Gael drove the van, and Nathanial, to Aidan’s displeasure, indicated he should come with them. He glanced at Kaelin, who gave him a distracted nod. But as Aidan climbed inside, he paused. Behind the front seats, a long dull grey casket filled the back.
“This is for my mom, isn’t it?” he said. “To hold her body after you kill her.”
Nathanial leaned his hand on the side of the van. “We’re not going to kill her.”
“Why else would you bring a coffin?” Aidan started to back out, shaking his head. “I won’t do this. Kaelin won’t go either, once he knows.”
“We don’t need it if she’s dead. It’s for transporting her alive,” Gael said.
“Why? Why not just chain her up?”
“There are shackles inside the casket,” Gael said.
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Aidan asked. “Got a lot of job satisfaction, do ya?”
Gael just got into the front seat and slipped the key into the ignition.
“Get in, Aidan, and I'll explain on the way,” Nathanial said.
The other car was already rolling down the drive. Still staring at the dull grey thing taking up most of the real estate in the back of the van, Aidan wedged himself next to it. The top was inscribed with an abstract, symmetrical design. He touched it and recoiled. It felt like he’d touched an electrical line. A thousand stillshots flashed through his mind at once, too fast to really catch. Mostly screaming. Furious screaming.
“It carries memories,” Nathanial said. “Lead always does.”
“Memories of what?” Aidan whispered.
“Open it. You deserve to know.”
Aidan took a deep breath and steeled himself to touch the thing again. The same images hit him, but they faded quicker. He pushed them away until he could no longer hear the screaming.
Well done, Nathanial telepathed. Now open it.
He had to get up on his knees to open the heavy lid. Scratches crisscrossed the lid and the sides. He ran his finger across them and realized how deep some of them were.
“She’s been in here before,” he choked out.
Nathanial nodded. “Yes. A desperate measure to save her life.”
“It’s not pretty, but it does the job,” Gael said.