It looked like Emms still used the room occasionally, Daniel decided. Most of the stuff scattered around wasn’t that interesting – clothes and similar. Even the books told him nothing except that Emms had a completely unexpected taste for really trashy conspiracy novels. There were piles of the things lying on the bedside cabinet.
“I guess we know where he got his ideas from then,” Lydia said as she picked up one and stared at it. “I mean good grief, what are these?” Incredulity spread across her face as she flipped through one. A piece of paper which had apparently been being used as a bookmark fluttered from between two pages. She bent down, scooped it up and frowned at it for a moment before the colour drained from her face. “Shit! Look at this!” The hand holding the paper was trembling badly. “I told you it wasn’t a coincidence.”
“What is it, Lyd?” Matthias asked. She handed the paper to him wordlessly. He looked at it then swore violently.
“What’s wrong?” Daniel leaned around to look over his father’s shoulder and found himself staring at fairly good drawing of a group of strangely familiar creatures surrounding a man in late-middle age who was dressed in robes similar to the ones Jayden had been wearing. It wasn’t clear if they were honouring or attacking him. He frowned at it for a moment trying to place where he’d seen the deformed and almost ghostly creatures before. His heart started to pound painfully hard as the memory of fleeing through woods very similar to those in the drawings to try and escape those things came back to him. He pulled in a sharp breath as he remembered what Lydia had said about them having been here before. It had been that day!
“Bloody hell!” Karen exploded as she too looked at the drawing. “What the hell is going on?”
“What is it?” Catherine joined them in staring at the picture. “Oh, those things… he’s drawn them all the time ever since he was a kid. Is it important?”
“It could be,” he said. “These are the things which attacked us that day we came here for ice cream.”
“Really?” She fumbled around in one of the drawers and produced several thick sketchpads. “Here. It looks like he’s taken his dream diary, but he left these behind.”
“He probably didn’t know that they’d mean anything to anyone,” Matthias took them off her, sat down on her bed and began looking through them. “No one who hadn’t encountered those creatures would think these any more than some dark fantasy art. How long has he been drawing them?”
“Since he could hold a pencil. Though the first drawings are very childish. Mum told him to draw his nightmares to get them out of his head.”
“That’s fairly standard therapy for an Astral child who’s having disruptive bad dreams,” Lucas noted. “But I wonder how she came up with it on her own?”
“She had a fair amount of talent herself,” Matthias said. “Very focussed like Cat’s but definitely there. Her family seem to have a history of minor talent. They may well have dealt with similar, if lesser, situations before and learned by trial and error.”
“Oh, that makes sense.” Lucas began flipping through another of the sketchbooks. “Oh, I remember you telling Sal about these things, but you said-” He shook his head. “Yes, of course. I should have wondered if it was you that happened to.” He flipped through a few more drawings. “Subject matter aside, he’s actually quite good isn’t he?” He turned the page and stopped. “Oh, now. This looks familiar.”
“What does?” Matthias asked. Lucas turned the sketchbook around so they could see the drawing.
It was a very finely done pencil sketch of the same robed man as in the previous picture standing at the centre of a circle of carved wooden pillars. He was holding a staff above his head and pillar of light was shooting from it up into the stormy sky. Where the light hit the clouds the sky seemed torn.
“This is what Sarah has been dreaming about,” Lucas said. “I’m sure of it.”
“That is a little strange,” Matthias agreed. “It does kind of look like what Sonia’s been dreaming about as well.” He stared at the picture some more. “I wonder where this is. Perhaps that’s where we’ll find them.” He turned to Catherine. “Can we borrow these?”
“Sure,” she said. “I want to help.” She stared at the picture they were looking at. “Best damn drawing he ever did. Pity he hated it so much. He drew it when he was about sixteen and it seemed to make him feel guilty or something. Mum found him unconscious in here with the sketchpad beside him. When he woke up he was mumbling incoherently about that being what happened and having to fix it and do it right this time.”
“What happened?” Matthias frowned.
“So that means he thinks this was retrocognitive,” Lucas said. “That’s odd, since Sal and Sonia both think it’s the future.”
“Well, I guess he’s not going to manage to fix it then,” Lydia said. She was staring at the picture with a puzzled expression.
“You could well be right,” Matthias said then caught her expression. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied. “But this reminds me of something.” She was fiddling with the bracelet her mentor had given her. “But I’m not sure what.”
“Have you been dreaming about it as well, possibly?” Matthias asked.
She cocked her head and considered this, then shook her head. “No, at least I don’t think so. It’s more like a story I heard once.” Her scowl deepened. “I wish I could remember.”
Matthias looked at her for a long moment then nodded. “I’m sure your mother can help you chase it down later if you want. For now, let’s finishing searching for anything else which might help us find out where he is.”
Lydia frowned at the drawing a moment longer, then moved to one of the boxes of stuff sat on top of the chest of drawers and began to go through it. Lucas went back to looking through the sketch books.
“They’re pretty much all the same,” he said after a moment. “Those creatures and the guy in the robes. Except-” he hesitated. “Except this one.” He held out a picture which appeared to be of a tiny village of grass thatched round huts. “Seems out of place.”
“Why are there no people?” Karen said. “There’s tools lying around and smoke rising from the huts but no sign of any people.” She shuddered. “There’s something creep-” She broke off as Bennu’s mental voice reached them.
Guys! Come and looks at this.