Death is inescapable. Or so Bruin Bailey thought.
Heavy breathing, the scent of wild mushrooms, being dragged over roots.
Being buried alive.
These things he remembers.
Or was he alive?
You’d think it was so easy to tell, right? You’re either breathing or you’re not breathing. But, no.
When you hear things like “Shit, you killed him” while someone is stuffing you in a cold dirt hole and you can’t move or scream, but you can hear and feel, well, then the line is a bit blurred.
So, here’s what happened. We smoked a little weed, we rolled a few houses. It was Halloween. We were high off the prospect of being seniors, graduation and all the freedom that comes from not needing to get up at six in the morning and spend every day in the same smelly rooms with worn out teachers that forgot how to smile.
Freedom. In a few months it would be ours.
Oh, another important point. Anise Foster was a witch.
What? I’m not calling names. She was proud of it.
When we’d get bored at lunch, we’d invite her over and pretend to be interested in all the shit she’d spout off about the cycles of the seasons and oh, yeah, especially around Halloween how she’d get all excited about the “veil” between the physical and spiritual world being thin so you could communicate with the dead. She even told us her mother left a place at the table for her dead dad. Ashley snickered too loud at that and Anise got up and left.
I saw her later at the lockers and felt bad. She looked sad.
“Hey,” I said. “You believe all that stuff that you told us, or is that just your mom’s religion?”
She looked at me then. Really looked at me for the first time and I realized how amazing her eyes were. Perfect gray circles in milky skin. I don’t think anyone has ever really looked at me before her because it was so intense I had to look away.
“This is the time things go beneath the ground. They wait to be resurrected. Winter is about death, about dying. It is not about religion.”
“Okay, all right,” I tried to be cool, even though her words had sent a chill from the tip of my tail bone to my hairline. It didn’t help when she added the words, “I’m sorry, Bruin.”
So, getting back to Halloween. Graveyards are seriously not the place to get high on Halloween and try to contact the dead because “the veil is thin”.
The ground was hard, freezing. I was feeling too good to care as I stared up at a fat, glowing moon with one star to keep it company. Lots of clouds around the sky bowl. Noises that I didn’t even care to try and figure out.
The bunch of morons that I hung out with chanting and calling out things like, “Hey, we want to see a ghost tonight.”
Someone pulled out a knife and drew a pentagram on a tree. This is where things went totally wrong.
Not because a demon showed up or anything. Just because I got pissed. Irrationally, drug induced kind of pissed. What did the tree ever do to Evan Martinez?
“Dude, you can’t just cut up a tree. What’s wrong with you? It’s alive.” Upon reflection, I realize this was Anise Foster’s influence on me.
His girlfriend called me some names and everyone laughed.
“You’re an idiot,” were my last words before a wicked, sharp, hot sensation filled my stomach.
Fast forward to: “Dude, you killed him.”
Lots of panic. The morons dragging my body through the woods to softer ground. The moon really was fat.
Dirt flew at me from all directions. It covered me slowly at first, building up until the organic smell became smothering. Until darkness blocked out the moonlight and I realized I wasn’t breathing. But I was something because I could still think.
I heard her words again, “Winter is about death. This is the time things go below ground and wait to be resurrected.” I silently wished she would put a place at her table for me.
And I knew that come spring, I would push up through the dirt like some giant freak crocus and Evan Martinez was going to pay.
wicked! 🙂 love it!
“I would push up through the dirt like some giant freak crocus and Evan Martinez was going to pay.”
Oooooooooooo, I LOVED that!
I hope he gets it big-time.
Hey Shannon! Loved the high school hanging out atmosphere, your choice of names (Anise – so herbal, so earthy; Ashley, so not) and the idea that “the veil is thin” this time of year.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Hallowe’en!
Forgive me if this is comment #2 – I swear I just left one.. I think that it was eaten by ravenous witches craving crocuses.
Loved the story Shannon! Loved the last line in particular “some giant freak crocus.” Intrigued by the idea that winter is when the veil is thinnest.
No wonder everything’s so scary this time of year.
This wins so hard. Excellent smattering of dialogue and the end? Fantastic.
Perfect creepy story for Halloween!
Drags itself from the grave at the start and never looks back. Fine work, Shannon.
Having the narrator refer to himself in 3rd person at the beginning threw me off a little. This is a great creepy tale though.
Last line was awesome! I just love the image you created there. You should write Halloween stories every week.
This is terrific! I love the fact that he can’t pop back up, but has to wait until spring – adds such a flavor of realism.
Fabulously creepy tale Shannon. I’m feeling rather sorry for poor Evan.
Creepy, creepy, creepy. Until the last line. Then it turned terrifying. Awesome story!
This is the quintessential perfect Halloween story. I can’t wait for him to come back and get that Martinez guy.
Awesome, killer story.
nice mix of the old superstitions with the modern slant on things
Nice Halloween tale. How does the dead tell a story? From the soul like this.
Terrific Halloween story. I has a fresh angle that really makes it pop.
Great story; loved the little pagan touches and the Hallowe’en atmosphere. Roll on spring!
Wow, that Evan Martinez could do with anger-management classes, mind you, come spring he probably won’t be around to need them.
Do I see a sequel on the horizon?
I’m totally rooting for him. What a great character, I love his voice. Very real.
I love how he knows his time in the grave won’t last forever, and that now he knows Anise’s faith is more than just some kooky religion. Death brings a little clarity, doesn’t it?
A voice that vivid and strong has to live on, at least as a ghost.
I love how you use first person throughout, it makes the ending that much more powerful. Sorry for being to late to read this, but it was worth the wait.
Vivid and simple… a hard combination to create. I can imagine this as the beginning of a great graphic novel!
What a voice you’ve captured here. Reminds me a little of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. Spot on. Great bit.