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(Fear) The Reaper

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1987

“Shawn!” Henry loomed over his son. “I hope you know you’re cleaning up this mess. What are you doing with all of this anyway?”

Shawn and Gus peered up over the back of the couch. They were heavily armed with cooking utensils.

“It’s a fortress, Dad,” Shawn said.

“For the zombie apocalypse,” Gus added eagerly.

“Well, that’s no good,” Henry said. “Boys, a zombie fortress needs to be unbreachable. Zombies are unresting, unflagging, untiring undead machines with only one goal: to eat your brains. You think this flimsy construct is going to stop them?”

Henry held his arms out in front of him and moaned, then began walking until he hit the couch. The couch stopped his stride, but his feet just kept moving.

“See, it worked,” Shawn said.

“For now,” Henry said, feet still moving and arms still out. “But the thing about zombies is, there’s never just one. As soon as the others hear me moaning, they’re going to know there’s fresh meat over this way, and they’re going to come dragging along. They’ll start piling up, crushing up against me, until –“

Henry tipped himself over the back of the couch at the boys, righted himself, and came at them, arms outstretched, moaning at top volume.

Gus screamed and broke through the back wall of cushions. His feet pounded up the stairs.

“Dad,” Shawn said in exasperation. “It’s just for fun.”

Henry bent over and pointed his finger in Shawn’s face. “Zombies,” he told his son sternly, “are not just for fun. You either take them seriously, or you end up one of them.”

Shawn rolled his eyes.

***

2009

Shawn staggered into the police station, bent over his blood-stained torso. He leaned against the closest wall, panting.

“Shawn!” Buzz said, stopping and holding out an arm. “Are you all right?”

Shawn moaned, then slowly straightened up. Another moan came from his blood-ringed mouth, and then his arms straightened out in front of his body as he shuffled toward Buzz, who took an uncertain step back.

Lassiter stopped in the hallway and rolled his eyes. “Stop screwing around, Spencer,” he said, then continued walking, muttering, “Every single Halloween.”

Shawn’s arms flew out to his sides. “Lassie, c’mon!” he protested. “Where’s your holiday spirit?”

Buzz grinned. “Oh, I get it,” he said. “Great zombie costume, Shawn.”

“Had you nervous, didn’t I, buddy?” Shawn said proudly. “And this isn’t the all-out version. That’s got my intestines hanging out.”

“Awesome,” Buzz said, giving him a thumbs-up before continuing on his way. Shawn preened a little under Buzz’s adoration. It was good to have fans of his work.

Shawn wandered over to Juliet’s desk. “Hey, Jules,” he said, then grinned happily when she looked up and jumped at his blood-spattered appearance.

“Shawn, please,” she said, and went back to typing furiously. “Some of us have to work for a living.”

“Every day,” Shawn told her, “you sound more like Lassiter.”

Juliet grimaced. “We’re just really busy right now,” she said.

Shawn wondered what it was like to be busy. It didn’t sound fun.

“So let me lighten the load,” he said magnanimously. “Throw some work my way.”

“We don’t really have anything we need you on right now,” Juliet said absently, squinting at her computer screen.

“Nothing?” Shawn pestered, because while busy sounded not-fun, money sounded like rent. “No unsolved murders or some nice, easy kidnapping I can take off your hands?”

“Here, Spencer,” Lassiter said, appearing out of nowhere with a file in his hand. “You want some work to do? Give this a shot.”

“I’m getting paid for this, right?” Shawn said to Lassiter’s departing back. No one answered.

***

“What kind of case is this again?” Gus asked as they got out of the car.

Shawn headed up the walk steps. “Assault and home invasion,” he said over his shoulder.

“That’s pretty standard,” Gus said, catching up to him as he rang the doorbell. “Why do they need us on it?”

“They’re a little overwhelmed down at the station right now,” Shawn said. “Just trying to show them that we’re team players.”

The door opened to reveal an elderly woman with thick glasses. She was leaning on a heavy wooden cane.

“Mrs. Moore?” Shawn asked. “I’m Shawn Spencer, the head psychic at the Santa Barbara Police Department, and this is my associate, Drizzle McBarley.” Gus nodded politely at Mrs. Moore. “I’m here to talk to you about the break-in and assault.”

Mrs. Moore served them a hot drink in delicate little china cups with saucers. Shawn was pretty sure the drink was TheraFlu with a little whiskey for flavor.

“I hope you weren’t hurt in the incident, Mrs. Moore,” Gus told her. She smiled sweetly at him.

“Oh, no, nothing I couldn’t handle,” she said, and gave her cane a shake. “More tea?”

“No, I’m fine, Mrs. Moore,” Shawn said. “Why don’t you tell us what happened.”

Mrs. Moore sat down and poured herself a cup. “Well, I was cleaning up in the kitchen when I heard this racket on the back porch. Sounded like nails dragging on the steps. The next thing I know, something is rattling at the doggie door, but I had it locked. I thought it must be a stray, so I opened the door to shoo it away, and that’s when Harry came in.”

“You knew your attacker?” Gus asked.

“Knew him!” Mrs. Moore said. “We lived together for 13 years! You can imagine my surprise. Oh, and was he ever filthy – covered in dirt and grime and smelling something terrible. I still haven’t quite got rid of all the smell.”

“So you let Harry in?” Shawn said.

“Of course,” Mrs. Moore said. “You didn’t think he’d opened the door by himself, did you?”

“Did you and Harry part on bad terms?” Gus asked. Shawn looked around the room and noticed the old dog bed in the corner, the end of a leash dangling off the coat rack, the Corgi statuettes in the curio cabinet.

“Harry and I never exchanged cross words in our lives,” Mrs. Moore said, slightly indignant. “Well, not until that night. He tried to bite me! In fact, I think he would have eaten me if he could have. I had to beat his skull in with my cane! It was quite horrible.” She serenely sipped her tea.

“You beat his skull in?” Gus asked, and his voice cracked. “Did he … die?”

“A curious question,” Mrs. Moore said with a contemplative sigh.

“Mrs. Moore,” Shawn asked, “where is Harry now?”

“Oh, I buried him in the backyard,” she said matter-of-factly. Gus looked like he might faint.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Shawn said. Lassiter was going to pay for this, but the look on Gus’ face was making up for a lot of it. “Did you have him tested for rabies first?”

Gus looked from Shawn to Mrs. Moore and back to Shawn. “Harry is a dog?” he demanded.

“A Corgi, if I’m not mistaken,” Shawn said, and Mrs. Moore beamed with delight.

“My goodness, you are a psychic!” she said, and poured Shawn more TheraFlu whiskey. “And I didn’t see the need for a rabies test, now, did I?”

Shawn stood up and clapped his hands together lightly. “Mrs. Moore,” he gave her a bobbing bow of thanks, “we’re so glad you’re all right. Just wanted to follow up and make sure everything was okay now.”

“Thank you, dear,” she said sweetly. “You young men are so much nicer than that crankity fellow I got transferred to when I called the police department.”

Gus waited until Mrs. Moore had shown them out and shut the door behind them. “Harry’s a dog,” he informed Shawn.

“Hmmm,” Shawn said, reviewing the conversation. He turned around and knocked on Mrs. Moore’s door again. “One last thing, Mrs. Moore,” he said when she answered. “Why was the doggie door locked?”

“Well, there wasn’t much use for it after Harry died, was there?” she said.

“But Harry was still alive,” Gus said.

“She means,” Shawn said, looking at Mrs. Moore’s tranquil face, “after Harry died the first time.”

***

“You’re hysterical, Lassie,” Shawn said, striding up to Lassiter’s desk. The detective didn’t look up, but he started smiling evilly.

“What do you think, Spencer, should I file charges against Mrs. Moore’s Corgi for assault?” he asked.

“Actually, you may want to think about filing murder charges against Mrs. Moore,” Shawn shot back. “Oh, wait, is it double-jeopardy if Harry was already dead when she bashed his head in?”

Lassiter got up and strode across the room toward the chief’s office. “I thought you’d like that,” he said. “A little Halloween twist on the story.”

“Did you get a whiff of her kitchen?” Shawn asked. “Smelled like decomposing doggie to me.”

“Right,” Lassiter said, deadpan. “I’ll get right on that. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go solve some crimes committed by live, human suspects.”

Shawn let him stomp off. He had things to think about.

***

“What are you doing here already?” Gus demanded, striding into the Psych office.

Shawn jiggled in his seat in front of the laptop. He couldn’t really stop, given the two or three pots of coffee he’d consumed over the night. “Gus!” he said, and he knew he needed to take it down a notch, but again, coffee.

“Did you sleep here?” Gus asked, frowning.

“No,” Shawn assured him. “I’ve been working. Come here, you have to see this.”

Gus came around the desk and his frown deepened. “Shawn, you’re watching Zombieland trailers,” he said. “Not exactly billable hours.”

“But it is,” Shawn said in delight. He minimized Zombieland with a silent apology. “Check this out.”

Gus leaned in and peered over Shawn’s shoulder. “Zombie cats roam neighborhood,” he read. Looking up the browser, he saw that it was a brief in the Santa Barbara News-Press. “Shawn, this is just some Halloween piece they stuck in the briefs,” he said.

Shawn nodded. It made his brains rattle in his head. “Yeah, that’s why they put it in at all, but people are actually reporting this,” he said, and starting pulling other browsers to the front. Gus’ breath huffed on his neck in surprise.

“Dude,” Gus said, “that is whack.”

“You are so white,” Shawn said, then pushed Gus out of the way. “Come on, we need to go talk to these people.”

The Clevelands, two blocks over from Mrs. Moore, confirmed that their beloved Kirk had clawed his way out of his backyard grave and was now at large.

The Redmans had not seen their poor little Pippin, but there was a hole in their yard where he’d been put to rest.

And Mr. Hall confessed that he had run the neighbors’ Chihuahua rat-dog over with his car only to have it come snapping and growling to life in his hands while he guiltily walked her remains home.

“This neighborhood is like ground zero for zombie pet activity,” Shawn told Gus while they walked up to the Amans’ house. Little Naima had posted on MySpace about the hamster and parrot arising from the dead.

Gus didn’t answer. Shawn thought Gus might be having a few issues with the living pet dead.

As Shawn pressed the doorbell button, the door opened and two tall men in suits walked out. They stood on the porch and surveyed Shawn and Gus. Shawn and Gus sized them both up. Shawn wasn’t sure what Gus concluded, but he concluded that these dudes were tall.

“Hello,” an annoyed little person said from the open door. Judging by her Jonas Brother t-shirt, Shawn thought he’d found Naima.

“Naima,” he said. “I’m Shawn Spencer, the head psychic at the Santa Barbara Police Department, and this is my associate, Alec Baldwin.” Gus waved at her. “I e-mailed you about Scooby and Scrappy.”

“You don’t look like a psychic,” Naima said.

Shawn laughed as fakely as he could. “How would you know what a psychic looks like?” he asked.

Naima wrinkled her nose at him. “Besides, I just talked to these guys from the Center for Disease Control,” she said, and pointed at the suits.

The suits looked highly amused. “Head psychic, huh?” the least tall suit said. “Nice sandals.”

“Yeah, well, nice tie,” Shawn said, because he was caught off-guard because, dude, they were nice sandals.

“The Santa Barbara Police Department has time to investigate hamster and parrot deaths?” the most tall suit said.

Gus scoffed. “Like the CDC does,” he said. “How about some ID?”

“We’ll show you ours if you show us yours,” the least tall suit said, and man, that was dirty.

While the suits were looking at Shawn and Gus’ Knightrider Fan Club memberships cards (they had business cards, but c’mon, he wasn’t wasting them on these two wanna-bes), Shawn and Gus examined their nearly authentic IDs.

Shawn returned Agent Hamill’s ID and Gus returned Agent Ford’s ID. They all sized each other up for another moment.

“Unless you’re going to fight or something cool, get off my porch,” Naima said. They all turned to look at her and she slammed the door shut.

“Huh,” Gus said.

“Kids these days,” Shawn said, shaking his head.

The suits were halfway down the walk.

“Good luck with your psychic stuff,” the most tall suit called over his shoulder.

“And those sandals,” the least tall suit added.

They got into a cherry black muscle car that would kill any real CDC agent dead from its awesomeness.

“Where do those guys get off, pretending to be something they’re not?” Shawn said to Gus as they watched them drive off.

***

They tailed the suits back through the neighborhood and then to a diner. Gus waited in the car while Shawn ran up the street to a different diner and grabbed them lunch. (What? They can’t tail really tall suits on an empty stomach!)

After they ate, the most tall suit made a series of calls and took notes while the least tall suit flirted with the waitress and seemingly got free pie for his efforts. As they left the diner and got back into the sweet muscle car, the least tall suit waved to Shawn and Gus.

“Maybe if someone had a less conspicuous car, things like this wouldn’t happen,” Shawn sniped at Gus.

“Maybe if someone had a car at all, he could follow these guys around all on his own,” Gus retorted.

“That’s why I don’t have a car,” Shawn pointed out.

They followed the suits back to Mrs. Moore’s neighborhood and watched as they approached a house with a For Sale sign in the yard and shook hands with a young woman waiting on the porch. She was wearing a smart little suit and had a folder clutched in her hand.

“There’s no undead animals here,” Gus said. “No one even lives there.”

“Hmmm,” Shawn said, whipping out his phone.

“Who are you texting?” Gus asked, leaning over. Shawn pushed him away.

“Naima,” he said.

“That has the potential to be seriously creepy, Shawn,” Gus admonished, and Shawn gave him a scathing look because please.

“She says,” Shawn continued a few minutes later when his phone beeped back at him, “that this house is supposed to be haunted.”

“A haunted house and a bunch of zombie pets?” Gus asked. “Sounds pretty farfetched, even for us.”

“Yeah,” Shawn said, fingers flying over his phone. “Naima also says this house totally isn’t actually haunted and is really, really lame.”

“I’m glad you’re getting your research from 11-year-olds now, Shawn,” Gus said. “It’s a new highlight in your career.”

“Kids know everything,” Shawn said, and then got out of the car because the suits had just emerged from the house with their realtor.

“Agents,” he said, strolling up while Gus scrambled behind him.

“Mr. Spencer,” the least tall suit said. “Hey, Sophie, these are the guys we were telling you about. This is Mr. Spencer and his life partner, Mr. Baldwin.”

“Hi!” Sophie said with I-need-this-commission cheer. “The agents were just telling me that they’re friends with a couple in town who are in the market. I’d love to take you inside, this is a great starter home.”

“And it’s just been declared CDC clear,” the most tall suit said. “I think it’s great for you two.”

“Oh,” Shawn said, “I don’t know.” He turned to Gus. “Do you think we’re Cape Cod kind of people? I was really thinking of something more modern.”

“Come on in and take a look before you decide,” Sophie said. “It’s all remodeled inside – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

“We’ll leave you to it,” the most tall suit said as they strolled by Shawn and Gus.

“Happy hunting,” the least tall suit called over his shoulder.

Sophie (who was cute enough to make the house viewing tolerable) showed them all the renovations and “adorable” features with meticulous detail. Shawn soon stopped feigning interest, but he thought Gus really liked the place.

“Sophie, we’re going to go home and talk about it,” he declared at the end of their tour.

“Thank you so much,” Gus told her.

“Sure,” Sophie bubbled, handing Gus her car. “My cell’s on there, so if you have any questions, if you want to see it again, just give me a call anytime.”

“One question,” Shawn said. “Our buddies from before? Agents Hamill and Ford? They’re here checking out some pet disease in the neighborhood – if we decided to adopt some sweet, furry little thing, it’s not at any risk, is it?”

Sophie blanched. “Oh, no,” she rushed to reassure him. “Any pet you brought home would be perfectly safe. Check with your friends – really!”

“Good to know,” Shawn said. “Gus has his heart set on a shiatsu.”

***

“Jules,” Shawn said, strolling up to her desk. It was vacant.

“Juliet?” Shawn asked, wandering around the hallway. He reached out to open the Records Room door, but the door swung in before his hand grasped the knob.

Juliet emerged, pink-cheeked and slightly breathless.

Most tall suit came out of the room after her.

“Mr. Spencer,” he said smugly, and walked away.

“Shawn,” Juliet said impatiently, like maybe she’d said his name a few times while he stood there hearing rushing white noise in his ears.

“Yeah,” Shawn answered with a start. “Hey. Jules. I, uh, wanted to ask you about something.” He pointed, involuntarily, at most tall suit’s departing figure.

“The pet problem,” Juliet said. “Shawn, I’m so sorry Carleton dumped that on you. It looks like it’s a public health problem, and not even a police matter.”

Shawn jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the general direction most tall suit had been walking. “And, they’re, uh, the CDC guys are …”

Juliet reached out to pat Shawn on the arm. He noticed that her blouse was misbuttoned. “They’re taking care of it, Shawn. Again, really sorry about Carleton,” and she was off.

Shawn decided he needed to lie down. Right away. The Chief’s office was great for that.

The blinds were shut, so he was extending his hand to knock when the door swing inward.

Least tall suit emerged, straightening his tie.

“Mr. Spencer,” he said smugly, and left the building.

Shawn thought he might pass out.

“Mr. Spencer,” the Chief said impatiently, like maybe she’d said his name a few times while his head was spinning.

“I’m sorry, Chief, I was having a little vision there,” Shawn said, putting his fingers to his temples. “Those guys, those CDC guys, they aren’t who they say they are. You should really check up on them.”

Chief Vick put her hands on her hips. “Mr. Spencer, do you think I just let people stroll into my city and start investigations without knowing who they are? I spoke to their supervisor Dr. Lucas earlier today, and they are completely legitimate. Now, did you need something else?”

“I have no idea,” Shawn said. “I don’t know what’s happening.”

“Well, you let me know when you figure it out,” the Chief said, and turned on her heel and went back into her office.

***

“This is stupid, Shawn,” Gus said.

“Shhh,” Shawn said. “Don’t blow our cover.”

“Cover?” Gus hissed. “These are tombstones, Shawn. They’re not cover, they’re an invitation for very bad, horrible things to come out of the ground and get us.”

“Be a man, Gus,” Shawn said, and peered around his tombstone.

The suits (now in jeans and T-shirts) had stopped digging up the grave and were debating something. They looked through the duffle bag they’d brought with them, but clearly couldn’t find what they were looking for. Most tall suit pointed a finger at least tall suit. Least tall suit made yapping gestures with his hands at most tall suit. Most tall suit didn’t like that at all and threw his hands up in the air.

“What are they doing?” Gus whispered.

“I dunno,” Shawn said. “Looks like they finished digging up the grave, but now they’re having another argument.”

“Shawn,” Gus said, “don’t you think that if the phrase ‘finished digging up the grave’ is part of the sentence that’s it’s time to call the police?”

“Shhh,” Shawn said. “Besides, it’s not as weird as when they were lying on the graves and listening with stethoscopes.” He had to admit, that had been super weird.

When Shawn peered around the tombstone again, the suits were walking toward their car. Most tall suit was still waving his arms around.

Shawn made a break for the open grave as soon as the suits were out of sight. “Shawn!” Gus squawked, and there was no way the suits didn’t hear that.

Shawn jumped right into the grave. Gus’ terrified face appeared above him. “What are you doing, Shawn?” Gus demanded. “Are you insane?”

Shawn’s heart was pounding in his ears. “Just wait, Gus,” he said, holding up a hand. “I think I’ve got this … I think … It’s gotta be.” He started bouncing up and down on the casket.

“Gus, do you know what’s going on here?” he yelled in delight. “Do you know what’s inside this casket?” and Gus didn’t get a chance to answer because something started pounding and moaning inside the coffin, and then a decomposing hand broke through and grabbed Shawn’s ankle.

All right, so maybe he screamed like an itty bitty girl, but at least he didn’t run all the way back to the office in terror, no doubt screaming the whole way.

The suits? Were AWESOME.

Most tall suit jumped into the grave, stomped the hand (breaking off a couple of its fingers), shoved Shawn up the side to least tall suit, pried open the coffin with a crowbar and jumped effortlessly out of the grave.

Least tall suit neatly chopped the head off the thing that came crawling out of the grave with an ax.

Then the two of them shoved it back inside, closed the coffin and filled the grave back up.

Shawn would have helped, but first he had to go behind a grave and piddle, and then he had to lie on the ground and shake all over.

The suits continued on their new mission of awesomeness and gave Shawn a ride back to the office.

Then they reverted to their original mission of dickishness and invited themselves in. They took food out of the fridge and put their muddy boots on the furniture. It was enough to draw Gus out of his bathroom fortress position.

“So, Agents,” Shawn said.

“Dean,” said least tall suit. He was sitting in Shawn’s chair with his feet on the desk.

“Sam,” said most tall suit. He was sitting in one of the armchairs with his feet on the coffee table.

“Dean. Sam,” Shawn said. “That was a zombie.”

“You shoulda heard you screaming,” Dean said, laughing and pointing at Shawn with his spoon.

“That’s great, thanks,” Shawn said. “But back to the problem at hand. You see, I’m a psychic and I’m sensing that –“

“You’re not a psychic,” Sam said flatly.

“How would you know?” Shawn asked. He liked these guys better when they were being awesome and saving him from flesh-eating zombies.

Sam glowered at him. “I wouldn’t test him out on this, Spencer,” Dean said mildly.

“Okay, whatever,” Shawn said impatiently. “I think the question here is how undead pets have now become undead persons.”

Dean continued eating Shawn’s very special Chunky Monkey ice cream out of the carton. Sam stopped eating his leftover Chinese and fished a folded piece of paper out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Shawn.

Shawn smoothed it out on the table and Gus came to look over his shoulder. “The Xs are places that had zombie pets?” he asked, and the agents hummed in agreement.

“It’s radiating outward,” Shawn said.

“And now it’s reached the graveyard,” Dean confirmed. “So unless we want to dig up every body planted there, whack its head off and replant it, we gotta find out what started this and reverse it.”

Shawn tilted his head to get a better look at the map. His finger landed near the center of the Xs. “The house that’s for sale,” he said.

“That’s ground zero,” Sam confirmed. “But it’s clean.”

Gus nodded. “Right, the realtor said no pet problems there,” he said.

“Yeah, but it’s clean,” Dean said. “No history, no EMF, no cold spots, nada.”

“Dude,” Gus said, “you guys are like Ghostfacers, aren’t you?”

Sam choked. Dean threw down his spoon in disgust. “Dude,” he yelled at Sam, “would you get us a website or something? Because I swear, the next time this happens …”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Something like that,” he said to Gus.

“But way, way cooler,” Dean said. “And way more badass. And not, you know, lame.”

“Clearly,” Shawn said. “Back to the zombie apocalypse. You know that people think that house is haunted even though it’s not, right?”

The agents shook their heads. “We went there because it’s the center of activity,” Sam said.

“Well, I have it on good authority that everyone in the neighborhood thinks that house is haunted,” Shawn said, and Gus snorted.

“It’s not,” Dean said.

“Yeah,” Shawn said. “But people think it is.” The realtor’s face flashed into his mind, blanching when he’d asked about the pets, dying to sell the property, if you’ll forgive the pun. “How long has that place been for sale?” he wondered.

Dean pulled a spiral-bound notebook out of his jacket pocket and flipped through it. “Wow,” he said. “Four years. Hard sell.”

“That house was adorable. And a great price,” Gus said, then his eyes widened and he turned to Shawn. Shawn was already starting to bounce.

“I know!” Shawn squealed, and they bounced around the room exuberantly, ending with a delicious belly-bump. When the finished, the agents were staring at them, confounded.

“What?” Shawn asked. “Don’t you guys do that when you solve a case?”

***

Sam and Dean returned to awesome state when they picked the lock on the house in like, seconds. Shawn didn’t trust it anymore, though – he knew they’d revert to dickishness at any moment.

“Mr. Spencer? Mr. Baldwin?” a nervous voice called from the foyer.

“In here,” Shawn called from the living room.

Sophie appeared in the room. “How’d you get in?” she asked.

Sam and Dean entered the room behind her. “We have ways,” Dean said.

“Agents!” Sophie said, and put a startled hand to her throat. “I thought you said everything was okay here? Or did you want to look at the house with your friends?” She looked so desperately hopeful that Shawn felt bad for her.

“Sophie, Sophie, Sophie,” he said. “And I thought we’d finally found somewhere that Gus and I could settle down with our little baby shiatsu, Mr. Miyagi.”

“If you don’t think the house is right, why did you call me?” Sophie asked. She was trembling and white.

Sam strode to the middle of the room, carrying a black light. He turned it on over the beautiful hardwood floor and it illuminated a circle filled with complicated symbols. Sophie screamed.

“Wow,” Shawn said. “I mean, the hardwood is beautiful,” beside him, Gus was nodding, “but, I mean, you put that there, right?”

Sophie put her hands to her mouth. “How could you know?” she wailed.

“Oh, I’m a psychic,” Shawn said. “Didn’t my friends tell you?”

“Really?” Sophie squeaked, then burst into tears.

Fortunately, there was enough staging in the house to get Sophie a chair, and Gus had tissues. Shawn found a chair and sat beside her and patted her knee. She really was cute, even if she was raising the dead.

“I didn’t mean to!” Sophie sniffed once she had calmed a little. “It’s just this stupid house, and my boss won’t take me off it, and she’s all over me, all the time, to get it sold, but there’s this stupid story about it being haunted, and it’s not, really, I’ve spent so much time in here, and there’s nothing.” Sophie dabbed at her eyes.

“Then this couple came who wanted to look at the house because they thought it was haunted,” she continued. “And of course, it’s not, so they wouldn’t buy. Told me to give them a call if I came across a genuine haunted house for sale. They thought it would be a good conversation piece or something, to live in a haunted house.”

“So you decided to make it haunted,” Sam said, and Sophie nodded. She picked up her folder and flipped through the pages until she found the one she wanted, and handed it out to Sam.

“I found it on the Internet,” she said. “It said it would raise the dead, but I thought it meant it would bring a ghost to the house, not, you know …”

“Raise the dead?” Dean asked dryly.

“Yeah,” Sophie said, and burst into tears again. “And I couldn’t find anything on the Internet to reverse it. There was this Ghostchasers or something, they talked about how to get rid of ghosts, but everything about zombies just said to remove the head or destroy the brain, but I don’t know how to do that and anyway – ew!”

Shawn put an arm around Sophie and let her put her head on his shoulder.

Sam held up the paper Sophie had given him. “We’ll take care of this,” he said, and Dean nodded in agreement. “Just, careful on the Internet from now on, okay, Sophie?”

***

Gus pulled up in front of the Mermaid Inn and he and Shawn got out. “So, the CDC agents took care of it, right?” Gus asked. “No more living dead in Santa Barbara?”

“I think there’s a serious possibility that they’re not really CDC agents,” Shawn said, then added, “That’s what Sam said on the phone. I just thought we should stop and check, tell them thanks.”

He started to rap on the motel room door, but it swung inward. Sophie came out. She was wearing the same clothes she’d had on the day before and she looked like she was feeling a lot better.

“Oh, Mr. Spencer, Mr. Baldwin!” she said. “I can’t thank you enough for everything. You’ve both been so kind, especially you, Mr. Spencer.” She self-consciously fussed with her mussed hair. “And I would be so happy to show you some more places – in fact, I’ll forego my commission when you buy. I know that the perfect home is out there for you two and your little Mr. Miyagi!”

She stood on her toes to kiss Shawn’s cheek and then beamed happily at them before getting in her car and driving away. Shawn and Gus turned to watch her go.

When they turned back around, Dean was leaning in the doorway, looking like the cat that ate the canary.

“Boys,” he said, then yelled, “Sammy!”

Inside the Impala, parked beside Gus’ car, Sam shot up in the backseat, bleary-eyed and hair sticking up everywhere. “I’m up,” Sam said groggily.

Dean shut the motel room door and tossed a duffle in the back while Sam climbed into the passenger seat.

“Good luck with your psychic stuff,” Dean said with a grin as he got behind the wheel.

“Good luck with your Ghostfacing,” Gus said, because he always had Shawn’s back. Shawn gave him a little fist-bump.

Dean’s grin faded, but beside him, Sam started laughing. Dean slammed the car into gear, spun around and pulled out onto the highway.

***

PSYCH-OUT

1985

Henry sipped his beer. “Zombies,” he said again, still in disbelief.

“Yep,” Winchester said, not looking away from the game on the overhead TV.

“No wonder I couldn’t solve the stupid case,” Henry mused.

“Yep,” Winchester said again.

Henry waved for another round. “What’s the score?” he asked.