Unlike the other events in the book, this one is vague. It was inspired by a story I heard of about the Killing Fields of Cambodia. People were assigned a mate, so falling in love was strictly forbidden. Two people who were in love were knocked out, not killed, and buried alive.
Luke was named Daniel in earlier versions. In this version she knows her friends are being taken and believes a demon is after her. Vade Retro Satana means "Be gone Satan" and is part of the prayer of exorcism of St. Benedict.
Another night without a nightmare. She hadn’t had one since Daniel had entered her life. Could he be making them stay away? How? After that kiss last night, he obviously wasn’t a guardian angel. That didn’t mean someone hadn’t sent him, but whom and why didn’t he just come out and say something?
So many questions, but the most important ones were where were Jessie and Lisa, and what was happening to them? Even if the police did find them, how were they going to fight a demon?
No. She couldn’t think that way. It wasn’t if they found them, but when. A tear slid down her cheek. Janie didn’t bother to wipe it away. She squeezed her eyes shut to hold the rest back.
Closing her eyes was a mistake. Her breathing sped up as she tried to pry her eyelids open, but they were glued shut. A thousand pins pricked her as the hair on the back of her neck stood up. She didn’t see anything, but felt a presence. Not an entity. Something so ugly it didn’t have form.
“Vade retro Satana,” she said between gasps.
Her eyes opened. She swept her head from side to side, but everything was a murky blackness. Cold grabbed her, seeped into her until even her bones were sticks of ice. Putrid air assaulted her.
Janie knew the voice was right, but it wasn’t the smell of rotting corpses. It was the smell of impending death. Hers.
“No!” Janie stood up. “Vade retro Satana! Vade retro Satana! Vade retro Satana!”
“Help,” a small voice said. “Help us.”
Janie spun around. She didn’t need to see the person to know it was Amanda.
The air warmed and her apartment slowly materialized.
“No!” She shouted. “Take me back! Take me back! Amanda we’re coming. Just hold tight. We’ll find you.”
Amanda? Janie cupped both hands over her mouth, like a flesh paper bag, to help her stop hyperventilating.
Was Amanda now among the missing? There was only one way to find out. Janie ran to the phone and punched the numbers, letting her helplessness and aggression out on the small buttons. It rang several times before going to voice mail.
Janie’s heart stopped. With everything going on, there was no way Amanda wouldn’t answer. What should she do? The cops wouldn’t do anything until Amanda was missing for 24 hours. Janie paced.
Alex would know what do. She didn’t know Alex’s phone number. She’d have to ask him for it late, but now he was with Derek. She knew Derek’s number. With trembling hands she punched in the numbers. Alex answered on the second ring.
“Hello, Janie,” he said. “What’s up?” How could his voice sound so calm?
“How’d you know it was me?”
“Forgot about that. Where’s Derek?” God, don’t let him be missing, too.
“I made him take a shower. Told him I’d wait by the phone. Sorry, I won’t be in class today, but Derek is in bad shape.”
“That’s okay.” How was she going to tell him Amanda was missing? She took a deep breath. “You’re the one I needed to talk to.” She took another breath. “Amanda is missing.” The words came out in a blur.
“What?” Gone was his composure.
“I called her and she’s not answering.”
“Shit. I should have stayed with her or made her stay with us or…damnit. Have you called the cops yet?”
“No. They won’t do anything until she is missing for twenty-four hours.” Her heart was pounding so hard, it was a miracle he couldn’t hear it.
“Not when women are going missing.” Staff Sergeant Gilmore was back. “Those first twenty-four hours are crucial. I’ll call them and meet them at her apartment.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Nothing. There’s really nothing you can do. Go to class. I’ll tell them where you are if they want to interview you. They’ll be looking for a common denominator, but it looks like this is totally random.” He hung up.
Janie cried. This was all her fault. The police needed to know that. She was the common denominator. Her students. Her friends. People she went to college with. Other artists.
She picked up the phone and froze. She was the common denominator, which meant she’d be their main suspect. Would they lock her up? They’d take away her rosary and when she said vade retro Satana, they’d think she was nuts. The demon would take her and then do what? What did it want with her friends?
Alex had said it. There was nothing she could do. She had to keep with her normal routine.
When she reached campus, the tension was palpable. Students huddled in groups, fear pouring off them. They didn’t even know Amanda was gone, but with four students missing, the college had to let the students know.
She went directly to her class. Terry’s seat looked even more empty. So did Alex’s. She had to soldier on.
One of the hard parts of teaching was getting her students to analyze art, yet not dismiss the cave art is Lascaux, France as “simple” or “primitive,” and therefore inferior. It was simple and primitive, but this didn’t make them inferior. Far from it. Janie was fortunate enough to see reproductions of them, and they were as breathtaking as the Mona Lisa.
The more she spoke about these wonders, the more the events of last night faded into the background.
“Cave art taught us much about Paleolithic man. Lithic means stone and paleo meaning really, really really old.”
She paused to let the laughter died down. It washed over her, releasing some of the tension in her shoulders and neck.
“Cave art is just that—wonderful drawings, paintings, carvings even sculpture on the walls of caves, dark, dank, dirty caves. These are not little holes. They are long tunnels.”
She stretched out the “o” to accentuate her point. Fortunately, she’d given this lesson several times and could do it on auto-pilot. It was one of her favorite.
“Caves are magical places. Someone saw these caves and something stirred deep within him. That stirring grew until he had no choice. He HAD to make those paintings.
“Inspiration. Some call it a muse. Some say it comes from God or the gods. Whatever it is called, it is even more primal than the people and animals represented in the paintings.
“Something moved the artist to pick up a piece of flint and bring his imagination to life. It is easy for us to carve “Marti loves Andrew” on any surface. We have knives and chisels made of metal. This artist didn’t. All he had was flint, bone and wood. With those he made these.”
A series of cave engravings appeared on the screen. Most were of horses, but a few other animals were scattered in there, like bison and oxen. Then she continued.
“The compulsion to make his mark was so great, the rock didn’t stop him. When the rock was too hard to carve into, he painted.”
Red cows, deer and horses, plus a large black bull held the students attention. She waited patiently between each slide to give the students a chance to absorb the magnitude of what she was saying.
“Getting through these caves is not easy. In some places, you have to creep on hands and knees.” A slide of a cave appeared. “It was very difficult to make these paintings. From what little we know, those paintings must have been very important. Why do you think these images were so important that paleolithic man went to all that trouble to make them?”
She gave the students time to formulate their answers. Too bad Alex wasn’t there. He’s be jumping at the chance to talk. She stared at the slide.
She brought her hand to her mouth to cover a cough. The world went dark again. She was going back to where her friends were being kept. Thank God.
Her mouth opened to let a sigh of relief out, but it filled with something. She took a deep breath, but only brought whatever it was deeper inside her. Her arms couldn’t move. She couldn’t even turn her head. She was completely immobilized.
Her lungs tried to suck in air, but grew heavy with whatever was choking her. Her heart pounded against their rigid form. Panic wouldn’t help. She couldn’t take a deep breath to calm down. Tears poured down her face as she squirmed to make some room around her.
Whatever surrounded her was flexible. It moved, but kept caving in around her. It wasn’t hard like rocks. It was quite soft, like dirt.
Dirt. That’s what surrounded her. She was buried alive.
Her heart and breathing slowed again. This was just another hallucination. Really she was safe in her classroom teaching.
Classroom. All those students looking at her. They must think she’s crazy. Thank God Alex wasn’t there.
“Class dismissed,” she said. Slowly her vision returned to see the class filing out, talking among themselves.
She needed to get out of there.
Janie's Past Lives