In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, HE may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings,
They were afraid and it transferred to Rhomy who felt breathless and shaky as she ran with the little boy. Three others had appeared, a little girl and two other boys. They were definitely ghosts and after her initial shock passed, Rhomy realized they didn’t mean her any harm. They were the children who’d died of tuberculosis, no families to claim them and for some reason hadn’t moved on. She wondered if there was something of theirs tying them to the asylum.
She’d been more than a bit surprised when they asked her to play. Rhomy had opened her mouth to protest, somehow find a way to get out of the decaying cottage and find the Winchesters but it hadn’t happened that way. They were lonely…not dangerous at all… and only children…
Rhomy knew that but it was easy to see past it, their insubstantial forms and paleness, the cold wasn’t as noticeable since the day had steadily grown chilly. She felt…bad- for them, for their short lives and the pain they’d suffered and because they hadn’t moved on, hadn’t gone to that place where all souls found rest and peace. Where was their promise of the kingdom?
So she spent time with them, talking-listening. Because she did that, was good at hearing what wasn’t said, it helped to get the bigger picture, helped figure out how she was supposed to help. Not all the answers were whispered in her ear or revealed in a dream. Sometimes, Rhomy had to do it the old fashioned way.
The children had changed suddenly. Their pale faces and deep sunk eyes-their entire bodies had flickered. The atmosphere had changed in a split second and they surrounded her, cold little hands grasping at her legs, pulling, shoving. They wanted her to run, they said ‘Run’, told her he was coming and it wasn’t someone she wanted to meet. Rhomy tried questioning them but the children were in a panic, two of them flickered and were gone, both boys. The little girl and boy were left with the task of getting her to move and it frightened her, that the other children had gone to try and distract whoever he was, while she got away.
“He’ll kill you!”
“He’s done it before.”
“No one is safe!”
The stairs on the porch creaked as she ran, the last crumbled beneath her foot sending her sprawling but Rhomy tucked her body in, rolling to her feet with leaves clinging to her hair. The children- all four- herded her towards the sparse trees growing behind the cottage.
She was running, feeling the cold air rush into her lungs. Rhomy knew she wasn’t going to get far like that but it was difficult to try and regulate her breathing especially when the pale, feverish eyed old man suddenly appeared a yard to her left. She ran into a tree trunk, hitting her right side against the rough bark and grunting at the sting of pain. Rhomy never took her eyes from the old man, ears humming but she knew he said something. Her feet slipped on the overgrown grass that was suddenly slick and she banged her knee on a root.
“You have to hurry.”
Rhomy scrambled up, forcing herself to ignore the pain in her shoulder and knee as she hobbled into the twilight. It was darker beneath the sparse trees growing on the property but it didn’t impede the children from pushing her towards something. She felt their cold hands on her legs, like small fire ants walking on her skin where they touched. Suddenly Rhomy saw a break in the trees, a crumbled stone fence and more overgrown grass. She ran in, the children’s voices rushing into one incoherent voice. The cemetery was just as overgrown as the one they’d jumped into but she couldn’t tell if it was the same one. Her foot hit something hard, her toes suddenly alive with pain. The next thing Rhomy knew, she was face down in the dirt, her palms burning. She lost her breath, sight blurry and then a heavy weight was on her back pressing her into the dirt and the broken headstone with grass pricking into her exposed skin.
Rhomy tried to push up, to dislodge whatever was on her back but it only got heavier and colder. She couldn’t get a breath, her chest was aching, her back grew numb and spots were dancing in her eyes…
Sam caught a flicker of something among the trees and changed his course. He began to call out for Rhomy when the EMF in his hand started going crazy, beeping and flashing. He silenced it, counting himself lucky not to have called out to the ghost or ghosts. Sam hefted his shotgun, putting the EMF in his pocket and started backing off when the ghost appeared. It just flickered into being right in front of him, in his way… the pale face and wispy white hair. His bald head shone under the moonlight but it was the sunken dark eyes, they shone with a feverish light and the old ghost’s mouth was slightly open as though gasping in breaths.
“I will purge the evil within you!”
Sam took a step back, shocked, frightened, confused- a rush of emotions washed through him at the ghosts words. He felt his blood run cold, the clawed hands reached towards him.
Sam aimed, snapped out of his trance and fired. The ghost blew away with a shriek of rage. The wind rose, ruffling his hair but even though he searched he couldn’t see anything ghostly. The echo of the ghost’s words resounded in his head drying his mouth. Sam looked around, afraid someone might have over heard the crazy ghost. His EMF beeped and that drew his attention. Sam raised the shotgun again; his grip firm and then he noticed the pale face peeking out from the overgrown grass. He approached slowly, his feet crunching softly and then a second face peeked at him. The boys were half crouched, hidden by the tall grass and weeds. Two more popped up beside the boys, a little girl among them and Sam shifted the shotgun in his hands.
The little girl in the old lacy dress reminded Sam of the killer psycho ghost but there was a different look in this girl’s eyes. Her voice was soft as a whisper and yet he heard her clearly, then all four children disappeared. Sam frowned, confused. He noticed the bent grass which couldn’t have been caused by the ghost’s… He took a few steps towards it and made out a dark shape. Sam drew in a breath, recognizing the dark blue-gray hoodie.
“Rhomy.” He called her name softly, kneeling beside her but she didn’t respond. Carefully, Sam turned her onto her back and checked for a pulse. He was relieved to feel it strong and steady beneath his fingers. She didn’t look to be bleeding and setting the shotgun by her head, Sam ran his hands over her legs and arms checking for any broken bones. Annoyance flashed across his features thinking of Dean and what he’d say but Sam slipped his arms under Rhomy and stood. The shotgun was held useless in one hand and Sam just hoped he didn’t run into anymore ghosts as he started back the way he’d come.
Rhomy shifted uncomfortably on the bed trying not to stare at Sam but it wasn’t easy considering the small room. Dean was mad; he paced the small length between the door and the far wall muttering under his breath about crazy little girls and psycho ghosts. Mostly he avoided looking at her since he’d carried her in like an invalid, as if she’d been unable to walk on her own, which she wasn’t. Dean hadn’t said a word to her the entire time and that was something else Rhomy was having trouble dealing with.
Having woken up in the backseat of the Impala lying in Sam’s lap was… Rhomy’s cheeks flushed and again she cast a look at Sam under her lashes. It had been… too… intimate? In a way she felt it had been inappropriate, which was ridiculous because she hadn’t done anything and neither had Sam. She was his least favorite person but even though she’d tried to sit up he’d forced her to lie still. Rhomy had acquiesced quickly, simply because it was too painful to fight him when her chest felt as though she’d been buried under a ton of bricks. Her knee was throbbing as well, though the ice pack Sam had brought in was numbing it.
“From now on you're staying put.” Dean ordered pointing at her. It was the first thing he’d said to her since he’d carried her inside and carefully lay her down. “You're not allowed to Hunt.” He ignored her narrowed eyes and pursed lips focusing on the slightly pink welt on her forehead. He didn’t care what she said, how much she argued because he wasn’t going to go through this again. Cas hadn’t said Rhomy was supposed to Hunt with them, just that Dean was meant to protect her.
“Fine.” Rhomy agreed in her softest voice. She wasn’t happy to be told what to do but she really had no argument to fight him with. She’d run off, got herself hurt and all after he’d told her not to stray. “So long as I have a stove, I’ll stay put.” If she could cook then she wouldn’t fight him on this new rule of his but she was glad he’d at least spoken to her. Causing him any undue worries was the last thing she wanted to do. Cooking would keep her busy, give her something to do while they were on a Hunt and she wouldn’t have to eat anymore fast food or diner take-out.
Dean blinked. He wasn’t sure he’d heard Rhomy but the fact she wasn’t arguing with him about it- well, he’d been expecting a fight. She’d been adamant they weren’t going to leave her at Bobby’s which Dean had been ready to do.
“Fine.” Dean agreed. He was looking at her a little suspiciously but he wasn’t going to question her.
Sam straightened in his seat, eyes narrowed, looking from Rhomy to his brother and back. He shook his head but refrained from making any comment because he didn’t want to argue with Dean. He’d sat with Rhomy in the back seat making sure she didn’t aggravate whatever injuries she’d incurred. He’d carried her to the Impala with Dean annoyingly glued to his side behaving like some damn guard dog until they’d gotten off the property. Rhomy’s feet hadn’t touched the ground once since they’d left because Dean hadn’t allowed her to walk the short distance from the Impala to the hotel room. Not to mention the rapid fire questions Dean had pelted him with the entire time, until Rhomy woke up and his brother went mute.
Sam didn’t get it and he wasn’t going to get into it either because he was done with the both of them and whatever- he was just over it.
“What happened?” Sam asked drawing their attention. It was as though Dean had forgotten Sam was in the room and Sammy wasn’t happy about it. Both Winchesters turned to Rhomy who shifted uncomfortably on the bed, her face flushed slightly again and she couldn’t meet their eyes. Dean had to lean in when she spoke but even then he didn’t get what she said.
“What?” Dean asked again.
“Said I think the kids…dog piled…me.” Rhomy said a little louder still unable to meet their eyes. Dean couldn’t believe what he heard. He took a few steps towards the bed seeing her embarrassment and ignoring it.
“They….what you’ed?” He asked again a little too quietly.
“Heard me.” Rhomy muttered sitting up with a hiss of breath and wincing. “They weren’t trying to hurt me, Dean.” She finally looked up at him but he wasn’t in the mood to care about what the ghost kid’s had been trying to do.
“You look hurt, Rhomilly.” Dean snapped, glaring at her.
“I think-.” Sam sat back and blew out a breath. “I think they…it didn’t seem like they wanted to hurt us, Dean. The little girl told me to help her.”
“Right after she kicked me!” Dean exclaimed turning to his brother.
“Okay, stop.” Rhomy said putting some authority into her voice. “Just…stop for a second. We don’t know what happened out there.”
“I know what happened.” Dean said straightening and starting to pace again. “You went off on your own even though I told you not to. We had to split up to look for you and then I met up with psycho crazy ghost and his little sidekick who kicked me and then killer psycho ghost man tossed me.” He was glaring across the room, green eyes dark.
“Well, I’m sorry you had such an awful experience with the ghosts.” Rhomy said sweetly. “Would you have rather been under five ghost kids instead?”
Dean turned on her scowling, not at all amused by the sarcasm lacing her words.
“Why don’t we start from when you ran off?” Sam cut in standing up. He looked from Dean to Rhomy stalling the argument he could see his brother ready to start in on. “Why did you?” He asked.
“I saw a little boy in one of the cottages we passed.” Rhomy sighed and told them about her encounter right up to seeing the bald old man the children had been fleeing from. “They said he was bad and they were afraid of him. I could feel it…”
“I’m going to salt and burn his moldy ass.” Dean growled softly, remembering the angry ghost he’d encountered. Hell, he was going to salt all of them just as soon as he figured out who was who and where they were buried.
“What about you, Dean?” Sam asked giving his brother another opportunity to bitch about the ghost. Dean didn’t disappoint. He’d somehow circled back to the cemetery they’d come in from and heard them talking. The little girl had been sitting in a big old tree and Dean growled the rest of his encounter ending with a confused scowl on his face.
“Ghost girl wasn’t afraid of Casper.” Dean stated.
“What did he look like?” Sam asked getting a description from his brother that looked nothing like the ghost he’d encountered.
“Then there’s another one.” Rhomy said, her brow furrowed. “That’s not who was chasing me. He was old…older and balding. He-.” She looked uncomfortable but drew a slow breath and looked up at them. “He looked like a Priest. At least, that’s how he…felt.”
Sam glanced nervously at his brother, the ghost’s words echoing in his head again, drying his mouth.
“A Priest.” Dean echoed.
“Its…I know- you think maybe I hit my head too hard or something but this ghost frightened the children. They said he killed before and I believe them.” Rhomy assured, her hazel eyes didn’t leave his face for a second as she spoke. “He felt…wrong-bad…dangerous and dark- like- I don’t know. I just know it’s nothing like the children.”
“The same kids who dog piled you and left you passed out in the dirt with an evil Preacher ghost?” Dean questioned narrow eyed, lips in a straight line and jaw clenched.
“How can you tell?” Sam asked quietly. For a moment no one spoke and Dean really noticed the slight difference in his little brother. A certain darkness in the eyes that made his stomach knot uncomfortably and again his Father’s words whispered in his head…
“It’s the way he looked, somehow…condemning. It felt like when I’d go to confessional and have to fess up to all the bad things I’d done in the week. Father Anias was a little scary back then, this ghost has that same air.” she replied. Sam nodded slowly, agreeing with her because he’d felt the same way. The Priest had wanted to purge him of evil-.
“There was a Priest committed to the hospital.” Sam spoke up suddenly, moving to the little table in the room and the lap top sitting on the manila folder Bobby had given them.
“You mean there really is a Preacher Ghost?” Dean asked, blond eyebrows raised as he followed after Sam.
“I managed to get some patient files…” Sam trailed off as he searched through the folders in his lap top until he found what he was looking for. “Some of these are original documents that were scanned. Apparently there was some interest in making some sort of documentary on the Asylum and Dr. Travers.” He explained turning the lap top so Dean could see better and wouldn’t hang over Sam’s shoulder.
“Creepy docu-movie on the crazy’s.” Dean muttered reading through the first page. “Wait, what’s this say? Because I think it says Crazy Preacher had ‘a nervous breakdown’?” he was frowning.
“Yeah, it’s the nice way of saying he snapped.” Rhomy replied dryly. She got a narrow eyed look for her trouble.
“Okay,” Sam clicked through the screens. “Father Donald Anson. He arrived in March of 1930. Died 1936 at the age of 67. Cause of death was…old age…” he read trailing off. Dean snorted.
“Oh man. Nice. Real technical term there.” He said running both hands over his face. His stomach rumbled again. “I’m getting some food.” He turned to the door without another word and left.
Rhomy stared at the door in silence. She didn’t know what had happened though it was clear Dean needed time alone. Sam didn’t look concerned his brother had walked out and seeing her expression he turned to her with a tired sigh.
“He gets grouchy sometimes.” Sam almost snorted at that because his brother somehow ended up in a bad mood more often lately. “He just needs some space. He’ll be back with our dinner.”
Rhomy made a face. The last thing she wanted was diner food. Again.
“Can I help with something?” She asked watching him flip through the file beside him. Sam looked up. For a moment she thought he’d say he didn’t need any help but Sam got up and handed her the file, along with some papers he’d printed out of the local newspaper dating to the years of the asylum.
“Maybe you’ll see something I don’t.” Sam said quietly. He saw her soft smile and focused on the melting ice bag on her knee. “Do you need another one?”
“Hmm, oh no.” Rhomy replied following his line of sight. She picked up the cold ice water bag moving to get up when Sam took it from her. “I can…” she watched him walk to the bathroom and toss the dripping bag in the sink. He didn’t say anything else as he sat in front of his lap top again. “Thank you.”
Sam looked at her but she just turned her attention to the papers she spread out on the bed. He was relieved not to have another conversation with her about what he was doing. It was unnerving what with everything he’d seen her do and say.
Sam was right and two hours later Dean walked in carrying their dinner. Styrofoam containers of what the Winchesters considered food and Rhomy was quickly loosing the taste for. Dean set everything on the table where Sam put away their research. He carried a container to the bed where Rhomy was trying not to aggravate her knee in the process of getting up. Dean sat beside her; the container held out and didn’t say anything as she took it. Opening the box Rhomy couldn’t help her chuckle. Turning to Dean she saw his smile.
“Are you trying to tell me something, here?” She asked turning the container towards him but he already knew there was only veggies in there.
“Figured you’d want a salad.” He shrugged. Most girls would’ve been upset thinking a salad meant diet but not Rhomy. She just said thank you and picked up her fork.
“Where’s the pie?” Sam asked with a raised eyebrow. He figured Dean had it stashed at the bottom of the boxes and started opening them.
“I’m not sharing with you, sasquatch.” Dean grumbled wearing a little frown. Beside him, Rhomy snickered and he felt her lean on his arm.
They got back to their research but didn’t find much with what they had and Sam figured they’d have to make a trip to the library. Dean made a face but didn’t protest, he didn’t like the research much and spending the day inside a library was the worst sort of punishment he could envision. Someone like him did not belong indoors.
“In the morning.” Dean muttered shifting to glance over his shoulder. Rhomy had fallen asleep and she didn’t look at all comfortable. Her brow was furrowed, one hand resting on her chest where her fingers twitched. She was breathing slowly, as though it hurt and Dean figured it probably did since she was half curled into a ball. He got up, picked up the scattered papers and set them aside. Gently, he straightened her legs laying her flat and wondered again why he felt so comfortable with her. Why it always felt so natural to feel her hand slip into his… She was special; he knew that even if Cas hadn’t practically said it.
Rhomy woke with a start. The images where still fresh and she knew exactly what to do but getting up was something else altogether. The pain that flared up her leg took her breath and every muscle in her body protested the sudden need to move. Still, Rhomy forced herself into a sitting position trying not to focus on her sore back and the pain in her knee. She told herself it wasn’t that bad, she’d suffered worse and then got up feeling like a craggy old woman as she hobbled over to her bag. Retrieving the black notebook and the small case she dropped back into the bed holding back a gasp of pain. She focused on the blank sheet in front of her and started to sketch. Words popped into her head and she wrote them down continuing her sketch until she had the whole story mapped out in her notebook. She’d done the same thing countless times, a little trick her Mother taught her when she was little and woke up trying to tell them what she’d dreamt only to feel frustrated because pieces where missing. There were stacks of notebooks Romela had used through the years, all of them safely packed away since her death.
Dean woke up first, breaking her focus and she noticed where the guys had fallen sleep. She felt a little bad for Sam who looked the most uncomfortable, half draped over the table and his lap top. He’d definitely have a crimp in his neck and then Dean was up, stretching his back and calling for Sam who sat up suddenly. She didn’t miss the snicker on Dean’s face but then he’d slept on the second bed and was well rested.
“You remind me of Laz.” Rhomy muttered with a little shake of her head thinking of her cousin and the terrible yet brotherly pleasure he took in torturing Joel. Her eyes dropped back to the sketches in her lap and she studied them, slowly piecing the story together.
“What’s that?” Dean asked over her shoulder. She’d completely missed the dip in the bed as he’d sat behind her. “Hey-.” He frowned recognizing the face on the page.
“Bookbinder.” Rhomy murmured drawing in a long breath, it was almost a sigh. “He was an orphan…the building burned…” her fingers traced the drawing on the paper smudging it. “They were screaming- crying…he tossed them out and it was cold-freezing…white…” she tapped the blank spot on the sheet, blinking back the sudden burn of tears. “She didn’t move-when he shook her-she didn’t move…” Rhomy shook her head, saddened by what she knew the little boy had seen. “They took him…and then he started to forget… started talking, he grew up…” the words seemed to dominate the page, her scribbled notes and she focused on one. “He was a bookbinder- there was another fire and he…broke, started to remember…it got too much-he broke.” Rhomy looked up, noticing that Sam stood at the end of the bed staring at her but she couldn’t figure out his expression.
“Rhomy.” Dean’s voice was a husky whisper by her shoulder and she turned to him, still feeling the weight of the words- of what she knew happened and it saddened her.
“He was protecting her because she reminds him of his sister.” She said softly. “He wasn’t…”
“What are you talking about?” Sam’s voice was harsh.
“Bookbinder- the ghost.” Rhomy explained holding out her sketchbook to him. “That’s what they called him because he wouldn’t speak. They didn’t know his name.”
“Are you kidding?” Sam demanded glaring at her.
“Sam.” Dean warned frowning up at him.
“No, Dean.” He glared at them both. “You're buying this?” He demanded thinking his brother had definitely lost his mind if he was going along with the bullshit story Rhomy had spun. Granted, he’d felt somehow sucked into her fiction and the drawings!
“You're sure?” Dean asked Rhomy ignoring Sam’s exasperated exclamation. Rhomy nodded, her hazel eyes so dark… He drew in a breath and forced himself to look at Sam. “Prove her wrong, Sammy.”
Sam’s jaw dropped open. He couldn’t believe Dean was siding with her over him.
“You shouldn’t have told him that.” Rhomy whispered. She felt guilty, bad because Sam had looked so hurt by Dean’s words.
“He’ll be fine.” Dean replied but for once he wasn’t as hungry and when the waitress came he just got coffee.
“A stack of pancakes and some bacon, please.” Rhomy added with a smile for the blond girl taking their order. “You know you're going to eat it.” She told him when he stared at her. A small smile graced his mouth.
“How do you know?” Dean asked turning to her slightly. The booth was circular but even so Dean was comfortable with Rhomy tucked into his side. “About the…ghost.”
“It’s another one. A gift.”She added when he looked blank.
“Oh.” He was quiet for a moment but it didn’t last very long. “So… how…?”
Rhomy smiled. He was curious enough to ask and that was a good sign because she didn’t want to be the one always bringing up her faith. They looked up as the waitress came back with Dean’s coffee and Rhomy’s orange juice.
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” She began with the glass held between her fingers. “4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” The words came easily to her mind, the verse had long since been memorized and it was sort of like a story she was trying to tell him. “8To one there is given through the Spirit the power to speak a message of wisdom, to another the power to express a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another wonder-working faith by the same Spirit, to another the extraordinary gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, the working of miracles, to another prophecy, prophetic insight- the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose, to another the ability to discern and distinguish between the utterances of true spirits and false ones, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, to another the ability to interpret such tongues.”
They sat in silence even after the waitress came back with their breakfast and left them alone. Dean didn’t even reach for the bacon as he sat mulling over what she’d just told him. It seemed pretty clear and yet it wasn’t. He’d seen her do more…
“11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” Rhomy added seeing the question he wanted to ask but hadn’t yet figured out how to phrase. “My Greats-Grandfather Elian was blessed in so many ways…he could-.” She turned in the seat, moving away from him enough to be able to look him in the eyes. “They say he could raise the dead. I never saw that, but I know it is possible. There are people who’ve come back and they all have the same consistent story- There’s a documentary called the ‘Lazarus Phenomenon’- its pretty amazing if you watch it. One man was actually embalmed, his wife was at the wake surrounded by people and cameras, praying- the man got up. He’d thought he was asleep and didn’t know he’d been dead for three days.”
“Demon.” It was the first thing that came to Dean’s mind but she was already shaking her head.
“He was spared, Dean. There’s a difference and it doesn’t always have to be something evil.” She touched her palm to his cheek wishing he wouldn’t insist on keeping that wall up around himself.
“You said its one gift.” Dean said. “But I’ve seen you do…other stuff too.”
“My Mom could too.” Rhomy sighed knowing it was time to back off. She pointed to the bacon taking a piece for herself. That had Dean snorting in amusement. “One isn’t going to kill me.”
They started to eat just as the waitress came back. She refilled Dean’s cup and finally got a smile from him. Rhomy smirked, amused by the bright red cheeks as the blond girl walked off but Dean hadn’t seemed to notice.
“What else did they do?” He asked through a bite of pancakes. She’d already told him about the first woman to take on the job of taking care of the key and of her life but she hadn’t told him about the others except to mention their names and what cousins belonged to whom. It was a confusing family tree, and big.
“Grandma Calida was the quiet sort. Her faith was unshakeable even at the worst times.” Rhomy replied smiling as she remembered the story of how she surprised Grandfather Thane when she announced he was going to marry her.
“What’s so funny?” Dean asked seeing her grin. Rhomy shrugged but she told him anyway hoping he didn’t start putting the pieces together. He laughed too, feeling more at ease. It didn’t seem so difficult to accept that maybe it would all be ok and Sam would see they didn’t need to go after Lilith…
“Granny Cal could heal and she’d prophecy as well. She’d know when there was going to be trouble or if someone was going to be sick- it was just a warning system but I hear it came in handy. A lot.” She added before taking another bite of pancakes.
The ‘a lot’ is what got Dean’s attention.
“What happened?” He asked. She hesitated but then decided it wouldn’t change anything if she did tell him. It would serve a double purpose in that Dean would get to know more about her family and why they were so willing to say ‘Yes’. And if Dean began to accept…well, then maybe he’d do what was asked of him as well.
Sam did not want to accept what was staring back at him. He didn’t want to think of their response to what he found. And Sam would have to tell them…
He rubbed the heels of both hands into his eyes still angry and hurt because his brother-. Sam pushed away from the table and got up, pacing the little glass enclosed room. The library was full of people, mostly college students and he found himself wishing he’d never left Stanford in the first place. Nothing good had come from it, nothing at all and it wasn’t the first time Sam made that same wish but nothing changed.
Jess was still dead. Dean had still gone to hell. Lilith was free. The Colt was still missing. No, nothing had changed … except Sam.
Sam was different, he changed, he broke his promise to Dean and hadn’t gotten much in return because Lilith was still alive.
Sam slammed his fist into the table, the sound echoing in the room and he welcomed the flare of pain in his knuckles.
Ok. So she was right. The ‘Bookbinder’ ghost was a real patient who’d been committed the first year the asylum had opened. He’d been assigned to the grave corps headed by a staff member. They dug the graves for dead patients which wasn’t out of the norm considering… but the note, scribbled in the Dr.’s hand wasn’t.
Today we buried one of our oldest patients, Bookbinder. A most unusual man I’ve never met. He never spoke, his mental illness left him incapable of coherent speech. I remember him as a young man, strong and in good physical health. He never exhibited any signs of rage or danger and I enlisted him into my grave corps.
Strangely enough, Old Book was perfect for this sort of work. The only strange thing I noticed was that he seemed inordinately saddened by the deaths. All the patients are strangers; they are not connected or related to each other in any way or to my staff for that matter…
The funerals are mainly conducted out of respect for I feel every soul should be acknowledge as having been in this most beautiful and terrible of places.
Old Book was a surprise. He seemed to take every death to heart. At the first internment he removed his cap, wiped his eyes and began to weep…loudly…for the patient who had died. He did the same thing at every service. He’d wipe those unfathomable eyes of his on his sleeve and walk over to the old elm standing in the middle of the cemetery and sob loudly. The staff began calling it the ‘Graveyard Elm’ and the name has stayed. It is a massive old tree that was here before I opened my hospital…
Now Old Book has passed and as everyone decided to attend his service, for he is- was, he was well liked and noted for his peculiarities.
There were at least a hundred uniformed nurses in attendance along with male staff members and several of the patients as well. I officiated, as I have done for many other of my patients but nothing like this has ever occurred. I am not sure that I would believe it except that I was present and there are many witnesses who will agree with what I will write next.
The casket was placed on two cross beams, four men stood by to lower it at the end of the service. The choir sang The Rock of Ages and at the last lines the men took hold of the ropes, stooped forward in preparation to lift it. At my nod they heaved away, a powerful effort in order to ease the beams out of the way and lower Old Book to his final resting place.
I did not expect what happened next, and dare I say no one else did as well.
All four men lay on their backs, shocked for the coffin bounded in the air having given no resistance at all. A few of the women shrieked, some ran- putting distance between them and the coffin while others drew nearer to see what was going on.
In the midst of all this commotion I heard a wailing voice. Every eye turned to the Graveyard Elm where it seemed to originate. Such a sound, I will never forget for it was filled with such sadness…
We stood transfixed for Old Book stood there, just as he had on every funeral we had performed on the grounds. He was weeping and moaning with an earnestness that outrivaled anything he had ever shown before. His grief was touching…
I could not believe he was truly dead and ordered the coffin be opened believing someone had played some grievous prank for amusement. As the lid was pried open the wailing cut out. It was just gone and looking to the elm we could find no trace of Old Book. Every eye present looked upon the still corpse of Old Book, undoubtedly dead, lying in the coffin...
It was awful but real. I was present, one hundred nurses saw this happen and over a hundred spectators as well.
I have no explanation and dare not try to explain it…
The Graveyard Elm has begun to whither and no matter what we do it seems determined to die. As though it would join Old Book wherever his gentle soul has gone.
I imagine I will have to have it removed and that, for some reason, seems a tragedy to my old heart.
It was signed with the Dr.’s name at the end.
“What about this Priest?” Dean asked to break the silence after Rhomy finished reading the Dr.’s note on Bookbinder. He didn’t want to feel sorry for the ghost that hit him but she’d managed to convey the Dr.’s sentiment rather well.
“I have his file.” Sam replied opening another folder with a picture of the ghost. It was the same ghost he’d seen and by Rhomy’s nod she agreed. “I found something else.” He turned to the back of the folder and separated a stack of printouts. “There’s a list of deaths from when the Priest was alive. I didn’t think much of it at first but something Pastor Jim said kinda clicked.”
“Really?” Dean questioned because he’d always tuned out Pastor Jim when he started preaching.
“Yeah, Dean.” Sam frowned. “He did have important knowledge to pass on.”
“What are these?” Rhomy asked taking the printouts.
“Murders.” Sam answered easily. “I think they may be connected.” He watched as Rhomy skimmed through the first article, her face clearly showing her disgust at what had been done to the victim. Realization dawned quickly as she skimmed the second and then she looked up at him.
“I-.” Rhomy didn’t want to believe something like that was still done. It couldn’t.
“Ritual murder.” Sam said looking just a bit triumphant.
“What?” Dean questioned looking from his brother to Rhomy. She turned to him and he could tell she didn’t want to agree with Sam.
“It was how the church used to perform some of its exorcisms.” She swallowed past the dryness in her mouth and continued feeling sick just at the thought of what the victims had gone through. “They would drill a hole…in their head. To release the demon. There was purification- forcing them to fast- to purify the body so the demon would leave. And others were drowned…in holy water.” She dropped her eyes unable to look at him and see that everything he believed was reinforced. “The bloody knees…the possessed was forced to stay like that and pray the demon out.”
“You're saying the Priest did all this?” Dean asked his brother.
“It’s not common practice; these are some of the older beliefs of the church. In order for Father Anson to do this someone else had to have taught him. Someone who knew-.” Rhomy said looking to Sam but he was nodding. “This isn’t done anymore.” She insisted.
“There’s nothing after the Father was committed. The killings just stopped.” Sam said ignoring her. He had Dean’s full attention and Sam wasn’t going to let her in. “I did find some deaths at the asylum that look like maybe Father Anson kept it up. Patients drowning in the bath, a few were ruled suicides- hole in the head- even though they weren’t suicidal.”
“What about the fasting and the knees?” Dean asked standing up.
“No.” Sam shook his head. “I don’t think he was able to do that. Too many nurses around, he could’ve gotten caught.”
“So, psycho killer Preacher man thought he was exorcising demons out of these people.” Dean muttered tossing the pages onto the table. “You know where he’s at?” He asked looking at Sam.
Rhomy watched them prepare for the Hunt in silence. She wasn’t going with them but she wasn’t asking them to take her either. She just hoped Dean would see that it wasn’t fair to blame the Father’s actions on the entire church.
‘One bad apple in the barrel…’
But didn’t that usually spoil some of the other apples too?