jeffrey did, Sir?” I suggested. “Come to my house and stay downstairs, awake, for a few nights. I usually have two to three such dreams every week, more when I’m stressed. I’m sure you’ll get your fill within two weeks, but you are more than welcome to stay on for a longer time. No one can fake so many sleepwalking sessions. One, probably, two, maybe, three possibly – but over four? It’s statistically impossible.
Mr. Thomas stared at me for a long time; I stood still, refusing to succumb to temptation and stick my tongue out at him. “I just might take you up on your offer, Mrs. Baynes,” he finally said.
“Good,” I said. “I’ll let Talya know and we’ll clean up the house a bit.”