Worlds Colliding Ch. 06bycafetray©
The cop nodded.
"Good. Get these people out of the cold, but under NO circumstances are they to leave."
The cop nodded again.
"Then have your people call the local FBI field office and tell them to get some agents up here immediately. Tell 'em they'd better get Homeland Security up here also."
"What the hell?"
"Listen," Maura continued. "You gather up these women, and you get them warm. But do not question them. No one, and I mean no one, is to be questioned until the Feds get here. If any of your people start indulging their curiosity, it's your ass!"
She didn't wait for an answer, her point had been made. She ran for the house, pushed the front door open with her foot and crept in, arms extended, gun at the ready. The smell in the house was indescribable; Maura gagged and her eyes watered. The house echoed with the sounds of women alternately screaming and sobbing. She cocked her head ... she couldn't detect the telltale hiss of an activated control sphere, and considering all the background noise, she was reasonably sure it wouldn't work anyway. Not according to what Janice had told her, at least. But was she willing to bet her freewill on it? Biting on her lower lip, she took another step into the house. Shadows moved along a wall at the top of the stairs. She could make out their whispered voices. Maura went up the stairs, quickly and silently. At the top, she pivoted 90 degrees to her left and into the hall, dropping to one knee.
"Freeze!" she yelled. Bridget and three other stood 15 feet away, all looking like their hearts were in their mouths.
"Christ, I'm sorry," Maura holstered her gun and gave Bridget a hug.
"What are you doing here?"
"The waiting was driving me nuts. I've got some back up on the way," Maura looked over the rest of the party, "Victoria?"
"Am I glad to see you," Victoria spread her arms, eyes brimming with tears.
"Allie and Leslie, I presume?" she asked as Victoria hugged her.
The two girls nodded dully.
"Where are the control spheres?" Maura asked.
"She only had two. They're both in here," Bridget pulled clothing from a laundry bag, throwing the garments at Victoria, Leslie and Allie before handing the bag to Maura.
"Do you guys have a way of getting out of here without being seen?" Bridget nodded that she did. "Then I think you guys should take off. Call me on my cell when you've settled in somewhere."
"I doubt I can get out of speaking to the police, considering what's been going on in my own house. What's our story?" Victoria asked.
Maura thought quickly, "Home invasion. If anyone asks, tell 'em Prof. Sawyer and her crazies took over and you went along to stay alive."
"You think they'll buy that?"
"The story doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to buy us enough time to get these," Maura held up the bag, "into the right hands. Once that happens, believe me, they'll cover this thing up so deep it'll never see the light of day again."
Victoria nodded as everyone put on the cloths Bridget had given them.
"And where's Prof. Sawyer?"
"I left her down in the office after I got the control spheres. We have to go that way to sneak out of here. Follow me," Bridget led the way.
At the bottom of the stairs, Maura snuck a look out the front door. She counted seven cruisers now and an equal number of ambulances, along with fire engines and other rescue vehicles ... as well as a few of the black Lincoln Continentals the Feds used. Time was becoming a factor ... they'd begin searching the house anytime now.
"See if you can stall them, even for just five minutes," Maura urged Victoria, who simply nodded and headed out the door.
Prof. Sawyer sat at what was, once again, Victoria's desk. Maura entered first, weapon trained at Sawyer's chest. The sitting woman made no move to explain, or rationalize or even hide; she just continued to stare at the bookcase to her left. Maura indicated the other three should follow her in. Bridget led them through the door on the other side of the room.
"I want you to stand up and come around to the front of the desk," Maura ordered after the three had left. Sawyer did as she was told. "Kneel down and lace your fingers behind your head."
Again, Sawyer did as she was told. Maura secured the first cuff on Sawyer's right wrist and guided her arms down behind her back to secure the second. She lifted Sawyer to her feet then noticed a blanket on the nearby couch. She wrapped it around Sawyer's shoulders and led her out of the office.
"You have the right to remain silent," Maura began, stifling a laugh as she did. She'd always been a behind the scenes player. In all her years with the FBI, Prof. Sawyer was the first person Maura ever arrested.
She led Sawyer out of the house and down the drive. As they approached the guard shack, some of the Prof.'s former thralls noticed her and began screeching hate and invective. If Sawyer noticed, she gave no indication. Maura passed her off to a clean cut kid whose whole look screamed "Federal".
"Isolate her. Don't let her near any of the others," Maura cautioned.
"Will do, ma'am," the kid said and led Sawyer away.
An older looking Fed took the kid's place, "You Hunt?"
"You mind telling me what the hell is going on here?"
Maura smiled ever so slightly, "Homeland Security here yet?"
Another older Fed stepped forward, hand raised, "Bob Loosey."
Maura's smile broke wide open. She placed the bag on the hood of a nearby car, "Loosey, you got some 'splainin' to do."
* * *
"It's nice things are getting back to normal," Bridget thought as she drove past the guard shack to Victoria's house; Chuck's only reaction being a friendly wave hello. She parked in her usual spot and let herself in. She couldn't detect the reek from Prof. Sawyer's days anymore ... and it had only taken a month and a half to clear the funk out!
"Yes," she thought again, "definitely nicer."
She found Victoria in her office, reviewing some notes. The older woman waved Bridget into a chair.
"Spring break next week, I see," she began.
"Got any plans?"
"I was thinking about a long weekend out of town. After that, play it by ear."
"I think you should. Lord knows you've earned it."
Bridget smiled. That went easier than she'd hoped, "What have we got today?"
Victoria's agenda was brief: Reviewing how their Coven was reintegrating into The Association and how their girls were reintegrating into their Coven. All in all, Bridget and Victoria agreed, it could have been worse. Much worse.
"Which leaves only two issues," Victoria concluded.
Bridget could only think of one, "Leslie?"
"Leslie," Victoria confirmed.
Prof. Sawyer had claimed four members of their Coven: Leslie, Tammi, Allie and Victoria. All of them had eagerly chosen to return to The Association. All of them except Leslie.
"I've been speaking with the Covenheads," Victoria continued. "They'd like to know what you think should be done about her."
"Keep an eye on her," Bridget said immediately, "but let her go."
"Are you sure that's wise?"
"I don't know about wise. I think it's the better of two bad choices," Bridget said. "Let's face it, she's smart and she's driven, so I don't think there's much we can offer her that she can't get for herself, and she knows it. Plus she's an Alpha female ... she just isn't cut out to take orders from you or me or anyone else. She's got to do her thing, her way and she can't do that with us."
"You aren't worried about someone not in The Association knowing about us?"
"Sure I am. But she's smart enough to keep her mouth shut, and if she talks, who's going to believe her?"
"The Covenheads felt much the same. Leslie will be allowed to go her own way," Victoria said as she made a note in her log.
On a level that surprised her, Bridget felt happy for Leslie, "So, what's the other issue?"
"The other issue, my dear, is you."
Bridget blinked, "Me?"
Victoria nodded, "Everyone's please, of course, that things are getting back to normal so quickly, but the Covenheads feel some changes need to be made here. I'll be staying on, at least until you finish school, but my role will be more like an advisor."
She paused to gather herself, "As of right now, however, you are the new Covenhead."
"No!" Bridget exploded. "That isn't fair. What happened was not your fault!"
"No one is saying it was my fault," Victoria replied. "But there's a sense that I've been ... compromised and I don't disagree with that view."
"But I'm not ready."
"Bridget, there's very little left that I can teach you. And as to out late crisis, you showed courage, you showed initiative, you showed creativity and you showed wisdom, more than I did, certainly. Those are qualities anyone would want in a leader."
Bridget felt miserable, "But I don't want it."
"Dear, the decision has already been made," Victoria said kindly. "This is what you've been groomed for since I met you. I know you thought you'd build a coven of your own. I thought so also. But we need you here. There's no one else who can do this."
Bridget cast a helpless glance out the window. It was inescapable.
* * *
The doctors the government people had referred her to helped, so did the pills the doctors gave her for when she felt stressed. She talked once a week with the doctors about what happened to her and how she was going to get past it. She felt like she was getting past it. Then she'd seen something, and heard some other things, and Cindy realized that whatever healing was going on, there were things she was avoiding, things she felt deep in her soul, and these things needed to be confronted.
It began with her younger sister on a Friday night. Cindy had moved back home afterwards; it was just her, her mother and her Holly now. Her older sister, Laurie, had moved out years ago and was trying to put that life back together on her own. Her father was living in an apartment across town ... her parents marriage had been one of the casualties of what she now called the "whole Prof. Sawyer thing".
Cindy had stayed in that night, it was easier for her that way. She was watching movies when a car pulled into the drive way, its headlights traced a path across the darkened living room, but there'd been no following sound of doors opening and closing, no one calling "good bye" or "good night". Curious, Cindy had peeked out a front window. She recognized the car, it belonged to Holly's friend Elizabeth. She recognized Holly and Elizabeth in the car, locked in a clinch and sharing the kind of kiss lovers gave each other. Cindy ran back to the couch, focused on the movie and successfully beat down the yearnings that were so much a part of her privacy lately.
She watched Holly closely over the next few days. Of all the women in her family, she'd suspected Holly was dealing the best with their shared trauma. She seemed to be the one most rapidly recovering her strength, her normalcy, her equilibrium. And, Cindy now noticed, she was spending a lot of time with Elizabeth.
The second thing came during a phone call to Laurie. There'd been no agenda, no secret purpose; she'd just wanted to chat with her sister. And they had been chatting right up to the moment Cindy heard a female voice in the background ask if Laurie wanted to go out for dinner or stay in. The last part had been said in a way that promised something far more. Cindy had recognized the voice, it came back to Cindy in a rush, that day at Gracie's house when her sisters and her mother had been taken. Dana had taken Laurie.
Dana ... sucking at Laurie's box ... and Laurie unable to stop her ... not wanting to stop her ... Dana ... with that adorable little tuft of hair right over her puss ... and that round ass ... and the thick auburn hair ... and those gorgeous tits ...
In the silent interval, Laurie realized Cindy had heard and remembered. She excused herself quickly and hung up.
The final thing came a few days later, when she'd gone to the State Forest, expecting to spend the day. She usually found the long walks among the trees calming, but she hadn't been feeling it that day, and she'd cut the trip short. Her Mom's car was in the driveway when she got home, but there was nothing unusual in that. What had been unusual was her Mom being so hard to find. She wasn't in the kitchen, or the living room, or the laundry. Cindy went upstairs, close enough now to hear the noises coming from her mother's bedroom: The squeak of the springs, the bang of the headboard and the cries of a woman loving how she was being fucked, a woman being fucked by Cindy's mother.
"Oh God ... Oh my God ... Yes Maddie ... Like that, yes ... Oh God ... Where did you learn THAT!"
The others had made their choice and now it was time for hers.
She chose to drive north, three hours, to the college town where it all began for her, to the little house off campus where she'd spent so much time after it all began.
"Go away," Gracie hissed when she saw Cindy and tried to close the door.
Cindy jammed her foot against the door, "I just want to talk."
"Please," Cindy begged. "I can't stop thinking about you."
Gracie stopped pushing, but gave no ground, "It isn't real ... it was all her!"
She knew what Gracie meant by "her". The Prof. Sawyer Thing, "It isn't all her. Every time I thing about her I want to throw up, but that's not how I feel when I think about you."
Cindy could hear Gracie's breathing, "I miss you, and I know you miss me too ... I know it! Can't we please just talk about it?"
The resistance behind the door slackened and Cindy stepped inside. Gracie looked at her with a melancholy smile. Cindy returned it with real smile, bright and wide. She held out her arms. Gracie stepped into them.
* * *
Bridget shifted the pack slung over her shoulder and whistled absentmindedly as the elevator made its way up. She stepped out when the doors opened and looked the hallway over carefully. Same rug ... same wallpaper, not that she'd really expected any drastic changes. She'd been gone less than two months. It was just that when she'd left the Lexington Hotel, she was sure she'd never come back. But she was looking forward to this. Somehow her surrounding should have reflected that. But they didn't.
The room was halfway down the hall. Bridget knocked, then wondered why she did, considering she'd been given a key at the front desk.
"Who is it?"
"It's me. C'mon, let me in. I'm tired."
Maura wore only a sheer negligee, a blunt indication of what she had in mind for their long weekend together. Bridget altogether approved, especially when Maura pulled her into the room, gathered her up and planted an emphatically non-platonic kiss on the redhead's mouth.
"Congratulations on your promotion, by the way," she purred before they kissed again.
Afterwards. After the dinner, after the show and after the sex, as they lay panting and sweaty on the bed, Maura ran her hand along Bridget's hip.
"What's on your mind?"
"What makes you think something is on my mind?"
"You've seemed kind of distant all night."
"I'm sorry," Bridget whispered and rolled on her side to look at Maura.
"It's okay, I'm not mad. Just curious."
"Heard anything about Prof. Sawyer lately?"
Maura laughed, "Not a thing, and that's no accident. I doubt they'll risk anything as messy or public as an indictment, let alone a trial. I'm sure, by now, they've found her a very pleasant, very comfortable place to live in the middle of nowhere and she'll be allowed to live pleasantly and comfortably for however long she decided to help them make control spheres or until they figure out how to make them without her help. After that ..."
Maura shrugged, "... who knows? One way or another, we've heard the last of her. Why do you ask?"
"I've been thinking about her lately ... a lot."
Bridget sighed heavily, "And I'm thinking we really aren't that different or better than she was."
"That isn't true! You of all people should know better!"
"It's because I know better that I think it may be true."
"We're completely different."
"How? Because I'm not seeing it."
"We're different because The Association doesn't turn people into slaves," Maura said. "We're different because we reward out people and open doors for them, we're different because we give our people choices ..."
"Choices," Bridget repeated. "That's an interesting word. Did The Association give you a choice when they inducted you? Did they give me one? No. They just took what they wanted and the reason the Covenheads are so bent out of shape over the whole Prof. Sawyer thing is they don't like the shoe on the other foot. And even after all of that, they didn't give me a choice when they made me a Covenhead. I just had to take it. And did you know they're actually talking about inducting some of the women Prof. Sawyer captured, like these people haven't been through enough already. They haven't learned a thing."
"Okay," Maura nodded reasonably. "But The Association gave Victoria, Allie, Tammi and Leslie the choice to come back and 3 out of four took it. With those kind of odds, we can't be all bad."
"I'm not saying we're all bad, just that there are a few lessons from this whole thing we could be absorbing, but we aren't," Bridget replied. "And if three out of four women will freely choose to join us, then why can't we do that all the time? When we need to recruit, why can't we just show the girls what we're about and ask them to decide."
"I don't know," Maura smiled and gave Bridget a fortifying kiss, "but you're asking the wrong person. You're a Covenhead now, you can do something about it."
Maura snuggled up against Bridget and in a few seconds was asleep. For the longest time, before she fell asleep, Bridget stared at the ceiling and felt wholly inadequate to the task she'd been given.