I knew what was wrong. I'd seen too many slaughtered people in the last few months. Too much blood. Too much killing. I'd done some of the killing. Not all of it had been sanctioned by the state. I also wanted to be looking for Jeff Quinlan. I couldn't do anything until Jean-Claude arrived. I really couldn't. But I felt like my job was interfering with my police work. Was that a bad sign? Or a good one?
I took a deep breath of the cool mountain air. I let it out very slowly, concentrating on just breathing, in and out, in and out. When I felt calm again, I looked at Larry.
"I'm just a little on edge tonight, Larry. I'll be alright."
"If I said a little on edge with a surprised lilt in my voice, would you get mad?"
I smiled. "Yeah, I would."
"You've been in a blacker mood than usual since you talked to Jean-Claude. What's up?"
I stared into his smiling face and didn't want to tell him. He wasn't that much older than Jeff Quinlan, four years. He could still have passed for a high-schooler. "Fine," I said, and told him.
"A vampire pedophile; isn't that against the rules?"
"That you can only be one kind of monster at a time."
"It kind of caught me off guard, too."
A strange look flashed across his face. "Sweet Jesus, Jeff Quinlan is with that thing." He looked at me, all the horror, all the pain, or as much as he could imagine, flowing across his face. "We have to do something, Anita. We have to save him." He turned as if to go back down the mountain.
I grabbed his arm. "We can't do anything until Jean-Claude arrives."
"But we can't just do nothing."
"We aren't doing nothing. We're doing our job."
"But how can we..."
"Because we can't do anything else right now."
Larry looked at me for a second, then nodded. "Okay; if you can be calm, so can I."
"Thanks. Now show me this nifty trick you've been talking about. I've never heard of anyone who could read the dead without raising them first."
Truthfully, I didn't know if Larry could do it. But telling him he might not be able to was not going to help his confidence. Magic, if that was the right word, often rises and falls on your own belief in your abilities. I've seen very powerful people completely crippled by self-doubt.
"I'm going to walk the cemetery." I tried to think of how to put it into words. How do you explain something that you don't fully understand yourself?
I have always had an affinity with the dead. Even as a small child, I always knew if the soul had fled the body. I remember my great-aunt Katerine's funeral. I'm named after her, my middle name. She was my father's favorite aunt. We went early to view the body and make sure everything was ready. I felt her soul hovering above the coffin. I looked up expecting to see it, but there was nothing for my eyes to hold onto. I've never seen a soul. I've felt them, but I've never seen one.
I know now that Aunt Katerine's soul hung around a long time. Most souls leave within three days, some leave instantly, some don't. My mother's soul was gone by the time the funeral arrived. I didn't feel her there. There was nothing but a closed coffin and a blanket of pink roses over the coffin, as if the coffin would get cold.
It was at home where I felt my mother hovering close. Not her soul, not really, but some piece of her that couldn't let go immediately. I would hear her footsteps in the hall outside my bedroom as if she was coming to kiss me good night. She moved through the house for months, and I found it comforting. When she finally left, I was ready to let her go. I never told my father. I was only eight, but even then I knew that he couldn't hear her. Maybe he heard other things. I don't know. My father and I never talked much about my mother's death. It made him cry.
I'd been able to sense ghosts long before I could raise the dead. What I was about to do was just an extension of that, or maybe a combination of both skills. I don't know. But it was like trying to explain that there was a soul hovering over Aunt Katerine's coffin. Either you knew the soul was there or you didn't. Words didn't quite cover it.
"Can you see ghosts?"
"You mean right now?"
I smiled and shook my head. "No, just in general."
"Well, I knew the Calvin house wasn't haunted, no matter how many stories people made up. But there was a little cave near town that had something in it. Something not nice."
"Was it a ghost?"
He shrugged. "I never tried to find out, but nobody else seemed able to feel it."
"Do you know when the soul leaves the body? I mean, can you tell it?"
"Sure." He said it like, Couldn't everybody do that?
I had to smile. "Good enough. I'm just going to do it. I don't know what you'll see, if anything. I know that Raymond is going to be disappointed because he won't see anything, unless he's a lot more talented than he looks."
"What are you going to do, Anita? They never talked about 'walking a cemetery' in college."
"It's not like a magic spell, a few words or gestures and it works. It isn't anything like that." I struggled to put into words something that we had no vocabulary for. "It's closer to psychic ability than magic. It's not physical. It's not a muscle to move, or even a thought. It's... I just do it. Let me get started; then if I can, I'll bring you in or try and talk to you while I do it. Okay?"
He shrugged. "I guess so. I still don't understand what the heck you're doing, but that's okay. I usually don't know what's going on."
"But you always figure it out," I said.
He grinned. "I do, don't I?"
I stood in nearly the dead center of the raw earth. Not so long ago I was afraid of what I was about to do. It wasn't really frightening in and of itself. I was scared of the fact that I could do it at all. It wasn't a very human thing to be able to do.
But then, lately I'd been rethinking exactly what made you human, and what made you one of the monsters. Once I'd been very sure of myself, and everyone else. I wasn't so sure anymore. Besides, I'd been practicing.
Of course, I'd been practicing in empty graveyards where there was nothing but me and the dead. Okay, night insects, but arthropods never bothered my concentration. People did.
Even with my back turned, I could feel Larry like a warm presence behind me. It bugged me. "Can you move back farther?"
"Sure; how far?"