Being a new arrival, she wasn't adept at reading minds or speaking with hers either. It was a learned technique that came with practice. She couldn't really pick up vibrations, and didn't know the first thing about going from here back to earth like Phil did. In fact, no one else knew how to do that like he did, which caused the heirarchy mostly aggravation with a touch of awe. She went back to the hotel, flopped on the bed and started reading the book. She was done quickly, and enjoyed the idea of Phil saving her life and risking his own. "Yes, I can see him doing that." she thought to herself. "I hope he's happy wherever he is." For a moment she caught herself missing him again but halted her thoughts. "I am sure the exams they have planned for me will be hard enough when I have to talk about him."

She put down the book and went to take a shower and get ready for dinner with her new friend. Phil stirred in his sleep. He was dreaming. Now there normally would not be anything unusual about that, except that the dead don't dream. It was just another human trait he retained. Right now though, he would have given anything to be like everyone else. He saw fires and heard the horrible horrible cries of children as they searched for their parents. The oceans that he loved so much were dry and the sun was covered by a dark black cloud. Everywhere he looked was death and more death. He tried to wake himself up, but the dream wouldn't let go. Now he was walking through the devastation, smoke everywhere and so thick that he could hardly see. He climbed a tall hill and looked out over the land below him. He began to cry. Then he looked across the chasm to a hill in the far distance across from him. On that hill stood a figure, also surveying the dying world. Suddenly he felt himself yanked out of his bed in a burst of light, and he found himself sitting back in the theater again for the next exam. He jumped out of the seat in a panic and went to run out of the building but the 'door' was locked.

Child, child, what is it? You are safe. You are with us.

Phil, hearing those familiar voices calmed down a bit, enough at least to force himself back to his seat. But the dream wouldn't leave him.

Philip, there is nothing to fear here, you know that.

"That's what you think." he replied, terror gripping his voice.

Examination of Philip Hartmann phase 2

We don't understand, we know that there is nothing to fear here. Are you doubting our knowledge?

"No, no it's not thatů I'm sorry, but I had a bad dream before 'coming' here." his voice calmed down.

You are such an amazing young one. A dream, you say? How wonderous! Tell us, please, of your dream.

"There was destruction everywhere here, flames, death, the end of everything." He struggled to remember it all but the harder he fought to remember it, the more it was fading.

'They' remained silent, but it was an uncomfortable silence. It was a silence that spoke volumes.

"I have a question, if I may." Phil asked, "Can the dead die?"

If you mean can a living soul that has passed over to this plane or the next lose it's existence, we are afraid the answer is yes. There are different stages and places a soul can be. There are lost souls that lie somewhere between the earth and here. They are the ones that haunt. Your wife is one of them.

"Oh, that doesn't surprise me, she has always been a bit scary to begin with." Phil couldn't stiffle a chuckle. "What are the other stages?"

There are the children who barely spend any time here at all. They go almost directly to heaven. Then there are the souls that hover between life and death, and stay in a limbo state until it is decided if your earth physicians can repair the damage or not.

"Are those the only states?" Phil asked.

There was another long, drawn-out silence. (Should we speak of this anymore? Should we share this knowledge with him? Yes, he will need to know.)

Yes, there is one more stage. There are the truly evil ones. You would call them demons.

"Like Brynnů" Phil chimed in.

No, her's was a mistake born of an illness within her soul. She did not mean you any harm. She is forgiven. The truly evil ones are not of the earth, not of this place, not of heaven, not in limbo and not haunting, although you will find one or two that will haunt when they are bored. They are the lost ones, the soulless ones. They 'live' to bring death to all those who possess souls. This is why we answered your initial question with a yes. A soul can die even if the body is already dead.

"But where does a dead soul go?" Phil was becoming more curious by the second.

They do not go anywhere. They 'are not' anymore. They do not exist in any form any more. They completely cease to be.

"If that is true, then how can they die?" Phil was on the edge of his seat now.

ENOUGH! We have spoken of this too long. Let us begin the exam. Please tell us of your marriage and your children.

Phil sat back in his chair and looked at the screen. It was pitch black with just a hint of red in spots. Suddenly the spots of red began to take shape. They were becoming flames.

You must clear your mind of your dream. Visualizing this can be dangerous, please concentrate on your wife and children.

He obeyed as best he could. Closing his eyes, he saw Brynn. She was a call girl and after spending many many nights with her he began to fall in love with her. Looking back he realized that what he fell in love with was her body and the way it pleasured him. He married her for her looks and her.... umm... abilities. It was a rough couple of years at first but they finally settled down into a somewhat happy relationship. Then she got pregnant with Sean. This is when Jan left the show, he remembered. If only he hadn't been so blind and stupid back then. In any case when Sean was born his whole life took on a new meaning. He meant everything to him and there was nothing he wouldn't do for his son. Soon enough Birgen came into their lives and they were the picture of a happy family. Birgen was a daddies girl through and through and he loved her with a passion. Then Brynn began drinking again and not long after that she began using again too. He tried so very hard to hold things together but she was falling apart. He took the kids and practically gave them to his sister while Brynn just wasted away before his eyes. She fought like a mean alley cat with him and there were so many times that he had to hold her down to keep her from hurting herself or him. It was during this time that he found Jan again and rekindled their friendship. It was so innocent at first. He had so much to give that he was more than happy to give it all to Jan in her time of need. That was the difference between Jan and Brynn; Jan gave back. It was truly a give and take relationship.

Part 12