Rising of the dead
Karen was fast asleep in the upstairs bedroom of her home. She was alone. Her boyfriend was away for a few days to help out his father and her parents were visiting a relative.
She didn't notice the fog which had crept its way into town from the cemetery. Of course she didn't notice, Karen was in a deep sleep. Her long red hair was partially covering her face as she was lying on her side. The covers were thrown to the side. When she went to sleep, it was still hot outside. The coldness and the mist came together with the darkness which had been released from the pit.
Soon after she fell asleep she had a nice dream. She saw herself holding hands with Scott, her boyfriend. She met him about a month ago at a party. In the dream they were walking on the ocean side and talking, smiling and kissing. The sun was up and shone on them with light and warmth. But soon the pleasant dream turned into an unpleasant one.
She looked out into the sea and saw somebody in the distance. Strange, she thought, how can somebody stand on water? She turned to Scott and wanted to ask him if he sees the figure too. To her surprise, he wasn’t there anymore. With a quick move, she turned towards the ocean again and saw the figure closing the distance. She looked at her feet and noticed the sea level rising. The water reached just below her knees and it was ice-cold. Her gaze turned again toward the figure. It was coming closer and closer but also going deeper. With each second more of its body disappeared under the surface.
After a few more seconds she recognized the shape. It was Tyler, her ex-boyfriend who died in the explosion at the gas station. The water was now chest-high, she started shivering. The sun almost disappeared, it was like eight or ten hours just rushed by in a few seconds.
When Tyler was just a few feet from her, he stopped.
‘Karen! I’m cold...and I miss you,’ he said and his face began to turn pale blue.
‘I...I know,’ she replied in a trembling voice.
‘It’s cold down there,’ he said again and his voice betrayed great sadness.
‘I know,’ she replied again and started crying.
His face began to turn green and to distort. His lips drew back and his teeth started to show. She now noticed the huge wound on the side of his head, it was pulsating with maggots. His eyes desiccated in a few seconds leaving only empty sockets behind. The jaw tilted to one side as if the tendons rotted away. It was a terrible sight, yet it was able to talk, this time in a malevolent voice.
‘I promised...I promised I will come back to you.’
She screamed and tried to draw back but it was hard. The water already reached her neck. She watched in horror as Tyler’s corpse slowly descended under the water. This was when she couldn’t feel the bottom under her feet. With desperate moves she tried to find it, then she realized that it isn’t there anymore. The water overwhelmed her, she was drifting ever deeper no matter how hard she tried to swim upwards. Then something grabbed her by the feet and pulled her down into the blackness. When she was about to drown, Karen woke up.
The room was cold and she was drenched in sweat. Outside there was a strange and thick fog. Very unusual at this time of the year, she thought. There wasn’t any rain for weeks so where did it come from? These were some of the thoughts that were racing through her mind. Doesn’t matter, she thought, but that dream...It was so vivid. Those hands around her feet dragging her down, the coldness of the water...Tyler. Why did she dream about him? Why now? Questions without an answer, or so she thought.
After changing her damp clothes she went back to bed and covered herself well. When she closed her eyes she saw Tyler’s face staring back at her. Guilt and sorrow filled her heart at the thought that she is alive and can still be happy, and he is dead. He didn’t deserve to die, she said to herself, he was a good man. But who are we, in the grand scheme of things, to decide who deserves to die and who doesn’t? He’s dead, she mourned for him and now she tries to move on. Is this a sin? Is she supposed to live the rest of her life alone clinging to a memory? It would maddening, that’s for sure.
Karen remembered the last night they saw each other. They were in her room, lying in bed and watching a movie. Tyler was on his back with one hand behind his head and with the other, he embraced her. Karen was lying close to him with her head on his chest and one hand on his muscular abdomen. He was strongly built, being a firefighter meant that having a great physical shape was an absolute must.
She remembered her mother coming up to their room and telling them that she was called from the Fire Department. Tyler knew that it was an emergency. He told his chief that if he doesn't find him at home, it is most likely that he is at the Stevens residence. The phone call was brief, all the men were summoned at once to the Fire Department. In case of grave emergencies, they called in everybody. Before leaving, Tyler kissed her and promised he will come back. He died that night and couldn't fulfill his last promise.
Sleep was almost upon her when the sound of an opening door woke her up. Her eyes opened wide and she felt the adrenaline rush. The sound came from downstairs, it was familiar. The back door made this sound whenever somebody opened or closed it. The hinges needed to be oiled but her father somehow forgot about it.
The blood froze in her veins. She lay there stiff as a corpse, listening. There was no other sound. The bedroom door was closed so she couldn’t have heard any lower sounds following the one made by the door. She couldn’t remember if she had closed the door before going to bed or not. In this situation, the only rational explanation was that the door remained open. Going down to close it was not a pretty idea but Karen had to do it.
She got out of bed and headed for the door when the back door made another creaking sound and then slammed shut. It must be the wind, she thought, then continued. When she put her hand on the latch of her bedroom door she heard thunder roaring in the distance. Throwing a quick look towards the window, she saw the milky white fog again. Closing her eyes, she imagined a monster with sharp teeth and ravenous hunger beyond the door then brushed it off. Monsters exist only in the realm of movies and books.
The television turned on suddenly which made her jump and utter a low cry. Her hands jumped to her chest and when she looked at the TV she saw that it was only static on the screen. It must have been a powersurge, she thought, it's an old TV dammit! Stay rational, she kept muttering, stay positive, it's only in your mind. Monsters are only in your mind, Karen. People are the real monsters, you stupid girl.
The door opened after a gentle turn of the latch. It made no sound. Darkness roamed the hallway, dead silence ruled the night, her spine was tingling. With careful steps, she proceeded down the stairs while carefully looking around. To her left was the kitchen with the back door and to her right the living room. There was nothing suspicious yet, so she went down into the kitchen to lock the door. The back door was closed, the key was inside the lock so she turned it twice just to be sure then turned back. When she reached the bottom of the staircase, Karen stopped. Something wasn’t right. Maybe it was the dream that upset her, she didn’t know exactly.
Just when she turned toward the stairs in order to go up to her room, she heard it. The sound that made her blood run cold. It was a clicking sound, just like one a cigarette lighter makes. But this was different. It seemed elongated, an echo reverberating in her mind, an echo of the past. Karen instantly recognized the sound, it was Tyler’s lighter. She gave it to him as a present and he loved it so much that he played with it all the time. He was even buried with the lighter. The clicking continued at one or two-second intervals. Karen stood there with one foot on the first step, her thoughts running haywire. Maybe the dream didn’t stop, she thought, and she’s going to wake up any second.
Something was moving in the living room. It was as if somebody stood up from a chair and started shuffling. She couldn’t move, fear turned her legs from flesh and bone to concrete and steel. A guttural voice began singing slowly, filled with anguish and patient malevolence.
’Sleepy, sleepy little girl,
Oh, how I miss you, little pearl,
Deep in darkness, I breathe alone,
Now I’ve come to take you home.′
Each word seemed to come from closer and closer. She was panicking, she knew she had to run, but where? All kinds of chaotic thoughts kept running through her mind. She almost ran up the stairs but then realized that she can’t go any further from there. Karen turned quickly and bolted towards to front door which was a few feet from the bottom of the stairs. She grabbed the latch and fumbled with the keys which have been left in the keyhole.
‘I promised I’ll come back,’ the voice came from her right, from the living room.
Karen looked towards the source and saw him. It resembled Tyler but his face had been partially eaten by maggots, almost rotten away. There was a huge hole in his head from where a black liquid was oozing onto his ragged clothes. His lips were no more along with his nose. The eyes were also gone, the empty stare he threw towards Karen made her scream like never before.
‘It’s dark down there, and cold,’ the corpse continued.
Karen couldn’t open the door, she was in such a chaos that her hands weren’t able to obey her mind. Tyler’s corpse started shuffling towards her. With a desperate and final effort, she opened the door and wanted to run. When she put one foot outside, cold hands clasped around her waist and pulled her inside. The door shut itself as if having a will of its own, or it might have been the wind. The dead hands slammed Karen face-forward into the door and she lost consciousness.
When she woke up, she tried to scream again but couldn’t. Her head was still dizzy from the impact. Tyler’s re-animated corpse was dragging her by one of her feet. But where? Why are there gravestones all around her? It was the cemetery, she realized and tried to scream but only loud moaning sounds came out of her throat.
‘Leave me alone!’ she cried and tried to resist.
She tried to jerk her foot away from the icy grip but it felt impossible. Even after using her free leg and all her force, Karen couldn’t break the grip. The corpse kept dragging her onward without stopping even for a fraction of a second. In a final effort of desperation, she turned on her belly and tried grabbing onto the stones that jutted out of the dirt road. It was all in vain. When your past comes haunting, it comes with a vengeance.
The thick fog was all around them. It was hard to see for more than six or seven feet. The sky was raging with thunder. The dragging continued on the cemetery’s main road for a while then the corpse turned right between the graves. He’s taking me to his gravestone, she thought in desperation and a faint glimmer of hope still burned in her that it is all just a bad dream.
When they reached Tyler’s grave, the corpse stopped. It looked at something inside the mist. She couldn’t see what it was but after a few seconds, a black figure stepped out of it. It was tall, more than two feet high, dressed in black, ragged clothes. It wore a black hat and a black trench coat. The lower part of the coat looked burnt, torn and shredded. It looked like it took a bath in molten tar. The creature had burning yellow eyes, its face was skeletal. White breath came out of its mouth and the holes where the nose used to be. In its right hand, it held a spade, just like those that gravediggers use.
Tyler's corpse stood there looking at the black figure. The figure gestured towards the grave hole which had been dug out. Earth lay in a great pile near it. The corpse jumped into the grave and started pulling Karen towards it. She now screamed as hard as she could but couldn't break free from the grip. The yellow-eyed creature waited, it implanted the spade into the ground and held it with both hands. On the handle of the spade, towards the bottom, strange symbols appeared. They started glowing in a yellowish-orange color, just like fire. With a final jerk, Tyler's corpse pulled Karen into the open coffin and lay beside her. She desperately tried to escape but it held her in a final death embrace. The coffin's lid closed on them and the black creature with the spade started throwing earth into the hole. Soon the hole was covered and the creature cast a spell upon the place. The grave looked as if nothing had ever happened. It erased everything with a wave of its bony hand. Heavy rain began falling and the mist disappeared.