Falco closed up the empty glass case and bundled the wrapped sword under his arm. “Walk with me.” He led her from the room, down the hall, and back into the library, where he placed the sword on a mantle peg over the fireplace. He stood back, appreciating the blade. “I like it better in here.”
Casey nodded absently. “Looks good.”
He smiled, “Thank you.” He glanced back at her. “The past. What you are experiencing, many misconstrue as reincarnation. The memory of past lives.” He shook his head, “That is incorrect. It is genetic memory. You are remembering the lives of your ancestors.”
“You mean, my…my grandfather? Those were his memories?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “Obviously, he is the Prima Voce of your genetic memories. You must befriend him… make him your ally. His voice must work with you to control the others. And there will be others. Many, many others. It is all too easy to lose yourself in the noise of those other lives.”
“Prima voce…first voice? I…guess I don’t really understand what you mean. You’re saying that I need to learn to communicate with my dead grandfather?”
“Yes. He is the grandfather you never knew. The personality there in your head is the person he was when your father or mother was sired.”
“And eventually I’ll be able to talk to all of my ancestors?”
“No… The others will come unbidden like the tide. They can be unrelenting. Your objective is to bring the Prima Voce in line to assist you in ordering the others. Otherwise… they can usurp your own personality and you will become Abomination. Delving into the sea of genetic memory unaided by the Prima Voce is dangerous at best.”
She shook her head, not arguing, just struggling to understand. “Their ghosts? Or do you mean that I’ll be able relive their memories?”
“They are not literal ghosts. A spiritualist would not recognize them as spectres. But they are each unique personalities with their own motivations. Yes, you will be able to access the memories… the knowledge… the skills.”
She nodded slowly. “I understand. Not their spirits, the…the essence of their experiences. Who they were.” It seemed like she should feel afraid, or at least wary, of what he was describing, but she was only conscious of a strong curiosity, a desire to see more of these past lives. She envisioned a vast reservoir of human experience and wisdom, freely available to her if only she could learn to open the right doors.
He sat in a leather armchair, crossing his legs and admiring the sword on the wall. He motioned to another chair, “Sit.”
She did so, curling her legs beneath her, and gave him her full attention.
He was quiet for a long moment, lost in thought.
“Normandy. War.” He looked over to her, “Wars are crucibles. No doubt your grandfather was a strong man. Thus, his is the personality coming to the fore.”
Casey would agree with that assessment. She remembered her Grandpa as a warm man who was very fond of her — of all girls, really. But he was STRONG. She remembers thinking that his belly would be soft like a pillow, but found it to be hard as a rock. She’d watched him work out one day without him knowing. Countless push ups and sit ups… jogging… like he was still in boot. Those massive arms.
She was in his mind one day, catching a memory of just a few years earlier when some fellows in a bar were messing with a young lady. Three much younger men. Single handedly, Grandpa had put them on all on their asses.
He was 79 years old when he died of a stroke. She’d wager that there were few thirty year olds who’d give him lip.
“You should talk to him. Soon.”
“I’m game to try. But…how do I talk to a memory?”
“Your early encounters will involve a great deal of concentration. You must be focused on your grandfather, your sense of him. To invoke him, will require all your will.”
Casey nodded. “Shall I try right now? Or was there something else scheduled for this morning?”
“Nothing else scheduled. Go ahead, if you like.”
She smiled. “Okay.” Leaning back in her chair, she closed her eyes and concentrated on what she remembered of her grandfather. Very strong, yes, but never rough or crude, at least around her. His thoughts were orderly, disciplined, firm. He used to like to talk to her sometimes about the importance of standing up for what you believe in; keeping your moral compass pointing in the right direction even when everyone else seems to be heading somewhere else. He’d had a great deal to do with the person she’d become.
She sank deeper into the memories. Remembered the times she’d spent in his mind. Tried to recapture that feeling, that essence of who he was. Tried to hear his voice again. Opened herself as best she could to any form of communication that might be possible.
She found herself stepping through a familiar screen door and into an even more familiar kitchen. The clunk of her boots was a comforting sound on the hardwood floor. The rich smell of fresh brewed coffee filled her nostrils, laced with the aroma home baked cinnamon rolls.
Seated at the breakfast table was a man in his late twenties. He was a sturdy looking fellow, no stranger to a hard day’s work. His arms were corded muscle. He wore a white undershirt and brown trousers. The sun had not yet come up. A flannel shirt hung on another chair.
He sipped at a cup of black coffee.
Casey stared in fascination at the young man in front of her. This was her grandfather, as he was when her father was an infant. No…what was it Falco had said? When her father was conceived. When he had contributed his genetic memory to the pool in her head.
He looked up, saw Casey.
A look of surprise came over his face, “Casey? My lord. What are you doing here?”
She stiffened in surprise. She hadn’t expected him to recognize her. There was a lot more happening here than she fully understood.
But then, that was why she was here. To learn to understand.
She marshaled her courage and moved forward to take a seat at the familiar table. “Grandpa. Someone said I should come and talk to you.”
He nodded, “Coffee? Your gramma makes the best.”
She smiled. “I know. Thanks.”
He stood to refresh his own, and returned with a cup for her. “What do you want to talk about, Casey-girl?”
She stirred sugar into her coffee and sipped it, marveling silently at how ‘real’ it tasted. Then she looked back up at her grandfather’s young face and wondered what to say. “I guess I’m here to talk about ‘genetic memory.’ How to dip into the pool without drowning in it. A friend of mine who knows about these things tells me that you are my Prima Voce, and that you can help me learn to access the other voices without being overcome.” She watched his face intently, hoping that he understood what she meant, because she’d just about come to the end of her own knowledge on the subject.
He laughed, “You and your fancy book-learnin’. ‘Preeema Vo-chay.'” He shook his head, “Just a fancy way of saying ‘King of the Hill.'”
She grinned, suddenly feeling more at ease. This young stranger didn’t look like the Grandpa she remembered, but he sure sounded like him. She relaxed a little into her chair.
He sipped at his coffee. “You’re special, you know?” He looked into her face, “I never had these voices, you got. It’s a whole crowd in here, in your head. I can see why you might need someone running herd on them.”
Again Casey felt that strange eagerness, the desire to access that vast reservoir of human knowledge. “Can you help me?”
He grinned, nodding. “If you can’t depend on your Grampa, who can you depend on? I’ll do it.”
She gave him a smile like a beam of sunshine, reaching over to clasp his hand briefly with her own small one. “Thank you, Grandpa. My friend says I have to be very careful about all this…he says the other personalities can overwhelm me if I lower my guard. You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. I’ll feel safer knowing you’re with me.”
“You’re my blood, Casey-girl. Of course I am with you.”
His smile stayed with her as she returned to the real world, Falco seated across from her.
She blinked, her mind’s eye adjusting from Grandma’s sunlit kitchen to Falco’s study. The bright smile gradually faded to a more thoughtful one. “I talked to him. My grandfather. He was a lot younger than when I knew him, like you said, but it was definitely him.”
She looked around the room, her eyes falling on the book Falco had pulled down earlier. Curious, she leaned over and picked it up to see what it was about.
The title was “The Metrics of Telekinesis.” She raised an eyebrow and opened to the first few pages. The words were English, but put together…? They seemed a foreign language. Her smile quirked into a good-natured grimace, and she set the book back on the table. Well, Falco had said it would be hard work.
She looked over at her mentor, getting back to the subject at hand. “You said we’re alike. Does that mean you have all your ancestors in your head too?” That would explain his charismatic aura of ageless experience.
He nodded, “I do. Unlike yourself, I didn’t have a mentor. I charted those corridors alone and very nearly went mad. I hope to spare you that.”
She mulled that over in silence. Until just last night…this morning, really…her gifts had seemed so innocuous. The ability to read most minds, the ability to pick up small objects telekinetically…nothing very earth-shattering there.
And then she’d watched Falco kill several people–vampires? — in various horrible ways using only a more highly-developed version of her own talents. She herself had killed a man. And now she was learning that her own powers could turn against her, overwhelm her into madness if she let down her guard. It was a lot for a person to take in all at once.
Somewhere between her desire to become whatever it was Falco had become, and the conflicting urge to run back to her parents’ ranch and pull the covers up over her head, one sure bit of knowledge had emerged. She owed Falco her life and whatever future sanity she might manage to hold onto. Now that the first shock of unpleasant reality had worn off, she felt enormously thankful that he had chosen to step in and give her the benefit of his teaching.
It would be so much easier to say that aloud if he weren’t so devastatingly attractive. Knowing as she did the perils of developing a crush on her teacher, she was torn between staying aloof and probably appearing ungrateful, or expressing her profound appreciation and looking like a besotted schoolgirl.
In the end she only said, “I’m glad I met you. This would have been pretty scary alone.”
He smiled. “I’m glad I met you as well, Casey. It’s nice to make a friend.” He stood, providing a last glance across the room.
Casey looked over at the Grandfather clock near the door. Four hours have passed since she entered the Library! She took an astonished second look at the clock. She’d had no sense of anything like four hours passing.
Her stomach growled.
Falco heard that. “Chicken salad’s in the fridge. And there’s plenty of fruit. Help yourself. I’ve got some calls to return.”