Foregoing any pretense of calm or daring, Goody and his eclectic group scrambled away from the brick piles, across the open field, racing over the footbridge and back into Gramberly Cemetery proper. Goody closed the rustic gate, setting a binding on it in an attempt to keep the Banished spirits in the other region.
As each of the Gramberly ghosts came upon their own gravesite, they descended into the ground or melded into their crypts. Goody, Frankie and Lilith continued on to the caretaker’s cabin.
Goody threw the cemetery map on his kitchen bar along with his carpenter’s apron filled with his ghost wrangling paraphernalia. Rolling out the map, he showed the women where the circus casualties were buried in Gramberly – a small, isolated area, marked by 13 ovals each numbered and dated.
“These indicate where the plots should be,” Goody said, tapping each oval on the map. “I remember these stones. Known names were added, otherwise, the epitaph simply read, ‘Gallatin Bros. Circus and Sideshow Fire, June 19, 1954’.”
“What are you going to do now?” Frankie said.
“I’m not sure,” he said, rubbing his hands through is hair. He paced around the bar, touching the top of each stool as he passed. “I need to find out how the spirits were moved the second time. Whether it was townspeople or some of the banished ones.”
“I’ll go take a look at the plots,” Lilith said. “I can get there faster than you can.”
Lilith passed through the cabin door without opening it, a maneuver she rarely did because it made being dead far too real for her.
“I think I found them,” Lilith said when she returned.
“What do you mean you ‘think’ you found them?” Goody said. “The names on the stones would tell you which ones they were.”
“That’s the thing,” Lilith said. “I found the stones where you said they would be, but the surfaces were completely blank. No names, no dates, nothing.”
“Wait, that can’t be right.” Goody ran over to a floor-to-ceiling bookcase and began searching through the titles, pulling a leather-bound volume from the shelves.
“Here is a directory of the Gramberly interred from the 1950s,” Goody said, leafing through the pages. “An account of the circus fire and fatalities buried in the cemetery will be recorded.”
Goody sat down at the kitchen bar and thumbed through the book, becoming more frantic as he went.
“It’s not here,” he said. “The account of the fire, the list of names, it’s not here. It’s gone. There’re just blank pages. The whole event’s been erased.”
“It’s not just erasing their names from their stones, but effacing their whole existence from the history of Gramberly,” Lilith said.
Harlan and Luther leaned against the gate separating Gramberly from the field where the banished were reburied, Goody’s binding keeping them from passing through.
“This wrangler is stronger and smarter than that fool Egbert,” Harlan said.
“You’re telling me it’s just a hollow dream?” Luther said. “Us finally breaking free of this place?”
“I’m saying we have to be more devious than this Duxford,” Harlan said, rolling his dice around in his palm. “Maybe the wrangler is a gambling man.”