“The most any of these kids are guilty of is not telling what they knew,” Sam insisted. “And I can’t blame them for that.”
He was in Director Gilbert’s office again, facing him across the desk, and Sam didn’t want to be there. He wanted to be in the infirmary with Dean. Jennifer had done her best for him and the Project’s infirmary was as well-equipped as any hospital, but even so, Sam was worried. He didn’t just want Dean to live; he wanted him to recover. But it had been such a terrible fall.
“Who knew?” Andy demanded. He was seated at the desk, framed by the window behind him, while Sam stood. Sam didn’t mind standing: he was too angry to sit still.
Sam made an impatient gesture. “I’m not going to tell you that. Andy, listen to me. You’re not a psychic. You have no idea what it’s like to grow up in this place. You see one friend go into isolation and not come back and every adult turns into the enemy. Of course no one told you!” Sam began to pace again. “I don’t even know if we can fix it now.” Without Dean, he added silently.
Andy rose from the chair and gazed out of the window. Had it been daylight, he could have seen the whole mess of the monorail from where he stood. He gazed out into the darkness as if he could see it anyway. “Sam, you keep talking as if I don’t know what’s happening to these children. Do you think me so uncaring?”
Sam turned to face him. “I don’t know, Andy. Do you understand what’s happening?”
“Understand? Perhaps not. But I know my kids are in danger.”
Sam took a deep breath. “You’d better sit down.”
Andy met his eyes briefly, then nodded. Instead of sitting back at the desk he gestured to the seating area on the other side of the room, inviting Sam to sit with him. Sam settled himself in one of the plush leather seats and waited for Andy to sit, too.
Andy looked tired. Sam studied him for a moment, seeing him not as the Director but as a man. Sam saw the morality of the Psi Project in simple, black-and-white terms: It was wrong to kill children. Period. In that moment, studying the drawn features of the man responsible for that life-and-death policy, Sam acknowledged that Andy’s ethics were more complex. But the man still had ethics.
“I’m not going to debate the rights and wrongs of this with you, Andy, but ask yourself this: how many children has the Psi Project condemned since it started?”
Andy met Sam’s look wearily. “I can tell you exactly. Three hundred and twenty eight.”
Holy God… Sam swallowed. “And of those three hundred and twenty eight,” he said slowly, his mind still grappling with that figure, “how many do you think believed there was any justice in it?”
Andy spread his hands. “I doubt any of them did. You can’t expect children to understand…”
“No, you can’t. And that’s the problem. You see, when someone is murdered, or dies in some…unnatural way, sometimes their spirit can’t rest. The spirit stays around and it becomes…angry. Crazy.”
“You’re telling me ghost stories?” A note of irritation crept into the older man’s voice.
“Yes!” Sam insisted. He had been just as sceptical when Dean tried to tell him about the ghost haunting the Woodward Institute. But Sam couldn’t afford to be gentle about this. Andy had to understand. “Not just ghosts, Andy. The spirit of a dead psychic is different. They are stronger and, frankly, scarier.” He pushed the thought of Rachel out of his mind. “What you have here is not just one spirit, it’s many. Their anger is directed at the Project. At you. At the kids. At anything they can blame for their deaths.”
Andy closed his eyes. Sam gave him the time he seemed to need.
Finally, Andy spoke, his eyes still closed. “How do we stop them? What do you need?”
It was what Sam had been waiting for: acceptance. “The first priority is to protect the younger children. They’ll have to sleep in the dining hall tonight as we discussed earlier.”
“Done,” Andy said.
“Second, I want to gather everyone involved in the disturbances for a conference. I think it’ll have to be in the infirmary because Dean can’t be moved. And, Andy, it’s essential that those kids can speak freely, so I need all surveilance off. You can’t be there, but I’ll call you in to join us after everyone’s had their say.”
Andy nodded. “I’ll agree to turn off the surveilance if you’ll guarantee me a full report.”
Sam met his eyes. “Done.”
Dean had agreed to Sam’s plan, because he wanted to get this damned hunt over with, but all these kids crowding into his hospital room made him uncomfortable. Most of them were strangers to him and being effectively helpless in this bed wasn’t improving his temper. He didn’t complain, though.
Whatever drugs the doctor gave him were the latest stuff. Dean was used to morphine for pain if plain old aspirin wasn’t good enough, but morphine would have knocked him out or sent him high. This stuff kept him pain-free, but his mind was clear and alert. Pain-free was a miracle all by itself. The doctor had explained the extent of his injuries to Dean. His ribs were broken in multiple places. His pelvis and collarbone were broken. Apparently there should have been far worse internal injuries: she’d said it was a miracle none of his major organs were damaged. Dean hadn’t explained. He wasn’t certain he could explain, though he knew the girl in his dream had done something to heal him.
He was lying in a hospital bed, with movement only in his right arm and his head, and a tube in his arm pumping synthetic blood into his veins, but he was alive and that was good enough for now.
No one had told Dean what happened to Jo. That was mostly his fault: he hadn’t asked. He knew she’d been in trouble when he fell from the monorail and didn’t want to hear that she died in a fall that he survived. It was cowardice, plain and simple. Jo was probably his best friend, the one who held him together after his dad died. Dean tried to keep her away from this hunt. If she was gone, it was his fault and, oh God, how was he going to tell Ellen?
Jennifer approached Dean’s bed. She asked permission with a gesture and when Dean nodded she laid her hand on his chest. If she was doing her psychic thing Dean couldn’t feel anything.
Jennifer smiled. “Just broken bones,” she said. “You’ll be fine.”
“Thanks to you,” Dean answered.
“Please, don’t tell them.” Jennifer’s voice was quiet and scared.
Dean didn’t understand her fear - surely healing him was a good thing - but he answered at once. “I promise.” He wasn’t sure the promise would mean much: too many people already knew what she’d done. But he would keep his word.
Jennifer moved away and Dean saw Sam behind her. But there was someone else at Sam’s side: Jo Harvelle.
Dean could hardly believe it. He’d been so sure she must be dead. He couldn’t imagine any way she could have escaped from the falling monorail. But he didn’t care. She was here!
Jo smiled and came right to Dean. She leaned over the bed and kissed him. Dean raised his hand to her hair, keeping her close. Jo had intended just a quick kiss but Dean held her there, making sure it was a real kiss, a long kiss. When Jo drew back, she was a little flushed.
“You’re feeling better,” Jo grinned.
“Apparently I’m held together by pins and wires but yeah, I feel fine.” He still couldn’t quite believe that she was real. “Jo, what happened? How’d you get out?”
Her expression became very serious. “I was trying to reach you when something kinda jumped me. I knocked one of the guns and it fell down.”
“That’s what broke the glass,” Dean guessed.
“Yeah. You fell and…there wasn’t anything I could do. I climbed down myself. The rope wasn’t near long enough to reach the ground but I got close enough that I didn’t break anything when I dropped the rest of the way.”
“I didn’t see you,” Dean frowned. Had he been so out of it that he didn’t recognise Jo? He struggled to remember if she’d been there when he woke. He didn’t remember Jo, but… “I remember seeing salt?”
She nodded. “Yeah. You were out of it, Dean and the others were…well, I didn’t know what they were doing. But I knew the spirits were still out there. I was still wearing my backpack so I used up my salt putting a circle around you, and everyone.” She shook her head. “Dean, it was crazy out there. I’ve worked plenty of hauntings, but this…”
“Yeah, I noticed.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Jo squeezed his hand.
“Cut it out.” Just because he was an invalid didn’t mean he’d let Jo treat him like one.
She smiled and moved back to join the others.
“There have been stories about the ghosts for years. Longer than I've been here.” Colin addressed Dean directly. He seemed to be the leader of the group. All of the other kids looked at him before they said anything, and while he did the talking none of them ever interrupted him. Dean knew a team when he saw one: the others treated Colin as Dean had always looked to his father. In a way, that made Dean more comfortable: it was something he understood. But it also worried him. Colin was a good kid, as far as Dean could tell, but he was no John Winchester.
“How long have you been here?” Dean asked. He was sitting up in the hospital bed, his back propped up with a padded triangular box. His broken arm hung in a sling at his side and there was stuff under the blankets he didn’t even want to think about. But he wasn’t hurting and he could think clearly.
Now he was going to get to the bottom of this. Sam had given his word that the surveillance was off, and all the kids could speak freely. Dean had given them his promise that he would never tell anyone what they said.
“My parents brought me here when I was five. I’m eighteen this winter.”
Dean did the math in his head, but he wondered why Colin didn’t just say thirteen years. There was more information in there. He was five years old when he was enrolled into the Project. Kids weren’t tested for psychic ability that young. His parents brought him here voluntarily.
“They were stories. Things to whisper in the dark. Most of it was made up. Maybe all of it. The first thing I know for certain was real was just over a year ago. Tammi started having nightmares.”
Jennifer was sitting on the floor in front of Colin, leaning back against his knees. His hands rested on her shoulders and he was playing with her hair. It was as if he couldn’t stop touching her. Dean wanted to tell them to get a freaking room.
“Listen, kid, it’s getting late and I've had a really crappy day. I want the short version.”
“Tammi’s a medium. If anyone could see real ghosts it would be her. She told us about the ghosts talking to her. At first it was…like a game. Our secret. Until the dreams started to spread to the other kids.” Colin glared at Dean. “This is the short version,” he snapped.
Sam cut in. “The younger psychics were losing control of their powers in their sleep. For some, that’s just embarrassing – it’s sort of the psychic equivalent of wetting the bed. For others, though, it’s dangerous.”
Tamara spoke up. “That’s when I knew we had to tell someone.”
“So,” Dean asked, determined to get to the point, “why didn’t you?”
Tamara looked at Colin. For a moment they were both silent, then Tamara nodded. “She spoke to Dean. “I was going to tell my mentor, but that’s when they took Jenn to the Pit.”
Sam answered, “Isolation. It means she was deathlisted.” Sam turned to Jennifer and Colin. “You've both hinted that there’s a connection. It’s time to tell the truth, Jennifer. Why were you deathlisted? And what does that have to do with Wes Bishop?”
“Can we get to the point, Sam?” Dean insisted impatiently.
“That is the point,” Colin said.
Dean looked at him, just looked.
“The short version, right. Bishop is a monster. Jenn tried to stop him – ”
“No,” Jenn interrupted. “I did stop him.”
“Jenn stopped him and they were going to kill her for it. I asked Tammi not to tell what she knew. She agreed.”
“Why?” Dean asked.
“Isn’t it obvious?” I thought that if the haunting got bad enough, there would be a proper investigation. Maybe enough to shut this place down.” He looked at Sam, and the look conveyed a message that Dean couldn’t read.
“Gilbert brought me in to identify the psychic responsible, Colin.” There was anger in Sam’s voice. “If he’d called someone different, you'd have been responsible for someone’s death. Maybe even Tamara’s.”
“I know,” Colin said quietly.
Dean frowned. “This guy Bishop – ”
“He’s a mentor here,” Sam explained.
“That means he’s a psychic, right?”
Sam nodded. “The Project encourages its graduates to come back and mentor. Some people come back because they want to help. Most of them are the ones who couldn’t make it in the real world.”
“So what makes him a monster?” Dean asked. He looked at Jenn.
Jennifer looked down, then met Dean’s eyes defiantly. “He likes young girls.”
Dean understood her instantly. He looked at Sam and saw what he expected. “Sammy,” he warned, his voice low.
Sam spoke through gritted teeth. “Explain that.” One of his fists was clenched so hard that his knuckles were white.
“He likes girls,” Jennifer repeated. “I wasn’t the first. I’m just the first who could defend herself.”
Dean was still watching Sam. He knew better than anyone else what a hot button this was for his brother. “Sam,” he tried again, “she’s not Rachel.”
Sam’s head snapped around. “No,” he growled. “Rachel was five years old.”
The pain of her loss was still so raw in him. But Dean had achieved what he intended: to divert Sam’s anger away from Jennifer. He met Sam’s eyes for a moment, letting him know he understood. Then he turned his attention to Jennifer.
Jo had moved to Jennifer’s side and was kneeling on the floor next to her. “Jennifer,” she said softly, “this man raped you?”
Jennifer’s eyes hardened as she looked at Jo. “No. He tried.”
“And you stopped him?” Jo said carefully.
What did you do?”
“I stopped him.”
“Like I fixed Dean today. Only – ”
“What you did for Dean wasn’t just healing, was it?” Sam interrupted. “It was psychic surgery.”
Dean saw Jenn go white, but she nodded. “Yeah.”
“What exactly did you do to Wesley?” Sam asked.
“I…I moved some nerves and constricted some blood vessels.”
Sam winced. “You made him impotent.”
She could do that? Dean was suddenly paying very close attention.
“Not exactly,” Jennifer answered, not meeting Sam’s eyes now.
Jo hadn’t taken her eyes off Jennifer. “Then what, exactly? We need to know, honey. It’s okay, you can trust us.”
Jennifer reached for Colin’s hand on her shoulder, but she looked at Jo. “He can still get it up. It just hurts like hell when he does. And, no, I won’t undo it.”
There was a long silence.
Sam was the first to find his voice. “Remind me not to get on your bad side.”
“She can do that?” Dean blurted.
“Yes!” Jennifer hissed defiantly.
“She’s a psychic surgeon,” Sam explained. “It means she can affect the body like a surgeon with a scalpel: she can heal internal injuries, like yours today, or do the opposite. Cause them.” He looked at Jennifer with compassion. “She’s dead if they know. Psychic surgeons are never allowed to graduate.”
Dean wanted to ask why, but he needed to stay focussed on what was important here. There would be time to talk about Jennifer’s problem when he’d taken care of the spirits. “Okay. So this guy sent you into isolation because you…hurt him.”
Colin answered, stroking Jennifer’s hair. “Yes.”
“So you kept quiet about the spirits. Okay. I get it.” Dean looked at Tamara and he was thinking of his father. What would Dad do? Would he protect these kids?
“Did you do anything other than keep quiet?” Dean asked Tamara. “Because if you did, if anything you've done has influenced what’s happening, then I need to know.” If she did, it would change how Dean felt about helping her, too, but he didn’t mention that.
“No,” Tamara shook her head firmly. “No! I would never!”
“Alright,” Dean conceded. “So tell me what I need to know. Can you identify the spirit?”
Tamara looked scared. “You don’t understand. It’s them.”
“You told me that before,” Sam said. “We understand it’s more than one spirit.”
“It’s more than that. I don’t know…” Tamara sounded frustrated. She looked at Colin. They were both silent, communicating without words.
Finally Colin turned to Dean. “Tamara believes that the spirits aren’t separate any longer. They've become something else. A gestalt.”
“A what?” Dean didn’t recognise the word, which made him think they were probably wrong. There wasn’t much he didn’t know about the supernatural.
“Gestalt,” Sam repeated. “It’s a psychological term. It means the merged spirits are more powerful as a whole than they would be as separate entities.”
“I've heard of that!” Jo jumped in. She looked worried. “From my Dad’s journal,” Jo added. “He said…” she broke off, frowning, struggling to remember. “It was in Arizona. He found a story about an old Indian curse, but it turned out to be spirits. They had formed a single entity which took the form of different animals or a man. Dad said they had to burn them all to lay it.”
“That’s what I was afraid of,” Dean said. Jo nodded: she understood. The cemetery was huge: it would take a long time to salt and burn every body there, and they both knew that once spirits got wise to what you were doing, you had to do it fast.
“Is that how it is, Tamara?” Dean asked.
“Yes.” She nodded, relieved. “I think that’s it.”
Dean thought it over. He’d already known this was a mess, now he knew how big a mess. Dad taught him that the only absolutely sure way to kill a vengeful spirit was to salt and burn the remains. But there were other ways: more complicated and less reliable, but ways.
“We can’t do anything tonight,” he announced. He needed more information, and he needed time to think. “Jo, our plan for the night hasn’t changed. I need you to make sure everyone’s safe in the dining hall. Stay with them. Armed, if any of the guns survived.”
“I have some guns,” Jo confirmed.
“Good to know something went right. Sam, I need to talk to the director. What’s his name? Gilbert?”
“Gilbert, yes. He wants to talk to you, too.”
That was convenient. “Sam, I need you to make sure this room is protected, too. With salt. Then I’ll talk to him.” Dean leaned his head back onto the pillows. He was so goddamned tired – probably because of the drugs – but there was more to do before he could sleep.
Director Gilbert carried a chair across the room so he could sit near the bed.
Sam carefully lowered Dean’s backrest so Dean was lying not quite flat on the bed. “The salt ring is all around the room,” he said quietly before he reached for a chair.
“Thanks, Sam,” Dean said. “But we need to talk alone.”
Sam looked surprised, but he didn’t argue. “Uh…okay. I’ll be outside.”
Sam nodded, clearly not happy. He folded a chair and carried it out of the room.
Gilbert watched Sam go. “You’re his brother, aren’t you?”
Dean couldn’t decide if he should answer that. The Psi Project went to a lot of trouble to separate Sam from his family. Sam wasn’t a kid any longer, and he was no longer under the Project’s control, but still…Dean hesitated.
“I didn’t remember at first that Sam changed his name. I checked the files after he contacted you. Sam’s original family name was Winchester.”
Dean knew his silence was as good as confirmation, but still, he kept quiet.
“How long have you been in contact?” Gilbert asked.
“If Sam wanted you to know,” Dean answered, “he’d have told you.” They'd been in contact for just over a year, but if Gilbert wanted to think it was much longer, let him think so.
Gilbert nodded, understanding. “Sam came into the Project in '95. At that time, we'd only had a few children with…his background. Almost all of them had suffered serious abuse because of their psychic abilities. One boy was murdered three days after he left the Project, by his own father.”
“Our Dad would never – ” Dean began hotly.
“That may be so,” Gilbert interrupted, “but our policy was based on experience. We thought it best for Sam.”
Dean moved up to Sam’s side, standing close but not touching him as he gazed, unseeing, out of the cabin window. What happened to Rachel was terrible and Dean knew he could never understand what Sam, her father, had gone through. Sam’s story explained why Rachel’s spirit haunted the bridge, but it didn’t explain the other spirit he’d seen. That had been a man, not a child. Dean had only seen it for a second but he remembered a strange tattoo.
Dean needed to know more. Speaking as gently as he could, Dean asked, “You said Rachel showed you a woman in flames. Sam, what does that mean to you? Other than mom, I mean.”
Sam leaned forward, pressing his forehead against the glass. “It’s the Anima Sola,” he said.
“It’s a religious image, popular in South America. A woman chained in purgatory, praying as she burns. Ryan, the man who murdered Rachel; he had the Anima Sola tattooed across his chest.”
That made the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place for the first time. Dean felt sick with the horror of it. What that poor child must have suffered. That image - a woman burning - the last thing she saw. Her restless spirit was obsessed with the image, it became a part of her. And she was still waiting for her daddy to come and save her.
The man who killed Rachel wore an Anima Sola tattoo. Dean had seen his face in the news clipping John left for him. But he’d seen the tattoo somewhere else, too. In the asylum: Rachel’s ghost led him to the other spirit…
But that meant…
Oh, god. Oh, no, Sam…
“Sam, what did you do?” Dean asked apprehensively.
Sam didn’t move. “I buried my daughter.”
Dean grabbed Sam’s shoulder and spun him around, slamming him up against the wall beside the window. “You know that ain’t what I mean. Ryan was caught but he never saw a trial. The article said he killed himself. What did you do, Sam?”
“Alright! Let me go.”
Dean stepped back, releasing Sam.
Sam raised a hand to his forehead, let it fall. “You know that story about the man who dreams he’s about to be executed? He’s marched up to the guillotine and just as the blade falls in his dream someone touches the back of his neck to wake him up and he dies of fright.”
“I’ve heard that one, yeah.” It was a dumb urban legend. If the guy died, how could anyone know what he’d been dreaming?
“It’s bullshit,” Sam said. “You can’t kill a person with a dream. But you can drive them to it.” Sam met Dean’s eyes and his look was fierce. “I put him through everything he’d done to my baby. I yanked his worst fears out of his head and made him watch. In the end, I figured out how to keep it going when he was technically awake. He clawed his own eyes out and when that didn’t help he smashed his head against the wall until he died.”
Dean understood. Had Sam not been his brother, Dean might have killed him that day in Willow Creek. What Sam had done created a spirit who tortured and killed six people…seven, if Dean included his father, though technically, Ryan’s spirit didn’t kill John.
He couldn’t really argue with Gilbert’s point, so he dropped the subject and moved on to the most immediate issue. “I know what’s haunting this place. What I’m not sure of, yet, is how to stop it. For that, I need to know some things.”
Gilbert settled back in his chair. “Ask.”
“First, how do you decide who lives and who dies?”
“You mean the children?”
Who the fuck else? “Yeah.”
“That’s a complex issue. The Psi Project was established with certain rules…”
Dean interrupted. “Dude, I ain’t got all night.”
Gilbert smiled faintly. “I’ll try to simplify it. The core mission of the Project is to ensure all of our graduates are a benefit to society, not a threat to it. Each psychic child is classified according to their primary ability.”
“Most psychics have only one ability. The most powerful usually have several.”
Right. Dean had known that. Sam was a dreamwalker but he also had that vision thing and he could slam Dean up against a wall without even touching him. Though he’d claimed that was involuntary.
Gilbert went on, “There’s a list of psychic powers called the Red List. Any child whose primary power is on that list is automatically deathlisted.”
“What’s on the list?”
Gilbert shook his head. “I won’t tell you the specifics. It’s a short list. Most are powers that can only be used to kill.”
Like psychic surgery? Dean wondered. It sounded like this Red List was top secret, but it was likely the kids knew it existed, even if they didn’t know the details. It was clear that Jennifer thought her ability would get her killed. But was she right? Jennifer’s certainly wasn’t a deadly power. Although…it could be. He thought about what she claimed she’d done to Bishop. If that were true, Jennifer could have stopped Bishop’s heart or closed up his windpipe without leaving any trace of foul play. But she hadn’t. She’d chosen to stop him from raping anyone else.
“Are you serious? Even a little kid? I thought the Psi Project was supposed to teach them control.”
“We do. But I’m talking about someone who can kill you just by touching you. Or even looking at you. The youngest have no control and trying to teach them that leaves a trail of bodies.”
Dean nodded, seeing the point. “Okay, but that’s not the full story. Sam can’t kill like that, but I know he almost died here.”
“True. The Red List powers are rare. There are other abilities that can be used to hurt people, but do have other applications. Like pyrokinetics – a powerful pyro is potentially lethal, but properly trained and in control they can use their powers in some very positive ways.”
Dean didn’t need a lecture on the dangers of pyrokinetics. A rogue pyro killed his mother. Dean still had the scars from when he and his father finally caught up with the son of a bitch.
“Those children we watch carefully, and yes, we do teach them control. To use the same example, a pyrokinetic might never be able to light a flame larger than a match, or she might be able to incinerate an entire building. But even a match can start a major fire. If a child’s power becomes too dangerous, the child may be moved into isolation – ”
“Which means they're killed.”
“Not always. Often, yes, but isolation is where we assess the child. These decisions are never made lightly and some children, like Sam, do leave isolation alive.”
Some children. Sam thought he was the first. “How many?” Dean asked.
“Eight, including Sam, who was the first.”
Eight. Eight kids got a fair deal out of however many were in that cemetery. Damn. No wonder their spirits were so pissed off.
“Would Tamara ever be in danger?” Dean hadn’t meant to ask the question but as the thought occurred to him it just popped out.
“Of being deathlisted? No, Tamara is a medium. It’s a passive ability.”
Then why had Tamara been targeted? Were the spirits jealous that she got a pass and they didn’t? Passive didn’t mean harmless. What if someone had been killed by these spirits because Tamara kept quiet? Would she be less guilty than Sam was when he murdered Ryan?
Involuntarily, Dean glanced toward the door where he knew Sam was waiting. “When you decide a kid has to die, how do you do it?”
Gilbert followed Dean’s gaze to the door. “Is that – ”
“I need to know,” Dean insisted.
“The isolation rooms are truly isolated, like a sterile environment. We can introduce a gas into the air supply which causes unconsciousness. Technically it induces a coma. Then a poison. It’s painless.”
So it wasn’t a violent death. Dean wondered if a child would realise what was happening. Did they live long enough to be scared? “And then? What happens to the bodies?”
“It depends. In some cases the families claim a child’s body; we have to respect their wishes. The others are buried in our cemetery. You saw it from the monorail.”
“Yeah, I saw it. You said they're buried. In a coffin?”
Gilbert frowned. “Of course. What else?”
Dean stifled a smile. “Dude, you'd be amazed. What’s the coffin made of?”
“Wood. Pine, I think.”
“That’s standard. Is it lined with anything?” Sometimes old coffins were lead-lined. For some reason that seemed to create a stronger spirit.
“I don’t think so. Why do you ask?”
Dean ignored the question. “Do you use any kind of ceremony or religious service?”
Gilbert hesitated. “If a child has a religious faith we try to honour it. But that sort of thing isn’t encouraged here. Most of the children who die are buried without any service.”
“Is the cemetery consecrated ground?”
“I have no idea, but I doubt it. I'd have to check the archives from when the Project was founded.”
“You'd better do that. But is there anywhere here that’s consecrated ground? A chapel, maybe?”
“No. We have visits from pastors, a rabbi and others but they use a classroom. There’s no place set aside only for religious purposes.”
Dean let out a breath. That explained a lot, and it gave them a possible way out of this mess. He would need to talk it over with Jo and probably call some others to make sure it would work, but he had an idea. If he was right, they wouldn’t need to dig up that cemetery.
“What time is it?” he asked.
“No wonder I’m so tired.”
Gilbert took that as a cue to leave. He stood up. “I should leave you to rest. If that’s everything you needed to know?”
Dean nodded. “Just one more thing. If I can fix this, can you do exactly what I tell you? No matter how crazy it seems? Because if you can’t, this is only going to happen again. Next year, next century…I don’t know. But it'll come back.”
Gilbert moved his chair back to its place on the other side of the room. “Dean, I don’t want to lie to you. I can’t give you a straight yes without knowing what you'll ask. But I will do anything in my power to stop this from happening again.”
Dean offered the man his good hand. “It’s a deal.”
Gilbert shook his hand firmly. “Before I go, I have a question for you.” He released Dean’s hand and waited for his nod. “You didn’t flinch when I told you about the death list. Why not?”
Dean considered for a moment before he answered honestly, “Psychics killed both of my parents. I’m not sayin' I’m cool with you making mistakes, but I've got no problem with you killing them before they kill us. It’s what I do. Just most of the things I hunt ain’t human.”
Gilbert nodded. “I’ll leave you to sleep.”