AN: This is my most difficult story to write, hands down, for several reasons and on top of that, I’ve had a terrible case of writer’s block. The story is in my head, but the words just won’t flow. Hence the delay, for which I apologize…but thanks a million to everyone for the reviews, follows, favorites, and encouraging PMs! Also, I appreciate the votes for this story in the “You Want Blood” awards—3rd place in the “Edge of Your Seat-Best Cliffhanger” category was a huge accomplishment! I just hope I continue to do the story justice…
Thanks so much to my jedi betas, LCrafts and VAlady, for looking over this chapter and for the plot suggestions—it is much appreciated!
“To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.”
“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.”
“Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.”
~Edgar Allan Poe~
Sookie began pacing the foyer, nervously glancing outside and peeking out the blinds as she shrugged the phone to her ear with her shoulder.
Although Gran was elderly, her mind was like a steel trap. Her voice sharpened in concern. “Sookie, what’s wrong?”
She took a deep breath. “Well, Gran, the dreams-they’re back. Back with a vengeance,” she laughed weakly.
There was a long pause before she heard an intake of breath. Doubtless Gran was trying to find a way to gently probe the topics of the nightmares. She took the reins and spared Adele the necessity of having to walk on eggshells.
“I’m involved in a case right now that is…uh, especially disturbing. It’s a murder case.”
“Oh my word! How horrible!” Gran exclaimed. “I’m awful proud of you, Sookie, but sometimes I have to admit I wish you had gone into a different area in your field. Like maybe working with children in the schools or something.”
Sookie sighed. “Yeah, Gran, me too…but it is what it is.”
Ever practical, Adele agreed, “Yes, it is. You chose your path, my dear, and it’s a difficult one to walk. Has been since you were a child. But God blessed you with a strong spirit and uncommon smarts, and he won’t give you anything you’re not going to able to handle.” She paused and Sookie could hear her take a swallow of a beverage. Likely sweet tea, knowing Gran, despite her diabetes. “Now, let’s talk about those dreams. When did they start up again?”
“Several weeks ago. After I started the evaluation.”
“Oh dear. And I suppose the dreams are related to the, um, crimes?” Gran near whispered the question, as if saying it quietly would somehow make it less disturbing.
“Yes, the man involved in the case has shown up in the dreams. I…don’t want to go into detail about the content, but suffice it to say they are pretty disturbing.”
“You poor thing,” Adele interjected. “I remember those darned dreams first started around the time of Bartlett, and only got worse after Corbett and Michelle passed, God bless their souls. I felt so bad for you honey, with the sleepwalking and all. Always was scared to death you’d hurt yourself. That’s one of the reasons why I took you to that child psychologist…”
She smiled. “Yeah, Gran, I remember. I think it made an impression on me.” She chuckled grimly, “There usually are some sort of precipitating factors for why people in my profession get into the business in the first place. I guess that might have planted a seed in my head to pursue this field.”
Sookie cleared her throat and steeled herself for the change in subject, her main reason for calling. “I remember you mentioning that great grandpa had strange dreams and…”funny feelings” about people…” She winced internally as her voice trailed off.
There was silence on the line and she could practically hear the wheels turning in Gran’s head.
Suddenly, she felt foolish. She shouldn’t have brought it up. After all, she had clung to her graduate training as a scientist practitioner as fervently as any zealot. Years ago, starting with her Intro to Psych class, psychology had become religion to her, explained people’s bizarre and cruel behaviors, and replaced the emptiness and hurt inside with something that made sense. But she couldn’t help feeling that niggling, gut deep instinct that there was more to the world, beyond this world, than could be answered from empirically based explanations.
Before she could backpedal, she heard Gran blow out a breath. “Well, yes, Niall was always known for being a bit of an odd bird. Eccentric I guess you could say. I honestly didn’t know the man very well. But from what Earl told me, he had the reputation of just…knowing things. Had those funny feelings about people you mentioned, that were usually spot on.”
Sookie felt even more awkward, although she forced herself to continue. “But the dreams-did they ever say he had dreams that were, uh, I guess you might call prophetic? Seeing things that came to pass, or maybe warnings about the future?”
Gran’s tone shifted again, her worry evident. “Sookie, those dreams you’re having…they sound like they must be pretty bad, hon. You sound shaken up.”
“Yeah, to be honest, Gran, they’ve been bad, but then again, this case is pretty extreme, even by my standards. Worse than that Rene Lenier case I was involved with a few years ago even.”
Gran gasped appreciatively, having been keenly aware of the gruesome and salacious details that were sensationalized in the local media about Bon Temps’ notorious serial killer.
“It’s kind of getting under my skin,” Sookie admitted.
“Oh, honey,” Adele sympathized. “I can only imagine how hard it must be working day after day with folk like that. And then to have those dreams on top of it all, making it worse. If it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t just Niall that had similar kinds of dreams. Your father also had them since he was a child, but he never would talk about them none since he was a teenager, though he’d still wake me and Earl up screaming every now and then.”
Sookie stiffened in shock. “I didn’t know dad had nightmares and sleepwalked.”
“He was always so quiet and to himself, just like Earl though…Earl never really had bad dreams.” Gran muttered offhandedly, but then paused, as if catching herself inadvertently speaking her thoughts aloud.
“So, can you tell me more about dad?” Sookie encouraged. He had died when she was so young, and while talking about him still hurt, she was always hungry for any information she could get about her parents.
“Your father always kept things that bothered him closed up tight. Sookie, I just hope those dreams don’t eat you up inside like they used to when you were little and the way it did your daddy,” Adele continued slowly, seeming somewhat reluctant to continue discussing the topic.
During another lull in the conversation, Sookie decided to file the information away for later consideration. The coincidental nature of the Stackhouse dreams was…disturbing at the very least, but not something to explore right then with Gran, who seemed uncomfortable with the topic. Not wanting to worry her grandmother anymore, and feeling guilty for even bringing up the subject, Sookie offered with false cheerfulness, “Don’t worry. It’ll be over soon. I finished the evaluation and hopefully they’ll get to sentencing the guy permanently behind bars before long. He may even get the death penalty.”
She actually didn’t think Northman would serve much time, if any, beyond what he had already served at Orleans Parish Prison. After all, there had been other high profile cases where wealthy men had literally gotten away with murder. But she didn’t want to burden her Gran with the truth: that an accused serial killer and rapist was out on bail, knew where she lived, had sent her flowers, and was rich enough to have any and all resources at his disposal. Oh yes, and who had every intention to contact her outside of the jail, indeed had even warned her that he’d be “seeing her soon.” Not to mention the sexually explicit nature of some of her dreams starring Eric Northman. Good God-it would cause the old woman to have her own nightmares.
Gran offered, “Sookie, why don’t you come home for a spell? We’ll catch up and I’ll whip up some of your favorites, chicken and dumplings, homemade biscuits, icebox pie, the works. If I know you, you haven’t been eating well and are skin and bones.”
Sookie let out a genuine and much needed chuckle, “That sounds great, Gran, really it does. More than you know. As soon as things slow down here I promise I’ll come up for a visit. I’m overdue for a nice, long vacation and I want to see you, and hopefully Jason can come around too so we can all catch up together. I really miss y’all.”
The change in topic was obviously a welcome one, and Adele cheerfully took advantage of the opportunity to prattle on about the latest Bon Temps gossip. Sookie listened with a nostalgic fondness and felt her eyes tear up as she bid her grandmother goodbye.
After she hung up the phone, the temporary levity from the end of the conversation faded to black. Although she missed Gran terribly, she didn’t really miss the close-mindedness of the people in her hometown. Like the saying said, there really was no going home again…
Although the discussion with Gran really didn’t reveal much, in part due to her grandmother’s hesitancy to divulge details about her deceased family, the nugget of gold that was revealed about both her great grandfather and father having had similar dreams was interesting. Very interesting…though she felt silly reading too much into it. But then again…in the back of her head, she had that nagging feeling again. She was starting to worry that her dreams weren’t just overlay from the case. Maybe, just maybe, the dreams were trying to warn her…
Shaking the sudden chill that ran down her spine, she walked to the dining room. The huge rose bouquet and the package sat prominently on the table, not to be denied. Looking out the blinds again, she couldn’t shake the feeling she was being watched, but seeing nothing unusual, she sat down and opened up the box Northman had delivered.
As she thumbed through the various files of the people he had investigated, she noticed names that had been mentioned on the various websites. There were files for Victor Madden, Lorena Ball, and Franklin Mott, as well as some other names that were unfamiliar: Felipe de Castro, Peter Threadgill, and Steve Newlin. Scanning each file rapidly, she saw that he had outlined his associations with each one and his conjecture regarding possible motives that may have driven each one to set him up. She noticed that some of them had to do with adversarial business relations but others had to do with more…personal reasons. But, really, how plausible was it that he had enemies who hated him enough to frame him for serial rapes and murder? There was an unfortunate pile of victims who had lost their lives. Would anyone be that driven to set him up? To take innocent lives, again and again, in a most brutal and profane manner just to settle some business affront or personal slight?
Shaking her head skeptically, she stared for several moments at the box’s contents. However, she soon found herself caving in to the voyeuristic tendencies universal to all psychologists, and quickly became fascinated as she began perusing the papers in the top file.
Immersed in her reading, she suddenly jumped in her seat, banging her knee on the table leg as her phone rang. Picking it up, she groaned when saw the name on the caller ID.
Sookie answered the phone with a hesitant, “Hello?”
“Dr. Stackhouse. Pam Ravenscroft. Please, for the love of God, tell me that my client has not contacted you.”
Sookie froze. What in the hell was she going to tell the attorney?
AN: I realize there is not a lot of action in this chapter, but a few things were explored to further the plot along. Once again, thanks for everyone’s support and for reading!
This story always leaves me scratching my head. In a good way! Just when I think I might have an idea what’s up, next chapter I’m baffled again. Right now I’m mostly wondering what has Pam flustered and what she knows. Thanks and ’till next time 🙂
Such a complex and thought provoking story.
So curious that he has pulled Sookie in against Pam’s advice. I can’t wait to see who is responsible. For me, all signs point to Bill… But perhaps he is just a lackey for one if the other names… Can’t wait for more! Btw, here is an overdue super congrats on your award!!! Love this story & all of the others that you have done! Keep plugging away lady!!!
Aw, thanks so much for your kind words!
Yep, you raise good questions, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. I will say that I hadn’t thought about Bill’s involvement, but that is an interesting idea. 😉
I must agree and echo valady1 above in her comment that this is a such a thought provoking story; it is complex in its details which are by far the most intricate, intelligent, and so way beyond anything I’ve read to date in FF. Your writing talent, skills, & creativity are simply too good for this forum. Once you finish this story & a few others, we NEED to talk! In a mere 7 chapters, you’ve outgrown FF.
Now back to the chapter; what’s Gran not telling? She may have really been missing Sookie & wanting to see her, but is there perhaps another reason for encouraging Sookie to visit soon? It’s curious that the ever-so-cool and calculatingly alpha female we know as Pam would be the one to contact Sookie sounding so frustrated, asking about Eric having been in touch with her. I wonder what he’s revealed to Pam, if anything, and if he did reveal anything about Sookie, was he advised to not contact and did so anyway, where would Pam stand on attorney/client privilege & how might it effect Eric’s bail?
Congratulations on your well-deserved nominations! I received a nomination as well for “Eagle Eye,” or Best Beta, I guess! It’s such a thrill and an honor to be nominated among some of the all-time best, isn’t it? Thank you so much for such a spectacular story! Looking forward to the plot thickening soon!
Your kind words are much appreciated-I really tried to up the ante for myself when writing this story. It is challenging and I am actually forcing my disorganized ass to outline it due to the plot complexity (I was getting in too deep with extraneous details and had to rein it in a bit). You raise good questions and are perceptive (as always!). There’s more going than meets the eye, but I don’t want to spoil anything.
And congrats on the beta nomination!
Thanks! It went to the right person! Very well deserved.
I’m glad she open the package. I’m curious about Pam’s call. I really want her to see Eric in person. The mystery of this has me on the edge of my seat. So good.
I happened across this story on ff dot net and quickly became hooked. I adore the twisty nature of the plot you have going and can almost feel Sookie’s confused apprehension and anxiety. Looking forward to more.
Fantastic complex story. Hope updates come soon!
You can’t end it there! I love thos story, I hope there are plans for mores. Its proving to be a really good mystery. I’ve got to find out who is behind the murders and why!
Please tell me that you have intention to finish this one day. ..it’s has the most powerful and intriguing plotline!
I need to know if Eric is innocent or not!
Thanks for everything.
Wow…such a dark and powerful storyline!
I know that you haven’t updated this since June 2014 but I would really love to see this one continued.
I need to know if Eric is innocent and what ‘s going on with Sookie’s strange dreams!