Everybody say it with me: “It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.”
Last year was quiet. Oh, sure, work was busy - work is always busy - and there were a couple of exciting moments: a couple of hikers stumbled onto one of the rituals and became the centerpiece of the ceremony; one of our mixed-blood brethren went out in public just before the change took him. Both of those were problems - potentially quite large problems - and both of them required a lot of work to clean up. There were a handful of other occurrences, but those were the ones I was involved with.
So, yes: even in a quiet year, things do happen. But those incidents had nothing to do with me, except that I happened to be there for them. This year’s events, by contrast... I don’t know. As far as I can tell, I’m the only one having these dreams... aside from Claire, who probably has them because of me. But the Elders have shown a lot more interest in my personal life than I’m really comfortable with, and Father Peter has taken an interest in me, personally - in Claire, too, I suppose. While I’m pretty sure that Claire isn’t a spy for the Catholic Church, I’m also pretty sure that Father Peter is - or at least was. That’s a lot more attention than I’m really comfortable with.
So, naturally, after that last incident - the fight on 6th Street, where it seems likely that one man was following us, and the other two were protecting us - I made a formal report to the Elders. The results were... disturbing.
First of all, they didn’t indicate that they’d assigned me any extra protection. Whoever the twins were, they weren’t part of our, er, denomination. And either the Elders couldn’t find out who they were, or they aren’t telling me. That’s worrisome by itself, but it’s the other half that really put me on edge: the big guy belonged to... well, best not to name them here, but they’re a group which worships the Father of Serpents. We’re not exactly enemies... they’ve been our allies from time to time... but we’re not exactly friendly, either. “Rivals” might be the best word for it. They’d love to have our knowledge, but they won’t swear the allegiances - or make the sacrifices - necessary to get it.
How he found me, I can’t begin to guess. Having him follow me, though... that makes sense. If they somehow identified me as a member of... well, of my religion... then the logical next step would be to watch me until they could identify more of our members, and maybe see where we kept our secrets. I’d love to know what gave me away - until the dreams started, my life was relatively mundane. Now I feel like I’m standing at some sort of focal point for disaster: in the path of a tornado, on top of a fault line just before an earthquake, on the slope of a volcano that’s about to erupt.
The most frustrating part is that there isn’t a great deal that I can do about it. I don’t know how the snake cult found me; I don’t know if they’re still looking, or if it was just the big guy acting alone; I don’t know who the twins were. (If the Elders can’t find out, then I won’t have any better luck... and if the Elders don’t want me to know, then I’d be foolish to try.) So, short of going into hiding - which would mean leaving Claire and all my friends behind - I don’t have a lot of options. I’ll try to stay alert, and I’m sure the Elders will add some security... but that’s not much comfort. They’ll be more interested in learning what the snake cult is up to than they will be in keeping me alive. I’m just not that valuable.