Even with coffee running through their system, it took Connor, Reena and David a good couple of minutes to assimilate my story.
“You sleep-walk,” David said.
“To places where murders have occurred,” he continued.
I nodded again.
“And then, you see the murder,” he finished.
“In short, yes.”
The three of them looked at each other. It was obvious that they were hesitating between calling my bluff, calling the cops or calling the psychiatric ward of the General Hospital.
“I’m not insane, guys,” I said, getting a little annoyed.
Reena sighed. “Calm down, Sean. You’re going to have to give us some time to wrap our heads around this. It’s not a story you hear every day.”
“Except if you are pitching ideas for the X-files,” muttered Connor.
“But you believe me, right?”
“I definitely believe that you sleep-walk and have nightmares while you sleep-walk, but if what you are saying is true, that you are actually seeing things that have happened…” Reena hesitated. “The implications are huge. Do you realise that?”
“Yes, I do,” I firmly said. But I felt my stomach knot with anxiety. I wasn’t sure anymore if this had been a good idea. Too bad it wasn’t April 1st; I’d claim it was all a joke. Maybe I should claim insanity and check myself in at a psychiatric ward.
Reena was the first to snap out of the incredulous trance that had enveloped the three of them. “There is nothing else we can do right now other than to finish your research,” she said. “Did you bring anything here?”
I shook my head.
“You’d better give Talya a call then,” she said.
“We’re going to spend a couple of hours at your place this afternoon. Between the four of us, we can go through the rest of your pile in what, two to three hours?”
A warm feeling suffused through me. The fact that they were willing to help me even as they were considering calling for help meant a lot. “You guys are OK with this, too?” I asked David and Connor. Reena did have a tendency to make plans for others, but I also wanted to hear from the guys themselves that they wanted to help.
“Of course we are,” David said. “I have a meeting this morning, but I’m ahead in everything. I can take the entire afternoon off.”
“So can I,” Reena said. “Your workload shouldn’t be too heavy,” she said to me, “since you have been working your head off lately. Were you trying to keep your mind off the dreams?”
“I was trying to work myself into exhaustion so I wouldn’t dream at all,” I confessed.
“Idiot,” Reena muttered. “You should have asked us for help sooner. Poor Talya, what does she do with you?”
“Well,” I started, a little defensively.
“What about you, Connor?” Reena said, ignoring me.
“I, euh, don’t know if I can take the afternoon off,” he said. “I’ll try to join you as soon as I can.”
While Reena, David and I did both our undergraduate and graduate degrees together, Connor had only joined us in the last year of our graduate degree. Although he was our friend, we weren’t as close and comfortable with him as we were with each other. It didn’t help that Connor’s hobbies and interests were so different from ours; while we would spend a lot of time together outside the office watching hockey games and playing pool, Connor preferred baseball (which I couldn’t stand) and hiking (which neither Reena nor David could stomach). I had always ignored the fact that just maybe Connor didn’t feel as included in the group as we had assumed him to be.
“It would really mean a lot to me to have you there,” I told him. “If you want, I can help you with anything you want so you can get it done faster.”
Connor smiled his typical half smile. “Thanks, Sean. If I think of anything, I’ll hand it over to you.”
I called Talya up and settled in to work. I was looking forward to the afternoon; for the first time in a long while, I didn’t feel alone.
We decided to order in pizza and installed ourselves on the huge dining room table Talya’s father had insisted on making for us when we purchased the house 7 years ago. Mrs. Condé was an amazing man; he had started a poor boy and was now an import-export magnate in his country. He had been particularly talented working with wood, and had convinced most of the country’s elite to purchase at least one of his creations within five years. He was a lot cleverer than people gave him credit for. Mr. Condé’s objective hadn’t been the national market; all along he had his sight set on the international market. He had known that getting the best of his furniture in all the right homes would have it noticed by important people who had the means to buy some of their own and ship them back home. Mr. Condé had focused his energies on people from three countries: France, Canada and the United States. And, finally, he had established himself in each of these countries and set up a modest yet very profitable export business. He had been 20 at the time.
Talya had inherited her father’s perseverance and ability to work very hard. So, when we got home, she had not only taken care of Shona, finished her work and officially called it a day, but she had arranged for Patrick to be picked up, for the dining room to be ready with papers, pens, printers and extension cords for the laptops and had ordered pizza.
“Sorry I didn’t make anything myself,” she apologised as I dropped a kiss on her cheek.
“Are you kidding me?” I said. “You’re amazing! This is fantastic!”
“It’s perfect, Talya,” David said, opening his bag and taking out his laptop. “Thank you for doing this.”
“I know,” she said, a little smug. “I’m Wonder Woman.”
Reena only laughed.
We set to work after we had taken a lunch break (at Talya’s insistence – I wanted to get to work immediately) and in a mere three hours we were finished with the rest of the files.
As we were putting it all together, the doorbell rang.
“Me me me me me,” we heard Shona shout as she ran towards the door.
I caught a glimpse of Talya rolling her eyes before she ran out of the dining room. “Shona Aisha Baynes, do not open the door before I get there!”
“So what are the final numbers?” I eagerly asked Reena, who was processing them.
She glared at me. “I might not be as amazing as your wife, but even she wouldn’t have finished tallying it all up in the twenty seconds since you last asked me.”
David chuckled. “Back off, Sean.”
“I see that the fighting continues even outside the lab,” a familiar voice said.
We looked up; Connor was in the doorway, looking a little sheepish. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. He just stood there, hesitant, as if he wasn’t sure if he was allowed into the clubhouse.
“Come on in,” I said, taking his bag from him and gesturing him into the dining room. “Your timing is perfect. We finished looking through the files and Reena is tabulating the results. Then we can start looking into, well…” My voice trailed off. What exactly would we be looking for?
“Actually,” Connor said, “I have been looking into that this afternoon. I didn’t think the rest of the files would be any different from the ones you had already looked into, so I went ahead and researched on the possible causes of your dreams.”
My mouth dropped open as I watched Connor pull out a thick stack of papers from his bag.
“I only made one copy of each document,” he said, a little apologetic, “because there are a lot and I didn’t want to waste paper.”
“I think that’s wise,” David said, reaching for the first document. “It gives us a good excuse to divide the work in five, rather than each read everything.”
I chuckled; trust David to take the easy way out. “So?” I asked Connor. “Anything particularly interesting?”
“If what you are seeing is, in fact, the real deal, then no one out there has ever been able to do this. As for your hit ratio? It’s incredible. No other psychic has ever been able to have anywhere near a one hundred percent ratio.”
“That’s incredible,” Reena said. “Imagine what this could mean!”
“If this… thing continues and you learn how to control it, you could revolutionize crime-fighting in this city,” David said, a little in awe.
I fought the torpor that was invading my brain, struggling to understand the implications of what was being said. Connor had referred to other psychics. Did that make me…?
“I think Sean might need a seat and a drink,” my wife’s soft voice broke through.
I nodded and started sitting, not knowing if anything was there. Thankfully, I made contact with a chair and was soon gulping down the tall glass of cold orange juice.
I slammed the glass down. “I’m not a psychic,” I said.
Four pair of incredulous eyes and respective raised eyebrows stared at me.
“Sweetie,” Talya broke the silence. “I know you don’t believe in this stuff, but currently the evidence shows that…”
No, no, no! “I’m going for a walk,” I snapped, walking out of the dining room.
“Excellent,” Talya’s voice trailed after me. “You can pick Patrick up.”
Trust my wife to make the most of the situation.