She held her breath, sure Joyce wouldn't tell her. But Joyce shrugged and said, "His specialty is astral projection, actually."
Let your mind do the walking, Kait thought. It was Lewis's phrase. So Mac was responsible for the astral projections and psychic attacks against them on the way to Canada. "But we saw at least four figures," she blurted before she thought. "And one of them was Bri-I recognized her."
Joyce was setting the clock radio by the bedside and answered impatiently and almost absently. "Mac used to guide them, help them get away and then help them get back into their bodies. But anybody can do astral projection if they have the power of the crys-" She broke off so quickly her little white teeth actually snapped shut. Then she said, "Bed, Kaitlyn. It's way past time."
I knew they used the crystal to project themselves, Kait thought. I saw it beside their astral forms. But she didn't tell Joyce. She said, "Okay, but are you going to tell me what Bri does?"
"No. I'm going to go to bed."
And that was all Kaitlyn could get out of her.
Upstairs, Kaitlyn could hear the voices in Gabriel's room. Gabriel and Frost and Renny? Gabriel and Frost? There was no way to find out.
"Too bad I can't do astral projection," she muttered.
Lydia was asleep, of course, so there was no chance to talk to her. And no way to try out the secret panel downstairs-it was directly across from Joyce's room.
Nothing to do, then, but go to sleep ... but it took her a long time to relax, and when she did, she had nightmares.
The next morning she saw Frost coming out of Gabriel's room.
Gabriel came out a moment later, while Kaitlyn was still standing motionless by the stairs. He was shrugging into his T-shirt. He looked particularly handsome in a just-roused, early morning way. His hair was very wavy, as if someone had run fingers through it to release the curl, his eyes were hooded and lazy and there was a faint smile of satisfaction on his lips.
Kaitlyn discovered that she wanted to kill him. The image that came to her mind was of hitting him with a rolling pin, but not in an amusing, comic-book sort of way. In a way that would make splinters of bone fly and splatter the walls with blood.
His expression changed very slightly when he saw her standing there. His eyes narrowed and his mouth soured. But he held her gaze stonily and walked by her without speaking.
"Today you'll do some testing," Joyce said to Kaitlyn after breakfast.
But before starting with Kait, Joyce settled the other psychics in. Testing had changed since the old days, Kaitlyn thought. Then, Joyce's experiments had been scientific, the kind of thing you could report in a journal article. Now, everything seemed oriented toward crime.
Jackal Mac, wearing swim trunks full of holes, was led toward the back lab with the isolation tank, and Kait heard Joyce saying, "Just take a look inside that safe in the city, see if the papers are there. Then try the long-distance job, check out that furnace."
Astral projection for felons, Kait thought. Is that how they knew the twenty million was in that filing cabinet? But how did they know to look in a filing cabinet in the first place?
Renny was practicing his PK, but not on a random event generator as Lewis had done. He had a collection of locks in front of him, as well as diagrams that looked like the insides of locks. Without touching anything, he was making the locks open and close.
Aha, Kait thought. Well, that makes sense. He needs to know what part of the lock to push with his mind to open it. PK doesn't give you magical knowledge about locks, just the power to poke around inside them.
It explained Gabriel's comment about Lewis not being able to open the combination lock on the crystal-wherever the crystal was. Kaitlyn would bet her last dime that Mr. Z had some sort of fiendishly complicated locking device, something that Lewis couldn't get a diagram for. Which meant the only way to open the lock would be to somehow figure out the eight numbers in the combination.
Whoa, girl. Take it easy. You've got to find that crystal first.
As soon as she'd thought it, Kaitlyn shifted nervously. Gabriel and Frost were sitting across the room by the stereo. But he was studying a pile of CDs and
she couldn't tell anything unless she touched a person. Besides, she seemed to be studying Gabriel. She was looking more sleazy than grungy today, in an orange top cut so low that you could ski down the bare skin in front. Her hair had returned to its usual uncombed state and her lips were vivid tangerine.
"What are you doing?" Kait asked Bri, as a diversion.
Bri glanced up. "Can't you tell?"
She was holding a plumb bob on its line above a map. The plumb bob and line looked just like what Kaitlyn's father had used to determine if a surface was vertical, just a small weight hanging freely from a cord. The map was upside down to Kaitlyn and she could only make out "-Charlotte Islands."
"I'm dowsing," Bri said. She gave a boyish grin at Kait's surprise.
"I thought you used a forked stick for dowsing."
"No, stupid. That's for dowsing for water or gold or something. This kind is to find things that are far away, and you can do it for anything."
"Oh." As Kaitlyn watched, the plumb bob began to swing in circles over a section of the map.
"See? All you got to do is think of what you're looking for. Sasha used to do the other kind of dowsing, only he didn't use a stick. He used coat hangers shaped like Is."
"Oh, yeah. You never met him." Bri snorted laughter. "He was blond and pretty cute, critty pute. Cute."
"Was he one of Mr. Z's first students?" Kaitlyn asked quickly. "Part of the pilot study, like you?" Bri seemed to be on the verge of one of those bizarre attacks which always ended in her repeating nonsense words until it drove everyone crazy.
"Yeah, him and Parte King. Not his real name. Parte King was a bike messenger in the city, a real skinny guy. Both terrific psychics."
"But what happened to them? Are they dead?"
"Huh? They-" Suddenly Bri's face turned cold, as if someone had turned off a light switch inside her. She looked up at Kait and her face was hard. "Yeah, they're dead," she said. "Sasha and Parte King. You wanna make something of it?"
Joyce was coming out of the back lab. Kaitlyn moved away from Bri's carrel feeling depressed.
The dark psychics were nicer to her now, sure, but it was like a geyser pool bubbling between eruptions.
Ready to go off in her face at any minute.
The doorbell rang.
"That's the volunteers-would you get them, Gabriel?" Joyce said bustling around with her clipboard.
"Frost, I'm going to have you do some psychometry with them; Kait, I'm going to start you with some remote viewing."
She sat Kaitlyn in a carrel with a photograph in front of her. It was an eight-by-ten glossy of a wall safe.
"I want you to concentrate on the picture and draw anything that comes into your mind," she said. "Try to imagine what might be in the safe, okay?"
"Okay," Kaitlyn said, concealing a surge of rebellion. This was not legitimate research, and she was losing her taste for larceny.
"I'm going to put this on your forehead," Joyce added, producing a piece of masking tape.
This time the surge was one of alarm, and Kait couldn't hide it. "An electrode over my third eye?" she asked as lightly as she could.
"You know what it is. Since you haven't been exposed to the big crystal, we'll use this to enhance your powers."
"Well, why don't you expose me to the big crystal, then?" Kait asked recklessly. "Those little chips give me a headache, and-"
"Sorry, that's up to Mr. Zetes, and he doesn't want you anywhere near it. Now, hold still." Joyce's tone said she'd had enough. Her eyes had gone as hard as gems and she barely pushed aside Kaitlyn's bangs before slapping the tape on Kait's forehead.
Kait felt the piece of crystal cold against her skin. It was bigger than the piece Joyce had used in the old days, maybe because now Joyce wasn't trying to conceal it. This one felt the size of a quarter.
Knowing where it came from, she could scarcely keep herself from tearing the tape off. But then she saw Gabriel in the doorway, looking sardonic and amused.
You don't have anything against the crystal, do you? After all, you're one of us. . . .
Kaitlyn shot back, I'm not one of them. But I guess you are.
Right, angel. I'm one of them-and don't you forget it.
Kaitlyn left the tape alone.
But she didn't want to help Joyce with the safe. She stared at the photograph, then shut her eyes and just scribbled, taking the time to think.
She understood now how the dark psychics had attacked them on the road to Canada. First Bri probably dowsed to figure out where they were. Then Jackal Mac guided their astral forms to the right location. After that, they could assault their victims with weird apparitions or with Renny's long-distance PK. Simple. You could terrorize people without ever going near them.
And now Joyce was expecting her to join in the long-distance crime wave, to help them visualize some safe to break into.
Wait a minute.
If she could see into a safe, why not a room? Why not try to visualize the secret room below the stairway?
Without opening her eyes, Kait groped for a new piece of paper. She'd never tried to visualize a specific place before, but the remote viewing process was old hat by now. Stretch out and let your thoughts drift.
Block out any external noises. Let the darkness take you down. . . .
And now, think of the secret room. Think of walking up to the door, visualize that hallway lit by fluorescent greenish light. Walk up to the door . . . and let the darkness take you. . . .
Her hand began to cramp and itch.
Then it was dancing and skidding over the paper, moving of its own accord while Kaitlyn floated in darkness. Sketching fluidly, easily. Kaitlyn held her breath and tried not to be anxious, tried not to think or feel anything.
Okay, slowing down-is it done yet? Can I look?
She couldn't resist the temptation. One eye opened, then both were open and wide. Chills swept over her, as she stared, not at the piece of paper her hand was still working on, but at the first one, the one that was supposed to be only scribbles.
Oh, God, what is it? What have I done?
It wasn't her usual style. It was cartoonish, but gruesome cartoonish, like the new breed of comic books.
At first Kait thought it might be a picture of her beating Gabriel to death with a rolling pin.But those long tear-shaped things flying out at the edges were flames. Flames, fire. It was a fireball or an explosion, circular, with smoke billowing every which way, and the shock waves moving outward like ripples on a pond.And in the center was a stick figure of a person. Like Itchy the cat after Scratchy hits him with a flamethrower. Arms waving, legs splayed in a grotesque dance.Ha, ha.Except that since Kait's drawings always came true, somebody was going to get burned. Somebody involved with that safe, maybe? Kait tried to recapture what she'd been thinking about while scribbling.Too much. Psychic attacks, Canada, Bri dowsing, JackalMac on the astral plane, Renny's PK. And the safe, of course, even though she'd tried not to think about it.This picture could involve any of those things. Kait had a very bad feeling about it, made worse by a nagging, growing headache.What about the other picture? The one that was supposed to be visualizing the secret room? Kait looked at it and wanted to slam her fist on the table.Garbage! Trash! Not literally, but the drawing was useless. It wasn't the inside of a room at all, and it certainly didn't show a crystal. It was a line drawing of a sailing ship on a pretty, wavy ocean. Sitting on the deck, right below the sails, was a Christmas tree. A nice little Christmas tree with garland and a star on top.Kaitlyn's eyes were stinging with pain and fury. The first picture left her helpless. The second was useless.And that makes me completely hopeless.Suddenly she couldn't hold her feelings in. She crumpled them up with a savage motion and threw them as hard as she could at Frost. One hit Frost on the cheek, the other hit Frost's volunteer."Kaitlyn!" Joyce shouted. Frost leaped up, one hand to her cheek. Then she made a rush for Kait, her nails clawed."Frost!" Joyce shouted.Kaitlyn put a foot out to block Frost. In elementary school she'd been a pretty good fighter, and right now it felt good to fend Frost off. And if Frost whacked her, she was going to whack right back. She felt calm and queenly standing there ready to kick Frost in the chest."Come on, snowflake," she said. "Come get me!""I will, you!" Frost shrieked, charging again."Gabriel, help me! Renny, you stay in that seat!" Joyce shouted.Joyce and Gabriel dragged Frost back and sat her down hard in a chair. Kait was tempted to go after her, but didn't."Now," Joyce said in a voice to cut through steel, "what is going on?""I got mad," Kaitlyn said, not at all sorry. "Everything I draw is trash.""Smash," Bri said quietly. Kait had an urge to snicker.Joyce was staring at Kait, lips compressed, brow furrowed. Abruptly, she pulled the tape off Kait's forehead."How do you feel?" she said."Bad. I have a headache.""Right," Joyce muttered. "All right, you go upstairs and lie down. But first you pick up those papers and put them in the trash can where they belong."Stiff-backed, Kait stalked over to the crumpled wads, picked them up. Then, as Joyce turned back to her clipboard, she faked throwing them at Frost again. Frost went red, and Kait hurried out of the room.Upstairs, she shut the door of her bedroom and wondered what had come over her.Was she crazy? No, of course-it was the crystal. Joyce had used a big piece of the crystal and it had made Kaitlyn act like the psycho psychics.And I must be pretty crazy to start with, because it didn't take much, Kaitlyn thought. Maybe Bri and the others were a lot saner than me to begin with. I wish I could have seen them before . . .She let out her breath, trying to make sense of her feelings. She'd really been furious there, furious and completely indifferent to any consequences her actions might have. She'd would happily have scratched Frost's eyes out.Well, maybe that wasn't so crazy. After all...Kaitlyn sat on the bed heavily. She kept trying to tell herself she didn't care about Gabriel-but if she didn't care, why did she hate Frost so much today?And Gabriel certainly didn't jump up to defend me, she thought. He probably enjoyed watching us fight.Kait rubbed her throbbing forehead, wishing she could go outside and lie under a tree. She needed air.Idly, she toyed with the balls of paper in her other hand.Then she looked up as the door opened."Can I come in? My riding lesson was canceled this morning," Lydia said. She sounded depressed."It's your room," Kaitlyn said.She kept rolling the paper balls around, squashing them against each other. She'd taken them so Frost wouldn't pick them out of the trash can and laugh at them-but was that the only reason? Now she wondered if it hadn't also been some survival instinct kicking in.None of her drawings was really worthless. Maybe she'd better keep them."What's the matter?" Lydia asked.Kait frowned. Lydia was picking now to talk? "I've got a headache," she said shortly, and dropped the paper balls in a drawer.Then she remembered her promise to Lewis. She glanced at Lydia out of the side of her eye.The smaller girl looked very neat in a brown riding habit. Her heavy dark hair was pulled away from her small pale face, and her green eyes showed up more than ever. Neat and rich-and miserable."Have you got a boyfriend?" Kait asked abruptly"Huh? No." She hesitated, then added, "I'm not after Gabriel, if that's what you mean.""It isn't." Kait didn't want to talk about Gabriel. "I was thinking about Lewis-did you ever notice him?"Lydia looked startled-almost frightened. "Lewis! You mean Lewis Chao?""No, I mean Lewis and Clark. Of course Lewis Chao. What do you think of him?""Well ... he was nice to me. Even when the rest of you weren't.""Well, he thinks you're nice, too. And I told him-" Kaitlyn caught herself. Oh, Lord, this headache was making her stupid. She'd almost said that she'd told Lewis yesterday she'd bring him up. Frantically, she tried to think of another way to end the sentence."I told him that you'd think you were too good for him. That you'd just laugh at him. That was a long time ago," Kaitlyn finished at random.Lydia's eyes seemed to turn a darker green. "I wouldn't laugh. I like nice guys," she said. "I don't think you're very nice. You're turning out just like them," she added, and left the room, slamming the door.Kaitlyn leaned back against the headboard, convinced she just wasn't cut out to be a spy.And she still didn't feel quite herself. One thing was certain, she couldn't let Joyce put her in contact with the crystal again. It made her lose control, and when she lost control anything could happen.And another thing was certain, too. She couldn't use her power to visualize the hidden room downstairs, and Joyce wasn't going to let her anywhere near it. So the only solution was for her to go down there herself.The PassionBut when?Still rubbing her forehead, Kaitlyn toed her sneakers off and lay down.At first she shut her eyes just to ease the headache. But soon her thoughts began to unwind and her muscles relaxed. This time there were no nightmares.When she woke she had that feeling of desertion again. The house seemed too quiet, the warm air too still.At least her headache was gone. Moving slowly, she got off the bed and tiptoed to the door.Silence.Oh, they wouldn't leave me alone again. Not unless it's a trap. If it's a trap, I'm not going anywhere.But she had a right to go downstairs. She lived here; she was a full member of the team. She could be going down to get a diet soda or an apple.Down the stairs, then.And she had a right to look around downstairs. She could be looking for the others; she could be lonely.She kept the right words on her lips."Joyce, I just wanted to ask you-"But Joyce wasn't in her room."Are you guys still testing-?"But the front lab was empty. So was the back lab.