Sympathetic Visions of your food’s final moments…

“You’re kidding me.” Muller looked into the interrogation room with her arms crossed tightly in front of her, the glass window reflecting back her disbelieving frown. “You’re really desperate enough to believe in this nonsense?”

“Muller, it’s not nonsense,” Sully insisted, leaning forward slightly as he watched the man on the other side of the one-way mirror fidgeting uncomfortably. “Sympathetic visions are a real thing, and this could be our best lead on catching the Slaughterhouse Killer-”

“It’s disgusting and wrong, that’s what it is,” Muller insisted. She turned and looked past Sully, at the other man in the room. “Senior Agent Hitchens, surely you can’t be on board with this?”

Senior Agent Hitchens looked away uncomfortably, reaching up to run one hand through his short-cropped white hair. “It’s unnatural, I give you that,” he allowed. “But seein’ as we’re pretty much entirely out of leads at this point, I’m willing to entertain a little bit of unnatural voodoo if it gives me something for when I face the reporters.”

“Yes, but this is-” Muller started, but her words were interrupted by the arrival of a junior agent, carrying a plate with a silver cover set on top.

Sully moved to take the covered plate from the junior agent’s hands. “Coming, Muller?” he asked, as he headed for the door to the interrogation room.

Muller sighed, but followed after her partner. “Even for you, this is a new low,” she muttered, but she still came.

Inside the room, the young man looked up at their entrance. “Finally, someone’s here,” he said, blinking. “Can you explain what this is about? Why I’m here? Am I under arrest for something?”

Muller let Sully take the lead, instead sitting back on the other side of the table and examining the young man. Late twenties, she guessed, a little too thin. He didn’t look malnourished, but she didn’t see an ounce of excess fat anywhere on him. He looked, she thought to herself with a little shiver, like someone who didn’t enjoy the idea of eating.

Sully set the plate down on the middle of the table, not removing its covering. “Judah Matthias,” he greeted the young man. “No, you’re not under arrest. You’re here because of your ability.”

Instantly, Judah looked alert and wary. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” he began, but Sully held up a hand.

“It’s okay,” Muller’s partner said, putting on his most reassuring smile. “I believe you. And we think that you can help us.” The smile slipped a little as he sighed, glancing over his shoulder towards the mirrored glass behind him. “You may be the only one who can help us.”

Judah didn’t yet look convinced, but he wasn’t storming out on them. Muller finally uncrossed her arms. “Can you tell us, in your words, about this ability that you have?” she asked.

“They say that it’s just a delusion, that it’s not real,” Judah answered her, his non-answer evasive.

Muller sighed. “Humor me.”

“Please,” added Sully, his eyes big and sincere.

Something between the two agents seemed to push Judah over the edge. “Okay, okay,” he gave in. “Look, it’s been happening to me ever since I was a little kid. My parents thought I was weird for only wanting to eat vegetables, but I couldn’t explain it to them, couldn’t tell them what happened.”

“What happened when what?” Muller asked.

Judah sighed. “When I ate meat,” he said. “Whenever I ate meat, I’d get this little… vision, I guess. A flashback, a sudden memory. One that wasn’t mine. I’d feel panic, pain, see this strange creature, hazy, coming towards me with some sort of gun in its hands, pointing it at my head, and then-” He stopped, shuddering. “It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that I was looking at the inside of a slaughterhouse.”

“So when you eat meat…” Muller pressed, wanting to hear the explicit confirmation.

Judah grimaced at the words, but spoke them. “I see the last few seconds of the animal, yes. Different details, but that final pain, that fear, is always the same. I’m a very strict vegetarian, sworn off all meat now.”

“Well, as much as it pains us to ask you to do this, we’re afraid that we need you to break that vow,” Sully said after a minute. He tapped the covered dish in front of him. “You’ve heard of the Slaughterhouse Killer?”

Judah nodded, the wariness back in his eyes.

“Well, he’s struck again,” Sully confirmed. “Two young women, this time – at least, as best we can tell. Once he’s finished, the area’s so destroyed that it’s tough to even identify the age and gender of his victims. We have no leads. We thought that you might be able to help.”

Judah started to open his mouth, but Sully lifted the cover off of the plate, and the young man’s jaw snapped shut. Muller fought her own urge to wince away at the sight of the objects on the plate.

Two small spoons, each containing a single chunk of browned meat, barely the size of a pea.

Judah’s eyes rose up to Sully and Muller, his expression fearfully disbelieving. “That’s not – you don’t want me to-” he stammered out.

Sully nodded once, sadly. “I’m afraid so. And we need you to tell us everything that you see.”

The young man turned towards Muller, perhaps hoping that she’d confirm that this was all a big joke, but she nodded. “We don’t have any other leads,” she revealed.

“And that’s…”

“Yes.”

For several seconds, Judah just stared at the spoons, his whole body twitching. Finally, almost convulsively, his hand shot out, grabbed one of the spoons, and forced its contents into his mouth.

His body went rigid – and he screamed, a long and keening wail that cut through the interrogation room and made Muller clap her hands over her ears.

The rigidity only lasted a few seconds, but when his eyes re-opened, he looked as if he’d just aged several years. “Oh god,” he gasped out, and then spun to the side as he vomited on the floor.

“What did you see?” Sully asked, even as Muller recoiled from the puking man.

“Blood,” Judah choked out, between shaking breaths. “So much blood. He bathed himself in it, in my blood. Kept me alive, made me watch him wear me, cut me apart!”

“What did he look like?”

Judah, however, just shook his head, his whole body shaking. “No, no,” he groaned, followed by the organic sounds of more vomiting.

Muller and Sully both stood up. “We’ll get a sketch artist in, once he’s calmed down,” Sully said. “We know it’s a man, now. Maybe we can get approximate height, weight, age, anything else that could help us.”

Muller, however, couldn’t bring herself to care about this case. “Sully, you’re a monster,” she said softly, as they stepped out of the interrogation room. “That wasn’t right.”

She saw her partner’s shoulders sag as he walked ahead of her. “I know,” he answered, almost too quietly for her to hear. “But it might help us stop something far worse. I pray so.”

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