Twenty-plus years ago, I became obsessed with exploring the facts and fictions of ESP phenomena. My cousin, a practicing clairvoyant, had inspired me to delve into the whole realm of parapsychology, or study of psychic phenomena. Highly skeptical about the whole business, I nonetheless signed up for a weekend ESP workshop, given by a Czech physicist who once worked for the Moscow Institute for Psychic Research. The workshop took place in a classroom at a local community college (Foothill College) in my Silicon Valley town of Los Altos Hills.
There were eleven of us, all total strangers—nine women and two men. The first day, Saturday, the Czech physicist lectured on the history of ESP and the various forms and types of ESP: Clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, precognition, telepathy, psychometry, psychokinesis, remote viewing and channeling. The study of psychic phenomena is called “parapsychology”. Psi (pronounced “sigh”) is the study of psychic phenomena from a psychological perspective. The Journal of Parapsychology defines psi as “a general term to identify a person’s extrasensory-motor communication with the environment.” Psi is a letter of the Greek alphabet and the first letter of the Greek word, “psyche”, which literally means “breath” in Greek and refers to the human soul. Basically, having ESP means that you are able to perceive someone’s thoughts, situation, or issues in life without using one of your five ordinary senses.
The Czech physicist leading our ESP Workshop claimed to be a former skeptic, himself, and a dedicated non-believer who, after working in the experimental testing labs of the Moscow Institute, became a convert. He had seen incontrovertible proof, in his opinion, that ESP existed in gifted intuitives. These intuitives were able to consciously apply knowledge they had accessed and processed in an unconscious, unexplainable manner, and that science could not explain.
He ended that first day of the workshop with instructions to return on Sunday with a notebook and an inanimate object that had emotional significance to each one of us. The next day, the same eleven of us brought our own individual objects, which we all carried concealed in plain brown paper bags. Each of us put our paper bag into a cardboard box behind the physicist’s podium. Later, each of us approached the box and withdrew a paper bag that was not our own. After everyone had at his/her desk his chosen bag, he then told us to open the bag, take out the stranger’s object and hold it in our hands. Then he timed us. For the next fifteen minutes, we were to meditate on the object and write down any visions, words or impressions that came to our minds. We were not to censor anything, no matter how strange, puzzling or nonsensical the vision, word or impression seemed.
At the end of the timed period, he went from person to person and asked us to identify the owner of the object and to read aloud our visions, words or impressions. We did. What followed was truly astonishing and something I will never forget as long as I live. Nine out of the eleven of us correctly identified the owners of the objects. Eight out of eleven of us had made several—at least three to four–correct associations and revelations about the object, its owner and facts about the owner.
For example, I correctly identified the owner of the object I held—a macramé type of belt. I’d had visions of a shelf full of potted succulents and cactus plants. A red-brick apartment building, the kind you find in the Eastern U.S. Those two associations fit. The woman said she had a collection of cacti in pots and that she’d recently moved from Philadelphia, where she’d lived in a red-brick apartment building. There was also a scene of a little boy on a bike, which the woman could not place or relate to in any way. Who knows? Maybe it did later.
Well, the fact that I’d gotten three out of four correct got my attention. After that experiment, I became a believer. Other experiences followed, too, including two precognitive dreams. Many years later, the idea for THE DELPHI BLOODLINE manifested itself and I ran with it. Researching and writing that novel was one of the most enjoyable and most satisfying experiences of my life.
Present day descendants of the ancient, psychically powerful Delphi bloodline face the threat of extinction when an evil tycoon hunts them for his own nefarious intent, a global spy network.
When artist Athena Butler, the modern-day descendant of a powerful, ancient bloodline of psychic women, realizes she’s the target of mysterious and dangerous kidnappers, she gets help from strange sources—the spirit of an ancient ancestor and a handsome man who claims to be one of her bloodline’s Guardians. Her mental powers and his brawny skills keep them one step ahead of the mastermind behind these kidnappers. Until the time when an FBI task force decides to use Athena as bait.
Pyramid Valley, Nevada[Soft Break]Thursday AM
Athena Butler’s eyes blinked open and she sat up.
Coming back from The Flow was always jolting. Emerging from the stream of spirits was like a water skier lurching out of the water, pulled by a strong, invisible force. The mind caught up later to the body as if it required a rough snap to break free.
Likewise, to go there was like jumping out of a plane and feeling the air rush to your face, your limbs weightless and wobbly. Most of the time, it was a joy to enter this world of unseen spirits. Athena welcomed her visits, especially at night when she found herself invariably alone.
When she was a child, she’d often emerge from The Flow with a fearful whimper and a cry. She’d wept and wanted to stay in The Flow. Now, at twenty-six, Athena had grown accustomed to her mental flights. They were no longer fear-inducing for she understood their purpose. But her exits were still mind-wrenching and she often lay in bed afterwards, disoriented.
This morning, fear clutched her heart and she could barely breathe. With a trembling hand, she reached for her phone.
Breathless, she raked her other hand through her hair and kicked her legs over the side of the bed. Six AM, Nevada time. She punched her mother’s mobile numbers. It was nine o’clock in D.C.
“Thank God, Mama! Where are you?”
“I’m in Baltimore, near the—.”
“Mama, I had a dream about you. A Flow Dream. The spirits—they want me to warn you! Whatever you’re doing right now, get off the streets. Go home and lock the door. Call the police!”
Her heart felt like a ticking bomb in her chest. Athena could barely speak. But her mother knew her and understood her Flow dreams. They were seldom wrong though sometimes a little off in timing. Today, a threat was imminent. She knew it.
“Slow down, Thena. Take a deep breath and tell me slowly about your dream. I don’t doubt you but we must be able to interpret it correctly. You know how these Flow Dreams are. Sometimes the symbolism is strange and difficult to interpret.”
“Okay—just go home and lock the door. Now, Mama!”[Soft Break] [Soft Break]Athena had to swallow hard and take big gulps of air in order to speak. Losing her mother was unthinkable. She’d already lost her father, and in a way, her brother.
“Where are you, Mama?”
She inhaled and counted to five. Her mother wasn’t in Georgetown, where she lived with her second husband. Athena sensed water nearby, a large body of water. Her mind jumped ahead. The body of water in her terrifying dream was vast, a bay leading to the ocean. The Baltimore harbor—of course!
“Near downtown Baltimore. I’m heading toward a section of the city where I believe a little girl’s body was hidden. The police need the evidence from that location. They think she was hidden somewhere, killed and then a day or two later dumped into the bay. I think I’ve found the monster’s hideout.”
“I had a session with the homicide detective last night. I handled a few articles of the poor child’s clothing, what she was wearing when they found her. I got some visions so I drove up here to pinpoint the location. It’s not in a very nice part of town but I thought I’d drive around, and then call Detective Bonner when I got something.”
Athena groaned. Her mother was at it again. Getting involved with homicide cases and trying to use her powers to bring killers to justice.
“Mama, get out of there, please! Go home—”
“I’ve had no sense of this danger, Athena, not to me personally,” her mother said. “Listen, we must talk soon. There are other dangers that I’ve seen…but don’t fret, my car doors are locked, I’m driving my big SUV. I’m in traffic, so relax.”
“Maybe you’re too focused on that homicide case,” Athena stressed. Her mother had no idea the danger she was putting herself in. First-hand experience had taught Athena that working with the cops was a dangerous business. Let them do their work and solve their own cases.
I’m done with all that.
Her mind darted back to the vision in her dream. She took a deep breath and steadied her voice.
“I saw you in your car, Mama. You stopped to get out. A black car pulled in front of you and another one—a long white one—blocked you in back. There was a woman driving the car in front and she was with men who had guns. Someone grabbed you and carried you to the white car. I could smell salt water and then they took you away. Some place far away. And then I was in the mountains, the Sierras, searching for you.”
Athena bent over, clutching the cell phone, her lifeline to the one person she loved most in the world. Her stomach cramped into a hard ball.
There was silence. “Mama, go home,” she repeated.
“Okay, Thena, I’m turning back toward the freeway. The harbor shops are on my left. Remember that eight-sided tower, the one with a great view of the harbor and breakwater. The octogon tower. You remember going there on your last visit here, don’t you?”[Soft Break]More silence followed then as an image sprang to Athena’s mind. Yes, they’d had lunch there…
Her mother gasped loudly. A screech of brakes, metal crunching, glass breaking. Her mother cursing a blue streak in her native Italian.
“What happened, Mama? Are you all right?”
“Yes, dear. Just a stupid fender bender. Merda! Daniel’s going to throw a fit. My second one this year! I’m getting so distracted with these cases—not paying attention to what I’m doing. I swear this car pulled right in front of me, cut me off. It’s not my fault this time.”
More angry muttering followed.
“Dio, I really smashed up that rear end! Thena, I’ll call you right back as soon as I exchange insurance information with the driver. Be right back, Thena.”
“Mama, don’t get out of the—”
The line went dead. With a cry, Athena sank to her knees on the cold, tile floor. Shivers of dread rippled through her. Her mind went numb with panic.
For God’s sake…Think! Get help!