Alexis Kearns wiggled around in the harsh metal chair, but even with a jacket on she could feel the icy bar digging into her back. She could have been sitting on a plushy cushion and been just as uncomfortable. There was no way for her to brace what was about to walk through the other door.
Visiting hours should’ve been busier. The added company of background chatter would have served as a nice distraction from her thoughts. More of them were piling on. Each of them made her regret her decision to pay him a visit. She wasn’t safe, even with the two guards stationed on both sides of the glass.
The door buzzed like the sound of an old dryer once its cycle completed. She jumped and scowled at herself for it. It relieved her to hear a noise louder than her heavy breathing or her pounding heart. Both only grew more frantic as the buzzing came to a stop and the door opened.
Two more guards entered with a dark figure between them. His ankle chains scraped on the ground as the guards motioned him forward. His footsteps were amplified as if a microphone was placed beneath them as he drew closer. There would be no leaving now.
She made a terrible mistake by coming here. The guards, the glass, and the other security measures wouldn’t be enough to keep him from getting to her if he wished. She knew that it had to have been her imagination; she couldn’t really hear him through the soundproofing. It was all in her head. It’s all in my head.
His form towered over her from the other side of the glass. His biceps popped out of his arms and his thighs grew larger than her waist. His meaty hands looked as if they could break the handcuffs if he balled them into fists, and even through his bulky orange jump suit she could tell that he’d put on significant muscle mass since he’d been behind bars. If he and Robert were to ever get into a scuffle again, he would snap probably Robert’s neck in seconds.
The guards pulled out his chair and had him sit across from her, then they disappeared behind the dividers. Alexis had to remind herself again that there was a layer of glass and four guards between them, but logic did little to reassure her.
She took a deep breath and exhaled between her teeth, doing her best to keep the fear from her face. With a quivering hand she grabbed the thick black phone from the left side of the divider and placed it to her mouth and ear. He mimicked, glaring at her with his charcoal-colored eyes.
“Hello Jack.” She couldn’t say another word without fumbling. He couldn’t know how often she woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat after a nightmare. Sometimes in her dreams she hadn’t escaped him. If he got whiff of that, their whole conversation would be a waste of time. Staring him down made keeping a poker face seem harder than typing an error-free article while blindfolded.
Alexis didn’t know how much time went by as Jack Calderan’s eyes narrowed in on hers. The time-space continuum altered in their world between the dividers. Her words fumbled from her lips and no sounds came out. She reminded herself again and again to maintain her composure. She needed to be strong. She needed to be the woman she was in every other situation in her life.
He’s just a man... He’s just a man.
But if that was true, she wouldn’t be meeting with him.
“You reek of fear. I can practically see it seeping out of your skin.”
Alexis opened her mouth, but Calderan’s hand seemed like it went through the glass and grasped her neck, squeezing her vocal chords so tight that they were unable to emit a sound.
“I’ve had time to think about where things went wrong,” he said to her. “I was overly anxious. Next time I’ll be more… tactical.”
She couldn’t let him get the better of her. She needed him to know that she wasn’t afraid of him, even if it was a lie. Finally, Alexis got the words out. “You can think and do whatever you’d like in there. You’re still not getting out for another twenty-five to life.”
“Heh,” he leaned forward. The dark pools where his eyes should have been grew larger; the two black holes threatened to swallow her whole. “Do you really think that I’ll be in here for that long?”
“Jack Calderan will be,” she took another deep breath and leaned forward to brave the abyss within his pupils. Their noses were just three inches apart. He could leap forward and bite off her face if it wasn’t for the glass. “But I’m not speaking to Jack Calderan right now, am I?”
“Who is it that I am speaking to?”
The longer he watched her, the wider his sockets grew until Alexis was convinced that she was gazing deep into twin portals to Hell. Thoughts of her dreams began to resurface. Sometimes she’d be in Carla’s house again with no doors or windows to escape. Other times she’d be alone in her apartment and the lights would suddenly go out. She’d catch a glimpse of his silhouette from the corner of her eye, and before she’d have time to react his firm hands would be clutched around her throat. He’d make her squawk like a chicken as he tightened his grip until the air was ripped from her lungs.
Alexis took a deep breath and refocused. A little more relaxed, she asked her question again. “Who am I speaking to?”
“I’m not going to tell you that now.” His words were so deep that they pierced the glass as if he spewed tiny razors from his mouth.
“Oh, and when are you gonna tell me? Right before you kill me? Are you that cliché?”
“What makes you think I want you to die?” Calderan licked his canine teeth. “You mean nothing to me.”
Those words set her off. She wasn’t insignificant—especially to him! The initial fear of Calderan haunting her dreams faded away. He was still terrifying to look at, but she allowed for her frustration to dominate her sentiments. “We both know that’s not true. I’m the reason you’re in there.”
“No, I’m the reason I’m in here.”
Alexis emphasized every word. “They put you on suicide watch. I shot you, but we kept you alive. You tried to kill yourself in the hospital, but you were too slow. Then you were in solitary—”
“And now I’m with people,” his smile widened. If he still had wisdom teeth, she would have seen all of them. “A lot of people with a lot of talents.”
She didn’t like that he was no longer under careful surveillance. Forester’s order to put him on suicide watch must have been overruled or expired. Calderan the man couldn’t go anywhere, but that wouldn’t matter in the end. “So, what then? Are you going to kill yourself and inhabit another medium?”
Jack blinked the two black pools in the center of his face. “I like this body,” he said, flexing his biceps. “It’s strong and quick. Jack Calderan was much more in tuned than I initially realized. I can get what I want with him even with these complications.”
“And what is it that you want? The journals of Olivia Harris?”
Jack remained quiet and smiling. He wasn’t going to tell her, but it was worth a shot anyway.
“The death of Carla Harris?”
His expression didn’t alter.
“That seems like it would make the most sense now, wouldn’t it? Your trying to kill her was the only time that the medium suicides pattern was broken.”
“Heh,” he motioned forward. She was surprised that his nose didn’t press against the glass, though his eyes could burn right through it. “You know nothing about who or what I am, what I’ve done, or what I’m going to do next. You’re my inferior—to converse with you is to waste my air. You’re a creature so naïve that I’m going to let you live because slamming your head against that back wall over there so hard that your cranium splits in two would be a misuse of my time.”
“And yet you’ve wasted three months of your life behind bars instead of killing more mediums because—oh wait—I put you here. I’m not a medium or a monster like you. I’m just a regular woman who outsmarted your ass. When you do get out of here, I’ll be ready for you because the one thing that you’ve still failed to realize, asshole, is that you have no fucking clue who you’re up against.”
“If you were at all significant to me you’d be dead by now,” Jack replied. “You will be dead long before you realize, but it won’t be by my hand.”
“And when you die, it’ll be because I’ve helped make it happen.”
“See you in twenty-five to life, asshole.” Alexis slammed the phone back on its holder and withdrew from her seat. She didn’t bother taking another look at Jack Calderan as she walked to the door. He was no longer worth her time or effort.