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Fiction Contemporary Thriller

Fractures of white light crawled across the black sky over Immortal Hills Cemetery. The lightning cast a momentary flash of blinding blue over the eerie graveyard. Headstones and tombs were instantly visible. 

Like long slender tentacles of waving hairy hands, Spanish Moss hung from the live oak trees and oscillated with the wind. The ground trembled with the horrific clap of thunder that followed.

In Zachary, Louisiana on a late October, stormy and muggy night, something evil was lurking about. The sound of concrete grinding against a sandy stone was clearly audible. The earth-shaking boom had knocked a sepulcher slightly ajar. 

Barely noticeable, like worms twisting in damp soil, the tips of fingers came up from the graves and through the cracks of the crypts. A dreadful stench of rotting flesh filled the hot and heavy night air. Only the down-pour of torrential rain masked the smell. 

“Stop it Daddy.” Shouted Eleven-year-old Michael.

His father, Troy Devereaux, a magician by trade, said, “You’ll eventually learn to love nights like this. Every so often, they can be fun.” Holding a flashlight beneath his chin, Troy howled “Oooh-Waah–Baah–Haha”, and laughed. He rolled his head in a circle. “Now come on, let me tell you a magical story.”

Michael yelled,“I said, no, quit it!” The room lit up from a bright flash outside. Pellets of rain peppered the second story window of the old Victorian house. The only light upstairs spilled into the hall from the bathroom. Downstairs, the front windows flickered from the television in the living room. 

The front swing rocked as the wind whirled around it. Its rusty chains creaked as if crying out in pain. The Devereaux house, across the street from the Immortal Hills Cemetery, was in dire need of paint. But, the roof no longer leaked. Troy made sure of that after the last hurricane.

Britney, Michael’s mom, said, “Troy, stop, you’re scaring him. Michael won't sleep at all tonight. All I asked you to do, was tuck him in. Not everybody gets off on a night like this.”

Troy said back to her, “Okay. Mrs. Devereaux, then why don't you do it?” switching off the flashlight, Troy placed it on the night stand. He went into the hallway, and said, “I’m going out to catch some rainy night air.” He started to hum, “I love a rainy night.” By Eddie Rabbitt, his favorite country singer.

Brittany slapped him on the butt as he passed, “Go on now, git.” She shot him a grin over her shoulder. Her husband winked back, then scurried down the stairs. Brittany peaked down and smiled at Michael with his blanket up and over his head. She switched on the bedside lamp. 

Michael lowered his quilt and grinned. His mom sat alongside him. Then she pushed the ends of his curly mop of chestnut brown hair behind his ears. With a sigh, she leaned in to kiss him on the forehead. Michel gazed up with his eyes wide. Britney tucked the bed cover and sheet up tightly beneath his face.

“Sleep tight, my little man,” she said, and then turned out the nightstand light and slipped out, quietly closing the door. Lightning lit the room. Michael ducked and pulled the covers over his head.

Troy went outside, and the rain had stopped, as if it had simply been switched off. The lightning and rumbles of thunder were now far in the distance. 

There were no streetlights and the graveyard and street were dark. Only the yellow glimmer of the full moon glowed. It flickered off and on as it broke through the fast-moving clouds. 

Troy scowled, wrinkled his nose and pursed his lips and said, “Jeez, what’s that stench?” He looked up at the moon as it drifted behind the breaks in the overcast sky. 

A foreboding feeling came over him. Something moved on the other side of the road that caught his eye. Was there someone in the old graveyard?

With the moonlight fading in and out, it was difficult to see very far beyond the street. In the back of the eerie old potters' field, a ground mist grew shallow and dense. 

It began to form a ground cloud, that slowly rose and crept among the graves. The cloud moved toward the front gate. Frogs croaked and squeaked. A dog barked in the distance.

A chilling feeling of apprehension seeped over Troy. Carefully, he moved to the end of the walk. Unable to see clearly, he leaned forward and squinted to look into the sinister boneyard.

Britney came out the door. “Troy, what are you doing? And, what’s that horrible smell?”

“I think there’s someone in the garden of remembrance over there.”

“What? On a night like this?”

“Yes, I thought I saw some movement over there.”

“Who would go into that spooky place in a thunderstorm?” She asked.

Troy frowned. “I wouldn't go over there in the middle of a sunny day. It's so creepy.” 

The moonlight broke through for a moment. Troy caught a glimpse of people inside the fence. Rubbing his eyes, he looked again at numerous people in the scary old field. 

There were hundreds of them meandering within the gates of the garden of gravestones just across the street. They seemed to limp and wandered in circles. 

Some of them pushed and shoved each other. Others, reacting to the shoves, wobbled and weaved. Sounds of their chilling groans resonated through the sticky night air. Several appeared to drag one foot or the other as they crept toward the gate. 

Troy flinched and jumped when he felt Britney’s hand on his shoulder. He turned, stared momentarily into her eyes with a grim expression.“What is it? Who are those people?” asked Brittney.

“I don’t know, I'm uncertain whether they're people or not.”

“What do you mean?”

“They seem to be wandering like lost souls.” The wretched stench grew even stronger. He lifted his shirt to cover his nose. 

Brittney put her hand over her mouth. In a muffled voice, she said, “I’m going inside to call the police.” She spun around to go back into the house and briefly looked up. Michael stood in his window with the flashlight shining under his face. 

With only a blank stare, he focused up at the moon and across the street. “Oh my God,” Britney cried as she darted up the steps. Once she entered the house, Michael, her only concern, scampered upstairs.

When she reached the top of the stairs, she screamed, “Michael, honey, are you okay?” Without hesitation, she dashed down the hallway and threw open the bedroom door. Michael was standing completely frozen, staring out. She rushed to him, stooped down and put her arm around his shoulder. 

She tried to pull him to her. He didn’t budge. She said, “Michael, are you alright? What’s the matter?” Like a statue, he was holding the flashlight to his neck, under his face. His gaze fixed on the moon over the cemetery. She began to shake him. He was in a trance-like state. Brittany said, “Michael, honey, wake up.”

Michael dropped the flashlight. It bounced onto the floor and rolled into his shadow in the moonlight. He turned from the window to face her. “Michael, you’re scaring Mommy.” Michael's blue-gray eyes gazed past her, focused on nothing. She took him by the shoulders and begged, “Michael, look at Mommy.”

Next-door, Mrs. Landry stepped off her front stoop in a pink robe with curlers in her hair, and squawked at Troy, “It stinks to high-heaven out here. What on Earth’s going on?” She asked, glancing over at the people in the cemetery now plainly visible in the bright moonlight. Her jaw dropped and her eyebrows raised. “What the hell are those people doing?”

“I really don't know. I'm not positive what they are or why they're there.”

“Well, I've seen and smelt enough.” She grasped the top of her robe and pulled it tight, and giving Troy a frustrated look. She huffed and, without another word, she abruptly dashed back into the house. The door slammed. Troy heard the dead-bolt latch.

Troy's attention went back to the people across the street and the cemetery. The zombies rocked the front gate. One man’s arm fell from his body. He didn’t stop shaking the front fence. He continued to push and pull it with the other. 

Troy couldn’t believe his eyes. What the hell is happening? The dense, knee-high vapor spread from inside the cemetery and spilled onto the street. Troy observed as it grew closer. The lone detached limb crept out of the dampness, inching along with only its fingers. Unimpaired, it kept on moving forward.

“Holy crap!” Troy shuddered as he backed toward his house. The fog crept closer. It covered the arm and sloshed against the adjacent curb. Bony fingers pulled it up in front of Troy. His mouth popped open and his eyes widened. The hand crawled along the front sidewalk toward him. His skin felt warm from the rush of adrenaline. He stumbled and fell back onto the front steps. 

His arms shook as he lifted himself backwards up the steps. He eyed the crowd pouring out of the cemetery into the street. They spilled through the open gate like straggling spectators rushing to some sinister event. He glanced up and down the street. These unholy walking dead creatures seemed to stop at some invisible line.

Their murmurs and groans rumbled almost in harmony. They shuffled their scraggy bare feet and shredded shoes through the dense ground cloud. Their heads rocked from side to side as they moved back and forth almost in a horrific rhythm. Their clothes were tattered, dirty rags. Some with their faces only half covered with putrid pealing flesh. Dark circles around yellow and red glowing eyes. 

Those with hair of disgusting rats, littered with leaves and debris. They reeked of rotted flesh. The haze continued to stream from the cemetery. It swirled around their feet. They looked right and left at each other as if waiting for orders.

Britney, still upstairs, looked away from Michael. She peered out the window. Her eyes widened, and she screamed at the sight of hundreds of zombielike creatures in the street. 

She looked back at Michael, as his hands began to grow. First, his fingers grew longer. Thick yellow finger nails appeared as hair covered his hands. They started to bend into the shape of a claw. 

She looked up at his elongated face. His eyes with cat pupils faded and glowed a dim yellow. His cheeks sunk in and his mouth an oval shape. She fell back and pushed away from him into the corner by the window. 

She covered her mouth with one hand to muffle a shriek. Not only that, but she bit her lip. Tears streamed from her eyes. With the metallic taste of blood on her lip, she said, “What’s happening?” In a whisper, she said his name. “Michael”.

She watched as her eleven-year-old son grew taller. In terror, she stared up at him. With one hairy hand, then the other, he brushed back his soft brown hair. It transformed into a slick black wavy coat close to his head. Curls fell across his forehead. He looked up, fixated on the full moon. She gasped for breath and pulled her knees close to her chest. Michael’s skin tone began to change as dark circles formed around his eyes. 

The moon disappeared behind a cloud. The room went dark. She closed her eyes, and when she opened them, Michael stood before her transformed. He wore a red faux leather jacket trimmed in black with matching pants. The white socks at his ankles just above his black loafers seemed to glow in the light of the moon. She screamed as he shattered and jumped through the window onto the roof.

Shards of glass rained onto the walkway in front of Troy. All the zombies were motionless, almost frozen. Totally silent, they stared up at Michael. Instantly, the muggy night air cooled. Michael did an aerial cartwheel off the roof and landed knees bent.

He faced the zombies, with his back to Troy. Slowly, he moved straight onto the street and into the fog. The hand on the sidewalk flipped over and snapped its fingers in a rhythmic dance beat. A hypnotic tune began to emanate from somewhere inside the cemetery.

Michael drew several rapid, short breaths, then he turned to one side. He extended his arms, his hands like claws. He nodded his head to one side. The zombies began to follow his every move. They stood straight, still and upright. 

Michael threw back his head and leaned back a bit with one leg in front. He hopped forward twice, bent his knees with one leg out. The other he kept to his side. He put his hand on his belt. The zombies followed. He glanced over at Troy with a broad smile, “You’re right Daddy, I think I do like stormy nights.”

Troy stood, and chuckled, “See Michael, I told you. They can be fun. Tonight’s going to be a real Thriller.”


Copyright © 2022 by Chandler Wilson

December 10, 2022 15:50

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2 comments

Chad Eastwood
09:46 Jan 22, 2023

I didn't see that coming! Very good.

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Chandler Wilson
20:15 Jan 22, 2023

Thanks, Chad, for taking the time to read and comment on my story. I'm glad you liked it. I had fun with the twist at the end. I thought what do you do with a bunch of ghouls—-Then I thought, make them dance. Thanks again.

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