"I wish it weren't quite so clear out," Newkirk muttered, hunkering down further into the heavy brush. Carter looked at him with some surprise.
"Dunno. Makes me feel like I'm being watched, somehow." The Englishman had spent most of his life in brightly-lit London and now, in blacked-out semi-rural Germany, found all the stars revealed overhead to be somewhat disconcerting.
"I think it's good luck."
"Good luck? How's that?"
"Well... I guess because whenever anyone talks about heaven they always say it's, you know, up there somewhere." He made a vague gesture skyward.
"Carter, they don't mean it's actually up there," Newkirk countered.
"Sometimes they do."
"Yeah? Who?" No response; the younger man was looking at him with evident mistrust. Newkirk gave an exasperated sigh. "I won't make fun. Promise." Carter didn't seem entirely convinced, but he continued anyway.
"You see the Milky Way up there?" He pointed toward a bright swath of stars that ran across the dark vault. "Indians don't call it that. I learned that it's called the Ghost Walk. When someone dies, that's where their ghost goes; they walk up and down and watch what happens here on earth."
Newkirk shuddered. "Oh, marvelous. So we are being watched, and by bloody ghosts no less."
"Oh, come on. Ghosts aren't bad. I mean, some are bad, but that's because they were bad when they were people. There are lots more ordinary, friendly ghosts." Carter paused for a moment, looking upwards. "And if you have friends or family who've died, they're up there, too. They can look down and watch over you, and from down here you can look up and... and sort of watch them. And you know that when you die, you'll be with them again. Right up there. Sometimes... on really clear nights... it doesn't seem quite so far away... " He dreamily traced part of the bright arc with one gloved hand. "Anyway, that's why I say it's good luck."
Newkirk sort of grunted in reply; his cynical and sentimental sides were at war over how to respond. It was all silly, primitive superstition, he told himself, but... but as he looked up at the crowded sky overhead, he realized that it had suddenly lost its strange, frightening look. The face of heaven had become a friendly one. "Only you, Andrew," he said quietly, in awed amusement.
"Never mind." He pulled his uniform jacket a bit closer – it was still cold. "Wish those guards would find us, I want to get to bed."