Chapter no 13

Hell Bent

When Alex had seen Marjorie Stephen’s body, she’d wondered if Turner had been imagining things, seeing murder because murder was his job. The professor had looked almost peaceful, the finality of her death barely a disruption. The building and the world around her undisturbed.

Not Dean Beekman. The intersection in front of Morse—the same spot where Tara Hutchins’s body had been found last year—was crammed with police cars, their lights flashing in lazy circles. Barriers had been erected, and uniformed cops were checking student IDs before they allowed access to the courtyard. Turner was waiting for her when she arrived and shepherded her inside without a word.

“How are you going to explain having me here?” Alex asked as she slipped blue booties over her shoes.

“I’m telling everyone you’re my CI.” “Great, now I’m a snitch.”

“You’ve been worse. Get inside.”

The front door to Dean Beekman’s office was hanging at an angle and mud had been tracked through the entry. The heavy desk had been knocked askew and books lay scattered across the floor next to a spilled bottle of red wine. The professor was on his back, as if he’d been sitting in the chair and it had simply fallen backward. His legs were still hooked over the seat. One of his shoes had fallen off and the lamp beside him had been tipped over.

Had the dean dozed off reading by the fire and been surprised by his attacker? Or had he put up a fight and been shoved back into his chair? He looked silly, almost cartoonish with his feet up in the air that way, and Alex wished there weren’t so many people around to see it. Stupid. What did Dean Beekman care now? Alex had never had a class with him, wasn’t even

sure what he taught, but he was one of those professors everyone knew. He wore a tweed bucket hat and a Morse scarf, and rode his bike everywhere on campus, the bell jingling merrily as he waved to students. He was called Beeky and his lectures were always packed, his seminars legendary. He also seemed to know everyone interesting who had ever gone to Yale, and he’d brought a slew of famous actors and authors to tea at Morse.

No one had said a word about Marjorie Stephen in the days since she’d been found dead. Alex doubted anyone but the professor’s students and colleagues at the Department of Psychiatry knew she’d passed. But this was going to be something entirely different.

She didn’t want to look closely at the body, but she made herself peer into the dean’s face. His eyes were open, but they didn’t have the same milky cast Alex remembered from the first crime scene. It was hard to tell if he looked older than he should. His mouth was open, his expression startled but still genial, as if greeting a friend who had appeared unexpectedly at his door.

“His neck is broken,” said Turner. “The coroner will tell us if it happened when the chair went over or before.”

“So no poison,” she said. “But you think this is connected to Marjorie Stephen’s death?”

“This was on his desk.” Turner waved her over to where a typed piece of paper lay atop the blotter: Bewray not him that wandereth.

“Isaiah again?”

“That’s right. It completes the line we found with Professor Stephen: Hide the outcasts, bewray not him that wandereth. Did you find anything at Lethe about it?”

She shook her head. “I haven’t had a chance to go digging.” I’ve been too busy figuring out how to break into hell. “I don’t know anything about Isaiah.”

“He was a prophet who predicted the coming of Christ, but I don’t see what that has to do with two dead professors.”

Alex studied the bookshelves, the messy desk, the rigid body. “Does this … It feels wrong. It’s too showy. The Bible quotes. The body tipped over. There’s something…”

“Theatrical?” Turner nodded. “Like someone thinks this is amusing.”

Like someone was playing a game. And demons loved games and puzzles, but their only resident demon was currently trapped in a circle of protection. Was someone at the societies toying with them?

“Did Professor Stephen know Beekman?”

“If they were connected, we’ll find out. But they weren’t in the same department. They weren’t even in the same field. Dean Beekman taught American Studies. He had nothing to do with the psych department.”

“And the poison that killed Professor Stephen?” “Still waiting on the tox report.”

The societies didn’t like eyes on them, but that didn’t mean someone hadn’t gone rogue. Even so, none of it really made sense.

“It’s the clues,” she said, chewing over the thought. “Those Bible quotes don’t fit. If someone was using magic to … I don’t know, get revenge on their professors, they wouldn’t leave clues. That feels unhinged.”

“Or like someone pretending to be unhinged.”

That would mean a lot more trouble. As much as Alex didn’t want these deaths to be her problem, she couldn’t pretend the uncanny wasn’t at work here. Magic was transgression, the blurring of the line between the impossible and the possible. There was something about crossing that boundary that seemed to shake loose all the morals and taboos people took for granted. When anything was within your grasp, it got harder and harder to remember why you shouldn’t take it—money, power, your dream job, your dream fuck, a life.

“Tell me I’m jumping at shadows, Stern, and you can go back to lurking in that haunted house on Orange.”

Il Bastone was one of the least haunted places in New Haven, but Alex didn’t see the point of getting into that discussion.

“I can’t,” Alex admitted.

“Can’t you … work your contacts on the other side?” “I don’t have ghost informants, Turner.”

“Then maybe try making some friends.”

Again, Alex had the sense that she was missing something, that if Darlington had been here he would know what to look for; he would be

able to do this job. So maybe Darlington was exactly who they needed. Turner wanted answers, and he just might be able to offer them something in return. Four pilgrims. Four murderers. Alex wasn’t sure if it was wise to trust Turner, but she did, and she wanted him on their side.

“Turner,” Alex asked. “You ever kill someone?” “What kind of question is that?”

“So yes.”

“It’s none of your goddamn business.”

But it might be. “How long do you have to be here?” Turner gave an exasperated snort. “Why?”

“Because I want to show you something.”

Board game; cardboard, paper, bone Provenance: Chicago, Illinois; c. 1919 Donor: Book and Snake, 1936

A version of the Landlord’s Game that bears strong resemblance to its later incarnation, Monopoly. Place names taken from Chicago and surrounds. Dice are crafted from bone, most likely human. Some evidence suggests the handmade board was created at Princeton, but the dice were added and the game came into heavy use during Prohibition, when a brief flurry of occult activity centered around D.

G. Nelson’s bookshop resulted in an increased demonic presence on the north side of the city. The bright colors and constant bargaining required by the game make it instantly appealing, while two factors— impenetrable rules and interminable gameplay that can last hours, if not days—render it virtually unwinnable. It is, in short, a perfect trap for demons.

Unfortunately, one of the dice was lost at some point and efforts at replacement have proven unsuccessful.

—from the Lethe Armory Catalogue as revised and edited by

Pamela Dawes, Oculus

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