Carlton Lassiter despised Christmas, absolutely loathed it's very existence with his entire being. Too many people killed themselves, killed each other, and killed the good will of otherwise decent men for him to have anything resembling a good feeling about the holiday. It was a plague upon mankind and if he had the ability to do so, he would wipe the presence of this repugnant season from the face of the Earth.
Spoiled children crying out their selfish demands polluted almost every store one could enter, making him wonder what happened to parenting these days to allow such abhorrent behavior. Furthermore, those very same stores always had those obnoxious Christmas songs blaring loudly on their Muzak systems as if they could somehow indoctrinate their message of commercialism disguised as holiday cheer by means of brainwashing those wise few such as himself that didn't buy into it through their subliminal messages that no doubt infested each Yuletide "classic" they played. It was sickening.
Then there were those hopelessly lobotomized fools (his partner regrettably being amongst this class) that tried to "get him into the spirit of Christmas. No thank you, but feel free to offer your Kool-Aid to the next miserable asshole down the line and see if he'll take a sip. He was not going to buy a ticket onto that sinking ship, no way in Hell. And if you did decline their foul-tasting egg nog or their teeth-rotting sugar cookies, they would invariably call you a Scrooge or a Grinch or some other bullshit cliché.
But what he hated the most about Christmas was how it always left the station empty of everyone save for an overly-harassed skeleton crew that had only one thing in common: their hatred of everyone else around them. . . well, except for Mcnab. But he was more overgrown puppy than person anyway, so Carlton didn't really feel he counted.
Lassiter was sitting at his desk, using every ounce of his mental energy that wasn't being used to fill out his paperwork on making sure that no one crossed the invisible line that had been formed in a perimeter around him via pure negativity. It was incredibly effective at keeping him undisturbed, except from one particular individual.
"Sir, would you like some more coffee." Mcnab was looking down at him with that oafish expression of his, the one that seemed almost as impervious to his dour mood as Shawn Spencer's stupid mug.
"No," he bit out. "I told you ten minutes ago that I didn't want any coffee and that still remains the same. And if I did want coffee, I could get up and get it myself."
Looking far too nonplussed, the officer shrugged his shoulders and said, "just checkin'" With that, he wandered off to the coffee machine.
It didn't matter that any other day, Lassiter would be yelling in his face if his coffee was even a second late. But this was Christmas Eve and the moron should've just known that he didn't want any damn coffee right now. All he wanted was three fingers of scotch and the latest copy of Guns & Ammo.
He turned back to the mess of papers piled on his desk and moved to grab his half-empty bottle of liquid paper, accidentally knocking over a stack of files. They fell to the floor and spread out in a line across the scratched surface of the linoleum.
"Dammit," he muttered under his breath and stooped down to pick them up. Getting them back on his desk in what looked to be the right order, he spotted a brightly colored corner of card stock poking out from somewhere in the middle of the stack. Grabbing it, he pulled the card out and noticed to his chagrin that it was the stupid invite to Spencer's damned Christmas party.
You are welcome to the Christmas Party of the freaking Century!
Come one, Come all for a night of drunken revelry!
The Shawn Spencer Drunken Christmas Extravaganza Extraordinaire is a go!
It starts on X-mas Eve at the Psych office around 7 and when it ends, there is no way to know!
Shaking his head in exasperation, Lassiter tossed it into the trash where it belonged, silently wondering why he hadn't tossed it when he'd first found it sitting on his ink blotter the other day. There was no way in God's Green Hell that he was going to set foot in that wretched place, not if he didn't have to. What worse fate could he possibly inflict upon himself than that?
Dismissing the thought, he returned his focus to his work and set about erasing the mistake he made on his case report. Letting it dry a minute, before he went about writing down the correct information, Lassiter grabbed the officer review on Grady that Chief Vick had thrust upon him so she didn't have to do it herself. It had been sitting on his desk for the past week and he hadn't so much as opened it, let alone put any effort into completing the damned thing.
That was when he felt it, the unmistakable unease that came with knowing someone was standing behind him, watching him. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end and made his trigger finger literally itch as his hand subconsciously reached down for his holstered service pistol.
Swiveling in his chair, he saw someone, an officer by the looks of it, standing there in the shadows just staring at him. The guy's face was obscured, but his build suggested that it was Dobson.
"What do you want?" he demanded, throwing all the anger, vitriol, and authority as he could into his voice. He got no response.
Dobson just stood there as still as a statue, observing him from his vantage point. It was unnerving to say the least, but Lassiter was far too busy and irritable to let it affect him. "Get back to work, I'm in no mood for your B.S. right now.
He pointedly spun himself back around to get back to his work when he literally jumped in his seat at the sight before him. McNab was standing right in front of his desk looking down at him, a couple rookies whose names escaped his memory were standing in flank just behind him and to the sides. His skin crawled in very real apprehension at the sight, not from McNab's proximity or the stock-still manner he and the others had adopted, but from his eyes. They were a milky white with no iris or pupil whatsoever and had a hint of aged yellow in them.
"Wha?" was all he managed to get out before Buzz opened his mouth and began uttering a litany of incomprehensible gibberish at him. It was easily the strangest thing he had ever seen in his life and he worked with Shawn Spencer, so that had to be saying something.
McNab took a step closer, putting him right up to the other side of the desk. Every instinct in Lassiter's body was telling him to pull out his weapon and start shooting until everything in his universe was back to the way it should be. But something kept him from doing so and he found himself rising up from the chair and pushing it out of the way as he backed up a step, his eyes not once leaving the sight before him.
His jaw dropped in shock as his mind scrambled to make sense of things when Buzz took another step forward right into his desk. It behaved almost like water, parting easily for his form and rippling out and away from the disturbance. His followers had moved forward as well, their motions mechanical and utterly without sense or feeling that could be measured. All the while, McNab was still chanting in some language that he didn't recognize.
Lassiter, in his dumbfounded state, could only take blind steps backwards away from the horrifying scene before him. The hand on his service pistol deftly unsnapped the strap that kept it secure in it's holster, allowing him to pull it out quickly and easily. But it remained where it was for the time being, ready and waiting for when he decided that enough was enough.
Buzz McNab completed his journey through the physical space of the desk, coming out the other end without any apparent complications, his stride as calm and determined as ever. That was the moment when Carlton Lassiter decided that he was going to try shooting McNab to see if it worked.
But he was too late to do anything when a pair of arms snaked out on both sides of his body from behind and grabbed onto his own arms in a strong hold. Shit, he'd forgotten about Dobson! Lassiter bucked and thrashed violently, using any and every self-defense technique he'd ever been taught in an attempt to throw his assailant off, but nothing worked and he remained as trapped as he was before.
Still, Buzz continued walking towards him, slowly and deliberately, like there was all the time in the world to do what he intended to do. Nor was Lassiter a threat to him, not in the slightest. He was still chanting in that weird language in a hushed tone, speaking rapidly and steadily.
Carlton tried to break free from Dobson's hold once again, even trying to head butt him, but got nothing for his efforts beyond a headache. He was desperately certain now that whatever Buzz intended to do when he reached him could not be allowed to happen, that it would go too far for him to get out of.
Buzz came to a stop right in front of him, still chanting under his breath, and Carlton found himself completely absorbed by the quiet horror that lay there in the man's unearthly gaze. His shock was so profound that he didn't even notice when Dobson let go of his arms and made not attempts to escape. By this point, the other two officers had come to a stop on either side, turning to face him.
And then McNab switched suddenly from speaking that eerie language to English. "He comes from the dust like his kin before him, angered and fueled with bitterness. His breathe is in his actions and his hands dedicated to order, his mind to truth. Lo, he shouts out his rage and is rendered still by three forms. These be of Past, Present and Future, their intent: clarity, knowledge and wisdom."
McNab reached out to a still-frozen Lassiter and grabbed a hold of his tie and the fabric of both his outer and under shirts. He yanked at the materials and tore the tie off completely as he ripped away at the front of Carlton's shirts, until his chest could be seen. Then Buzz stepped back.
"-The Dustborn shall be visited by three shades on this night-"
The other three officers started circling around him while Buzz continued to speak.
"-and the spirit of his hate shall be lain bare and open-"
The first officer to circle around to his front stopped for a moment. The man turned to face him and reached a hand out, laying his palm flat on the space right over Lassiter's heart. An intense burning sensation engulfed him then right there where he was being touched. It was agonizing like fire and a scream erupted out his mouth. And then it was gone.
"-The Past: regret-"
Dobson reached him next, copying the moves of his predecessor thoroughly. However, instead of laying his hand in the same spot, Dobson's hand went to the other side of his chest to a point parallel with the previous mark made. Once more, Lassiter found himself lost in a white-hot pain in his chest that had him screaming out uncontrollably again. Then it left as soon as it came.
"-The Present: hopelessness-"
The three officers continued circling him until the third man had reached the spot right in front of him. Like his two previous compatriots, this one reached a hand out and laid his palm flat right in the center of his sternum just below the two other marks. Once more, he was blinded with that intense burning sensation that felt like a hot poker was being used to brand his skin. And, like the others, the pain was gone in the next instant.
"-The Future: death."
And that was when Detective Lassiter awoke with a scream dying in his throat. He jumped out of his seat (how did he get back in it?), knocking almost everything off his desk in the process. Papers flew out everywhere and various trinkets skittered across the linoleum in all directions.
McNab and the others were no longer surrounding him and a hand to his chest revealed that his clothing, tie included, was all intact. Like it had never happened. He chuckled slightly at that and let out a shaky breath. It was just a dream, nothing more.
"Sir?" asked someone from off to his right.
His head shot to the side immediately to find the voice's owner. His hand drifting down to his holster, not noticing that the strap that secured the butt of the gun had been unbuttoned. When he saw that it was just Buzz, a normal-looking Buzz, he relaxed a tiny bit.
"Are you alright, sir?" asked the officer, looking extremely worried, his eyes going back and forth from Lassiter's face to his hand still resting on his service pistol.
Oh. Right. Carlton let go of his gun and re-strapped it. "I'm fine," he barked out. "I just needed some coffee. And whose job is that?"
"But, sir, you told me you-"
"I don't wanna hear any excuses, McNab. Just get me my coffee."
"Yes sir," he said and scurried off to get him his coffee.
That was when he recalled the hands on him, the burning touch on his chest that he knew left marks behind even though he hadn't seen them. It was just a dream though and none of it was real. But it had sure felt real enough. He was suddenly overcome with the idea that he needed to check, needed to be absolutely certain that it had all, in fact, just been a dream.
He left the bullpen and made his way down the hall to the restrooms and entered. Carlton stalked over to the sinks and the mirror and began to loosen his tie. Removing it, he set the garment aside and unbuttoned his shirt. When that was accomplished, Lassiter lifted up the hem of his undershirt and took a sharp breathe of air.
There right in front of him in the mirror, he could see the marks left behind from those hands. They had been branded right into his skin and were little more than a series of small characters. They looked like words from another language, three words to be precise. The language they were written in looked old and dead, like something that hadn't been used in thousands of years. He didn't recognize it and sure as hell couldn't read it, but Carlton Lassiter knew what they said, knew it like he knew himself. They doubtlessly read: Past, Present, Future.