The Fallen Chronicles: Episode 35


paper[] It began with a determined squirrel, transporting the season’s last acorn to his hovel in the woods behind Harrison Cemetery outside Buckner, Illinois. Casey the Coydog sniffed him out and raced to display her superiority in the food chain, but the squirrel proved too wily. Momentarily abandoning its acorn, it bounded aside just as Casey’s paws slammed into the dirt. It then scampered between her legs, scooped up the acorn, and fled for the nearest tree. With a blur of gray fur, Casey shook her mangy head in frustration.

Mike, Aurelia, Greg, and Emmet watched the chase with amusement while they stood next to their rusted Toyota Corolla at the base of the hill near the entrance to Harrison Cemetery. Mike shielded himself from the biting wind with his black leather trench coat, but Aurelia stood oblivious to the dropping temperature in a black t-shirt and skirt. Davin sat in the car’s backseat with his eyes closed and his face pressed against the window. A small trickle of drool ran down the glass from the edge of his mouth.

“Are we just going to let him sleep in there?” Emmet asked.

Without saying a word, Aurelia opened the passenger door and Davin spilled out, crying out in surprise as he hit the lawn.

“What the hell?” he protested as he got to his feet.

“I told you not to drink so much last night,” Mike said.

“You tell me a lot of things—” Davin brushed the dirt and leaves off his jeans while his friends fished around in the Toyota’s trunk for their supplies.

The sun descended below the horizon. Casey the Coydog paced the tree line, waiting for the squirrel to reappear. Emmet popped open the LCD display on his VHS-C camcorder while Mike pulled a bulky digital camera from his trench coat pocket. “I’m looking forward to seeing some ghosts this time,” Emmet said. “There are two here, right? That means we have a 50 percent chance of seeing at least one.”

“I don’t think your math adds up,” Greg chuckled, and then turned to Mike. “Hey, how long are we going to be down here? We should go back to the Cotton Club after this investigation. That bartender was smokin’ hot.”

Mike scowled. “Is that all you think about?” he replied. “I figure we’ll stay in Southern Illinois for a couple of weeks. We’ll hit a couple other places while we’re here. Now, as Emmet mentioned earlier, there are two different ghosts here. Locals also claim to hear a phantom piano playing. Our objective is to document the cemetery while there’s still a sliver of daylight, then see if we can’t find these ghosts ourselves. Who has the tape recorder?”

Harrison Cemetery outside Buckner, Illinois. Photo by the author.

Harrison Cemetery outside Buckner, Illinois. Photo by the author.

Greg, who wore tattered khaki shorts and mismatched socks, raised his hand.

“At midnight we are going to try to record this mysterious piano music,” Mike continued. “Any objections?”

“Uh, yeah,” Emmet said. “I’d much rather be back at the bar.”

Aurelia slapped him upside the head, hard enough for his baseball cap to fly off.

“Didn’t your parents teach you not to hit other people?” he yelled and quickly used Davin as a human shield.

Aurelia scoffed. “My parents kicked me out when I was nine years old,” she said contemptuously.

After the group settled down, Mike and Aurelia went in one direction and Davin, Emmet, and Greg in another. They filmed the terrain and took pictures until the sun disappeared below the horizon and stars began to sprinkle into view. Mike and Aurelia walked up the hill on the cemetery’s northwest quadrant, not bothering to turn on their flashlights. The full moon rose in the cloudless sky, providing just enough light to navigate between the headstones. When Mike reached the summit of the hill, he stopped and looked up at the night sky.

“Look at those millions of stars,” he said. “There are things we can’t even imagine out there, yet the distance most perplexing to us is the distance between us and the people lying under our feet.” He cleaned his glasses with the hem of his shirt.

Aurelia turned to face him and touched his shoulder, but said nothing.

Laughter echoed up the hill from where Greg, Emmet, and Davin had wandered across the road into a different section of Harrison Cemetery. Aurelia fought back a grin while she slipped her arm around Mike’s waist and rested her head on his shoulder. “At least we’re all stuck here together,” she said. “For now.”

Mike glanced at the dark shapes of Greg, Emmet, and Davin in the distance. “Great,” he said sarcastically.

“I’ve been trying to work my way up the sauces at Buffalo Wild Wings,” Greg said as Emmet snapped shut the LCD display on his camcorder. “I’m on Mango Habanero. It’s like having a Hawaiian in a sombrero pour fire into your mouth. It’s awesome.”

“Mangos are from India, not Hawaii,” Emmet said.

“Man, whatever. I’m the only here who has even been to both of those places.”

Without warning, Casey the Coydog, who had shadowed the trio since sundown, stopped in her tracks and began to whine.

“Turn the camera back on,” Davin whispered.

Emmet was about to chastise his friend for suggesting Casey’s behavior might be abnormal, but before he could open his mouth, an orange light roughly the size of a baseball appeared and rushed toward him. Davin and Greg dove out of the way, but Emmet did not move. His eyes grew wide, and the orange glow passed through his shoulder with a jolt—spinning him ninety degrees before it zipped back into the headstones.

Greg flipped open his cell phone and sent a text message to Mike, telling him to come quickly. He then got to his feet and ran over to Emmet, who looked more pale than usual. “Are you okay, man?” he asked in a low whisper.

Harrison Cemetery outside Buckner, Illinois. Photo by the author.

Harrison Cemetery outside Buckner, Illinois. Photo by the author.

Emmet’s mouth moved, but no sound escaped.

Out of the corner of his eye, Greg noticed the bright orange light was coming around for another pass. He shoved Emmet out of the way just as it burned the air about their heads.

On the other side of the cemetery, Mike’s cell phone vibrated. He removed it from his trench coat pocket and accepted the incoming text. The message simply read, “H.”

“They’re in trouble,” Mike said, recognizing their pre-established code. He glanced toward his friends, but they were too far away to see clearly.

Mike and Aurelia wasted no time. They raced down the hill, dodging and weaving between the headstones as they ran. After crossing the road, it was only a few more yards before they reached their compatriots.

Aurelia knew what happened without needing to ask. She sensed the anger of the orange spirit and threw up her hands. She muttered a few arcane words and the air became still. Without missing a beat, Aurelia walked up to Emmet and slapped him across the face. “Snap out of it!” she shrieked.

Emmet shook his head and swore. “What the hell did you do that for?”

“What happened?” Mike asked.

“Something attacked us,” Davin said frantically. “A light or orb of some kind. It hit Emmet.”

“Are you okay?”

Emmet rubbed the side of his face, which still bore a red imprint of Aurelia’s hand. “Not anymore,” he grumbled. “I don’t know what the hell that was, but my shoulder is sore too. I feel like I got an electric shock.”

“Let’s stick together for the rest of the night,” Mike said tentatively. “I don’t want any more incidents. Did you get it on video?”

“No,” Greg said. “Emmet turned off the camera right before it struck.”

“From now on, keep the tape rolling,” Mike replied. “Aura, I want you to tell me if you sense that ghost light coming back. Let’s wrap up the investigation and get out of here.”

For once, no one argued.

[New episode every Friday…]

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This page is copyright, 2016. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work.


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