Seriously. Does this sort of thing happen to Stephen King? I think not.
Sam had hated Las Cruces, the ghosts that wandered voiceless and harmless over the streets at night: murdered girls with burned holes for eyes and red lips spread in welcoming smiles over slashed throats, boys who sing in high, clear voices in Spanish-accented Latin dressed blood-drenched robes. It'd been too late by then for the internet, but the libraries had given them the story, and Dean had spent a futile three days trying to find nine crosses that had vanished into history long before he was born.
He eyes Sheppard as he steps onto the dusty street with curious look around, turning slightly like he's making way for something, but either he doesn't have Sam's sensitivity or he's better at controlling himself than any psychic Dean's ever met.
"Nice town," Sheppard says with a raised eyebrow, coming up to lean against the side of the car. Behind him, Ronon and Teyla are just getting out, looking with wide, thoughtful eyes around them.
"It's safe." It is, though Dean's not sure why. Fort Bliss and the Rio Grande that drowned more people than the population of this city once housed to the west and south, a folklore massacre with the single boy that is forever burying his dead with nine white crosses that vanish come morning. Dean dug ten feet down and found nothing but rock. "Just ignore the--stuff." He indicates the empty streets with a flicker of his fingers. "It won't hurt you."
The air tastes faintly of salt and sand, the slow encroachment of the Chihuahuan Desert from the south, reaching thin fingers into the fertile Rio Grande watershed. With a shrug, he leads them toward city hall, a common stopping place for travelers on their way north. "It's pretty dead here," and he can almost *feel* Sheppard's ironic look, "a few ghosts, but they're harmless. There's a kid--"
"Burying his dead," Sheppard says, too softly. Dean stops, glancing at the sun still well above the horizon, then at Sheppard, eyes fixed on ground that's long settled from Dean's gravedigging efforts, a lowering mound coated in thick yellow-green Johnson grass, insects buzzing around Indian paintbrush and golden-brown ferns, heads dipping toward the ground.
"It's somewhere different every time," Dean says as Ronon and Teyla come up behind Sheppard, exchanging a look that he's pretty sure would piss Sheppard off if he could see it. "He doesn't do anything. Just--well, that's pretty much it. Come on."
Sheppard nods, controlling an incipient freak-out by dint of reaching for his gun, and Dean hides his smile, crossing the street and the overgrowth of the front lawn in front of City Hall. When he looks back, Sheppard's staring straight ahead, but the look on his face tells Dean he's listening to something--singing, maybe, the low chant of a Mexican priest, or just the high, frightened sounds of nine people who died screaming, leaving a single boy behind to honor the dead. "Sheppard."
This is going to be The Ring all over again, isn't it?