You may remember a scene further back where Lillie is called to assess a desecrated grave. This follows a little later:
And met Johnnie Thresher, a CSI in tow, where the winding path met the winding roadway.
Thresher proceeded to give me a comprehensive look-over, the kind that noted the pain beginning behind my left eye, the ache in my left shoulder and the loose hem on my right pant leg.
He also observed I wore gloves, nodded, said "Glad you could make it," and gave me another look that said wait.
He strode past, conferred briefly with Officer Nervous, and went on to hunker down at the foot of the pit. The white letters that spelled police stark and clear on the back of his windbreaker. The CSI put down his case and moved about, shooting pictures.
I found a seat on a crumbling section of retaining wall just outside the tape, brushed off a collection of acorn husks from a squirrel feast, and hunched there like a pale toadstool, hugging myself.
In a few minutes, Johnnie came straight back and straight to the point.
"A relative of yours?"
"I have no idea."
"Digging up a bloody grave's a lot of trouble just for a prank, but if you find a cache of beer bottles nearby, it would reinforce that possibility. On the other hand, that type usually content their tiny minds with spray paint and knocking over a few headstones, and I didn't notice any obvious vandalism of that nature in this section of the cemetery."
The wind brushed my forehead and sighed in agreement.
"Could be an amateur animation gone wrong but I didn't see any spilled blood and there's the stake. The stake's common. Non-ritual. Not a necromancer's likely choice, at all. Ad hoc. Looked like the sticks they sometimes use for real estate signs. From what I could see the skull is gone. As if..."
I wanted to think about that. A stake. A beheading.
I began collecting the white petals that had showered down and stuck to my rain cape from a flowering thorn behind me. One rarely saw them in graveyards now -- too much of a pain in the ass for the caretakers -- but once they had been planted by graves as a protective, a holy ward against the dark.
If there had ever been one so planted next to the tombstone by the grave above, there was no trace of it now. All I had seen as a survival of that form of grave guardian were lily rizomes, a tangled mass of roots flung beyond the pile of dirt.
And lilies were more signature than a defence...
His feet shifted closer. Hard-core boots below black field gear. Very SWAT, and not new. Johnnie Thresher, quite apart from his psi-specialty, might be much more than he seemed.
"The corpse appears to be posed as a deliberate diorama," I said reluctantly. "As a warning -- or a promise."