Chapter 1: The Resurrection of Bradley Cavanaugh

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Thrillerz

Reads: 871
Comments: 1

The Mistress was ready for this.  Hell, she was more than ready.  Afterall, she had spent the past year planning and preparing for this most wonderful moment to arrive.  It would be something spectacular, a kind of coming out occasion for her, and she had planned every step meticulously.  It would be something to see, alright.  It was just too bad that she and Bradley Cavanaugh would be the only two people that would know about it.

She was both nervous and excited; somewhat worried, yet not afraid at all.  The thought of going through with what she had planned for that piece of shit was a level of courage she would have never in a million years thought she had.  Butterflies danced in her stomach, flitting and fluttering in spasmodic arcs, their tiny wings tickling her insides and sending a thrilling chill up her spine.  The feelings she had could only be described as ecstatic and tingly, like she felt sometimes when she’d indulged in too much chocolate, or how a teenage girl might feel when that special boy she has a major crush on finally asks her out on a date.  It was totally arousing, a complete rush of adrenaline, akin to the same feeling as plunging down that first drop on a roller coaster!

She giggled delightfully, clapping her hands together, pleased with herself for concocting such an extravagant plan without anyone knowing about it, because if anyone did find out, they’d surely render her completely insane and would most likely lock her up and throw away the key – and she would never go back to that place again!  No siree, Bob!

What she couldn’t deny was the fact that there had been moments when she’d been a little apprehensive about moving forward with her strategy.  However, when she focused on all the hurt, anger, frustration, betrayal and pure hatred she’d carried inside of her for years, those feelings of uncertainty had quickly dissipated, and in their place was born a gut-wrenching desire for revenge against a man that she absolutely and totally loathed.

To be honest with herself, she wasn’t entirely sure that this was going to work.  She had never tried it on a human before.  But she had performed the exact same ritual on a cat and had been successful – well, sort of.

The little gray ball of fur had come into her possession courtesy of the local animal shelter adoption program.  He was a cute little thing, too, friendly and affectionate, eyes the color of topaz.  If he hadn’t been meant to fulfill a higher purpose, she may have considered keeping him as a pet.  She did let it enjoy three days of freedom before sacrificing it, though, which she thought was nice of her, since he could possibly have lived out the rest of his life trapped in a cage.  And when the time had come for her to say goodbye to Mr. Kitty, she’d shown him mercy by making his death quick and painless.  She recalled being mesmerized by the tiny bubbles that had erupted from his nose and mouth as she’d held him under water and had even felt a little sad as she watched the life drain from his tiny body, his bright, golden eyes going dim.

Running her hand down his limp body, she had squeezed the excess water from his fur, and then had lain him out on the ritual cloth, preparing him for resurrection.

It took less than an hour for his rebirth.  At first, he seemed dazed, as though he had just awakened from a catnap.  But then he became violent, hissing and snarling at her; not the same sweet kitten she had drowned in the bathtub.  When he had lunged at her, ready to attack with claws and teeth, she realized she couldn’t allow him to live, and had put him down with one stab from her ritual dagger.  She saw no need to bury him; so, she wrapped his tiny body in an old towel, tied them both up inside of a plastic garbage bag, and put the bundle outside in the trashcan for the sanitation workers to pick up.

At the time she had performed the resurrection spell on the cat, she had no idea that she’d need to perform it again in the future.  She had only done it then to see if she could, to grow in her experience and enhance her craft.

But all of that was about to change.

More than a year ago, she had made up her mind that she was going to kill Bradley Cavanaugh and had everything planned out perfectly – how she would do it, where she would do it, how she would dispose of his body, all in a way that no one would ever suspect it was she who was guilty of the crime.  If any questions ever did arise about his whereabouts, the authorities would simply think that he had up and left without telling anyone.  That’s what liars, abusers and cheaters always did, right?  Walk out of a relationship without giving explanations why or screw every woman that said yes to their advances, always on the prowl, searching around for their next unsuspecting victim, wooing them and showering them with gifts until he caught them in his web of deceit.  All her life she had known men just like him, and they were always the same – users and losers.

But just as she was ready to make her move on him by kidnapping him at gunpoint and taking him to her cabin, the stupid son of a bitch went and got himself killed in a car accident!  The nerve of him!  Who did he think he was to spoil her fun like that?  He wasn’t going to because she wasn’t going to let him.

Discarding her original plans because she couldn’t kill a man who’s already dead, she was forced to think of another way to fulfill her desire to annihilate him and make him suffer as much as he had made her suffer, and she had to think, and move, fast.

Coming up with a replacement plan hadn’t taken long.  She figured out the perfect solution and it was one that no one would ever figure out, because to know it and believe it would be admitting that the dead really can come back to life, and that wasn’t something too many people would be willing to agree on.

She already had everything she needed for the spell, having collected potions, herbal ingredients, and even bones and other body parts, over the years to stay in practice, and up-to-date, as a self-proclaimed witch.  Perhaps she could kill a dead man, afterall. It truly was a brilliant plan.

Raising her glass of Merlot towards the ceiling, she said, “Let the games begin.”


* * * * *



“Come on, Riley,” Frank Rowan said to his Labrador.  “Let’s go make our final rounds before we lock up the joint for the night.”

Grabbing his key ring from its hook on the kitchen wall, he headed towards the front door of his one-bedroom bungalow that he shared with his dog.  It was only six hundred square feet, but hey, it was home and they lived there rent-free.  It was just one of the perks that came with the job.  Landing the position wasn’t much of a competition, either.  It wasn’t like applicants were knocking down the door to apply!  Nope, this job wasn’t for the squeamish or faint-hearted, and most certainly not for someone who scared easily, because not just anyone could be a groundskeeper at a cemetery!  Frank had no qualms about taking the job.  How hard could it possibly be to walk around and check on gravesites, keep the grounds clean, and make sure no one accidentally got locked in after closing?  It did take guts and nerves of steel to walk through a graveyard at night, especially when there was no moon and it was dark AND quiet.  He understood why some people might be scared, especially if they let their imaginations run wild.  If they did that, they probably would see a ghost or two, or imagine that the hundreds of towering, looming tombstones bathed in silver moonlight may just be stone soldiers, erect and ready to do battle.

Standing six feet, five inches and weighing two hundred and fifty pounds, Frank Rowan did not scare easily, nor was he scared of much…except for spiders.  Those eight-legged freaks gave him the willies, especially the gargantuan ones, with their long prickly legs and gazillion eyes staring back at him.  Geez, how he hated those things!  Most people were intimidated by his size and tended to steer clear of him.  He had overheard some of the whispers from town residents and the names they called him - Digger, Weirdo, the tall dude, to name a few.  He had even heard the occasional “wow, you’re a tall drink of water,” when someone did take the time to speak to him. Frank had never responded or reacted to the name-calling, giving only a slight nod as he passed them by.  He never could understand why they called him Digger though, for he certainly didn’t dig graves.  And even if he did, didn’t the bozos know they had machines for that now?  Truthfully, he had no clue why they called him names at all, since no one really knew him.  He had only been in this town for the past year and had taken the groundskeeper job at Greenview Cemetery just a few short weeks after arriving.  He figured it was exactly what he needed after suffering through, and unfortunately surviving, his worst nightmare.  Horrible and tragic losses that he neither liked to think or talk about.  A quiet and secluded place seemed like the perfect medicine for a broken man.  Somewhere away from everyone and everything, where no one would bother him.  He figured it was easier for the townsfolk to gossip about him and believe what they wanted to believe rather than to know the truth about the man he was.  A small town had been exactly what he was looking for when he found Peach City.  Located about fifty miles north of the Florida state line, it seemed quiet and peaceful enough to settle down in, so he had.  From the few minor interactions he’d had with the townspeople, it appeared as though everybody knew each other and always addressed each other by their first names.  But no one ever bothered him or called him by his real name.  That was precisely the way he liked it.

Frank didn’t believe in ghosts, either, and he had certainly never seen one.  And if there were such a thing, wasn’t he in the perfect place to see them?  He thought so.  He had always believed that when you’re dead, you’re dead, plain and simple.  No Heaven, no Hell, no Purgatory, and certainly no lingering spirits that had a problem moving on to their next realm because they had unfinished business on earth.  He would admit, however, that on a couple of occasions, he had gotten somewhat spooked.  Like the time he had been making his nightly rounds and heard what he thought was someone whispering.  But since the entrance to the cemetery closed at ten P.M. and cars had no other way in except through the front gate, he knew that he was alone, except for Riley, who stood loyally by his side (and Riley couldn’t talk, much less whisper), so he concluded that it was the wind blowing through the leaves.  However, as he arrived at that rationalization, he got scared so badly that he had nearly peed his pants!  The bushes directly in front of him began shaking and rustling, and from inside the bush came a low, deep growl.  Approaching the shrub slowly and carefully, he squatted and shined his flashlight through the gap between the branches, only to see two glowing silver orbs staring back at him.  He half expected a ferocious mountain lion or a rabid raccoon to jump out of the bushes and maul him to death!  That thought had caused a ripple of fear to crawl through his belly, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand straight on end.  His attempt to get to his feet, along with a sudden emergence from the bush happening simultaneously, Frank lost his balance and fell backwards onto his rear end.  It didn’t take him long to realize that he wasn’t being attacked by a mountain lion or a raccoon, but by a wild, feral cat.  It lunged straight onto his chest, burying its claws into his skin, hissing and growling, breathing its rotten, foul breath directly into Frank’s face.  The smell had been overwhelming and suffocating, nearly making him puke.  Grabbing the cat tightly by the nape of its neck, he yanked it from him, feeling his skin rip as the cat’s razor-sharp claws tore loose, taking out chunks of his flesh.  He quickly got to his feet, gasping for breath, his heart pounding, and hoping with all his might that the cat wouldn’t pounce on him again. It hadn’t.  Instead, it hissed at him, let out a guttural growl, and then took off running for its life into the woods, back to its filthy way of life and smorgasbords of decaying animal carcasses.

The puncture wounds in his chest had stung and burned like fire.  He had known he was bleeding because he could feel the wetness soaking through his shirt.  Picking up his flashlight, he turned to Riley and said, “Thanks for the help, pal.”

He could laugh about it now, especially when he thought about how he must have looked – a mountain of a man on the ground wrestling with a small, defenseless cat; however, it had certainly delivered some nasty injuries, and it wasn’t funny when he’d had to nurse all his wounds…including a slightly bruised ego.

Opening the door, he turned to Riley, who remained on the couch, glancing back and forth from Frank to the door.  “You coming or not?”

Riley licked his chops and answered with a whimper.

“What’s wrong, buddy?” Frank asked.  “You scared?”

Riley whimpered again, glanced momentarily at the front door, and then laid his head back down on his paws.

“You’re not going to make me go out there by myself, are you?” Frank asked as he knelt beside the couch.  Scratching the dog behind the ear, he said, “I don’t blame you, boy.  I don’t care for it much myself, but I must do it to make sure everything’s secure.  Come on.  I promise it’ll be over with before you know it.”

Without lifting his head, Riley cast a furtive glance at Frank, and then toward the front door.  Reluctantly, he left the safety of the warm couch and walked slowly toward the door, his tail tucked firmly between his legs.

“What gives?” Frank thought.  “Why the sudden strange behavior?”


* * * * *


The anticipation was killing her.  She hated waiting!  She was antsy and restless, eager to move forward, but she had to wait because the time to act had not yet arrived.  Patience was NOT one of her virtues and waiting for anything was a huge pain in her ass!  She felt like a kid standing outside of a penny candy store with a whole dollar to spend on anything she wanted but having to wait for the doors to open for business!

Looking at the clock for what seemed like the thousandth time, she saw that she still had a little more than an hour left before her ceremony would commence.  Downing the last of the red wine in her glass, she glanced over all the ingredients laid before her, naming off each one, conducting yet another inventory to make sure she had everything she would need.  She did.  There was a black candle for power; a picture of Brad for spiritual identification; gold dust to summon the dead; and Azan flowers for the actual resurrecting of his dead body.  Her own blood would be the final addition to complete the spell and seal her power over him.  She was satisfied.  Glancing at the clock once more, she discovered that only minutes had passed since she had last looked, although it seemed like it had been hours.Mentally, she screamed “UGHHHHH!” at the top of her lungs, but aloud, she whispered, ““Patience, my dear, patience.”

As she waited, she reminded herself why she hated Brad so much, and to be honest, the reasons were endless.  It hadn’t always been that way, though.  There had been a time when she had cared a great deal for him.  When she had enjoyed being around him and hearing his laughter or hearing him tell his dull and corny jokes.  But her feelings had quickly changed when she had learned the truth about him.  About what kind of a man he really was, and the façade he had hidden behind all that time.  And learning what she had learned about him had not been an easy thing to accept.  She was heartbroken to learn of the things she had been told, to see the things she had witnessed herself.  To hold someone on such a high pedestal as she had him, only to have him fall from grace, so to speak, was a real gut-punch!  She believed that she had gone through the seven stages of grief, beginning with denial and disbelief, and ending with absolute, unadulterated hatred.

He was a strikingly handsome man, no doubt.  Tall, with wavy black hair and sea green eyes, he had been the envy of many men in town because of his good looks.  But the women loved and lusted after him.  The problem was, he loved and lusted them in return.  From what she had learned through town gossip, his infidelities were quite substantial.  Obviously, the institution of marriage and the vows that he had taken had meant nothing to him, and that alone was one of the main reasons she felt the way she did about him now.  But he was also a liar and a drunk, and he liked to physically abuse women when he was intoxicated, and sometimes when he wasn’t, and she knew that fact from first-hand experience.  Punching a woman in the face and stomach may have made him feel superior, but in her opinion, he was the worst kind of man on the planet, in a class lower than cockroaches.

Even with all his hatefulness and cruelty, there was another reason she harbored so much hatred towards him – and it was the most important reason of all.  He had taken her best friend away from her, someone who had been an integral part of her life since they’d been in elementary school!  A friend who had sworn that they’d be together forever, through thick and thin, no matter what.He took all of that away, and Patrice stood by and allowed it to happen!  And because of that, she could never forgive him!

She didn’t completely blame Patrice for their separation because she knew that Patrice had no choice, given the threats that Brad had made against her.  And Brad didn’t simply make threats – he was known for carrying through on them.  It had taken several years to accept the demise of their friendship, to mend the pieces of her broken heart, and to put her life back together – a life void of Patrice.  But time had done exactly that.  The only thing that time had not healed was her deep-seeded hatred.  In fact, having the time to mull it all over through the years had only made her resent him more.

“I loathe you, Bradley Cavanaugh,” she said through clenched teeth.  “With every ounce of my being.”

With her eyes transfixed on the clock, she stated, “And it won’t be long now until you find out just how much.”


* * * * *


The hands on the grandfather clock were both positioned on twelve, confirming the moment she had been anxiously waiting for.  Midnight had finally arrived – it was time.

The blood red robe cascaded around her ankles as she stood before the makeshift altar, the cowled hood pulled over her head so that only her face was visible.  Her alabaster skin appeared pale and ghastly in the glow of the burning candles.  The ritual gown wasn’t necessary to perform the spell, but she preferred wearing it because it made her feel superior and important, as if she was the queen of the world!

All those long months of waiting were about to come to fruition, and hopefully, her deep desire for retribution sated and satisfactory.

She opened her book of Forgotten Spells and Magical Rituals to the page bookmarked with a blue sticky note and laid it down in front of her onto the round dinette table that she had converted into a shrine.  Resurrection Spell was at the top of the page, sprawled in large, black letters.  “Ritual must be performed at midnight on the third day following death,” was highlighted in orange.  And directly below that, also in orange, “If performed during the cycle of the full moon, the power of the spell shall increase thrice-fold.”  Although WARNING! was highlighted in yellow as well, she did not heed the advice and instead, crossed it out entirely.  Warnings were for novices and idiots…she was a pro and completely at ease.  Unlike some other mystics she was acquainted with, she knew what she was doing.  She had already performed the spell once.  What would make this time any different than the last?

A copper bowl filled with yellow Oenothera rested atop a black tablecloth with a red five-pointed pentagram painted in the center (compliments of her crafting paints).  The flowers were creatures of natural beauty, with four heart-shaped petals on each one.  She hated to burn them because they would make a lovely bouquet.  But, alas, duty called, and that meant that the flowers must be destroyed.  Atop them was a photograph of Brad, from happier times, when she had liked him.

Striking a match, she lit the five red candles that had been placed on each point of the pentagram, and then touched the burning flame of the match to the wick of the black ritual candle that she held in her hand.  As the candle began to melt, she dripped the wax onto the picture of Brad, allowing small black circles to cover his face, until they all ran together to form one large blob of melted wax.  Placing the black candle into a candlestick, she then picked up the sterling silver dagger from the table and drew the sharp blade across the palm of her hand, making a short, shallow wound just deep enough to draw blood.  She winced at the sting of the pain as she held her fisted hand over the mixture inside the bowl and squeezed, causing red droplets to fall on top of the hardened wax.  Lastly, she sprinkled diamond dust over the flowers, and then closed her eyes. 

Many years ago, she had trained herself how to meditate and put herself into a trancelike state.  It had been hard at first, because she could be so easily distracted by thoughts and the sounds around her.  But the more she practiced, the better she got, until she learned how to completely tune out all the noises and every single thought inside of her head.

Starting with deep breathing exercises, she inhaled and counted to six; exhaled - counted to six, repeat.  She then imagined herself at the top of a ladder, needing to descend to the bottom rung, then into the black abyss that lay beyond the ladder.  Inhale, exhale – take two steps down.  With each descent, her surroundings grew darker and darker, until she was engulfed in total blackness, her thoughts clear, her mind focused.

She began to chant.  “Ommm, Ommm, Ommm…Surgit, Surgit, SURGIT!”   With her arms spread wide, palms upward, eyes still closed, she began the incantation that would revive the body of the man she so desperately reviled.

“I call out to the prison walls that hold the body of Bradley Cavanaugh captive,” she intoned.  “I command you to listen to the sound of my voice.  I order you to crumble away and set him free.  Loosen your grip on him, mighty death chamber, so that he may be raised from eternal rest and live again.  Listen to the sound of my voice and obey my commands.  Spew forth that which you have confined.”

She paused for a moment and opened her eyes, then stepped closer to the altar.  “Surge sursus, iterum.”  (Rise up and live again.) 

Ego ad te, Bradley Cavanaugh…et resurgere a mortuis!” (I call to you, Bradley Cavanaugh, AWAKE and rise from your dead slumber!)

She touched the black candle’s flame to the flowers inside the copper bowl that were coated with diamond dust, instantly igniting them.  A hissing sound erupted from the flames as they grew higher and redder, licking at the photograph of Brad as though they were feeding on him.  The photo curled up at all four corners, devoured by the heat and fire, and then disappeared completely into the pile of smoldering ashes.

Ego proecipio tibi! Surge sursus, veni ad me!” (I command you, rise and come to me.)

“Surge sursus, Surge sursus, SURGE SURSUS!”  She commanded. 

Inhaling deeply; she breathed in the sweet aroma of burning flowers, photograph paper and dried blood.  The smell made her smile, because the scent was confirmation that she had followed through with the resurrection spell without any qualms or second thoughts.  Coming out of her trance, she exhaled with a sigh, blew out the candle and then placed it in the copper bowl across the pile of ashes that had once been stunning flowers.

The summoning ritual was complete.  Bradley Cavanaugh’s grave had been ordered to break away and loosen him from its death grip, and he had been commanded to escape from his burial vault and obey her commands and instructions to come to her. 

Changing from her ritual gown into a pair of jeans and black t-shirt, she knew that rest was what she needed now, but she also knew that sleep would likely elude her because she was too excited about the fun that lay ahead of her.  The joy she would feel when getting even with that prick for all the pain he had bestowed on her was overwhelming.  She recalled a favorite phrase of Brad’s, one that he used to say quite often to justify getting out of an engagement or an appointment, feigning tiredness for his excuses.  “Being an attorney in the corporate world is torture.”

“Jackass,” she said aloud.  “You have no clue what torture is, but you will soon enough.”

Thoughts about the tools and other devices she had purchased for the special occasion, and what she planned to do with them, danced around inside her mind.  All of them were downstairs on the worktable, concealed beneath a blue plastic tarp.  She didn’t want him to see all her toys right away and spoil the surprise.  How much fun would that be?

She also had Ketamine and other medical supplies, all of them either bought or stolen.  She liked to think that she “borrowed” them, but that would mean they’d need to be returned and she had no intentions of doing that.  Because then she would have to admit that she had stolen them afterall, and that might prompt another investigation, and she didn’t have the time to waste on such foolishness.  Much more important things were on the horizon now, things that would require her complete and devoted attention.  She did, however, intend to use all the supplies, but not all at once.  She hadn’t waited a whole year to exhaust all her fun in one day.  Oh no, no way!  Her plans would take weeks, possibly even months, to carry out.  She intended to get as much enjoyment out of it as she possibly could, no matter how long it took.  She was anxious to get started – but in no hurry to finish.

Because Brad had only been called awake from his not so eternal slumber several minutes prior, and the walk to get to her would take several hours, she had more than enough time to relax.  She imagined the trek itself would be quite a challenge for him, having only recently been reanimated.  It would be funny to see, like watching a toddler learning how to walk.  She couldn’t care less how difficult or painful it might be.  It didn’t matter to her whether he walked, crawled or flew if he got there!  He was hers now, just the way she had planned it.

Yes, a short rest was exactly what she needed, because she would require all her strength and energy when he finally did get there.  For she had all kinds of good things planned for him and she would need all her vigor to deliver the goods and make everything extra special.

Lying down on the couch to take a nap, she fluffed and then placed a throw pillow beneath her head and shut her eyes, falling asleep faster than she’d expected.  With the nightmare still fresh in her mind, she bolted upright in a near panic, her dream a reflection of what had only crossed her mind one time as a fleeting thought, but now caused concern.

What if Brad wasn’t, well, Brad?  Would he arrive like a lion or like a lamb?  Would he be passive and obedient, or would he be aggressive and violent like the kitten had?  Getting up from the couch, she checked all the windows and both doors to ensure that they were closed and locked, just to be safe.

In the bathroom, she opened the medicine cabinet over the sink and took out a syringe and a small vial.  Turning the bottle upside down, she plunged the hypodermic needle into the plastic end cap of the bottle and drew out 2cc’s of Ketamine, then recapped the syringe and put the bottle back inside the cabinet.  The amount she had drawn out should be more than enough to sedate and sustain him.  If not, she had an ample supply and would keep injecting him until it did.

Returning to the living room, she placed the filled syringe down on the coffee table in a position that would be easily accessible.  If she needed it in an emergency, she didn’t want to have to struggle to obtain it.  She thought about putting it into the pocket of her jeans but decided against it.  All she would need would be for the cap to come off and the Ketamine to accidentally get administered to her!  She certainly had no intentions to take such a crazy chance as that!

Again, she checked the windows and doors, taking the time to peek out the front curtains and into the yard, but nothing, or no one, was there.  “Give him time,” she told herself.  “He’ll be here soon enough.”

She sat down on the couch, clutching the throw pillow tightly to her chest.

And waited.

* * * * *


Riley’s loud and incessant barking awakened Frank.  Rolling over in bed, he squinted at the digital clock on the bedside table.  12:30 A.M.  He had barely been asleep for an hour.  Throwing his head back onto the pillow, he groaned and shouted, “Riley, enough!”

Riley was agitated in a way that Frank had never seen before.  Not only was he barking, he was whining and whimpering, pacing back and forth in front of the door, standing on his hind legs, pawing and scratching at the door frame, trying desperately to get out.  Something had him stirred up, and whatever it was, Riley wanted at it badly.

Getting out of bed, Frank crept to the front window.  Pulling the curtain back, he looked out, but didn’t see or hear anything.  “There’s nothing there, boy.”  But Riley wasn’t giving up.  He urgently wanted to get outside.

Frank could see the open-air mausoleum from his living room window, which stayed illuminated throughout the dark hours, thanks to a timer that kicked on when the sun set and remained on until daylight.  All was quiet out there.

“You probably heard a skunk or a possum or some other night scavenger,” he said to Riley.  “Guess I need to let you find out on your own,” he said, clipping Riley’s leash on.  “Or else you’ll never let me get back to sleep.”

Frank decided against the use of a flashlight, depending instead on the stream of light emitting from the mausoleum to guide his way.  He was only going there and straight back for the sole purpose of showing Riley that nothing was lurking in the dark.  The outdoor burial chamber was only a few hundred feet from his bungalow, so it would be a short, quick trip.

The dog nearly dragged him out the front door.  It took all of Frank’s strength to restrain him and keep him from running away.  But Riley wasn’t interested in anything around the house; he was heading straight toward the mausoleum.

“What the hell?” Frank shouted.  “Whoa, boy, not so fast.”  Riley was pulling hard against his leash, struggling to free himself, but Frank held fast to the handgrip, the plastic casing rubbing hard enough against the palm of his hand to form a blister.

They entered the catacomb through the entryway arch that was parallel to the front of the bungalow.  Although it was an open area, the sign posted next to the doorway clearly stated, “No Cars Allowed.”  Stone benches sat empty in the middle of the room, put there for visitors to come and sit with their loved ones, and for sitting space during graveside services.

Crypts lined the walls on both sides, twenty rows long by six columns high.  All front crypt seals were constructed of white marble and sealed shut with heavy-duty glue, concrete and metal shutter plates.  All of them had miniature flower urns installed on the front, as well as brass nameplates.  Hardly any of them had flowers, fresh or artificial, but the nameplates of all occupied tombs had been engraved, courtesy of the funeral homes in charge of the burials, and because it was included with the cost of the crypt.  Only the most recent entombments were absent of the identifying grave markers.  The brass plates were there, but no names were on them.  Many times, Frank had thought how sad those images were.  It was as if they had been laid to rest and then totally forgotten about– out of sight, out of mind.  “This’ll be you one day,” he had told himself on more than one occasion. “Dead and buried, and no one to visit you, no one to care.”

Not all the crypts were occupied.  Some were waiting on their owners to move in and take up residence, like the one that moved in today.  His eternal abode had just been closed that afternoon.

“See, boy, nothing here.  Just you, me, and our shadows.”

Riley whimpered and looked up at Frank.  The dog was trembling, his shackles standing on end.  The glow from the fluorescent light spilling from inside the tomb made his black coat appear purple.  Ripples ran over his haunches as his muscles convulsed with spasms.  Clearly, the dog was frightened.  But of what, Frank had no clue.  Whatever it was must have been right here, near the walls of dead bodies.  And whatever it was could only be seen, or heard, by Riley.  His attention was focused on one of the crypts; the new one, in fact, the one that had only recently been sealed.

Frank slowly led Riley to the fresh tomb and let him sniff around to ease his curiosity, and to show him that he was having a hissy fit for nothing.  Suddenly, Riley let out a yelp, as though he had been struck and suffered great pain from the blow.  He turned from the vault and ran behind Frank, his head lowered, his eyes down.

Frank felt a cold wave of fear rush through him as he watched the dog’s behavior.  He had always heard that dogs had a keen sense of sight and smell, and that they could see and hear things that a human could not, which is probably what shook Frank the most.  Exactly what had Riley seen?  Or better yet – what had he heard?

“Come on, Riley, let’s go before we do see something.”  Riley stayed on the side of Frank that was away from the crypt, keeping his distance, his head still down, refusing to look up as he walked.

As they reached the archway to exit the mausoleum, Frank froze in his tracks when a loud thump! startled him, causing him to flinch and Riley to whimper.  He spun around quickly, disturbed by the unknown noise, not knowing where it had come from.  He remained immobile as he scanned the entire area, up one wall of crypts and down the other, along the ceiling…nothing.  No bats, no birds, no monsters lurking in the dark.

When the next sound he heard came, he made a mental note to call the funeral home first thing in the morning and let them know that whoever had sealed that crypt had apparently sealed a rat or some other furry critter inside the tomb.

What else could have made scratching noises like that from inside an airtight chamber?

As he and Riley exited the mausoleum and stepped onto the dirt path that led to their bungalow, a bright flash of lightning spider-veined across the sky, followed by a booming crack of thunder that vibrated the ground beneath their feet.

“Let’s go, boy, before we get soaked, or fried extra crispy!”


* * * * * * * * * *


Even if Frank had not been sleeping, he would not have heard the commotion going on inside of the mausoleum over the torrential downpour of rain and continuous claps of thunder.

While he was nestled safely in his warm bed, the unthinkable was unfolding at the crypt located on row two, column six, along the wall that faced away from the bungalow.

As lightning ripped across the sky, a crack appeared in the top left corner of the marble plate that sealed the vault, zigzagging down the front until it connected with the bottom right corner, snapping in two as though it were as fragile as a saltine cracker.  Pieces of marble shattered onto the concrete floor, scattering in different directions, the bronze flower urn landing sideways atop the pile of rubble.  With the force of an exploding bomb, the shutter blew away from the chamber, making a loud cling! clang! clunk! as the sheet of warped and twisted metal hit the ground, rocked from side to side, then came to rest beside the debris.  The entombed coffin slid from the enclosure as if an unseen hand had pulled it out with the same ease it would take to remove a loaf of bread from the grocery store shelf.  The foot of the casket hit the concrete with a loud BANG! and then slid down and across the floor until the entire coffin was exposed.

From inside came the muffled sound of a man’s voice.  He was groaning and trying hard to scream, but all that came forth were grunts and pitiful whimpers.  Ripping and scratching noises emitted from inside, the sound of fingernails tearing at fabric and wood as they fought against the dark enclosure, trying desperately to get out.

The lid slowly began to crack open, the hinges creaking against the weight of the wood, now splintered and cracked from the impact with the hard floor. 

Bruised and swollen fingers appeared in the thin crack, slithering from beneath like tiny snakes until they found the edge of the lid, grasping it tightly and pushing until the lid stood wide open, revealing what lay inside.

It was a good thing that Frank Rowan was fast asleep, or else he would have witnessed a nightmare that was much worse than any he had ever had. 

If he had been awake or still standing inside the mausoleum, he would have seen Bradley Cavanaugh rise from the dead, crawl out of his coffin, climb over the chain link fence, and stagger away from Greenview Cemetery.

But Riley knew that something bad had happened because he heard all the noises coming from inside the mausoleum, and the ruckus had terrified him.

Skulking, he returned to the bedroom and lay down at the foot of Frank’s bed, trembling uncontrollably.

Submitted: April 22, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Glenda Norwood Petz. All rights reserved.

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The dead don't always stay buried...


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A gripping horror novel, that is well written.

Sun, April 26th, 2020 5:34am


Thank you very much for your kind words.

Sun, April 26th, 2020 3:42am

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