Chapter Two

I walked the aisles of the grocery store, empty basket dangling on my arm. With the money I received from Paul–who left very quickly after our session–I had decided to treat myself to a nice birthday dinner. Sure I had just experienced the most bizarre psychic phenomenon in my life with no one to tell, but I was going to will myself to desire a piece of expensive beef or at the very least, an expensive bottle of wine.
I searched for inspiration in the pasta aisle. As I scanned the linguine, spaghetti and orzo, my mind drifted back to Paul. His quick departure was probably for the best; I wasn’t sure what other secrets of his were going to come out of my mouth.
I had a few moments in the past when a feeling or thought would come to me during a reading–usually sensing a person’s hidden emotions, or accurately describing a person of interest. But today had been different. It was as if I had suddenly downloaded everything about Paul’s life into my brain. I was sure if I had concentrated enough, I would have been able to see the details. In those few moments, I felt like I had access to answers that no one else had. But it was short-lived; as soon as he left, the answers faded away as if I were waking from a dream. That immense power I felt only a half hour ago was already gone.
Would I ever have access to it again?
As the question echoed in my head, my phone buzzed. It was my brother.
“Twice in one day, Liam? What, are you dying?”
“That depends. What are you cooking us for dinner?” I looked around in the aisle, and Liam was standing behind me with a backpack over his shoulder. I smacked him on his chest. “You ass!”
He picked me up with a bear hug. “Happy Birthday, little sis! Told you it would be super inconvenient,” he said, setting me back down.
“Actually, this is perfect timing. I got some bonus cash and am getting fancy with dinner tonight. Lucky you!”
Liam and I always had impeccable timing with each other. We showed up for each other at the right time, finished each other’s sentences, and knew when the other needed us most. Our grandmother—who raised us, for the most part—said that we were psychically linked. We used to roll our eyes at it, but after a while, the coincidences became too obvious to ignore. I still remember the day Liam was in a car accident. I was on a date, and began to feel a terrible pain in my arm. I tried to ignore it at first, assuming something like tennis elbow, but after a little while, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Liam was in trouble. So I ran out of the restaurant and immediately called him. A police officer answered the phone and told me that he had just entered the ambulance and that his arm was broken. That was only one of dozens of eerie occurrences with us. Though we were 4 years apart, our connection was strong, much like twins.

We caught up on our lives as we walked through the grocery store choosing items for dinner, and Liam offered to cook for me once we got back to my house. He was quite the accomplished chef, taking after our late mother, and made a name for himself traveling all around the world to spread his expertise. So I was always eager to eat with him. But as he sat the plates down at my candle-lit dining table that evening, all I could think about was my morning with Paul. And like clockwork, he sat across from me, picked up his fork and said,
“So…what’s up? Something happen today?”
“Yeah…it was uh…really weird.” I recounted the story, making sure not to leave out any details, and he sat in silence for a moment, chewing his bite of steak. For some reason, it was moments like this—in his pensive pauses over dinner—that reminded me that he was the older sibling, not me.
“That’s pretty fucking wild,” he finally said. He opened his mouth to say something else, but stopped.
“That’s it?”
“Well, it’s a pretty weird experience. I’ve never had anything like that happen to me. So I just kinda wonder…why you? Why now?” He focused on his rice for a moment, moving it around on the plate.
“Liam, what’s up? Spit it out.” He shook his head, shrugging.
“Dude, I don’t know. It just sounds kinda like…like the stories grandma told us. Remember?”
“What stories?” He rolled his eyes and sighed.
“The ones about our family being the vessel for that…Goddess, or whatever. You know what I’m talking about, Krys.”
My heart skipped a beat.
“The Channeling,” we said in unison.
Our grandmother used to tell us stories of The Channeling – when a woman was chosen to become a vessel for a deity by the name of Amali, one of the first oracles. According to legend, our bloodline was directly descended from her. It was said that Amali started out as a human, but had amazing psychic abilities. She aided the old gods at a time when they needed her, and she was promoted–I guess–to the level of deity. According to the tradition, Amali would possess the body of one of her descendants when necessary and send important messages regarding the fate of the world. The last one to have been a vessel was our great grandmother, Katherine. We grew up with her telling us stories about being in the presence of both her mother and the Goddess at once. She joked that she could never get away with anything because of it.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m not even sure I actually believe any of that. It’s such a long-shot.”
“Yeah. Totally. This isn’t an episode of “Supernatural,” or some shit,” Liam said, and we laughed. We quickly changed the subject to paranormal shows and pushed down the nagging feeling that we were wrong.

The next day I woke up, made my coffee and sat at the kitchen table to work on my daily crossword puzzle. If I hadn’t told Liam about yesterday’s events, I would have almost forgotten anything had happened. Liam was still sound asleep, likely jetlagged from his flight. As I worked through the puzzle, my mind drifted to our childhood, growing up with our grandmother. How had I forgotten all of those stories she shared about The Channeling? She often told us about it while Liam and I helped her cook dinner. I was usually breaking the ends off of green beans or ripping mustard greens from their stems, while Liam got to do all of the chopping. Usually she’d just tell us about the times Katherine was so psychic, she’d catch her right before breaking a rule, or the one time she got to witness Katherine move something with her mind.
But I was now recalling a particular moment when I was maybe 8 or 9, and grandma had just finished telling us how Katherine knew the truth about the JFK Assassination.
“You could be next, little one. Amali could choose you as her next vessel,” she said, tapping my forehead. I giggled, rubbing the spot she touched because it tingled.
“What about me?” Liam asked, pouting.
“Well, Amali is a goddess, so of course she’d want a girl’s body. But you, my dear, will be right beside her as protector. And you’ll always protect your sister, right?” Liam nodded, puffing his chest out a little bit. Grandma kissed the top of his head, and walked over to the stove.
“My little heroes,” she whispered.
Why was I just remembering that moment? She rarely mentioned the possibility of my becoming a vessel, and I wrote it off as old legends that she didn’t want to let go. As a child, I’m sure I loved the idea of being “chosen” for an important mission, but it died down as I got older. After all, the idea of becoming a conduit for a goddess wasn’t exactly the most appealing job on the market. If grandma’s stories were any indication, I’d have to leave my old life behind and devote it to that role. She said there were always other women–or Sisters, as she used to call them—roaming around their house, praying, reading books, or taking notes when Katherine had to channel a message. It didn’t seem like she had much of a life beyond that.
A groggy Liam opened the french doors from the living room and walked straight for the pot of coffee, pouring himself a cup. He sat down across from me at the kitchen table.
“Morning sunshine,” I said, getting up to refill my mug. He grunted in response.
“So, how long were you thinking of staying?” I asked. Silence. I turned back to him, and he was chewing his bottom lip. He was still keeping something from me.
“Dude, what is it?”
“Well, I just…are you sure you’re okay?” he looked up at me, squinting his eyes.
“What? I’m fine. I slept well, I woke up, I did my crossword—” as I gestured toward the puzzle sitting on the kitchen table, a wave of dizziness washed over me and stumbled back into the counter. I steadied myself against it to get my bearings, but my legs were having trouble holding my weight. Suddenly, I began to hear words whispered in my head, as if there were hundreds of people around me, trying to get my attention. Most were inaudible at first. Then I could hear words in english, italian, french, german…aramaic…sumerian. The languages overlapped into an alarming sound; whispers transformed into a chorus of yelling. Yelling transformed to wailing.
I felt a pressure in the pit of my stomach, then the top of my head, and a tingling sensation ran along my spine. I cried out. What was happening? Was I dying? Panic rose as I dropped my mug and grabbed my chest. I tried to reach for Liam, but everything went white in front of me.
As I fell to the ground, I heard someone call out. Was that in my head, or in the…wherever I was? Where was I?
My vision returned just long enough for me to see feet rush toward me.
And then everything faded to black.