Martha C. Lawrence

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Contents © 1996 - 2015 by Martha C. Lawrence except where noted. All rights reserved. No part of the contents herein may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

From Aquarius Descending


If the phrase "psychic investigator" makes you want to roll your eyes, you're not alone. I cringe just about every time I hear it. And I hear it a lot, because that's how I make my living. It says so right on my business cards: Dr. Elizabeth Chase, Psychic Investigator. Somehow I don't think this was the career my parents had in mind for me when they sent me packing to Stanford University years ago. At the time, I was planning to follow in my father's footsteps and become--I kid you not--a brain surgeon. Oh well, at least I nailed down the part about looking into people's heads.

My point is, I didn't set out to become a psychic. For years I didn't even believe in the existence of psi phenomena. My habit of dreaming things before they happened I passed off as coincidence. My ability to pull images and numbers from others' minds I chalked up as remarkably good guessing. As for my tendency to see translucent colors around people, I suspected an overactive optic nerve. Fact was, I'd inherited my father's aptitude for math and science. Calculus and lab procedure were precise and for that reason, comforting. The questions raised by my peculiar perceptions, on the other hand, were messy problems I couldn't solve. I avoided them.

No, I didn't seek out my psychic ability. I bumped into it face-to-face on an overcast morning during my sophomore year at college. I assumed she was a student walking a few feet ahead of me as we rounded the path near Hoover Tower. I remember admiring her cropped blonde hair and graceful, feminine gait. At the sound of my footsteps, she turned. Then, before I could so much as muster a hello, she vanished. One minute I was staring into her dark eyes, the next I was blinking and making a fool of myself, swiping at the air.

My ghost sighting caused me to drop my premed program and sign up for every psychology class I could find. I accepted that I was going crazy but I desperately wanted to understand why. I confided the unsettling experience to my favorite professor. He listened to my story with interest and the next day subjected me to a Rhine card experiment, a test designed to measure extrasensory perception. My results went over the top. At that point, I became a guinea pig in the parapsychology program at Standford Research Institute. By the time I left campus, I had a Ph.D. in psychology, another in parapsychology, and a whole lot of messy problems I couldn't solve. Like where my psychic ability came from. And why it worked for me sometimes but at other times, failed me miserably.

A few years ago I got a private investigator's license and began focusing on problems I could solve. I seem to have a knack for finding stolen property. Sometimes this talent extends to finding people. The two occasions on which I delighted mothers by locating their missing children are highlights of my life. The thing that brings me special joy, though, is tracking down felons. Particularly, the bully variety.

Auras, precognitive dreams, apparitions, telepathy. What does it all mean? I've learned to live with not knowing. Some people can't take that. Some even barter away their freedom for the security of having answers. That can be dangerous. I had no idea just how dangerous until I encountered The Bliss Project, formerly known as The Church of the Risen Lord. I was hired to find a woman who had disappeared into the group. By the time the case was over, a lot of precious things were lost to that group, my life nearly being one of them. But I'm getting ahead of myself.