Chapter 5 – The Search
Silvana waited for what felt like an eternity, but the call didn’t come. She tried not to let it discourage her. No matter what the implications, she hoped her mystery man had forgotten to call her, or had simply chosen not to because he just had nothing left to give. She hated to think that somehow she had misguided him, and now he wandered completely lost in the ether.
Whether he wasn’t able to call or had decided that he had had enough of trying to rescue the little girl, Silvana couldn’t let it go. Somebody still had to help her Page of Wands.
Laura, the projection had called her. That much Silvana did remember. It might not be much, but it was something to work with. He claimed that she was in trouble and Silvana was certain that this Laura had been taken by somebody - kidnapped. If the girl was from the HRM area and she had gone missing without yet being found, there would be something about the mishap in the local paper. That would may one way to find direction, but Silvana didn’t want to stray too far from the Baba Yagga, in case her Knight of Swords did phone. She wished he had given her his name and number so that she could try contacting him, but that wasn’t what had happened. For that reason, she already decided to keep her investigation close to home, or at least the boutique that she called home for now.
With that in mind, she settled on her first act. Just down the block from the store, there was a newspaper distribution box for the free paper, the Metro, which covered local news. She picked her way past the small scattering of vagrants who liked to frequent the street by the library, waiting for the businesses along the block to open so traffic would begin to flow through the area and they would have people to stop and ask for money. Silvana certainly didn’t fault them for their measures. She had been there herself not that long ago, and while she had always tried to offer her reading services in exchange for people’s money, often they were in too much of a hurry to bother with that. The kinder souls would thrust money at her before they rushed away and that meant she could eat that day.
Sliding the paper free from the glass and metal mechanism, Silvana then wove her way back to the shop. She leaned up against the front counter and spread that day’s issue out across the countertop. There was nothing about the abduction on the front page, which made her believe that the kidnapping was not a recent event, and while the paper did mention a girl who had gone missing, several pages in, they did not necessarily assume that she had been taken. Silvana flipped through the pages until she came across an article that she thought could be the answer to the question “who?” when it came to trying to identify her Page of Wands.
“It is day nine in the disappearance of eight-year-old Bedford resident, Laura Harris, and local authorities are still looking for any clues that might help direct them to the missing girl. Police have not yet been able to identify if the missing child wandered off on her own accord or was taken against her will. Spokesperson, Constable Barnard, stated that they have no leads to date and are requesting any assistance that might be available from the public.”
Silvana paused in her reading, peering closely at the gray-tone photo at the bottom of the page. It was a headshot of a little girl that accompanied the article, one captioned “Laura Harris”. She looked like your typical little eight-year-old, with dark hair and eyes and a friendly grin. Silvana’s heart sank. If she had to try and help this girl, on her own, with what little information her Knight of Swords had given her, there wasn’t much chance that she would be able to find her. There were ways that the medium could improve the likelihood of tracking Laura down, if she could get an item that belonged to the child, for reference, but Silvana had never actually tried using psychometry before to locate a person and she wasn’t sure if she could do it. She was aware of the distinct energy patterns that people imprinted on objects, and it was her sensitivity to those energy patterns which had probably allowed her to interact with her mystery man, but that didn’t mean she could use those patterns to trace the girl to her whereabouts.
If Silvana did try to pick up where her Knight had left off, there was a distinct possibility that she would be doing so completely unassisted. She knew from past experience that nobody in any position of power would believe her when she would try telling them about what she had seen and why she was sure that Laura had been abducted and was still alive. The girl’s parents might be willing to believe, if they were desperate enough and grasping at straws. On the other hand, they might be just as likely to respond with anger and suspicion, feeling vulnerable at the moment and ready to lash out at anyone who might be trying to take advantage of them. It would be different if Silvana had succeeded in helping the police to find a missing person before now, but she had just been a simple fortune-teller, with no celebrity, and despite being truthful and precise, not one who people considered very successful.
She sighed in frustration, grabbing the section of the paper with the article and returning to the back room with it, to examine it in more detail. She flopped into her chair there with a grunt and scanned the article with an air of futility. The article listed a tip line number for the police, the fact that the girl had last been seen in her backyard on Torrington Crescent, and that there were no problems at home or school that would have suggested that she might have run away. The police were stumped.
Silvana decided to see if there was any chance that the authorities might listen to what she had to say. The tip line was supposed to be anonymous. Not wanting to take any chances that they would trace the call back to the Baba Yagga and would try to charge her with public mischief for a prank phone call, Silvana dug out the emergency cell phone that Eleanor kept by the front counter. The medium didn’t feel guilty about borrowing the device because Eleanor kept it on a plan with free evenings and weekends. There would be no charge for Silvana placing calls through it on a Saturday. She had already been telling herself that she should be prepared to borrow it out of necessity, if she had to leave the store in search of Laura, but Silvana did make a point of adding this fact to the note she would be leaving for the owner of the boutique. She hoped Eleanor would understand.
Silvana dialed the number listed in the paper. She tapped nervously on the counter while she waited for somebody to pick up.
“HRM tip-line – your call is fully anonymous and confidential. It will be recorded for reference purposes, but not for identification. It will be used only to aid in our investigation. You have contacted us regarding the disappearance of Laura Harris. What is the nature of your tip?” It was a nasally woman’s voice, all business. That automatically put Silvana on her guard
“I have reason to believe she was abducted and she is being held captive by a man in the area. She’s still alive,” she said hesitantly.
“Have you seen Laura with this man? Do you know where they are, ma’am?”
“I didn’t, but I have a friend who claims he did. He said Laura was very scared.” Silvana wasn’t sure how much she should say or even if any of this would help. It wasn’t like she could offer them specifics.
“Your friend spoke to her? Where was this?”
“I don’t know. He couldn’t tell me. I’m hoping he’ll give me more to go on the next time I talk to him. I just thought you should know. She didn’t run away and you need to keep looking for her – intensify the search. Maybe you can find some clues about her abduction if you scope out the area where she was last seen...”
The woman on the other end interrupted her.
“Ma’am, what exactly did your friend say?”
Silvana’s heart raced a little. She recognized that tone of voice. This tip-line operator either suspected that Silvana knew more than she was willing to tell her or that Silvana was even somehow involved in the crime, but suffering from a bout of conscience and offering them leads as a result. This made Silvana nervous. Nevertheless, she tried to recall exactly what her Knight had said. Quickly going over their conversation in her head, she realized that he hadn’t actually given her any of the details surrounding Laura. He had mentioned that she was in trouble, that she was scared and that she needed help, but hadn’t really elaborated what kind. Silvana had just known that the girl had been abducted without that input from him. She drew in a ragged breath. This was going to be terribly awkward.
“He told me she was in trouble. That she was scared and had asked for his help,” she explained
“And he didn’t help her?” the operator asked. “He couldn’t. He wanted to, but he wasn’t in the position to do that.”
“He wasn’t in the position to do that – okay. But he saw the man? Did he describe him to you?”
Silvana had a sense that this conversation was getting her nowhere, and she was about to dig herself into a deeper hole.
“No. He didn’t mention seeing the man.”
As truthful as ever, Silvana reluctantly admitted that fact.
“But Laura said there was a man who had abducted her?”
Silvana’s shoulders drooped. She couldn’t guarantee that solely based on what her mystery man had said either.
“My friend didn’t say that,” she told the operator.
“Then how do you know she was abducted? Perhaps she was lost, or she had run off and was trying to make her way home? Where did your friend see her and how long ago was it? We’ll send out one of our patrol cars to search the area.”
A lump formed in Silvana’s throat. It was time for the confession she had been hoping to avoid.
“I know she was abducted because I’m a psychic, and my friend couldn’t tell me where he had encountered her because he was there only in spirit. He found her through astral projection.”
There was dead silence on the other end of the phone and even Silvana’s end was silent because she was now holding her breath. Finally, the operator spoke.
“Ma’am, this is a serious matter. This line is only for legitimate tips only. If this is a prank...”
Silvana hung up quickly, releasing the breath she had been holding in one loud exhalation. That had been her only hope to engage the help of those already investigating the disappearance. They weren’t prepared to consider what she had to tell them. They thought she was crazy or joking. Silvana trusted her sanity and she would never kid about anything of this type, but that didn’t mean that she was capable of convincing someone else of this, especially not over the phone.
Setting aside the newspaper and the cell phone, Silvana paced the floor. She was still hopeful that she might hear from her Knight of Swords, but there hadn’t been a peep from the main phone for the store since he had left her, and it had now been a couple of hours. She wasn’t one to easily despair, but she was close to losing faith that he would contact her again. Maybe that was her fate, she contemplated. Maybe he was only intended to be the messenger, to give her an idea of where to start, and now it was up to her to figure out where to go from there.
Silvana chewed her lip again, eying the paper. It had mentioned that Laura had been last seen on Torrington Crescent. The medium scrambled for the phone book and started rustling through the flimsy pages until she arrived at the “H”s. Then she scanned the columns for Harris. There was only one listing with that name for Torrington Crescent, a D and B Harris.
The possibility of using psychometry to track down the missing girl was still an option. Silvana could go on her own, she supposed, and approach the family directly. The authorities might be quick to dismiss her, but they didn’t have the same emotional investment in the girl that her parents would have. There was a chance that Laura’s mother and father might give Silvana the benefit of the doubt, willing to try anything to get their daughter back. She hoped that this desire might counter any scepticism.
Silvana started to gather supplies from the store, including the pocket handbook on astral projection and a manual of psychometry. She also snagged a couple of good luck charms, a pair of juice boxes and a half eaten bag of cheese sticks along with the emergency cell phone and the newspaper with the Harris’ street number now scribbled on it, shoving them all into a satchel. She would give her Knight until Eleanor arrived to open the store. If she hadn’t heard from him by then, Silvana would set off to start the search on her own.
To her disappointment, Silvana heard the tinkle of the door chimes signifying Eleanor’s arrival before the phone rang. She would not be having the help of her mystery man after all. She steeled her nerves and approached Eleanor, with note in hand. The woman raised an eyebrow and she gave Silvana one of her quirky smiles, peering curiously at her through her horn-rimmed glasses and running a hand through her puffy mass of graying blond curls.
“What’s this?” she asked the younger woman. “You’re not leaving me, are you?”
“Very temporarily, I hope. I’ve had a very unusual morning. I wasn’t sure if I’d still be here when you came in. That explains everything,” Silvana replied.
Eleanor scanned through the letter, clucking her tongue and shaking her head with enough vigour that she made her curls bounce. Her eyes widened. Finally, she glanced up at Silvana.
“This happened in my back room? You’re sure you weren’t dreaming?”
Silvana pulled the three tarot cards from her purse and spread the newspaper out so that Eleanor could see the article about Laura Harris.
“No dream,” Silvana insisted.
Eleanor stared first at the picture of the little girl and then back at Silvana.
“Oh – that’s her? Poor thing. If you think you can help her then do what you must. Take whatever time you need.”
“Time isn’t all I need,” Silvana said, gathering up the paper and cards again. “I’m going to ask you another favour. I was expecting a call from him.” She held up the knight of swords card. “He may have just decided that this was just too much for him, but I’m a little worried he never managed to make it back home. He knows to call here, and he’ll be asking for me. I’d like to take the emergency cell with me, if it’s okay with you. I really would like to talk to him, but I don’t even have his name. Maybe I can check back here to see if he calls after I leave.”
Eleanor grabbed her hand and gave her a very serious look.
“Are you sure you can handle this? You aren’t used to dealing with mundane people, Silvana. You’ve lived a bit of a sheltered life in a community that embraces your gifts. You won’t just be facing unbelievers who will give you the cold shoulder. Some of the people you’ll encounter will react with scorn and others with outright hostility. The fact that you aren’t willing to lie from time to time to protect yourself will only make things worse. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
Silvana appreciated the sentiment, but she already understood the kind of challenges she would be facing. She had been hoping that an easier path would present itself. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how events were playing out. She dropped her gaze and shrugged.
“I’ve dealt with that discrimination before. There’s a reason I was living in my car when you took me in. I know what to expect.”
Eleanor shook her head.
“That’s only a small part of the trouble you might have to face,” she insisted. “You’re a sensitive young woman and more than a little naive. You’re too trusting at times. If you are going to run off chasing abduction victims on your own, you have to promise me that you’ll be more wary. This isn’t a game.” She pointed at the king of cups, still upside-down in Silvana’s grasp. “What about him? Anyone willing to snatch a child away from their family, for whatever perverse reasons, isn’t someone you want to go to battle with. If nobody supports you on this, and you do manage to track her down, how are you going to handle any confrontations with him? The card says it all. He’s evil, he’s crafty and he’s violent. You aren’t a physical person and you won’t be able to defend yourself if he targets you.”
Silvana had to admit that she hadn’t considered what she would do if she encountered the kidnapper directly. She wouldn’t be caught dead wielding a weapon. She didn’t know martial arts and she certainly wasn’t athletic. She avoided violence when she could, and usually kept out of trouble. That was one of the reasons she had survived unscathed while living on the streets. If this criminal was willing to harm a child, he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to any adult that got in his way. That adult could very well end up being her.
“I’ll be extra careful.” Silvana told her employer. “I don’t even know where all this will lead. I just wanted to get a head start on this while I’m waiting for the Knight to get in touch with me. He’ll have a better chance of relocating her then I’ll have of finding her by myself. I’ve never tried using psychometry before, not to search for a person, anyway.” She had helped a couple of people hunt down missing prized belongings, based on the energies of those individuals and the imprints they had left on the treasured items, but she had never tried the opposite even though she knew it could be done.
“Psychometry? You’re going to track her using psychometry? You’re unskilled, my dear. You won’t have a clue what you’re doing.”
“Until he contacts me, I don’t know how else to start.” Silvana lifted her satchel. “I have the manual, the one by Richard Katz, and I was planning to go see her parents and ask them for something that she was attached to, maybe a favourite teddy bear or an article of clothing. I have their address but I can’t even be sure they’ll be willing to give me anything. I just have to do something. The longer I wait, the longer that girl is trapped there with that evil man and the less likely she is to be alive when we find her. I can’t live with that on my conscience - not if I just sat here and did nothing. I’m sure there’s a good reason why the Knight didn’t call, but I can’t hang around hoping that phone will ring. I have to do something now.”
Eleanor was quiet for a few moments, clearly disturbed by Silvana’s resolve to start the search on her own. The older woman walked over to the hook where she had hung her purse and she dug around inside it until she came up with a pen, a small address book and her wallet. Eleanor flipped through the tiny book until she came to her address of choice, then she tore out a page from the back and copied it in order to hand it to her employee. Silvana didn’t recognize the name.
“Emmett Avis? Who is this supposed to be?”
“If you’re going to try psychometry to root out this Laura Harris, you’re going to need some tips from someone with a fair share of expertise. Emmett doesn’t advertise himself as an expert – he’s retired, for various reasons, but you won’t find a more knowledgeable person in psychometry in all of the province, possibly in the entire country,” Eleanor said. “If you manage to get anything of any use out of the girl’s family, I want you to go straight to him. He won’t be able to follow the trail with you, but if you tell him that I sent you, he’ll answer any questions that you have and he’ll give you solid suggestions on the best way to proceed. He also knows a great deal about astral projection. He used to practice it himself. He may be able to give you some advice for the fellow who dumped all of this in your lap.”
“He didn’t mean to leave me with this,” Silvana argued in his defense. “He had gotten lost, and he found me when he was looking for his way back. It was fate. I am supposed to help him. He’ll get back to me when he can. I’m sure of it.”
Eleanor sighed, shaking her head once more.
“There you go again, always too trusting. If it was that important to him, don’t you think he would have called by now? For that matter, wouldn’t he have given you a way to contact him, rather than have you wait around for him to call? I mean, you would think he would have at least given you his name. It’s the typical male brush-off, my dear. If you had more experience with men you wouldn’t have such high expectations. Until you know for sure one is reliable, you should never assume that he is.”
Silvana drooped. She was reluctant to accept Eleanor’s point of view, not wanting to lose confidence that she would hear from him again.
“I don’t think he’s brushing me off and I don’t think he intended to leave me hanging. He was distracted. He had been wandering the ether for a while, and it was placing a real strain on him. He needed to get back as quickly as possible. He wasn’t focussed on trying to get in touch with me once he did find his way back to his body. I’m sure he’ll be in touch eventually. Maybe something else came up,” Silvana suggested. As far as she was concerned, there was still hope.
Eleanor’s look softened. She and Silvana often thought on two different wave-lengths, but she did admire the younger woman’s faith in humanity and was somewhat puzzled by the fact that unsavoury circumstances had yet to sour her spirit. Eleanor had become cynical years ago, jaded by business ventures gone wrong and from witnessing carelessness and apathy from those who had not been handed a bad lot like Silvana. Plenty of people lacked any sort of resilience and gave up long before they should have when things got rough. Eleanor just wished Silvana would be more cautious.
“I’d go with you myself if I could, but I can’t leave the shop unattended,” Eleanor said. “At least if I’m here and your fellow does call, I can take his information and give him the cell number. Take it with you. I doubt I’ll need it and I’d like to be able to check in on you even if he doesn’t try to connect with you again. You’ll have my prayers, Silvana. You know that.”
Silvana shoved the newspaper back into her satchel and returned the tarot cards to her purse along with Emmett’s address. She was feeling a little twitchy, her nerves already being taxed just by the idea of having to approach strangers with her outrageous tale and to tell them that she was there, in earnest, to help.
“And just to show you I do think what you’re doing is worthwhile, I’m going to make another offering.” Eleanor pulled a twenty out of her wallet and passed it to Silvana. “We can’t have you travelling from one end of HRM to the other in that clunker of yours without gas in the tank. The last thing we need is you getting stranded en route. This is a gift, part of my contribution to this venture. If you can, find that little girl and get her back to her family. There’s enough tragedy in the world. I’ll happily do what I can to prevent anymore.”
Silvana was grateful. She had about a quarter of a tank left and that would only get her so far. A twenty would bring the gauge up to almost three-quarters. The trip to Bedford wasn’t that great a stretch, but Eleanor was right – Silvana didn’t know how far she would have to go from there. She had a start point, but she had no idea just how far Laura’s abductor had taken her, and with the way astral travel worked, her Knight of Swords could have encountered the girl almost anywhere.
“Thanks for this, Eleanor, and thanks for understanding. Most people wouldn’t,” Silvana murmured before turning to go.
“Well, we’re not exactly ‘most people’ are we,” Eleanor replied with one of her quirky half grins, tilting her head to one side so that the frizzy curls that had fallen across her face shifted out of her line of sight. “Go on, get out of here. Go help that little girl.”
Silvana nodded and headed out the door, in a hurry to leave, not because she was worried that Eleanor might change her mind, but rather concerned that her own anxiety might make her lose heart. This wasn’t the type of challenge she usually undertook.
After watching her go, Eleanor shuffled around the store reorganizing some of the things Silvana had left slightly out of kilter while preparing for her journey. Then she fetched the book on mythology out of the back, having noted that Silvana had mentioned it in her letter. She had just flipped the close sign to open, and was contemplating Silvana’s description of events when the phone began to ring. Pushing up her glasses, Eleanor twisted to look at it with a knowing smile.
“Ah,” she remarked. “It would appear your trust was not misplaced after all, Silvana. Too bad your new friend doesn’t have better timing.”
And with that, Eleanor reached for the phone.
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