I've been following up on the information in last week's letter - as time allows, anyway. It hasn't been easy, even with Claire back in class and no new assignments from the Elders. Here's what I have so far:
The three of them definitely know each other. None of them own a white van, but doesn't mean much; the police seem to think that the van was stolen, anyway. (They favor the idea that it was a bunch of teenagers out joyriding. For reasons which should be obvious, I'm not arguing.)
So my next step was to talk to Mbata. I didn't tell him about the letter, just that I thought these were the people who'd tried to kill me. He's gone off to check on whether they're known members of the snake cult, and to find out what the Elders want to do about it if they are. I hadn't really thought about it, but apparently we don't just kill anyone that we know belongs to the cult. Some of them, we just watch - to see where they go and who they meet.
So... we'll see what comes of that. I've put together a couple of escape routes, and cached some emergency supplies. I wish I could keep more... materials... in the apartment, but with Claire living there, it's too big a risk.
I've also been thinking about what happened when my car went off the road. I will tell you right now that (while it was certainly better than death by extreme mangling) appearing naked in my apartment was not part of any of the protections that I set up for myself.
It could have been done by someone else, of course. If so, it's probably the same person who left the letter under the door. I don't really like that explanation, though. For one thing, it raises more questions than it answers: Who could do that? Why would they bother in the first place? If they did bother, why not pause to introduce themselves so I could be properly grateful? But that's not the only reason I don't like that explanation.
I can't be sure of this - I may be building and reinforcing the memory retrospectively - but I think that as the car was going off the road, the thought in my head was this: This can't happen now. I have to get home. And then there was that weird break, and then I was in the apartment. Did I somehow move myself? If so, how? And could I do it again?
Even better, could I do it again and keep my clothes on?
Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a work of fiction. No natural laws were violated in the creation of this post.