Lost Souls


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by Jeff Brown

Desecration: To violate the sanctity of, the act of: to treat disrespectfully, irreverently, or outrageously.


“I don’t know about this, Ward,” Tony said nervously.

“Do you want in the Red Wolves, Tony?” Ward asked, angrily. “If you do, you know what you’ve got to do, man.”

Tony shook his head in frustration. He was not up to grave robbing, even if it meant getting into the Red Wolves, a gang that all but owned Preacher’s Hill.

Lobo, the leader of the Red Wolves told Tony, Ward and four others if they wanted into the Wolves they would have to bring back the skull of Ruth Moore—the only remaining grave in the Preacher=s Hill Cemetery that had not been desecrated in any way. For Lobo, it was more of a joke than anything else.

“If these geeks actually bring back her skull then I really will have to consider letting them in,” Lobo had told, Silly Ed, his second in command. “But I doubt they will. They’ll be like the last 3 geeks we sent in there—they’ll chicken out and never show their faces in Hill again.”

“Lobo, they found human bones at the grave site,” Silly Ed said.

“That was just a rumor.”

“If you say so.”

“But, why don’t you tell them that little story you heard. Then we’ll see how brave these guys really are.”

Silly Ed walked over and sat down in a chair. He looked at the six guys who wished to join the Red Wolves.

“Listen up,” he said. “I figured I should warn you about what you’re about to do.”

The six guys stood, waiting to be sent on their outing.

“There’s an old rumor about Ruth Moore’s grave,” He started. “Two years ago three guys went into the graveyard to get the skull of Ruth Moore. They never came back. They were never seen again by anyone. The rumor has it that they found human bones near her grave, including a skull and a hand minus three fingers. The grave was untouched. There was a lot of blood all over the place, but not a drop on the grave.”

Three of the six guys backed out right after Silly Ed’s story. Lobo laughed as they left the house, beating feet as fast as they could out the door and down the steps.

Tony, Ward and a guy named Grafter were standing outside the cemetery when Grafter bowed out.

“This isn’t worth it,” he said as he left, running faster than the three who left the Red Wolves’ compound.

“It’s just you and me now,” Ward said.

“I don’t know about this, Ward,” Tony said nervously.

“Do you want to get in the Red Wolves, Tony?” Ward asked angrily. “If you do, you know what you’ve got to do.”

Tony shook his head in frustration. Ward knew that Tony was a follower, even though he had just met him that day. Some things you could tell about someone in a short period of time. And Ward could tell that Tony really had no backbone at all. He liked the idea of having someone to push around while they were in the cemetery. Like Tony, Ward was scared, but unlike Tony, he didn’t show it.

They entered the cemetery through the large steel gates, their flashlights cutting lines of white in the dark night. There were billows of white fog all around them. The ground was soft and wet under their feet from the rains of the previous two nights. The night air felt damp and sticky, humid.

Ward looked around, following his flashlight’s path as it dimly lit the way through the thickening fog. His hair was matted down, wet from the humidity. Sweat drenched his shirt, face, and arms. His pants felt wet in the seat—more sweat caused by the humid night, or the fear that welled up inside of his chest.

Tony followed him through the soggy paths of the cemetery. His feet sank down into the wet sod where water was sometimes ankle deep. The first time he had sunk down into the mud he had screamed, scared something was about to reach out of the ground and grab his ankles and pull him down under the ground. After the initial shock had worn off he began to follow Ward again, watching his foot falls and being careful not to lose track of where he was at.

“How much further?” he asked.

“Lobo said it was at the back of the cemetery,” Tony said back. “He said it sits near an old tree—a weeping willow, I think.”

“Could that be it?” Tony asked as he shone his light at a grave near an old tree. It was in a corner of the cemetery that looked mostly unkempt. Weeds ran along the ground, dead and brittle; vines ran along the wrought iron fence that marked the borders of the cemetery. The vines seemed to spread in both directions from the corner of the fence for about fifteen feet then they abruptly stopped. The weeping willow had long ringlets of gray moss hanging from its branches like gray hair. The branches themselves stemmed outward in all directions. Like the vines along the fence, the weeping willow’s branches seemed to abruptly stop at a point as if being told to stretch out no further.

The sound of a hoot owl made Tony jump, causing his skin to swim with goose bumps.

Ward lifted his shovel off of his shoulder then put his flashlight to his face. “Come join us for a frightful evening of terror,” he said in his worst Alfred Hitchcock voice. He laughed loudly, his voice echoing through the graveyard.

“You’re not funny,” Tony said. “Why don’t we just get out of here and forget the whole thing?”

Ward turned, raised his shovel over his head and gave Tony an evil grin. “If you try to leave, I’ll kill you where you stand and take them your skull instead.”

Tony took a step backward, swallowed hard then nodded his head.

“Okay,” he said, his voice shaky.

“All you have to do is stand there, hold the flashlight and watch. Okay?”

Again, Tony nodded.

“I’ll dig and get the skull and even carry it back,” Ward said.

They walked slowly to the grave, their feet sloshing in the mud, their lights’ bright beams shining in the fog. When they got to the grave they noticed the tombstone had been broken at the bottom and tipped onto the ground. It lay face up.

“Ruth Moore,” Ward read. “Died in 1784. Most evil of evils.”

Looking further they saw the grave had been partially dug up. Ward looked at Tony, shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “Looks like someone decided to do half the job for us.”

He hopped into the shallow hole and began to dig. Tony kept the lights on Ward, not moving them for any reason.

When Ward felt the shovel hit wood, he smiled a wide smile. He bent down and started wiping dirt from the coffin. Tony walked over, shining the light into the grave.

Ward took the shovel, raised it over his head and swung down. It split through the wood like an ax.

“The wood’s soft,” he said. “I should be able to pull it apart.” He ripped at the coffin, pulling pieces of wood from it. Finally, after uncovering the head of Ruth Moore, he leaned down, his hands reaching for the skull.

“Hell, Mrs. Moore,” he said as he picked it up. “You’re our ticket, now.”

“Ward?” Tony asked.

“Hold on,” he called back.

“Ward!” Tony yelled this time.

“Wha . . .” Ward started, looking up at Tony. He would never finish his sentence or see Tony again. Or see anything again.

The dead weeds along the ground became alive once again, spreading across the ground to the grave where Mrs. Ruth Moore had been buried for two hundred years. It stretched quickly, like an out of control fire through the forests. It wrapped itself around Ward’s arms and legs, midsection and chest. Ward struggled to free himself, screaming as he did so. Blood started to seep between the weeds as they coiled around Ward.

As the weeds wrapped itself around his head, some went into his mouth, muffling his screams. A weed crept out of one ear, blood dripping from it.

It wasn’t until Tony saw Ward’s eyes pop out in a spray of blood and weeds that he ran. He didn’t scream. He couldn’t scream—fear made sure of that.

He ran back through the cemetery, his feet sloshing through the puddles of water and dirt. He ran through the fog that had thickened into white clouds all around him. The flash light barely penetrated the fog, making it impossible to see ten feet in front of him.

Run! Run! Run! Don’t look back. Don’t ever look back! Why am I out here! Why do I do these things?

Tony’s mind raced as he ran through the cemetery. He could still hear Ward screaming and fighting the weeds and vines that wrapped around him; in his mind he could see Ward’s eyeballs pop from their sockets, vines and weeds coming from where his eyes once were. He could still see it all...until his feet sank into the ground, vines wrapping around his ankles, pulling him into the mud.

“No!” he yelled loudly. No one heard him.

The weeds quickly pulled him into the mud; his feet, shins, knees and thighs were swallowed in it. His waist and chest quickly followed. His arms were out stretched, grabbing mud and nothing else. It covered his face and head, pulling his arms down under. One of his hands was the last to sink, his fingers still moving frantically, grabbing handfuls of air until it too was gone.

The next morning came and went, passing into the afternoon. Lobo stood at the doorway of the old house. His hands were crossed over his chest, a cigarette dangled from his mouth.

“I told you they’d chicken out,” he said.

“If you believed it so much why are you standing by the door waiting for them?” Silly Ed asked.

Lobo turned and looked at him.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I thought one of them might have had the balls to go through with it.”

“Who knows?” Silly Ed asked. “Maybe they didn’t. But, maybe they did.”

Copyright Jeff Brown 2006

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