Chapter 43

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While Herman works on installing a black ring of filth around her bathtub, Zandra busies herself with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. She leans against the granite countertop that her newfound reputation bought her and stares into the adjacent living room. She'd meant to hang those pictures of David, her late husband, ever since she bought the condo. They sit wrapped in the same tissue paper inside a box in her closet that they have since the move. Herman's reminder about the long tentacles of Gene Carey in Stevens Point makes her regret putting it off.

Were she a real psychic, if those even exist, she'd be able to sense what Gene is up to over in his palace outside town. Or not. She could only distract herself from the aching weariness inside her bones for so long.

It's too much. I'm going to break in half before this is all over.

Dvorak knows Gene, but are the two working together? Why? How?

Zandra closes her eyes and concentrates, but the lull of sleep tugs her deeper than she expects, even with the coffee percolating in her veins. She catches herself drifting off, her head slipping down into the crook of her elbow. It only lasts a flickering second, but the mental fireworks that populate the line between sleep and alertness burn an image into her mind. She sees David, smiling and waving in the distance. He's up to his waist in the water of Soma Falls.

I miss you.

Alert once again and sipping on coffee, Zandra wonders if there's any truth to what she's read about that fuzzy place between states of mind, the event horizon on the path to the black hole of sleep. Many of the books she sells for well above retail in Sneak Peek detail the holiness of that mysterious plane. Edgar Cayce, probably the most famous psychic to ever walk the planet, is said to have gained his incredible insights by willfully walking the tightrope between wakefulness and sleep. This trance-like state allowed his mind to wander freely, visiting the corners of reality not bound by the three-dimensional world. Some called it "lucid dreaming," but it seemed like more than that. His predictions proved out with eerie accuracy. People came from around the world to ask him questions.

Cayce wasn't exceptional, though. He just figured out how to take advantage of what nearly everyone experiences as they drift off to sleep. They can do the same by training themselves to take what's commonly referred to as a "catnap" or "disco nap." They last only 15 minutes or so, but the person achieves a deep sleep rapidly, often feeling as if hours have passed by. This holds true outside of the blur of metaphysics, and is often recommended by more mainstream sources as beneficial for mental clarity. It's on either end of these brief naps, on the descent and ascent, that the portals into the mental state Cayce achieved can be found. The trick is to hold on to that state for as long as possible.

But before that begins, Zandra's read, people must "break in" their mental powers by exhausting themselves, then allowing for only a moment's sleep at a time. Setting a timer for 15 minutes helps. So does staying up late, although daytime naps can be just as good. With practice, these naps can be induced anywhere at any time.

Zandra never had the patience to try, but now, struggling to stay awake, the glimpse of David convinces her to make an attempt. She abandons the coffee and walks to the living room couch. Stretching out on the cushions, Zandra focuses on her questions.

What is going on in Dvorak's basement? Is Gene Carey involved somehow?

Zandra closes her eyes and lets her mind wander until it finds the answers. The image in her head transports her back to the glass block window at Dvorak's house. She watches her foot kick at the glass until it breaks away. Leaning down, she takes a look inside.

But she's no Edgar Cayce. Zandra slips off to sleep before anything, real or imagined, can be revealed.

She wakes to the image of Herman shaking her away while wearing one of her silk bathrobes. It's a ridiculous match for a hermit like Herman, but he's never looked better. The soap took 10 years off his face.

"Hey, Zandra, there's some pounding at the door downstairs at Sneak Peek," Herman says. "You want me to get it?"

"That must be Chris, my producer," Zandra says as Herman helps her up off the couch. "Stay here. I'll go down and let him in."

Except it's not Chris. It's the phony nephrologist, Dr. John Sondheim, and he's got big news about Dvorak.

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