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South Crossing

Short story By: kingstress
Horror



South Crossing is a fictional small southern town. The town appears to be an extremely close-knit community, the kind of town where people take care of their neighbors. However, the townspeople also know how to keep a secret, that is until the population begins to dwindle due to the increasing number of mysterious deaths.


Submitted:Mar 29, 2013    Reads: 30    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


South Crossing

At a quarter of eight Reva Sonnier sat in the chapel twirling the dark ringlets of her hair while she pondered leaving Mrs. Fontenot's wake a bit early. As the deacons approached the coffin for the viewing, Reva glanced over at Justine two pews over to give her the signal, only to notice the look on her friend's scowled face with widened blue eyes gazing at her, signaling that Justine was more than a little anxious to get out of the chapel. They both would agree they had attended enough wakes over the last year for a lifetime. Nodding to Justine, Reva maneuvered her way out of the pew and started up the aisle when a shrill scream echoed from the front of the chapel and stopped her cold. The once quiet chapel gave way to total chaos with screams and mumblings of people scurrying, some to the front to investigate, but most to the exit of escape. Reva turned towards the front as Justine pushed through the crowd towards the exit and grabbed her arm. Pulling her arm away, Reva snapped, "Wait a minute. Maybe we can do something!"

Reva could barely hear Justine above the voices throughout the chapel, "Yeah, we can get going before the rain starts again!"

Reva cut her a stern glance and headed up the aisle. And there was Mrs. Hanson wailing like a banshee and fanning her leather pocketbook wildly in the air all the while looking back at the open coffin. Her eyes bulged so that Reva expected them to plop right down the front of her wake dress. Some of the townspeople had gathered around the old woman and one of the old deacons grabbed at her arms while trying to calm her. It would have been a really funny site if it hadn't been Mrs. Hanson.

As Reva pushed her way through the crowd, she could hear Mrs. Hanson frantically repeating what sounded like, "Oh, Oh, Lord-Lord, it was -ee, it was -ee" whimpering between every sob, before falling out cold onto the wooden floor.

"Catch her!" Reva yelled and it had come out a lot more forceful than she had planned, however nobody appeared to notice.

"Is she dead?" Deacon Dupuy asked almost as if he anticipated nothing short of her sudden demise. Considering the events of the past few months, his assumption was totally understandable.

"More like out cold." Reva answered as she kneeled beside the old lady, cradling Mrs. Hanson's head in her arms and rocking her back and forth like a fretful tot.

Mr. Henry was one of the elders of the chapel of South Crossing and the funeral director. Everyone in South Crossing could attest to his wife fainting in every church service, and all who witnessed the scene confirmed it was not a pleasant site. So, Mr. Henry kept the smelling sauce real handy on Sundays and offered it up with no hesitation, "Here's the sauce!" He slid really close and passed the sauce across the old lady's nose.

Reva caught his hand on the second pass of the sauce, "Just a bit! We don't want to send her into orbit!"

Mrs. Hanson jerked suddenly for a second and her eyes popped open just like that last kernel of popcorn that hops right out of the pot just when you think it's finished. Her eyelids fluttered a bit before she could manage to open them wider. It was a sight to see, though, the way the old lady jerked and mumbled all of sudden with her eyes stretched wide.

"Oh, God," Reva muttered. She couldn't recall ever seeing anybody that scared before. Mrs. Hanson clawed at Reva's back, moaning, "It was-ee, it was!" And then she went out cold again.

A couple of old gents carried Mrs. Hanson to the chapel study as a winded Justine finally made her way to the front of the chapel.

"Whew! Gotta lose some of this weight", she sighed."

All that talk about losing weight seldom came to fruition at the sight of a double cheeseburger, but her intentions were duly noted.

Deacon Dupuy had gone to close the lid of the coffin, shaking his head from side to side and mumbling something under his breath. Reva looked on as the coffin latch clicked shut, sending a line of cold wriggling down her back. So, when Justine grabbed her arm, she appeared to jump a couple of inches out of her shoes.

"Whoa - it's me. Take it easy!" As Justine observed Reva, she pressed her as she could see the tears forming. "Reva, what did she say - what?"

At that instant, Reva realized this was it…that which had guided - almost yanked her to South Crossing, the first stop on her quest.

Reva had studied Library Science in college, boring - somewhat, but it allowed her access to endless resources and the time to pursue her interest, almost obsession in the occult of the deep south. Enough of the hearsay and tall tales of things that go bump in the night - phooey - enough. She lived for the opportunity to actually witness the supernatural up close and personal.

A flint of a girl, Reva landed many friends in college, had even fallen in love a couple of times, but being so guarded, relationships were difficult to maintain or nurture. She realized early on that her chosen path would not be without loss and danger, but she would travel it. She couldn't be distracted, but was driven, especially on her first pursuit. God knows she had already lost too much.

It had only been a couple of years since Reva had convinced the town council to update the school's library when she'd gotten her teaching credentials. They had been hesitant at first and argued that a girl just shy of thirty and a bit of an outsider couldn't possibly handle such a daunting task. But she had convinced Justine to help her set up the library, and with Mrs. Hanson's assistance, she had gained a place in the inseams of South Crossing. Reva and her mother had relocated to the town from North Texas after the sudden death of her father in a tragic accident that had left her mother desperate for a change from the vast state of Texas to a more neighborly town. Her mother was raised in South Crossing, but had moved to Texas to attend college where she married Reva's father. One year after their return to town, her mother died suddenly, one day becoming depressed and unresponsive, the next - dead! What the townspeople didn't know was that the first death was only a hint of the evil to come.

Deacon Dupuy shuffled over from the coffin and stared wide-eyed at Reva. His voice trembled more than usual, "Well, tell her, Miss Reva. Tell her what she said, tell her!"

The cold wriggle down Reva's back had been replaced with a burning anger, as she cut the old man a sharp glance, "She was hysterical!"

But the crowd had gathered again and they were all staring at Deacon Dupuy. And he was looking around like a man expecting something to jump from the shadows yet still adamant on his intent. "Are you all senile or somethin'? We all heard it. Hadn't y'all noticed anythin' wrong in South Crossing-I mean, ever since last Halloween when Ole Jimbo--" And then the deacon just stopped. It was like his power of speech had been suddenly revoked and he just looked scared. His trembling hand wiped the sweat from his forehead and as quickly as the crowd had gathered, the chapel had cleared. The chapel became so quiet you could just about hear your eyelids flutter, so Reva could hear the rain had started up again.

It was early October in South Crossing and at that time of year, it rained everyday at some time or other. Reva and Justine had gotten word of the festival in Lafayette and for days, they had headed out only for their plans to be thwarted by the flooded out bridge. Just a brief reprieve from the difficult year in their little town would be a welcomed change since the tiny chapel had been over utilized lately depicting a steadily dwindling population.

Snugly tucked away in its own little pocket, the town has been left behind by a world blazing forward into the future. The people of South Crossing considered themselves as a special lot, the kind of neighbors that looked out for each other in a town where a Sunday afternoon drive could take you along tree-lined streets framed with houses characteristic of the quintessential old south.

Though not ritzy in any sense of the word, the town did offer a familiar quaintness of a time past with its Town Square which stands in the center of town, comprised of a Rexall Drug, a General Store, Postal Center, Ms. Daux' Diner, and a small movie theatre. About a mile up Main Street is the town chapel, just two blocks from two frame buildings designed for the elementary and high schools.

On the drive home, Justine offered her normal whining about possibly missing another festival.

"Well, well," she began. "Looks like we'll miss another one just because some old lady lost it at a wake."

"Justine", Reva began, "Mrs. Hanson was hysterical! I only wish I could be sure of what she said!"

"Look, she's old. Who cares what she said?"

"Jussie, that has to be the most selfish thing that's ever come out of your mouth!"

"Humph, right. All I'm saying, Reva, is that people always get hysterical at funerals, especially old farts like Hanson."

"But the fear in her eyes was real! She was terrified of something!"

"Okay, what you think she said?"

Well, it sounded like, "It was me", Reva's voice drifted lower as she listened to her own words and how those words sounded as they hit the airwaves. "I think that's what she said, but that makes no sense, right?"

Justine quickly quipped, "Right, cause that's just crazy. Hey! Watch out! That was a red light!"

"No, it was yellow. Why are you complaining anyway? I told you we should skip the festival. It's raining too hard and it's much too foggy to be crossing the bridge."

"Just keep driving. Anyway, even if the old fart did say that, what could it possibly mean?"

"Well, when Mrs. Hanson took her turn at the coffin, she looked in and I could tell that she grabbed at her chest. Something definitely scared the crap out of her!"

"Are you listening to yourself, Reva? So she grabbed her chest. Maybe she had a gas pain." Justine giggled a bit but she could feel her friend's hard stare.

"It's not crazy if you consider everything that's been going on in South Crossing - how many deaths, mysterious deaths? My mom, Mr. Jones, Mrs. Fontenot - think about it!"

"No, let's not think about it. That's what's wrong with you. You think too much about everything."

"Well, Jussie, maybe you're right because I'm thinking about turning around right now since this rain is not letting up. I'm finding a spot to turn around."

"Don't do that! That old bat has you spooked. Plus, if there's something going wrong in South Crossing, I definitely want to be somewhere else; anywhere else!"

"Sorry, Jussie, maybe another time, Reva comforted her friend.

"Well, since we're obviously not making the festival tonight, I guess I'll tell you."

"Tell me what?"

"I may know what Deacon Dupuy meant," Justine said with a sigh.

"What? You mean you know something and were keeping it to yourself, "Reva shrieked.

"I don't know, I might know. There's a difference, you know."

Reva had become impatient with Justine, "Just spill it, Jussie!"

Justine took another long sigh and began her story, "Well, years ago, my parents had sent me to bed when I heard voices downstairs. All I could hear were whisperings, frantic whisperings. Well, anyway they were talking about an old man who used to live in town. Called him Jimbo. My mom busted me and sent me back to bed and shut the door. It wasn't until days later when I heard two teenage boys talking and laughing hysterically. Story is that

All the kids called him Ole Jimbo. He rode this rickety old bike with wobbly wheels and rusty chain. Well, story was the old-timers in South Crossing hadn't taken to Ole Jimbo much and for good reason. He lived at the edge of town in an old beat-up shack that they called an eyesore. He collected things, you know like old lamps, even old cars. It was a hot mess. Anyway, the townspeople treated him like something stuck on the bottom of their shoes and their children treated him even worse. Not me, of course, but you know. That old man was the object of every cruel joke and prank ever imagined. And sometimes, they'd even throw things at him when he peddled down Main Street. But the haggardly old man would just keep right on peddling until he was out of the firing range."

"Reva tried to keep her eyes on the road, but was intrigued with the tale and glanced at Justine time and again while she urged her on.

Justine continued, "Well, last Halloween story is that Ole Jimbo had executed a horrible revenge on the town that mocked him, and when it was all said and done, the mutilated bodies of seven children were found buried in the woods behind his old shack."

"What?" Reva yelped in disbelief. "Why hadn't I heard about this?"

"Well, you hadn't heard about it because the good folks of South Crossing know how to keep a secret, and now Deacon Dupuy, let's just say, has spilled the proverbial beans."

Justine continued, "Anyway, word is Sheriff Tuttle hadn't been able to stop retching long enough to stop the angry mob when they sealed Jimbo in a wood box and buried him alive. Word is that some of the townspeople, till this day, can still hear the old man whimpering all through the night from his dark hole.

"That's horrible", Reva said as she pulled into Justine's driveway.

As Justine exited the car, she gazed back at Reva, "Sure, it's horrible, a horrible old wives tale with one purpose, to keep the children in South Crossing in line - - nothing more. Look, I'll see you tomorrow", and she ran up the walk to the door. Reva watched as she entered and honked goodnight before heading home.

Later that night Reva climbed into bed. Why she was unnerved, she could not determine, found herself easing into the covers, gazing at the window beside her bed. The rain was a lot heavier and the story of Ole Jimbo dimmed a bit as she clicked off the lamp. She could hear the rain beating against the window seal. A lone street lamp silhouetted the old tree in the side yard and gave it a body all its own. The rustling branches weaved back and forth like long skeletal arms reaching for her to enter their scratchy grip. And the whistling wind sounded a bit like a child whining in the night. Not long after, Reva felt herself sliding deeper underneath the covers with her eyes shut so tightly they actually ached. And she knew it would be a very long night in South Crossing, but this was exactly the kind of occurrence she sought when she moved to South Crossing; yes, this was it!

A couple of days after Mrs. Fontenot's wake, the dark cloud over the town seemed to lift with the children's anticipation of Halloween, most of them so giggly in school that Reva would just send them out to recess. And nobody had breathed a word of Mrs. Hanson's outburst at the wake, at least not until mid-October when the seasonal rains lingered, but escorted cool breezes that seemed to chase away the dark memories of the recent days. And Mrs. Hanson was dead. Word was her daughter had found her slumped against the kitchen wall like a rag doll dipped in a bucket of blood. And like the others, no one could explain how, least of all the sheriff who everybody said hadn't been quite the same since last Halloween.

As the town braced itself for Mrs. Hanson's wake, Reva had seen the old deacon about town, anywhere he could get an audience. His eyes would be glaring and hands waving wildly, as if trying to get his point across to his reluctant audience. She had even heard an old couple brush him off, calling him a crazy old man. But still the townsfolk eased inside and double-bolted their doors at the first signs of nightfall. The roads were void of Sunday traffic and the porches were empty. And some say that if the night was really quiet and the wind was low enough, you could just hear Ole Jimbo whimpering like a wounded animal.

On the Friday before Halloween, just before Mrs. Hanson's wake, Reva and Justine had met at the café a couple of blocks from the chapel. Reva had drained her glass of wine and then looked sternly at Justine, "Jussie, do you think the deacon could be right-I mean about Ole Jimbo?" There, she had said it out loud! And the two looked quietly at each other for a time and without waiting for the answer, Reva clutched the small cross around her neck. Her mother had given it to her on her last birthday and Reva had never taken it off.

Justine watched wide-eyed at Reva's grip on that cross, "Don't ever let the council hear you say that. They'll shut that school down so fast you'll hear the doors slam at your house," she scowled.

"Look, I love the school and the kids, but there's something going on her, "Reva answered. "Maybe not Ole Jimbo, but Mrs. Hanson said. She said, "It was me!" And I believe she thought she saw something horrible in that coffin!"

Now Reva was fidgeting with that cross, but she cued in on the anxiety in Justine's face and became a bit impatient. "Well, that's what I think," she snapped.

"Do you hear yourself? You really need to take a beat because you're sounding like Dupuy now---crazy!" Justine had started to say something more, but decided not to push it. She couldn't allow herself to think about it anymore.

On the way to the chapel, the dark cloud had formed just above the little white chapel. It floated right above, waxing and waning like a huge see-saw. Reva stared into the dark mass and turned to Justine, "Somebody will be taking Mrs. Hanson's place tonight. I feel it," as she clinched her fists tightly against her thighs.

Inside the chapel, Reva held Deacon's Dupuy's bone-thin arms as he shuffled up to the shiny brown box, the viewing line behind him ending with Justine. She had done her best to convince him not to view Mrs. Hanson's remains. Though she had rehearsed the words in her mind over and over again, they had somehow translated into a feeble, "Don't." And the old deacon had taken his turn at the coffin. Reva inched closely behind the old man and peered into the coffin with him, sort of like a two-for-one. She hadn't planned to but felt compelled to look. She was almost leaning into the coffin when the deacon jolted away from the box screaming and shuffling backwards until he fell back dazed into one of the pews.

"God, help us! Help us!" he moaned. Mr. Henry rushed to his side as the deacon raised his hands up in front of his face to refuse the sauce. His eyes were bucked wide and flooded with tears that wouldn't flow. Several minutes he sat there in a wide-eyed gaze, but then calmed a bit.

Reva slowly kneeled beside him, "What was it? What did you see?"

The old man just got to his feet and stood there shaking his head. He then planted his dusty old Stetson atop his head, "Just the crumblin' sight of an old man," he said. But Reva had looked into those eyes flooded with tears and bucked wide open and she believed that Ole Jimbo had somehow returned. As the crowd looked on, the deacon got to his feel and headed for the chapel door. He flicked his black umbrella and stepped off into the rainy night. But he had yelled back to her, "Bless you, child!" And that was the last time anyone saw Deacon Dupuy alive. That is until a few days later, October 29th it was.

Tommy Lee, the delivery boy from the Main Street Market, delivered the deacon's weekly grocery order. When there was no answer, he'd gone to the window. Some of the neighbors later told Reva that he had come away from the window yelling and screaming like a banshee, groceries strewn across the yard, and Reva had heard him spending many hours afterwards with the town shrink. What Tommy Lee told the doc was a tale that was kept hidden away tightly in his little black book. The folks in South Crossing knew how to keep a secret!

Life in South Crossing had gone just about like that for the past few months. It was a brutal rainy season, one of the worst in South Crossing history. So, Reva was more than shocked when the door bell chimed. She gasped as she saw Justine leaning on the door. When she opened the door, Justine stumbled in, breathing like she had run a race but Reva could see her car out front.

"Jussie, what the hell are you doing out in this mess?"

Justine was quiet and panting, her face puffy and dripping with rain mixed with tears. Reva pulled her in and sat her at the dining room table as she poured two glasses of brandy.

"What is it, Jussie?" she urged.

Justine emptied her glass with one big gulp and was helped herself to another. "I---I heard him," she stammered. She coughed because the second brandy didn't go down quite as smoothly as the first.

"You heard who?" Reva pressed.

"Tonight---I heard him whimpering," Justine panted. She had a lot more luck with that third glass of brandy before bursting into heaving sobs that made her shoulders rise and fall in spells.

Though Justine was as cynical as they come, Reva was well aware of her inability to handle her liquor, so she took the glass and ushered her to the sofa. She'd hit that brandy pretty hard and when she came in Reva could tell she'd had a nip or two of something before arriving.

"He's gonna kill us all," Justine cried. "And there's nothing we can do." Justine began to slip into a drunken nod but Reva slapped her across the face a couple of times until her eyes popped open again.

"Jussie, what do you mean? What?"

Justine's eyes fluttered and Reva smacked her again.

"Ah-they-all know--afraid-all afraid," Justine stammered and she went out cold again.

"Shit", Reva snapped as she rose from the sofa. She peered down at Justine as a feeling of doom crept right up into her stomach. As she watched her friend sleep, she realized Justine would be the only one sleeping that night. Yes, she'd thought about it more than once, even said it out loud, but it couldn't be possible! Could Ole Jimbo be reaching from the grave to repay his debt to their little town?

At dawn Reva made plans to pay the funeral director a visit. She'd leave Justine asleep on the sofa. She wouldn't be much help anyway with the hangover she'd have.

It was a clear day and the town had draped itself with black and orange crepe streamers hanging all around. Carved pumpkins sat on the porches as the children skipped around their tailored yards. There was talk about town that nobody wanted to attend the deacon's wake, especially not on Halloween night. It reminded her of the Sunday morning when she and her mother would hide in the kitchen away from the windows when the Jehovah's Witnesses would ring the doorbell.

In funeral director's office, Reva had made her request. She sat there as Mr. Henry glared over his wire-rimmed glasses, leaning back in the leather chair that had obviously been designed for a man taller in statue.

"Miss Sonnier," he began, "Your request is a far stretch from the ordinary, but seeing as though I know'd you since you came to town, I'll do it." He chuckled a bit, "Hell, people always think a funeral man is strange anyways. But they all know that sooner or later, they all end up right here in my parlor." He stopped smiling then and stared directly into Reva's eyes, "especially in South Crossing."

The night was still clear with not a cloud to be seen, and the townspeople gathered at the chapel. The children trick-or-treated up and down the streets at dusk with parents or older siblings, but surely to return to doors locked tightly by nightfall.

Justine had reluctantly come along with Reva to the wake and they had no trouble getting a pew close to the front.

"My head's throbbing," she groaned.

But Reva only glanced at her as they took their seats in the third pew.

The chapel was only half filled and Reva stared at the coffin while the preacher droned away in the pulpit. As Reva surveyed the chapel, she saw a few faces which were grief-stricken but most looked just plain terrified. So, when a couple of the ushers marched to the front of the chapel to assist Mr. Henry with the coffin lid, Reva could hear a lot of deep breaths that reminded her of a room filled with asthmatics; and Reva noticed that her own was the most obvious. She inhaled deeply to calm herself.

Justine sat there for a minute quiet and frozen in her seat until she saw Reva grab her handbag.

"What're you doing? Are you crazy?" Justine whispered through clenched teeth, all the while clutching her friend's arm yanking her back into her seat.

"I've got to," Reva snapped. Her hands were shaking so violently that she just knew that she'd lose her grip on the bag.

"I don't know what you're doing but remember, HE WILL KILL YOU!"

Reva sat back for a minute and noticed that nobody else stirred an inch. The preacher motioned the woman at the old organ and a few of the audience sang a tearjerker of a hymn, but Justine's grip tightened so until Reva winced in pain.

"Jussie, if he is back, he may kill me, but he will for sure kill you and all of the others if I don't try this!"

Justine's grip slowly relaxed as she watched her friend stroking that cross, all the while sliding the handbag strap firmly on her shoulder. The two friends locked stares as Reva slid out of the pew.

Mr. Henry beckoned the ushers to move away from the coffin and the looks on their faces screamed they didn't mind it a bit.

Reva heard someone sniffling behind her-Justine for sure! Not looking back, Reva eased closer to the front and noted Mr. Henry resting his hands on the lid as if to close. They locked stares until Reva found herself standing really close to the open coffin. She leaned forward and looked at the deacon for what felt like forever and whispered, "Bless you." She peered into his chalky face. That's when she saw it - the deacon's face transforming into a blur right before her eyes. Reva squeezed her eyes shut and when she opened them again, there was an old haggardly man's face with a stubbed beard and swollen red eyelids. And suddenly his eyes popped open, yellowed eyes that seemed to burn right through her. Reva shrieked out loud and knew that she'd die right there. She'd fall over in that coffin with Ole Jimbo and they'd both be whimpering and screaming from that dark hole in the ground. It was only Mr. Henry's thumping and slapping on that lid that jolted her back. And he was yelling to her, "Do it, girl - do it!"

Reva grabbed something from her handbag and shoved it hard into Ole Jimbo's twisted face. Then, Mr. Henry pushed her back so hard she stumbled back into one of the pews. As she landed, she heard the lid slam shut and the latch click. And there was plenty of screaming coming from that coffin. Reva watched as the whole thing just wiggled and rocked with a force she'd never seen and she just knew the lid would fly right off its hinges. Breathlessly, she sat in the pew, realizing that all of the screams were not coming from the coffin, but from the people scurrying from the chapel. And the one she determined to be the loudest was her own. When she turned to the back of the chapel, she saw Justine running to exit, but had stopped cold in her tracks. With hands wringing, she screamed over and over, "Lord, forgive us---forgive us!"

Suddenly, the lid blasted from the coffin as a horrid being burst upward into a haze of grayish cloud, in the midst of which weaved the decayed remains of an old man. Its clothes were tattered with reddened eyelids. Reva gasped loudly as its yellowed eyes sprang open and a hallowing noise escaped its snarling mouth. The figure hovered above the coffin, weaving back and forth as if surveying newly purchased property. The chapel filled with screams of horror as prayer books and hats sailed above the pews.

Reva's body sprang forward to escape, but became frozen in her tracks. She screamed hoarsely as the yellowed eyes then focused solely on her as its screams became deafening. The chapel had nearly cleared with Mr. Henry still standing near Reva at the front of the room when the coffin suddenly settled back on its rollers. Reva looked on as her power of mobility had betrayed her. She could hear and feel every thump of her heart, but watched as the figure let out one last gurgled snarl before it evaporated into ceiling.

Reva forced herself to breath as the screams subsided to moans and "Oh Gods."

The chapel was again quiet, a peaceful quiet.

Later that night Reva drove Justine home. As Justine exited the car, she asked, "Wanna a drink? God knows I need one!"

"No-I really just want a good night's sleep," Reva answered and that night she realized it would be just that. But Justine sat there for a minute with the car door open, looking at her friend.

"Reva, how did you know-I mean, all those people dead-how did you know?"

And Reva had known she'd have to answer the questions sooner or later but after the last couple of hours, she wished it could be later.

"Jussie, I know you have a lot of questions. I still have questions, too, but---."

Reva could see the pleading look in Justine's face, almost desperate, so she took a deep breath and began, "While in college up North, my roommates and I had a fascination with the South, all of its tales of voodoo and spells really intrigued us. I mean, we read everything we could find on the occult. We didn't believe we'd ever see it; but the search was fun to us, you know, exciting."

Justine closed the car door again and sat on the edge of the seat facing Reva. Her hands tightly gripped the leather seat and her eyes widened in anticipation.

"Well, what?" she asked.

Reva sighed, but forced herself to continue, there was always one point that always rang true, "Only evil can destroy evil! Somehow, Ole Jimbo found a way-well, he forced his victims see their own reflection in the coffin. After they saw it---well, that was it. That's what Mrs. Hanson was trying to tell us. She said, "It was me!"

Justine interrupted, "But you looked into the coffin before throwing the--. What did you throw into the coffin?"

"It was a two-way mirror," Reva said in disbelief and she repeated as if she had to hear it again out loud, "a mirror."

Confusion shrouded Justine's face as she pressed, "What---ah---ok, but you did look into the coffin. She stammered, "No, I don't get it."

"I looked in, yes, but I wasn't born in South Crossing and neither was Mr. Henry. We are implants and neither of us was here last Halloween night. "And the mirror, well, I prayed that if Ole Jimbo got a glimpse of his own reflection, maybe he'd leave us along. We didn't know if it would work; but somebody had to try something! I mean people were dropping like flies."

That was two Halloweens ago and things in South Crossing have gone on pretty quietly. Reva and Justine still cross the old I-10 bridge into New Orleans for the festivals. And they always end up right back in South Crossing. But some nights when it's raining and the wind whistles really low, Reva finds herself slipping deeper into the covers because lately, she's been hearing somebody whimpering in the night and she knows that Ole Jimbo just might come back one day to repay his debt to her. But none of those good neighbors will ever really say; not in South Crossing, anyways!"





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