No Rest for the Wicked

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Disturbing the dead can have serious consequences. A tale from beyond the shadows.

Submitted: October 01, 2019

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Submitted: October 01, 2019

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He awoke to the terrifying feeling that he was drowning; the water he had inhaled carried the taste of soil and decaying vegetation. He inhaled deeply again desperate for air now, only to draw yet more of the foul liquid into his lungs. His gag reflexes kicked in and he was wracked with a bout of violent coughing, he just managed to turn his head sideways before vomiting. He continued vomiting until there was nothing left to come up but the bile from his stomach, which burned his throat like acid. The clothes he wore were soaked through, and the fit of vomiting had driven a cold clammy sweat through his skin.

It took every last ounce of will power but he eventually dragged himself upright, first on to his hands and knees, and then into a standing position. His legs felt as wobbly as a newborn foal, and but for a low hanging branch he grasped instinctively, he would have collapsed again onto the sodden earth. It was dark and the heavens poured cold rain incessantly on the already saturated earth beneath his feet. It took a while before his eyes became accustomed to the lack of light, but when they did he could vaguely make out his surroundings. He was standing in the tree line on a slope, and below him, he could just about make out a straight line of darker substance, the moon broke briefly through a gap in the clouds and he saw the reflection from the wet asphalt below. The dark line below him was a road, a road running through a forest.

He felt like death warmed up, his first thought might have been, that he had never felt this bad in his whole life. The only problem with that assertion would be the fact he had nothing to compare how he felt against. It was as if he had just now come into being, his mind was an empty vessel, a dark and empty place without memories. No matter how he searched inside his mind, he could find nothing. Not a name, an age, a reason for being here on this desolate night, nor any inclination where he had come from. Inside that empty void in his head, there was only one thing, a strong and overpowering emotion, and he somehow recognized this as fear. Slowly other thoughts appeared in the darkness of his mind, thoughts, and urges driven by that primeval emotion he knew was fear.

He needed to get away from this place his mind told him, away from the cloying earth that seemed to want to draw him downwards. “The sodden clay will take you back from whence you came”. The small voice somewhere in his mind caused the fear inside to intensify, and with the spike in fear came a burst of energy. The energy that he had not realized he had, suddenly his feet were moving forward and down the slippery slope. Faster they moved until he no longer had control over his movements, even when the earth refused to allow him to lift his feet he continued to move. Sliding ever faster towards the dark line of asphalt below him, when his feet hit the gravel margin at the side of the road he was catapulted upwards and forwards away from the greedy earth.

The sudden impact with the hard surface of the road was bone-jarring, he braced himself for the onset of pain, yet none came. Lying on the wet road all he felt was an overpowering feeling of relief, relief that he had managed to escape that prisoning earth that wanted so badly to keep him in that place among the trees. He would gladly have lain there caressing the cold wet asphalt, but the small voice urged him to move on. “Get on your feet and move as far from this place as possible.” The small frightened voice in his head pleaded with him. Thoughts began to flood his mind now, filling the vast emptiness that was his mind, thoughts, and emotions but still no memories.

Thoughts, emotions, and questions were all that defined him now, questions without answers and emotions void of memories. But the overpowering process inside his head was urgency, urgency driven by an all-consuming fear. The nameless man knew beyond doubt that he was in great danger, everything else could wait, for his first priority was to get away from this place. He needed to get up and keep moving, it was imperative that he leave this place of death as far behind him as possible. Here in this forest, he was a prisoner and the very earth beneath his feet had conspired to prevent him from leaving, if he did not move soon he would be returned to captivity and it was this thought that gave him the strength to rise and start walking.

Without any inclination as to which direction he was going, he began to walk. Nothing about his movements felt right, it was as if his muscles and joints were working against their will. His body was working without muscle memory, moving frustratingly slowly with the awkward gait of a mechanical thing. The breeze that rustled through the branches on either side of him created a disturbing whispering sound, whispers that told him he would never escape this place. Incessant little voices followed him from the dark forest, and they told him his attempted escape was futile. Those voices served to increase the fear and the fear drove him onwards, one faltering step after another as he tried to make good his escape.

How long he was walking he could not say, nor had he any idea how much distance he had covered. The incessant rain had intensified but still he kept moving, a part of his mind told him he should feel cold. Yet all he felt was a peculiar numbness, logic would dictate that hypothermia would surely have set in by now. But the nameless man felt nothing but fear and the overwhelming need to be gone from this accursed forest road. “Keep moving and don’t look back”, the urgent voice in his head kept up the mantra and he forced his legs to move. Other things found their way into the darkness of his mind now, fractured images of skeletal figures and strange burial grounds. Disturbing images of places where the very soil was a living entity, clay that was a living and vengeful thing.

The bright lights reflecting from the wet asphalt brought a new emotion that drowned out everything else, a deep and devastating feeling of hopelessness. The beat-up old pickup truck slowed down beside him and the passenger door swung open, suddenly the energy drained from him and his legs refused to move. A soft voice called to him from the dark interior. “Get in Sam; it is time for you to return”. The urge to turn and run was overpowering, but his legs moved unbidden towards the truck. With a great effort, he managed to drag himself into the passenger seat, a hand reached across him and pulled the door closed. “Do you remember Sam, or do I have to remind you?” The simple question filled him with a deep and debilitating fear, and a strange whimpering sound issued from somewhere deep inside him.

The driver reached up and turned on the light in the cab, he was an old Native American with a sad expression and this frightened the nameless man even more. The old Indian held out his hand and in it was a copy of what looked like an old newspaper, the thing that struck the nameless man most, was the condition of his own hand when he reached out and took the paper. His skin was mottled and parchment-like; it looked almost as if it was mummified. The stirring of memories somewhere in his mind disturbed him, something was terribly wrong but the memories would not reveal themselves. That was until he began to read what was in that paper, then the memories came and he wished they had stayed away.

The headline was enough; he did not need to read anymore. “Samuel Epstein the man behind controversial development on Indian burial ground goes missing” Now the memories came flooding back to him, they had taken him on a night just like this, a night of incessant rain. The old medicine man had pleaded with him and warned him of the consequences of disturbing the resting places of his ancestors, but Samuel had only laughed in his face. It was this same old man who had cursed him. Just before they killed him, the old man said the words. “We will bury you here in the sacred forest, but you will know no rest in the prisoning earth”. The light in the cab went out and the old Indian turned the truck, they headed back to whence he had come.

Samuel so badly wanted to cry and plead, but the years in the cloying soil had withered his vocal cords and shrank his tear ducts. He was a dead thing now, a husk that would be once again consigned to the damp soil, but even then he would know no rest. Time and time again he would claw his way from the clinging clay, he would stand there with no recollection of how or why he was there. On dark rainy nights, he would force his dead limbs to carry him from that place of death, he would claw his way from the soil and walk that lonely road. But time and time again they would return him to that place, the place where he would never find rest.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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