Chapter Four, Part One
“So, tell me what you saw again?” I was sat at the corner table of the bustling cafeteria with a dish of tuna casserole and a mixed fruit soda in front of me while I listened to Alisha who sat to the right of me. She looked irritated as she stirred her creamy chicken soup with her head rested on her other hand.
“It…It looked like someone had been scraping at the dirt on the graves. A couple of them had a few scratch marks on the headstones, and some tracks look like they had been left by people. Big people with toenails like talons. Daz and I looked around on the way from the car to Nanny and Gramps’ grave, and that’s when we saw one of the graves completely dugout with the coffin inside it broken open,” She explained. It made sense to me now why she hadn’t eaten much. Pretty serious stuff.
“Did…did you see, who was in there taking a dirt nap and turning into worm food?” I asked. She stopped her stirring then looked at me sideways, irritated. “Sorry. But, did you see a body?” I asked and she shook her head.
“Daz didn’t let me go anywhere near it. Didn’t expect that when we went to put flowers on a grave,” She sighed then pushed her soup bowl away from her.
“Did you get to do that?” I asked then took a spoonful of my food.
“The police who came to investigate offered to take the flowers to put them on the grave, but Daz asked if I could after school. Do you maybe wanna come with me?” she asked quieter. I put my spoon down and tilted my head at her with a bamboozled look.
“You’re asking me, to come to a graveyard with you?” I asked then she nodded twice. That had to be the weirdest thing she’d ever asked me. “I know we’ve been through and seen some shit this last week, but I am still scared of ghosts, Alisha!” That got a small smile from her.
“I know, and I know it isn’t what we usually do when we hang out. You’ll always be a chicken around ghosts, but I want you to come to see if it isn’t a crazy grave digger and could be something, not human,” she told me and I nodded awing in realisation.
“I’ve only just started reading about ghosts, it could be an idea to get Elsa to come to see it too,” I replied.
“I know, but I wanna check on their grave. Plus, I told Daz I would take the flowers we got from my house after school,” Alisha added, her tone was slightly damped. I got why though. Her grandparents were kind and loving people who helped Daz with taking care of Alisha when she was a child. Her grandma was the type of old lady that when she smiled at you, you felt all warm and happy inside. Every time she saw me should pinch my cheek and say I was the cutest little sweetheart. I let her because whenever I hung out with Alisha and her grandparents were there, she made tasty food. Stews, soups, even a roast dinner one time near Christmas. They deserved to rest in peace wherever they were now.
“I’m not saying I’m going to see something Alisha. Hell, you might even see something before me, we might not even see anything and it could just be some unhinged dude on the run,” I told her.
“Well, I want to be sure Ryder. And, no this is not me accepting being a you-know-what and thing-that-can’t-be-mentioned. If we see even the tiniest of things we are going to Elsa to get her to look at it, and if there is, something, in that cemetery, I wanna ask you and her to get it out,” She said back firmly. I knew I’d want the same if I were in her place.
“Okay. We’ll have to be careful though,” I told her and she nodded then smiled thanking me.
“Do you know what it could be? Like, have you learnt about any kind of creatures that wreck graves?” She asked me.
“Not yet. Done some reading on ghosts, things that kidnap kids. Stuff I’ve seen before. One thing at a time,” I replied with shrug.
“Plus if anything else decides to take your brother or haunt the house of a girl you like they won’t stand a chance,” she smirked and I chuckled embarrassed and looked down shaking my head. “Have you wondered what else might be real?” she asked me and I nodded.
“Oh yeah, all the classics like vampires and shit, but I don’t want to think about it too much. I’ll freak myself out,” I told her.
“Yeah…so you’ll help?” She asked me and I nodded.
“As best I can. I still wanna let Elsa know though,” I told her. Since she was my teacher in all this it seemed like a good idea.
“Thanks,” She smiled.
I met up with her at the end of the school day that was way more chilled out, now there wasn’t a sex demon lurking around. The sky was grey with looming clouds. There was a light breeze whistling down the street as kids got picked up by people in cars or boarded dirty yellow buses. Alisha texted Daz letting him know we were going to go get the flowers and go to the cemetery while I called Elsa on the shop phone.
“Hello, Lenek corner shop,” She answered, a couple of voices of customers were talking in the background.
“Hey, it’s Ryder. Is now a good time?” I asked.
“I have customers, but make it quick,” She replied.
“It’s about Creature Seer stuff,” I said in Korean quieter.
“Ah, in that case, I will have to call you back. Give me about fifteen minutes dear,” She replied and I huffed.
“Fine, talk to you later,” I said then hung up. Alisha was frowning at me with pursed lips.
“You’re not gonna ditch me are you?” She asked.
“No, I just wanna wait to speak to her before we go in there like paranormal investigators. Plus, I’m not sure I can handle a whole town’s history of ghosts,” I added shuddering at the thought.
“Fine, I’ll go myself,” She huffed then strode faster ahead of me.
“No, no, no!” I repeated sidestepping sporadically to keep up.
“Forget it, Ryder. I’m probably just being paranoid anyway and it could just be a person who dug up the graves. We don’t know what the police said yet anyway,” She dismissed with a firm wave of her hand dismissing me. I could tell she thought I was backing out because I was scared, which I was, but I wanted to help her if I could.
As she walked away, I took out my phone and called Elsa again while I turned a quarter of the way to cross the phone glancing either way as I walked over the road. It rang longer than last time, and I began to wonder what the on-hold music would be like for the shop. It went to answer machine though and I got a nice and friendly sounding voice message from Elsa saying:
“Hello. You have reached Lenek Corner Shop. Please forgive me but I am unable to answer your call right now. Leave a message and I will call you back as soon as I can. Thank you and God bless.”
“Elsa, I need to talk to you about something really important. The cemetery Alisha’s guardian Daz’s parents who are like her grandparents might have something weird going on. There have been graves wrecked and dug up and apparently, something’s there that seemed more creature than human. I’m gonna go take a look and see if I can make any sense of it. Call me back,” I then ended the call, put it in my pocket then took a deep breath as I began to stride out towards the cemetery slowing a few times when I forgot and had to jog my moment.
It was forty-five minutes of walking through the quieter part of town towards the edge of it on the west side. The walk up to the huge cemetery was a winding and thin road that had thick trees scattered on either side that covered the uneven hilly ground with autumn leaves. There were tall thin black railings and a huge gate decorated with stone accents and a cross in the centre. The road going up to the cemetery also joined up to a highway so there were some trucks and cars that drove up and down it as I walked. The gush of air from those with the woosh of their wheels and stuttering crackles of the disturbed leaves and shrills of swaying tree branches were the only sounds I heard as I just passed the sign saying the word ‘Cemetery’ on a coal-coloured rectangle sign with slightly dim gold writing. I was thinking it could have just been because I was at a cemetery and that my mind was playing tricks on me, but I had a bad feeling as I stood in front of the entrance looking in.
Countless rows of gravestones, crosses, even mausoleums. The sky was darkening now, but I could still see some cop cars parked up near the chapel as well as a few cars from people visiting to pay their respects. Four in the afternoon seemed like a strange time to come do that to me.
“Sorry, young man, we’re conducting an investigation here so please keep away from the taped off areas,” A middle-aged white cop told me with a slight smile. I nodded glancing at the white tent that had been put up over a grave. On the opposite side of the road, a few more graves had been cornered off and some were even covered up. There must have been more of this stuff happening after Alisha and Daz came here. I couldn’t see many signs of anything, which did reassure but also disappoint me. So much for being a good friend.
I saw a couple of forensic investigators looking at a few more cornered off graves, and an officer talking with a few grey-haired women probably here to visit their husbands as I walked down one of the stone walkways that was sectioned off by waist-high jet-black railings with pointing arrow tips. This section had a grand polished stone memorial in the centre of it where the path split off in two going left and right to more graves. It had been some time since I’d been here so I had to stop and frown while I tried to remember the way.
I wandered to the left while I scanned the area trying to refresh my memory, but when I turned my head to the right, I yelped getting the crap scared out of me. The one who did that was an exhausted Asian guy who was stood looking out at the headstones bewildered. His black jeans and golden orange shirt were both stained and ripped a little as well as a shaved bald head. He slowly turned his sick-looking head towards me, and I saw a dull cold white glow consume his eyes briefly before he stuttered like he’d just come back from being zoned out. I blinked a few times looking at him uneasily. I know that I saw it, and right away I knew I had to get out of there.
“Err, sorry…I-I didn’t see you there,” I stuttered bowing a little respectfully.
“It is fine son. I, was not feeling myself for a second,” He replied with an emotionless voice then he took out some prayer beads that I think were Buddhist because they looked like a set my Grandpa had. He held them tightly in both hands, shut his eyes and started to whisper a mantra to himself in Japanese. I glanced down not wanting to intrude and buried myself in my own thoughts so I wouldn’t listen about Alisha and again about where her grandparents’ grave was located. I remember that they had been buried together and that they were Christian so why this guy who was Buddhist was here I didn’t know. Unless he had Christian friends that were buried here?
“You know if any of the graves in this section got wrecked?” I asked the man after he stopped.
“Son, I have not even processed the carnage I have seen here myself…it happened in a town I stayed in a few months ago in California…” He added, but his tone did not sound sympathetic. It sounded guilty.
“Wait, what carnage happened exactly?” I frowned in horror. The guy looked away shaking his head then he stepped back a few times.
“I don’t know…truly…” he stuttered, and now he sounded sorry.
“But-” I stopped when I saw walking down the other pathway Alisha with the flowers. The man slowly looked over his shoulder at her and when she saw her, he stumbled back like he had seen something out of this world and terrifying. I didn’t see anything that gave away Alisha being a demon, but that didn’t mean that this guy wasn’t seeing something different to me. If he was a demon, maybe he could see that or even sense it. “Excuse me,” I said then walked around him and towards Alisha calling her name a few times.
“What are you doing here Ryder?” She asked. I kept staring at her eyes to see if they were showing any signs of her Cambion-ness.
“I was coming here to see what was up, and you were right there is something up and we need to go see Elsa about it now,” I began putting a hand on her shoulder to encourage her to walk with me.
“Oh my god, we need to check their grave first hang on,” She began about to walk away but I stepped in front of her to stop her.
“We need to be quick,” I warned her and she nodded. We then began to weave past the graves and a couple of autumn time trees that were in this part of the cemetery. There weren’t many trees in this part but beyond the high stone walls marking the edges of it were more thick forests that looked like you’d get lost in even if you just put one foot into it. They also looked more likely to have wildlife in them, but as we were walking to the grave, I saw a few animals, that didn’t seem all that natural.
I saw a crow, a rabbit, a grey squirrel, and a robin. They all were staying deadly still in abnormal-looking poses like they were dead on the inside but kept trying to look as if they were alive. Their eyes were all sunken into their sockets too I noticed as they watched us. I felt like their eyes were all burning me like hot branding irons on my skin. I felt my breath get caught in my throat and froze a few steps from the grave.
“Hi, Nanny. Hi Gramps. Just a quick visit,” She then put the bunch of white roses on the front of the waist-high pale gravestone that had their names, birth and death dates and rest in peace in black letters. I noticed that the sky had gotten darker, and the low light was making it harder to see, and amongst the other gravestones and tombs were shadows dashing about. I looked back over my shoulder seeing that guy was gone. The few creepy animals had vanished too, and when my eyes darted over to the grave next to Alisha’s grandparents grave, they went wide because the ground just in front of the stone where the body would be lying in a coffin started to move like someone or something was trying to get out of there.
“We gotta go now, c’mon!” I grabbed Alisha by the hand. “If you want a reason look over there,” I said quickly pointing at the ground that was starting to get churned by whatever was clawing its way out.
“Oh my gosh, what’s coming out of there Ryder?!” She exclaimed as we backed away.
“Maybe a bride wanting to kill a guy named Bill, but we’re not sticking around the find out!” we then took off running out of the cemetery as fast as we can. I looked back over my shoulder to make sure Alisha was still there behind me panting and gripping onto her bag strap as she did. When we got out the gates, we still saw no sign of that guy. I jerked my head back and forth up and down the road not caring that we were out in the middle of it and at risk of being run over by a truck. Alisha was hunched over with her hands on her knees as she panted like a dog in a heatwave.
“What the hell do we do now?!” she eventually asked me as we stumbled over to the pavement still sputtering with our hearts pounding.
“We go to the shop. We need to speak to Elsa about what we saw!” I told her and she nodded. Halfway down the road, my phone rang. Elsa. “That timing though,” I huffed then answered the phone.
“RYDER?! WHERE ARE YOU?! WHAT HAPPENED?! I TRIED CALLING MANY TIMES!” Elsa exclaimed, her voice was higher-pitched with panic.
“A lot. We’re on the way to the shop from the cemetery,” I replied glancing back over my shoulder in case something or someone was following us.
“I am going to come and get you now. If you have flashlight on your phone, put it on. Move fast and quiet away from the cemetery but stay on the main road,” She then hung up. My head felt overwhelmed but I did as she said.
“What did she say?” Alisha asked me, her voice sounded like she was fighting off tears and her slightly smoggy eyes told me her demon side was shook a little too. I told her as held up my phone so the flashlight was pointed ahead of me casting a bright and clear light ahead of us.
“We gotta move fast and quiet,” I said in a lower voice doing what Elsa asked but also trying to keep calm for her. After some shaky breaths, she calmed down and her eyes went back to normal then she took out her phone to use it as a flashlight also.
“Does she know what it was? Do you know what that is? Will it wreck their grave? Will it dig up their bodies?!” She stressed; my head felt like it was rattling with everything that was going on along with those questions I didn’t have the answer to.
“I really don’t know Alisha I’m sorry,” I stuttered grasping at my hair with my other hand.
“I’m sorry I’m just freaking out!” Alisha exclaimed trying to keep her voice down in a hushed whisper.
“So am I! We need to just do what Elsa says! She’s the one who knows about this,” I hissed.
“Then why can’t she tell us what she thinks that might be and what it’ll do! It better not be something that destroys the graves of Creature Seers and their families. I’m going right back there and messing it up, whatever it is!” She snapped.
“Don’t Alisha please, we need to just go!” I pleaded. It was then we heard a loud cracking noise, like two heavy stone slabs colliding followed by a disgusting slurping and munching sound. Who the heck eats in a cemetery?!
“Ryder, you hear that too right?!” Alisha whispered.
“Someone eating in a cemetery, yeah,” I replied but she shook her head.
“No, the screams…” She stuttered then looked at me with complete fear. I didn’t know if those screams, she could hear because of her Cambion abilities, but I didn’t want to hear them. I grabbed her by the arm and we ran like hell down the road. The sounds got quieter and quieter, and the lights of the main road closer to the town got brighter. Elsa’s blue pick-up was racing towards us. We stopped on the end of the road and she pulled up next to us and opened the passenger door.
“Did anything follow you?!” She asked.
“Any, thing?!” repeated Alisha.
“No, get in, get in!” I encouraged and we both slid, I climbed into the back seat while Alisha buckled herself in. Elsa then sped off making me land on the back seats in a clumsy whip-lashed pile.
“Jeez Elsa, you auditioning for the Swift and Seething movies?” I huffed sitting in the middle back seat and making sure to buckle up myself. She was busy saying something under her breath in a language I didn’t know. Maybe Polish, or Hebrew.
“What, thing might have been following us, Elsa?” Alisha demanded looking at the rear-view mirror on her side of the car.
“I have a few ideas, but did you see anything follow you?” She asked again also glancing at the rear-view mirrors.
“No, but we heard some weird shit coming from that cemetery,” I replied then explained what we heard, briefly mentioning the screams.
“And you didn’t hear these screams?” Elsa asked me.
“No, he didn’t. It was like it was just in my head,” Alisha replied rubbing her temples.
“It might have been, but not because you are going mad, it is because of your powers as a Cambion. I have been reading about it, and you may be able to do a lot. Telepathy, being more sensitive to the presence of other demons, and communicating with the dead,” Elsa explained as she drove us through the dark and slightly busy streets. Alisha glanced back at me speechless.
“So, she’s sensitive like-”
“Ryder, no. Not right now,” She cut me off shaking her head. I nodded and chuckled nervously.
“Sorry,” I replied. Bad time for jokes.
“So, what are we gonna do?” Alisha asked. Elsa glanced surprised at her sudden eagerness to be involved, but it was who Alisha was. Ultra-protective of her family.
“Ryder, I want you to come too. What we are going to is something called a scout. It is what we call going to an area to see if there are any creatures or going to see a person to see if they are really a creature of some kind,” She explained.
“What about Alisha?” I asked rubbing my knees.
“I am getting there. Usually, I would say you must stay away, but because of your demon abilities, you may be able to help us. I want one thing to be made clear though Alisha,” She held up a stern index finger looking sideways at her. “If you think that your demon abilities are going to cause you to lash out for whatever reason, you must run,” Elsa declared.
“Where?” Alisha asked.
“As far away as you can,” She added as we pulled up outside the shop.
“Come, I must show some things,” Elsa said jumping out of her van to quickly unlock the door. We saw Kappa with his face up against the glass eagerly waiting for us, and as soon as we got into the shop he jumped off the box he stood on nearly stumbling off it that made him recoiled back into his shell before he landed on the ground in front of Elsa. “Kappa be careful of the wood on the floor!” Elsa warned in Japanese with a cross look on her face to match her aggravated hands on her hips stance.
“He seems like an eager beaver or turtle reptile lizard,” Alisha said as Kappa stuck his head out.
“Sincere sorrys Elsa. But, I-I sensed that there is a new Yōkai in the town,” He replied pointing a finger out the window.
“Yōkai? That would not make it German,” Elsa frowned.
“German?” me then Alisha repeated. Kappa then rushed off waddling slightly towards the study.
“What is he doing?” I asked.
“I do not know, but I need to show you something about that cemetery,” Elsa beckoned us to the shop counter where there were some files and a sleek silver laptop open. “I have been looking up that cemetery, and at the records of who is buried there,” She began bringing up some burial records on her laptop. “Several of the families that have been buried there are German. In fact, the family that created and at one point owned the land it is on were German,” She showed some documents on an ancestry website with death records from the 19th century when the town was founded for a few German names like Heinrich and Lehmann and presented a copy of documents showing that showed another family, the Becker family, who owned the land at one point back at the start of the 19th century.
“What does this mean?” Alisha frowned.
“They really like Christmas and have good food?” I asked recalling the time me and my family went to a German Christmas market in Seattle as well as the amazing and filling grub we had that made my stomach grumble.
“It means, that there is large chance that one of them ended up becoming a creature that haunts cemeteries, wrecks graves and eats corpses. It is a Nachezehrer,” She then showed us a black and white picture of an open grave with a half-eaten body of a girl no older than twelve dressed in clothing that was worn by kids in the nineteen-fifties and sixties with something that was straight out a horror movie above it.
It was a woman, but she had eyes that were sunken into her skull, red and black in colour and covered in blood that caked dirt to its sickly skin which was rotting in places, including around its mouth letting a set of sharp shark-like teeth streaming with blood. Her body was also rotting off in bits showing bone, disintegrating muscles, and grossly mauled flesh that made it look like it snacked on itself before it devoured the poor little dead girl. The Nachzehrer looked like it was about to rip apart the unlucky dude who was taking the picture on that rainy night.
“What level of hell did that thing come from?!” I asked pointing at it while Alisha stared with an opened mouth.
“Not hell, North Germany. And I think there could be at least one of these in that cemetery,” Elsa added as Kappa walked back in with a book in his hand that had a fine honey brown leather cover with a Japan flag patch stitched into the front. “Yes?” she asked. Kappa opened a bookmarked page then held it up towards her with both hands. She quickly skimmed the open pages, a troubled frown appeared gradually as she did. “This? Have you sensed this?” She asked.
“I think it could be, but I would not know for sure without seeing it for myself,” Kappa replied. Alisha, curious as ever, strode forward-looking at the book he had.
“Ryder what is this?” She stuttered struggling to pronounce the name while Elsa and Kappa debated about if this other mystery creature or the Nachzehrer could be the cemetery creature.
“A Jikininki,” I read seeing the name of it in Japanese. There was no picture of this, but a quick look over the text revealed this was similar to the German corpse eater. It, however, came from Japan and Buddhism.
“Was there anyone or anything that looked more human there?” Elsa asked me and Alisha.
“I did see this weird guy there who looked like he was spacing out, and right before that, his eyes were like two old bowls of milk for a minute,” I told them. The chime of the doorbell made us all look at the door and see that very same guy I saw in the cemetery walk in closing the door behind him. His eyes were white with a dull glow to them and this time they weren’t vanishing. I gasped then Kappa hissed and jumped in front of us after carefully passing the book to Elsa going into a defensive fight stance. The man looked down at Kappa and held up a hand calmly like there wasn’t a short water creature that had awesome magic and fighting abilities about to come at him.
“Please, I am not here to hurt or disrespect you,” Then looked at us. “You,” was what he said when he recognised me.
“Hey, cemetery buddy,” I stuttered awkwardly. I had no idea what he was doing here or if he could tell that we were Creature Seers because of Kappa.
“What?!” Alisha exclaimed at the weird name I gave the guy.
“We met already, this is the cemetery guy,” I replied.
“And he also a Jikininki,” Elsa added then she held the book towards me and Alisha so I could read the description of what the Jikininki looked like.
“By day it is a regular human, by night it is a-”
“White-eyed flesh-eating rotting corpse of a monster with teeth and claws like knives,” He finished cutting me off. “I know about it because I read about it in books and scrolls in my former monastery,” He added closing the door. “I heard stories there about the Seers being here, but I did not expect to be able to find you,” he added holding his hands together in front of him.
“You must be from the Mikateru temple then,” Elsa replied. “It is alright,” She added in Japanese to Kappa, then backed off frowning at the Jikininki guy judgingly. “Kappa!” She said scolding him slightly with a frown that looked like the one Eomma gave me when I did something she disapproved of. Kappa then scoffed and walked stepped back relaxing against the side of the shop counter with his scaly green arms crossed.
“Why are you here?” I asked him.
“…you know what I am do you not?” He scoffed. I shook my head no. Hey, I hadn’t gotten to creatures that roam around cemeteries.
“They are both new to this world. They still have things to learn. How about we start again by giving introductions?” Elsa said clasping her hands together. “My name is Elsa. This is Alisha, Kappa, and Ryder who you met before,”
“Seiji. I was a monk at the Mikateru temple until a few months ago,” He bowed.
“You left?” Alisha questioned.
“I was expelled,” Seiji replied ashamed. “I was found to have damaged some graves near the temple. I do not remember doing it. All I remember is the hunger…” Elsa I saw purse her lips sympathetically at him which surprised me.
“How do you not remember that?” Alisha questioned a little defensively.
“Jikininkis are cursed beings, their hunger drives them mad and it consumes them,” she told Alisha before she gave some side-eye to Seiji. “But they also are said to have been corrupt and greedy in life,” She added jerking an eyebrow at him. Seiji looked down in shame. His white eyes I saw get some tears in them that had an eery milky look to them caused by the cold white glow of their eyes. His face was still stoic with shame.
“I have been. I will not deny it. And it is a disgrace,” He stated then sniffed and raised his head again. “That is why I am here. I want to end this, and I will do anything if you can help me, Elsa,” He added.
“Well, you have helped us if you are the thing that has been ruining graves and digging up bodies in that cemetery. Case closed. We unmasked the monster. Let’s all get drinks!” I exclaimed with a clap and grin. Elsa shook her head, and that made my jaw drop like I was holding a hot plate.
“I have been looking at reports from news, and from what I have heard from my friend Edwin who is the groundskeeper about the graves that were targeted. And it seems like there was not just you in the cemetery,” Elsa began then strode around the counter to get something.
“There’s more than one Jikininki in the cemetery?” I asked, my face a perfect snap of panic.
“No,” Elsa then took out a map of the cemetery showing the graves and tombs as tiny rectangles. “They have patterns. The ones near to the entrance all were vandalised once per night and they seemed to be clawed up. The ones further into the cemetery that are older and German people’s graves had some that seemed to be dug out from the inside,” she then pulled another sheet of an older map that looked like it came from the early 20th century. “But there are also graves in few different places and some tombs that were attacked on the same night meaning it could have been done by more than one creature. And to top it all off, near the walls of the cemetery towards the forest, where my friend said there were animal attacks, were the worst attacks on graves. Whole bodies had been dragged out, and they were also the bodies of people who had recently been buried and not rotting in the ground like in the other places,” she then looked at Seiji. “If you are entering the cemetery as a Jikininki from elsewhere, you are likely attacking the graves nearby, but what could be attacking the other ones?”
“I have seen some other beasts there from afar, but we stay far away from each other,” He replied.
“Do you know what they looked like? What they were doing?” She asked.
“There was a group of one kind, and they were moving fast,” he said, his face looking like he was haunted by the memory of it.
“Was there anything that looked or sounded like a pig?” Elsa asked.
“A pig?!” Alisha exclaimed. This just got even weirder.
“I don’t remember. But there was something that was moving on all fours,” answered Seiji. Elsa scratched her forehead looking down at the book Kappa gave her.
“I think we need to do a scout,” She declared.
“I’m coming too. If we find, whatever it is, we’re stopping it before it does the same to my grandparents,” Alisha replied sternly.
“Please, if I help you, will you free me from this cursed life?” Seiji begged. Elsa nodded twice then turned to me and Alisha.
“Ryder, you need to tell your family. And Alisha, you need to tell your family something too. But you cannot tell them about this world,” Elsa told us. Alisha and I traded a nervous look knowing we had to make some hard phone calls. I knew it would be hard for her to lie to Daz, and she knew it would be worrying for my parents if they found out what I was doing.
“What do I tell my parents?” I asked her.
“Tell them that you are having to go to the cemetery because there are creatures there. You will not be in danger though, I will make sure of it,” She promised.
“How?” Alisha frowned.
“Crucifies, necklaces with figures of Buddha on them, I will say a prayer of protection from both Christianity and Buddhism for the two of you, Kappa will stay with you for protection, and you will also get bright torches and fire torches,” Elsa explained and my face light up with joy.
“Like, flaming torches that they use in action and adventure movies, shows and games when they’re exploring?” I asked speaking so fast that I stuttered my words a little.
“Yes, but I will be showing you how to use them safely before we go. Now hurry, we must go back to the cemetery before it gets to night. Our new friend here will soon change into a not so friendly form,” Elsa said gesturing to Seiji who nodded.
While Elsa showed me and Alisha how to handle a fire torch with a handle made of metal she lit in the garden while Kappa stayed in the shop with Seiji. He couldn’t come into the study because of the fact he was still technically a harmful and evil creature, and it was causing him some pain by being in the shop and close to the shield of magic. It was a shame because Elsa’s garden was very spacious and swept around to the garage on the left side of the shop that had a padlocked door at the back near a gate going out onto the street. In the garden was a deep and peaceful looking pond that had some pondweed, lily pads, and some little ornaments that looked Japanese too. Against the high metal fence was a few plant beds that had many herbs and plants packed into them that weren’t colourful right now with it getting closer and closer to winter. She also had a seating area with a few little wooden benches under a wooden pavilion at the top of a few steps decorated with a star of David, a dream catcher, and a red lantern. In the sunlight, it probably looked peaceful, but right now it was under harsh outside spotlight we needed to see what Elsa was doing with the fire torch.
After we got this, Elsa walked us back into the study where Kappa used his magic to perform a prayer of protection from Buddhism, which I was surprised to me. She did mention that Kappas like human traditions so he probably learnt about one of the other massive religions from his homeland. Elsa also read a prayer from the same book I read from when we fought that Incubus imposter, and it made Alisha flinch after it was done.
“You, okay?” I asked putting a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes flashed back and forth between demon grey and human brown a few times before she shook her head getting her senses back.
“Y-yeah,” She stuttered.
“I’m sorry dear. Protection prayers from Christianity, Islam and Judaism may likely provoke your demon side and cause you some discomfort. It will probably get better when those who we are praying for protection realise you are a Creature Seer too,” Elsa explained sympathetically then she went to the Religious Calamities section in the study. “It is better that you hold the charms, Ryder,” Elsa said then she came back with a crucifix in one hand, and a necklace with a small gold Buddha statue on the end of it.
“Gotcha,” I said taking them off her. “Does she get the fire torch?” I asked after a few moments of looking at the two beautifully made objects.
“You both get one. But please be careful,” Elsa pressed and we both nodded. “If it make you feel better I am only getting a bright torch that clips to my jacket. I have one each for you both, and as last resort, a lighter each,” She added going to the storage area to get the previously mentioned torches. “Here, but I will be the one who is armed amongst us,” She said then went back to get a sharp and strong silver bladed lumber-jack axe and a handgun.
“Damn Elsa,” I muttered as she put the weapons on the table so she could load the gun with bullets. “I will only use the gun if we need to. I do not have a silencer and I don’t want to attract attention,” she said loading it.
“Would a samurai sword not be better for the Jikininki out there?” Alisha asked pointing towards the shop with the clip-on torch she had for herself.
“There is a more peaceful and less painful way we can help him that does not involve these,” Elsa replied then she strapped the gun to her with a holster belt she also got with the gun.
“Will, will we have to use guns?” Alisha asked.
“If you want to learn the ways of Creature Seers and commit to the duties of one, yes probably. But we only resort to this if we have no other choice. This is just for protection,” Elsa replied holding the axe down in front of her with both hands. “Are we all ready?” she asked looking around the room at everyone who all nodded. “Kappa?” she asked in Japanese, and in return she got a webbed hand clasped in front of him bow. “Come, to my van,” She then strode out with me, Alisha, Seiji and Kappa at the end probably death glaring at Seiji. The drive over there felt like the weirdest carpool ever, and we hardly spoke.
I felt bad for Seiji after learning a bit more about who he was. He had a moment of greed in his life when he stole some money from the temple’s fund to go watch an orchestra he saw as a kid with his grandfather before he died. He was tired of being cursed and having to eat human flesh night after night. He was hoping that helping us would give him some kind of redemption. I hope he did, despite knowing what he would soon turn into. His skin I noticed, started to become more sickly with some bruises and bite marks on its arms and neck that made it itch and twitch with its nails turning to black claws. He then closed his eyes slowly and started focusing on taking deep breaths in and out, like he was meditating on something that seemed to be keeping him in control and stopping him from transforming any further into the corpse-eating night form of a Jikininki.
“Elsa, I think you should step on it,” I called from the right-back see, Kappa holding a hand up in front of me protectively and the other straight and ready to strike. She did just that and Alisha looked back at us concerned.
“Are we gonna be able to get in there? Won’t cops be guarding it?” She asked.
“Yes, but I will talk to them. Part of being a Seer is talking calmly, and convincing when we need to,” Elsa replied as we turned down that creepy road that looked even worse. “Seiji, if you can remember, we will start to look where you saw those things,”
“I-I will try,” he added, his breath steadied. Elsa turned into the cemetery road, then pulled up near the few cop cars that were still here. We saw a couple of cops and crime scene investigators were still there and packing up, but the cop I saw before was talking to a couple of younger cops who all had torches and their guns drawn at their sides.
“Are we gonna lie to the cops?” I asked.
“No,” Elsa replied, not convincingly at all. “We are going to tell them we are going to do something that has already been done,” She added completely messing with my mind and making me frown showing that pure confusion.
“Huh?” I asked.
“You will see. Come,” She then got out of the driver’s seat and the rest of us followed, but Kappa and Seiji stayed near the truck.
“Why are they hanging back?” Alisha hissed to me as we strode behind the confident and smiling Elsa.
“They won’t be able to see Kappa, and Seiji could go full Japanese corpse eater if he gets too close to humans and try to gobble them up,” I told her and she nodded, a nervous look on her face as we stopped in front of the police officer I saw earlier in the day.
“Excuse me officer, are we free to go around the cemetery this evening?” Elsa began then the officer turned around to face us.
“Oh, yeah lady just be careful. We’re about to start patrol too and please leave before we close at seven,”
“Sir, this may take a long time. You see, my friend’s parents are buried here, he is concerned that their grave was attacked and I agreed to bring her here to meet the groundskeeper to properly look for damage. I know him from high school,” Explained Elsa gesturing to Alisha.
“How? Were you his teacher?” The cop frowned.
Elsa shook her head. “No sir, Edwin and I were in the same grade at high school,”
“Oh, he’s not the groundskeeper here no more. Now it is a kid in his twenties called Charlie,” Said the cop.
“What happened to Edwin?” Elsa asked.
“That we don’t know. We’re investigating him for doing these attacks. If you have any information about his whereabouts, we would like a statement from you,” He asked.
“I’m sorry officer, I do not know where in town he live, only his name, age, his job, and that he went to the same school as me, Millers Road High,” Elsa answered.
“Holy moly that isn’t even standing anymore! I remember arresting some poor kid’s Dad that turned up under the influence of something real strong,” The officer exclaimed then looked at the younger cops. “This is why it pays to have a memory as detailed as an encyclopaedia,” He then turned back to us. “Please be outta here by seven,” He repeated then they left to start their patrols.
“Now what do we do?” I asked.
“We will have to use some unorthodox methods,” Elsa replied then turned to stride back to Seiji and Kappa. “We have to slip up,” I smiled then whispered ‘and look for clues’ to myself. “I will go with Seiji to look around where he thinks he saw whatever he did. You three go look at Alisha’s grandparents’ graves,”
“What about if we see something please?” I asked.
“Burn it. Kappa will light the fire for you,” She told me trying to reassure me firmly, but I could only swallow and hold the torch’s handle with shaking hands. She gave us all a last reassuring smile then turned around to walk away with Seiji.
“So, can we hurry this up before it gets to night time please?” I asked Alisha and she smirked.
“Scared of the dark Ryder?” She asked and I shook my head.
“Just what could be in it. Like every adult,” I replied glancing around telling Kappa was she had said in Japanese. Kappa let out a snicker that sounded slightly similar to a quack. I looked down at him annoyed, and that he was siding with Alisha again.
“Having a friend with such a good sense of humour is always a blessing in life,” He said with a grin on his froggy humanoid face. I translated that for Alisha and she nodded agreeing then beckoned Kappa.
“Come on. We need to get to the grave,” she said in a more formal and focused tone. We wandered through the cemetery looking around constantly for any kind of movement. I would say life, but some of those things that could be moving could also be undead. When we got to the war memorial with the paths splitting off in two different ways, I felt my mind swirl with questions. Why hadn’t we seen anything? Were there things watching us that were staying hidden? Could we not see them because we were new to being Seers? They made me feel jittery as we followed the path towards where the grave.
“I don’t wanna jinx it, but we’re doing good so far,” Alisha commented letting her hands dangle at her sides holding the torch in one hand and a crucifix in the other hand. “Is it weird that I find this strangely relaxing?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed shaking my head looking towards the opposite path. “BUT NOT AS STRANGE AS THAT!” I shouted pointing t the most gruesome thing I’d ever seen. It was the body of someone who looked like a human chew toy and not like they had been given a proper burial. There was blood, soaking the ground and dirt around it, the chest and stomach were torn open and organs were being devoured by four creatures that looked like they came outta hell.
They were thin, like bone about to burst out the skin thin. there were patches of skin pulled so thin that it was fraying away with brown blood leaking out. It mixed with the fresher blood of the corpse no doubt making a horrible smell. The skin around their faces was pulled tightly over their faces showing their teeth, cheekbones, nose and eye sockets and on their bodies, it was showing their rib cages, collar bones, knee caps, elbows, finger and toe bones. Their toes and fingers were like long claws perfect for grabbing and ripping apart. Their eyes were white like they had been hollowed out of life, and it was similar to the colour of their skin was the colour of dirty drain water that had some jet-black veins showing on their arms and legs.
They were on all fours too either biting viciously at the body or chewing on bits of flesh they had torn off. The sound of squelching, gnashing and bones breaking made my stomach start to feel like it was going ten rounds with a boxer in a nasty stew pot.
“I think we found the thing that’s been wrecking the graves!” Alisha exclaimed grabbing my arm tightly dragging me back. The sudden motion felt like I was on a boat on uneasy seas making things even worst for me. The blood dripping down the creatures’ bony chins as they each started to notice began to make the bile rise up my throat. I covered a hand as Alisha turned the torch clipped to my shoulder on.
“W-where do I throw up in a cemetery?” I stuttered as we backed off.
“I don’t know,” She also was stuttering as she turned her torch on getting the attention of a couple of those nasty things causing them to hiss and shield their eyes from the light. One larger than the others just glared at Alisha and side-crawled around the others not breaking its gaze. It screamed at us causing spit, blood and bits of skin and flesh to fly out of its rotting mouth.
“I’LL TRY NOT TO MAKE IT ON A GRAVE!” I shouted dashing up retching as I ran with both hands on my mouth and the light zapping about as I moved. I spotted the glint of a metal trash can near the start of the other path and instantly rushed to it just in time to throw up the disgusting partly digested buffet of barf into it. Eventually, I recovered with just a bad taste in my mouth and the memory of what I saw burned into my memory. I sighed then pushed myself up and looked up to gather myself, but I should have just thrown myself into the trash can. “OH SHIT!”
Stood in front of me was a pig, but it looked like a literal hell pig. It had sunken blood-red eyes, piranha teeth, that poke out of its blood-stained snout. Its skin was a greyish-brown colour like it was rotting while trotting. It scared the hell out of me so much I jumped back and fell on my butt scooting back on it as the weird zombie pig grunted and sniffed while it looked at me. Alisha and Kappa were at my side helping me up and I heard Alisha gag this time at the pig.
“Why is there a bloody pig?!” She asked. Kappa however was hissing at it. He clapped his hands together then using his magic, he made a wooden stake grow as he separated his hands in front of him. It floated there a second with a sage green glow around it that vanished after he grasped the stake with one hand.
In response, the pig let out a loud and vicious oink-screech hybrid before it started spitting out a dirty red and black smog that engulfed it. The smog grew up and the noise changed to more like a horrible gurgling noise. The smog dissolved revealing something even more like nightmare fuel. It was an undead woman with sunken black eyes with small red beady pupils, skin that was mostly grey with blotches of light tan and their skin like the other creatures was stretched tightly over their face and body parts I could see that wasn’t covered by the tattered and stained long black dress. Their shoulders were dropping and their scrawny and rotting legs looked as if they were going to break at any minute as well as that they were going to push this hellish creature to pounce. It had on its head an unhinged head of thin messy hair and its fingers all had chunks bitten out of them leaving bone visible. These chunks were also visible on its scrawny feet and forearms, and they matched the jagged set of teeth in its mouth.
This thing now meant me, Kappa and Alisha were in between a killer rock and a hard place with a pack of killers.
“Shapeshifter…” I said in awe of seeing the creature change, even if it was something that made me want to crap myself. “Kappa what do we do?!” I asked him.
“Burn the beasts if they get too close,” He replied then he stamped his foot down then charged at the monster. I heard a hiss from behind us just before the crackle of a flame being lit. Alisha had lit her torch with the lighter. I got up and lit mine with hers then we both looked around at where the amber and white light from the fire and flashlight. The creatures were squinting their milky eyes at us like they couldn’t handle the light, or they were mocking me, or both. The biggest one however was prowling around us towards the shapeshifter thing fighting with Kappa who was trying to get the stake through its heart.
“GET BACK!” Alisha shouted swinging her torch at the large one making it jump back and hiss at her. Kappa caught onto this then he pushed himself off the shapeshifter making it stumble back. Kappa then lit began running at the monster on all fours gripping the stake in his left hand. It ran at him too but just before they got within range, it leapt up over Kappa as he swung the stake trying to hit it. That caused him to roll to a stop and the three of us watched the thing on all fours charge towards the shapeshifter.
It lifted its long arms about to bring them down on the shapeshifter but the shapeshifter bit and slashed into its bony gut ripping rotting flesh away. It also tackled the thing on all fours to the ground, then the two of them became wrestling in a blood and growl filled fight. Kappa then backed off gesturing to me and Alisha to back off and group together.
“Why the hell are they fighting?! Shouldn’t they be eating or attacking us?!” I asked then screamed when one of the smaller on all fours lunged at me grabbing me by the leg.
“FUCK OFF!” screamed Alisha, her voice was sounding distorted and demonic as she hit the thing with the fire torch. It caused some of the flames to get on my jeans burning a hole in them and burning the skin on my legs a little. I yelped and hissed dropping the ground to thrash my leg against the ground over and over eventually putting it out while Alisha carried on fighting with the burnt beast. The fire had gone out and she was pretty much beating it with the torch handle. The other two were nearby her, but they seemed unsure about attacking her. I stood up with help from Kappa and we glanced at each other unsure of what to make of all this. Kappa charged at the ones lurking near Alisha, jumped then in mid-air lit the pointed end of the stake on fire then stabbed it into the one closest to Alisha’s back making it scream out as blazing ember engulfed its body.
Alisha lit her torch again with the lighter, then used it to light the thing she had beaten up on fire. Kappa saw this then he muttered something in Japanese, a spell and made the fires burn the thing more intensely and brightly making it scream out like the first one he killed. The last thing scampered back from them but before it could get away, I limped in the same direction of it cutting it off and hit it right in its ugly face with the torch burning it. Kappa saw this and muttered the same spell which made it light up like a firework too. All that was left was the two feuding creatures. They were still fighting near the dug up and mangled body.
“CHILDREN!” Elsa shouted appearing from darkness, but when she saw the body, she gasped and cried. “Edwin!”
“That’s the groundskeeper?!” Alisha exclaimed. The shouting had distracted the two creatures from fighting. She saw the blood on the one on all fours, and the realisation that those things had been eating her childhood friend’s corpse made her glare at them with so much rage it could cut like a katana. “A Nachzehrer, and a Ghoul,” she seethed then turned to Kappa. “Pin them down,” she said in Japanese then Kappa ran at them with the chard stake, jumped off a headstone near the creatures and in mid-air the stake became a massive wooden spike he raised behind his head, impaling it right through their stomachs and into the ground making them both growl or hiss in pain.
Elsa stormed over and stood with her feet planted firmly apart while she tightly gripped the axe in both hands. She raised it above her head, the polished metal glinted in the light. “Shalom Aleichem,” she said in what I think was Hebrew, right before she swung the axe down beheading both the Nachzehrer and the Ghoul making brown blood spit on her and the ground around them. She looked at Alisha then put the axe slowly onto the ground near the bodies. “Alisha, are you okay?” She calmly asked.
“I…” Alisha’s voice sounded like it was partway between normal and demonic before she turned to me. “I burnt Ryder,” She whimpered in her normal voice rushing to my side. “I’m so sorry dude!” She exclaimed and I shrugged.
“You did beat that creepy Nachzehrer thing,”
“Ghoul,” corrected Elsa.
“Creepy Ghoul thing. I can’t complain at a little burn,” I shrugged. She smiled then rubbed my shoulder promising that I’d get help. Elsa smiled then pulled her face like she could smell something off.
“I do not remember anything saying they smelt like vomit,” She said then sniffed the air then looked at us.
“Did someone throw up?” She asked. Alisha and Kappa pointed at me and I pathetically raised a hand.
She smiled sympathetically before she said, “I thought one of you might,” She then wiped her hand on her coat and put it in her pocket to get a packet of peppermint gum. “Here you go, have some gum,” I thanked her and took a piece beginning to chew on it right away.
“Please tell me that is everything,” Alisha begged.
“Not quite,” Elsa sighed turning around, a few specks of blood on her face. “Seiji, is now in his Jikininki form, and he ran over here somewhere,” She added gesturing to the area around us now shrouded in night.
“How can we find him?” I asked then Elsa looked down at my leg.
“You and Alisha will go back to the van with Kappa. Right now,” Before we could do that though there was another low groaning noise followed by some chewing and chomping. And that made us all slowly turn around to see the body of Edwin now being feasted on by Seiji. Except he was now thinner with sickly grey skin, bright glowing white eyes, no hair at all on his body, sharp claws, no shoes showing claws on its feet instead of toes, and huge yellow teeth like daggers that shredded flesh and broken bones. Elsa glared at him but before she could act there was a noise that made everything, and I mean everything freeze and look towards the forest beyond the trees where it came from. I frowned listening for it again, then after a few eery seconds, the screaming noise was heard again but closer this time.
“Elsa?” I whispered then the scream was heard just near the wall. I focused on the trees to see if I could see anything, but Elsa grabbed me then Alisha by the arm moving stiffly and quietly making the both of us not protest while Kappa backed off shrinking back into his shell a little.
“We need to back off,” she said so silently she nearly mouthed it. We then slowly strode back towards the entrance of this part turning off our torches leaving us in darkness until we jumped behind the wall in the larger part of the cemetery nearer to the way out.
“What is it?” I asked Elsa who looked like she was about to faint with fear.
“Windigo,” Another new voice said making us all look up to see a strange Native man with strong mid-aged features, long air braided back, thick black gear similar to what special police officers would wear painted with beautiful white symbols possibly for protection and in his hands was a semi-automatic assault rifle with a scope and muzzle on it. He looked badass, and I couldn’t bring myself to speak to him I was that intimidated. Elsa could though.