Disclaimer: I don't own any of characters. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Author's Note: This is a one shot and only my second story in the Anita Blake universe. The only exposure I have to Anita Blake is from crossover fanfiction. I do not plan on making it a full fledged series but this story just came to me after writing "Queen See". There was some feed back asking for the back story how Cordy came to be in the Anita verse, so here it is.
Feed back is always welcome and appreciated. Enjoy.
The clearing in the woods was dead still. Silhouettes of the surrounding trees could be seen outlined against the clear star filled night sky. A soft breeze would occasionally whisper through the leaves bringing with it the scents of the surrounding woods. A cricket would occasionally chirp looking for a companion sometimes followed by the peeps of small tree frogs.
All noise stopped; the creatures knew; they knew something was coming. The breeze died then started up again. This time the wind wasn’t blowing across the clearing it was being pulled into it. The wind continued to churn picking up dust and debris as it concentrated in one spot several feet above a large flat rock. Lightening flashed from the center of the accumulating cloud of dust in the center of the swirling wind. A second bolt shot from the cloud, then another and another until the cloud just feet off the ground was engulfed by lightening. The center of the small storm grew from a pin prick of light to a large glowing ball then flared illuminating the clearing in flash then was gone.
A dirty and disheveled female figure was left lying on the stone under the spot of the eruption. She moved grudgingly, instinctively trying to pull the tattered hospital gown she wore around her otherwise nude body.
“Oh crap.” She croaked through dry lips. “What was that?” She rolled from her side to her back and yelped when she felt the cold rock against her bare bottom. She quickly rolled to her knees, folding her legs beneath her and leaning on one hand. She was too weak to stand but need to off the cold surface. “Where the hell am I?” She whispered and looked around, squinting her eyes in a vain attempt to see in the dark.
A gentle breeze ruffled her shoulder length hair as a few crickets and frogs started back with their nightly songs. “It’s night and I’m in the woods in a hospital gown.” She muttered then looked up at the sky. “Thanks a lot.” She said to the stars with her long unused throat. “You could have at least let me keep the clothes astral me was wearing. They *were* real you know.”
She tried to stand but her legs were weak from disuse. “Great, now what?” She reached out in the near total darkness trying to find something warm or something to sit on. After several minutes, she finally found more stones nearby that she could use to pull herself up with. The pile had a flat top that was just high enough to sit on comfortably. After several minutes of adjustments, she was finally able to adjust her hospital gown to cover her backside well enough so if she huddled down she believed she might stay warm enough to survive the night.
At least it’s not raining. She thought. She dared not say it out loud for the Powers might hear her and see it as a challenge.
Somehow she fell asleep. The dreams came and she dreamed of strange things but no stranger then the last year of her life. She dreamed of vampires and zombies, of werewolves and were other things, and of witches and magic. As she woke with the first morning light, she really didn’t remember the details of the things she’d seen but she knew things were different here and that somehow she was meant to find her place.
“Hey Ma, look’et this.” An old farmer said to the old woman sitting next to him in their old pickup truck.
“What is it, Pa?” The old woman asked looking up from the book she was reading.
A young woman was walking along the edge of the road. Actually, it was more like limping along. She staggered along bare feet rough and filthy from the road, disheveled hair hanging in her face and one hand clutched behind her holding her short flimsy hospital gown closed.
The old couple pulled up next to the young woman. “Excuse me, Miss,” The old woman said from her window. “Can we help you?”
The old farm couple didn’t know what to expect. The woman might be crazed or break down into tears, or run in fear. She did none of that. A large, bright, beautiful smile met them. “Oh thank you.” She said. “I was beginning to think nobody else lived in this world.”
They pulled over and wrapped the young woman in an old blanket they carried behind the seat. “What’s your name?” The old man asked as he handed her coffee from his thermos.
“Cordelia Chase.” She replied. “Thank you so much for this.”
“I’m Adeline and Pa’s name is Paul.” The old woman said sweetly. “Come now, get in the truck, we need to get you cleaned up and you need to tell us how you got out here.”
Cordelia looked out the windows from her seat against the passenger side door and watched the fields and woods slowly roll by. “I don’t know how I got here.” She finally admitted. “That last thing I remember.” She hesitated; she didn’t want or need to tell them about her last adventure helping Angel fight Lindsey. She looked down at what she was wearing. “I think I was in a hospital, or maybe a nursing home.” She looked up at them. She knew it was best to be as honest as possible. “I think I was in a coma.”
“What hospital, dear?” Adeline asked.
With a sigh Cordelia replied. “I don’t know.” She wanted to add a smart remark about being in a coma and all but didn’t, these people were being too nice.
“Well do you remember your address or phone number?” Paul asked. “You must have friends or family we could call.”
“There’s some people in LA.” Cordelia muttered. “But I don’t think we’ll be able to find them.” She was pretty sure she was in an alternate reality, but there was always hope.
“You mean LA as in California, dear?” the old woman asked.
“That’s an awful long way from here.” The old man, Paul, said. “Don’t you know anybody around here?”
“Dear,” the old woman said. “We’re in Missouri, near St. Louis.”
“Great, just great.” Cordelia said as she sat back and crossed here arms. “What am I suppose to do here?”
The couple’s farm house was old and drafty. Cordelia sat in the sitting room on an old piano bench. She wore a faded flowered work shirt and overalls that belonged to Adeline. She crunched her bare feet into the faded throw rug that covered worn painted planks of the wooden floor.
“Would you like some lemonade, dear?” The old woman held out a tall glass of yellow liquid.
Cordelia took the lemon aid. As she touched the old glass, the house around her changed. The furniture and decorations faded replaced by older and different items. She could still see the other things, only they were like ghosts or double exposures. She turned to the apparition that was the old woman and the faded wooden chair she’d sat on. “Adeline, how old is this house?” Cordelia stood and looked around trying to get her mind around what was the vision and was real.
“Oh, my, I don’t know.” The old woman said. “It was built in the 1840’s, been in the family ever since, though they almost lost it during the war.”
A pretty woman wearing a long simple cotton dress and a dirty white bonnet over long blond hair rushed into the room. “Ezra!” She called as she ran through Adeline and past Cordelia.
“What dear?” A male voice called from the back of the house.
“Hurry!” The woman yelled. “Raiders are coming; they’re across the back forty.”
“Dear,” Adeline asked as she looked at Cordelia’s suddenly vacant look. “Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know.” Cordy whispered.
A thin man with a beard and no mustache wearing tattered overalls and dirty work shirt ran into the parlor from the back of the house. He took the woman by the shoulders. “Mary, are you sure?”
The woman held up a small white canvas sack. “Quick, hide the money. We haven’t worked and saved this long to loose it to bunch like that.”
Ezra took the bag. “Where?” he whispered. “If they find it, they’ll kill us for not giving it to them.”
“You built this house.” Mary pleaded. “You must know some place.”
“I know.” Ezra turned and ran up the stairs.
“Did a couple named Ezra and Mary use to live here?”
“Ezra built the house.” Adeline replied. “He and Mary raised their five boys here. Two were killed in the war. How’d you know that?”
The walls and floors faded as Ezra ran up to the attic. Codelia watched as he pulled up a floor board and dropped the bag into a wall. She could momentarily look through the wall across the parlor to see the now dirty and debris covered bag resting on a support beam inside the wall.
A scream brought Cordelia’s attention back to Mary. A dirty man with a wild beard, matted hair and torn clothes stood in the doorway to the parlor. “Hey purty,” he said through rotted teeth. “Where’s ya man?”
Mary screamed and the man laughed as he heard Ezra running down the stairs toward them. As soon as Ezra entered the room, the man pulled an old pistol and shot him. Blood splattered across the wall and floor and Ezra spun and fell. Mary screamed and started backing away as he took a step toward her. “Aint ya tha purty un.” The images faded and the house in its present condition came back into focus.
“My Lord, child.” Adeline said. “You just went white as a sheet. Look like you just saw a ghost.”
“Would you believe me if I said I had?”
“Is that how you know about Ezra and Mary?”
“You better sit down. I’ll get Pa, and you can tell us what you saw.”
Once the old couple had returned Codelia gave a very brief description of what she’d seen. Mostly just facts about Ezra and Mary getting attacked. She left out most of the details. She just didn’t know how they would react to knowing two people had been murdered in their parlor.
“They found their bodies in this very room.” The old man finally said. He pointed out toward the old barn. “They’re buried out behind the barn, with a lot of the rest of our family.”
“Do you see ghosts like that often?” Adeline asked.
“Not like that.” Cordelia admitted. “Usually they’re more things that will happen then things that have happened.”
“How do we know you’re telling the truth?” Pa asked suddenly skeptical. “We don’t know you this could be some kind of con?”
“Sure.” Cordelia smiled. “All my cons start by mooning the mark from a hospital gown.” She got up, walked across the room and pointed at the wall. “The money is right here. I don’t want anything.” She hesitated. “Well, maybe a ride into town or something and maybe some of those delicious smelling cookies you’re baking.”
The old man got up and walked out of the room. He could be heard going into the basement. After a couple of minutes he returned with a large hammer.
“PA! What are you doing?” The old woman stood from her chair.
“The young lady here says there’s some family money in that wall.” He replied. “Either she’s a few bricks shy of a full load or there’s somethin’ there.” He walked toward the wall. “Now stand back.”
“Wait!” The old woman ran forward and reached for the pictures hanging on the wall. “Come on, dear.” She said to Cordy. “This is all your idea, might as well help me take this stuff down so it doesn’t get rattled off.”
The two women quickly removed the items from the wall around the spot Cordelia had indicated. The first swing hardly dented the old plaster. “If there’s nothing there, young lady, you’re goin’ to help patch this hole.” Paul muttered as he took another swing. After several more swings, enough plaster had broken away that he could start prying at the lath behind it. Soon there was a hole big enough to put his hand into.
“Hm, what’s this?” Paul pulled out an old marble, then another followed by a small toy car, followed by other small toys. He held up an old metal plane with wheels on it. “Hey, I remember loosing this in the attic when I was a boy.” Something clanked. “Now, what do we have here?” He pulled his hand out and picked up the hammer again. A few good swings and the hole was a few inches larger. He reached back in and pulled out an old burlap sack that was brown and dirty from the years. The obvious rattle of coins could be heard through the room.
“My Lord, Pa, what did you find?” Adeline asked as the bag pulled free.
The old man emptied the contents of the bag on to a newspaper on the coffee table. Around twenty assorted gold coins spilled out of the bag.
“Dear, what are those?” The old woman asked clutching her fists to her chest.
“Old gold coins.” Paul said. “Probably the proceeds of an entire year’s harvest. Ezra probably didn’t want paper money since he wouldn’t know how the war would end.”
“Be careful.” Cordelia said. “Some of those might be worth a lot of money to the right collector.”
“You mean we could be rich.”
Cordy smiled. “You are already two of the richest people I’ve ever met.” She said “As for the coins, they’re probably not family tree changing kind of rich; but it could be a pretty nice chunk of money.”
That was a phrase Cordelia heard in her sleep. There was a time in her life she would have resented working in a place like this. Well, actually she would have resented “working” at all. But things had changed, she’d changed.
Cordy finished filling a coffee cup, turned to the next table topped off a mug and said “I’ll be right back for your order.” The chimes jingled. “Hey Bobby!” She called to the old man coming in. “How’s it going?”
“Same shit different day.” The old man growled.
Never losing her bright smile Cordy placed a large coffee mug on the counter where the old man always sat. “So it is.”
Two people approached the cash register as Cordy passed with the order she just picked up. “I’ll be right with you.”
After delivering the last meal and taking a new order Cordy stopped to cash out the customer. She pulled on a pair of thin black leather gloves before taking the bill and payment from the customers. “Sorry about the gloves.” She smiled at their odd look at the gloves. “I’ve got this phobia about touching money, nothing personal.”
“Touching money?” The gentleman asked.
“Yea, you know germs and all.” She frowned for a second then smiled again. “It sucks when you like money as much as I do.”
The couple just laughed and handed her the bill and payment. Cordelia really didn’t have a phobia about money. She’d discovered, however, that she now got visions through touch and money seemed to be a strong trigger. With the history and sometimes extremely *ew* sort of history money could have she learned quickly to avoid touching it. The random and sometimes very strange images she got from it could be extremely disturbing or at least distracting; plus after seeing those images, a phobia about touching money really wasn’t that unreasonable.
Cordelia been in town for several months, lived in a hole in the wall apartment that made her first LA apartment look nice and she worked four jobs; three waitress jobs, two diners (one whose owner insisted it was spelled Dinor) and one four star restaurant and she was the receptionist at a small graphic design business three afternoons a week. She had begun to wonder if she would get any random visions from the PTB. Then yesterday during the dinner shift in this very diner, make that dinor, she had a vision. She was standing on the street outside that stupid vampire circus watching a couple she couldn’t quite make out being followed into an alley by several men. When they all three pulled automatic weapons and started firing into the alley, Cordy shook her head to clear the vision and reached for the phone. She was about to dial 911 when she remembered reading about the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team. Perhaps they’d be more inclined to believe her.
Last night the local news reported that the local vampire executioner, some chick named Anita Blake, had been in a shoot out with three men from Humans First, a local anti vampire group. Luckily the police had been tipped off to the attack and the men had walked into a trap. One was killed, one was in the hospital but expected to live and the third was in custody. It made Cordy wonder if this was really the order of things the PTB wanted her to help maintain.
The chimes jingled. Cordelia instinctively looked at the door. “Think of the devil.” She thought as a petite woman with long black hair walked. She wore a long gray trench coat over a dark blue business suit with a knee length skirt. She approached the cash register and Cordelia obviously checking her name tag. Yes, Queen C. was now part the masses of name tag people.
“Cordelia Chase?” The woman asked and held up a badge. “I’m…”
“Anita Blake.” Cordy smiled. “Yes I know.”
“How did you..”
“Know who you are?” Cordy continued to smile and held out her right hand to shake. “Maybe because I’m psychic?”
Anita raised an eyebrow at her.
“Or because, hello, you were all over the news last night.” Cordy turned to the other waitress. “Jenny, I’m taking my break, I’ll be back in ten.”
“Gotcha.” The short red head with spiked hair said while giving a “thumbs up”.
“We can talk back here.” Cordelia headed to small store room next to the kitchen. They could still be seen from the dining room, but it was quieter.
“I suppose you know why I’m here, Ms. Chase.” Anita stated as she watched the taller woman look down a table with a selection of Starbucks cups on it.
“Oh, Jimmy brought my latte.” She said as she removed her gloves and picked up a cup with a black “C” inked on the lid. As she took a sip from the cup, she opened a white bag. “Would you like a..” she paused and looked in the bag. “Doughnut?”
“Not right now, thanks.” Anita replied. “Now Ms. Chase…”
“You mean about your little adventure last night?”
“If that’s what you’d call it.”
“I’m so glad you were able to get there in time. Sometimes I have trouble getting people to take me seriously.”
“Any threat involving terrorists with automatic weapons we take seriously.” Anita said watching this woman continuing to smile while she held her coffee in one hand and a doughnut in the other like it was a cigarette. “As part of the investigation, into the events I need to know precisely what your connection is to Humans First?”
“I’ve read some news articles about them, but I’m not really big into the political thing.” She took a bite of her doughnut followed by a sip of the coffee.
“Then how did you know about the attack?” Anita figured the perps had been to the diner and the waitress had overheard something. It took a lot of guts to report people like that; she wished more people would get involved.
“I had a vision.”
Again with the psychic crap. “Ms. Chase, if you don’t want to answer my questions here, we can do it down town.”
“See.” Chase said. “I’m like some kind of hero until I mention the vision thing. People believe in vampires, werethings and other stupid stuff, but mention having a vision and all of a sudden I’m the crack pot.” Her smile never faded and her voice never rose. She was either extremely used to this conversation or was very well rehearsed.
“Ms. Chase, from my line of work, I am quite familiar with all the registered psychics in town and you are not one of them.”
“First off, I’m new in town and I’ve just registered as an apprentice, do you know what a pain in the ass that process is? And second, I’m not actually a psychic; being able to read peoples’ minds now that’s just …. disturbing.”
“You said you had a vision.”
“That’s right, a vision.” The tall brunette smiled again. “I’m a seer.”
“What’s the difference?”
“I don’t know…seer’s see and psychics psyche?” She took another bite of doughnut and sip of coffee.
“So, let me get this straight, you had a vision that there was going to be an attack last night?” Anita scowled this was just too convenient.
“Yep.” Doughnut, coffee, smile.
“How often do you get these visions?”
“I haven’t had a vision like that in a while.” Doughnut, coffee, smile.
Anita looked at the gloves Ms. Chase had been wearing she remembered reading something once. “Do you get other kinds of visions?”
“I’ll occasionally get images when I touch something.” Cordelia saw Ms. Blake looking at her gloves on the table. “And yea, that’s why I wear the gloves.”
“I need to look into this some more.” Anita finally said. She needed to find out if she could connect Ms. Chase to Humans First or Humans First to this Diner. Somebody actually having visions like she was describing was extremely rare; there was almost always another explanation. “Can you give me your home phone number so I can call you if I have any more questions?”
“Here.” Cordelia pulled out a small notebook and wrote her address, phone number and the names and phone numbers of her other jobs. “You should be able to find me at one of these places.”
“You know, it’s really tough to get blood and gunk out of Sarviney Silk.” Cordelia said as Anita started to turn away.
“That top you were wearing on the news last night, Sarviney Silk. From this fall’s collection? Probably not the best thing to wear on a job like yours.”
“I was off duty.” Anita nearly growled. “They were coming after my date. I got word about your tip about five minutes before they showed.”
“Oh.” Cordelia tried to blush a little. “Well I’m glad I could help.”
Cordelia sat in the police interview room. She wore a denim skirt and red silk designer blouse she’d bought from ebay. Sure, it wasn’t from this year’s collections, but she’d rather have a two year old Roberto Cavalli then something from the latest collection at Sears. It’d been two weeks since what she was now calling the “Circus Vision”. Apparently Ms. Blake and her colleagues had spent a lot of time trying to investigate her and found nothing; which wasn’t surprising since there was nothing to find.
Cordy knew who was in the observation room behind the glass. Not because of a vision or anything but because she’d just been there. Of all the people back there, the most important as far as Cordelia was concerned was Mrs. Silverman. Mrs. Silverman was the head of the local guild and was here to witness Cordelia’s first official reading as a guild apprentice. As an apprentice, she could only charge a nominal fee for her services a quarter of which had to go to the guild. Plus as an apprentice all paid readings had to be witnessed by a guild representative for verification. Cordy didn’t mind because once she started getting her certifications, her fees could be whatever the market would bare and she knew the market could bare a lot for what she had to offer.
A detective brought in a plastic evidence bag and placed it on the table in front of her. The only thing she knew about the evidence she’d be given tonight was that it would all be from cold cases. This was the end of the road, after this all the evidence would be packed up and put on a shelf hoping someday somebody might stumble on something new.
The bag held a single pink ribbon with a jewel at one end. There was a dark stain in the middle of the ribbon that looked like blood.
“Can I touch it?” Cordelia asked as she pulled off her gloves.
“Of course, it’s been fully processed.”
Cordy opened the bag and thought “Her we go.” then reached in.