Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Faubourg Fairy Tale: The Second


After that... well, I'm not sure why they hired me, except that maybe Ms. Devereaux needed someone new to torture. I had taken family law in Texas, but the civil code bore little resemblance to the common law. I struggled through my discussion of my first case with Ms. Devereaux, and she seemed to think I was headed in the right direction, but she scowled a lot. I was getting used to that. I rather wished Mr. Robbins was my boss. Unfortunately, he was out of the office a lot around that time. No-one told me why, and I didn't ask.


I was sorry when i moved into my own office and saw less of Dani. I wanted to go to lunch with her, get to know her better, but I was usually expected to either do client lunches or work through lunch. She frequently had errands to run over lunch, so I had to come up with good excuses to go to the file room. I was less productive than i should have been. I'd never really been a fan of the billable hour.


By that Thursday, I'd had enough. I needed to get stuff done at work, but I still wanted to se her. I figured maybe she could show me around the city, so I invited her to dinner. She said yes and told me she'd take care of it because I was so busy.


She left me a note on Friday morning that we had a 7 o'clock reservation at Antoine's for that night. I didn't tell her i'd been there before as a kid. I had to work late that night, so i went straight from work. Didn't have time to change out of my suit. It would have to do. We'd agreed to meet at 6:45 in front of the restaurant. Dani got off work at 5 and disappeared. I showed up at the appointed place and time, and when Dani arrived, I almost didn't recognize her. She had a pink streak in her hair and a big black lace bow... and the lace continued down the rest of the outfit. I'd seen goths in New Orleans before but never a goth lolita. She even carried a foofy umbrella, despite it being evening with no chance of rain. She looked broody and dark... until she smiled.


"Oh! you look... different. ...good different! Won't they notice that pink streak at the office?"

"Nope, it's temporary. It'll wash out by Monday. And even if it doesn't that's what scarves are for."


Clearly, I thought, I am not the only one who buttons up for work.


The restaurant was fabulous, more outlandish and elegant than I remembered. Dani stepped up to the podium and told the maitre'd "two for Devereaux". I goggled at her. I'd had no idea she was related to Ms. D! Was she the boss' daughter?? This could get ugly, fast! She saw my look and told me not to worry.


Too late,” I thought.


The maitre'd led us up a dark wood staircase and through a series of dining rooms, then back down so that we were in a small space off the kitchen. Photographs and autographs of jazz singers and politicians lined the red walls. The glass orb chandelier had originally been gas light. Dani apologized for the location, "Best i could get on such short notice."

"No problem. I'm pretty happy. This way maybe I can see how some of the food is made--"

"So you cook?"

"Well, I dabble. Mostly I like to eat."

She grinned again. I tripped over my chair.


We ordered glasses of wine and water to start... I downed mine in a couple of gulps.


So your last name is Devereaux? Are they your parents?”

No... no, everyone thinks that. I'm her niece, actually. My father is her brother.”

I see,” I said. That was kind of a relief. I had to keep the conversation flowing. I shouldn't have been nervous, but I was. “So do you work here full time, or is this a summer job, or what?”

I go to school here and work part time during the year and full time in the summers.”

Nice” I said. I was sure she was tired of the questions about what she was studying and what she wanted to do after graduation. I'd save those for later.


I paid attention and tried to read her, but I've never been good at it, and that was before I'd even had any training. So all I had at my disposal was curiosity and wine. And I knew I'd probably be better off leaving it alone, for many reasons, but I can't say no to trouble, apparently. I just didn't know what kind I was in for.


All in all, it was a very good dinner. I stuffed myself on amazing decadent food and got tipsy. When the bill came I wondered for a moment if she'd want me to pay, since I suggested, but she whipped out a credit card and said “I got this”


Whoa!” I protested. “Let me at least pay for mine!”

She smirked and shook her head. “Expense account. This was team-building.” So she had learned from at least one lawyer how to get what she wanted. This was one to watch out for. I excused myself to go to the restroom and call us a cab.


When she found out, she insisted she was fine, but I told her i'd feel better if I knew how and when we both got home, and she rolled her eyes but got in the cab. It was stuffy and smelled like smoke. My eyes watered and itched. The drive wasn't that far, but suddenly I felt sober and nervous. I'd have to keep that under control. We finally got to her apartment, a small second story place near the university, and she hopped out and waved and ran upstairs before I had a chance to say much more than “bye!”


The cabbie drove me home back thru the city to Faubourg. I'd found a good place in a not so great neighborhood, but at least there weren't a lot of tourists (no way I was a tourist!) and it was near work and the Quarter. I had another glass of wine and flopped into bed.


Seemed like just a few minutes later I awoke to my phone beeping and buzzing with a text message. I didn't even bother to put my glasses on. I didn't want to know what time it was. And I suspected I knew who it was from. College students. Meh. Some of us try to keep schedules.


...Yep. From Her. “There's someone I want you to meet.”

Monday, August 30, 2010

Foubourg Fairy Tale: The First

My name is Naomi O'Connor. I guess i've always been a little bit weird, but it wasn't till law school that I encountered anything I truly didn't understand. I would blame Maryanne, but since that won't do anybody any good, I s'pose I gotta chalk it up to luck. My second summer in law school, i clerked for a firm in New Orleans, Devereaux and Robbins. They were husband and wife as well as law partners, but I learned pretty quickly that Maxine Devereaux called the shots. And she was to be my boss. If i'd had any other offers, the decision might have been harder. Still not sure why they picked me, but since I'd always wanted to live in New Orleans, I packed up and headed east for a summer.


I was already starting to figure out the law thing might not work out for me long term, but I work hard and people seem to like me, so I was gonna do my best and see what happened. Besides, at least I could eat good food and listen to jazz and go to the Voodoo museum and maybe do some volunteer cleanup in my free time... if I had any.


Eight A.M., May 15, 2006. My first day and i'm already counting down until the end. I know how many days I have to go into the office, but I don't know yet how many hours I will put in. I had taken the street car to work in an effort to be environmentally friendly, but I was melting in my suit. It was going to be a long ten weeks.


I walked into the office and the secretary waved me back to Ms. Devereaux's office when she saw me with a small apologetic smile. Ms. D was carrying on a loud phone conversation with her back to me, so I'd have to wait. I hovered in the doorway. When she finished, I walked in and said “good morning”, loud and clear, like i'd been taught, but it was still an effort. I got no response.


"Ms. Devereaux?" I tried again. She turned around and glared at me, then gestured to a side table stacked with codes and files. "Those are yours. Be ready to discuss the Anderson case by Friday. Danny will show you your office." She turned back around. I guessed we were through.


I had no idea she'd be so brusque. I mumbled a thank you and hoped she was just stressed about some deadline or another and that this was not a normal workday. Somewhat deflated, I walked back to the reception area.


"Excuse me, do you know where i can find Danny? I haven't met him yet, and he's supposed to show me my office."

"SHE is in the file room around the corner to your left. Danielle." I must have looked horrified at my mistake, because the secretary quickly reassured me. “Everybody does that. Soon you'll be correcting people too.” I wondered if she thought I'd be here longer than just ten weeks.


I found Dani on her tiptoes, straining to reach a top shelf. I would have offered to help her, but i was no taller than she. I decided to try a cheerful greeting again, confident it would work better on someone closer to my own age:


"Good morning!"

"Ahh!" she yelped and lost her balance.

"Sorry about that," i apologized as i helped her up. "Are you Danielle?"

"Dani" she corrected me emphatically.

Great,” I thought. “My mistakes are just piling up, and I haven't even started actual work yet. I wonder if i'll even last the whole summer”.


On top of that, she was ridiculously cute. I figured it was a good thing she'd been with her back to me, or I might not have been able to get up the guts to speak. But I was in now, so better plow ahead:


"I'm Naomi. I was told you could show me my office."


She said, like I wasn't even there, “Naomi...means sweet... I wonder...” Then she looked back at me.


That was weird, I thought. Here we go again.


"Actually, we're still cleaning it out. You're stuck here in the file room with me for another couple of days", she replied. I was torn between annoyance that I had a lot of work and nowhere to do it and excitement that I'd be sharing an office with her... but she'd probably be almost as busy as i was.


She interrupted my train of thought: "You can spread out on the conference table there."

"Are you sure no-one needs that?"

"I'm just alphabetizing and notating old case files to go into storage" she replied with a smile.

"Thanks. I best get to work then."


Friday, August 20, 2010

Mutant of the Week - X 2!

Someone (Maryanne) didn't post a Mutant last week from EYE iN tHE hAT productions. Sure, there were gremlins in her computer, and there's that whole zombie situation...but is there really any good excuse? No, my friends, there isn't. So here is the Mutant you missed plus a new one just for today.

Try to contain your excitement.

And now...the Mutant(s) of the Week!





You can view the complete collection of mutants here.

Visit Jesse Garson's Mutant of the Week store here or here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Binding Precedent - Part 19

This is Part 19 of a Serial Story.  The story began here.

I have seen deserted buildings succumb to abandonment, a mantle of despair weighing down their shoulders while faded paint chips and falls at their feet. But the old Ag-Sciences building was different. It stood defiant, a gray silhouette that blocked out the sun and split the wind.
“Is evil here,” Absola said as we stared up at the building. I felt the same thing she did; it was as if some dark force inside the building had penetrated the walls and given the structure a new and threatening character.


We climbed the stone steps to the front doors and looked inside. The doors were locked and the building dark. I cupped my hands around my eyes and peered into the darkness.

“The front entry is full of old office equipment and furniture. I don’t think we’ll have an easy time getting in.” I looked over at Absola and asked, “How did you get into the sepulchre at Cherry Hill?”

“Is entrance from ruins of old church. Much like churches in eastern Europe. Perhaps architect travel in Europe before coming here,” she mused.

Dang. “I was kind of hoping you had picked the lock,” I said.

Absola shook her head and said gravely, “Breaking into funeral home would be crime.”

“But you did break in. You broke in by using an entrance from a neighboring property.”

“Is what law calls attractive nuisance, yes?”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.”

“Well, should be. Hidden doors in ruins of old churches are attractive and zombies are nuisance,” Absola pronounced.

“The very fact that you just said the door was hidden tells me no court would recognize it as an attractive nuisance! You went looking for the door. You…never mind. Let’s just drop it.” I sighed and looked at the locked doors before us. “I was hoping you had a lock picking kit,” I said.

“I do not. But would entrance to secret lab be so easy to find that one could walk through front door and see it?”

I thought about it. “There’s a greenhouse nearby. If I were a mad scientist specializing in plants I would want my lab situated near the greenhouse,” I said pensively.

“Is tunnel connecting building to greenhouse?”

“Could be. Like a maintenance tunnel or something.” I stepped back from the entrance and ran down the stairs. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I called back to Absola.

“Basement?” she asked.

“Basement,” I agreed. I looked around and spotted the edge of the greenhouse peeking out from behind the left side of the building. “This way,” I said, pointing.

We rounded the north side of the building and saw the stairs immediately. I ran down them and tried the door. “Locked,” I said.

Absola pushed me aside and tried the door. “Is old lock,” she said. She stepped back and gave the door a powerful kick. The door flew open with a bang.

“By the way, this is also breaking and entering,” I said.

“Be grateful I find tool for opening locked door,” Absola said with a grin.

It was pitch black inside. The little bit of sunlight that crept in through the open door quickly lost its nerve and retreated. I ran my hand along the inside wall until I felt a light switch. I flicked it a few times; nothing happened. “The power’s out,” I said.

Absola pulled a flashlight from her pocket and flicked it on. The beam of light shone on empty filing cabinets and boxes full of dusty files. “How have lab if no electricity?” she whispered.

“There’s a faint smell of gasoline. Maybe Dr. S. had a generator set up.” We moved forward slowly, guided by Absola’s flashlight. “If there is a tunnel to the greenhouse it should be coming up on our right,” I whispered. “Wait, why are we both whispering?”

“Natural human reaction to creeping around in evil building,” Absola replied.

“But it's silly,” I said out loud; “No one else is here.”

There was a loud crash on our right. We instinctively dropped to our knees and hid behind a pile of boxes. My heart was pounding in my ears and I dearly wanted to scream.

“Not one of your finest moments,” Absola whispered. I grimaced and said nothing.

The smell of gasoline grew stronger. There was a mechanized humming sound. Light filled the hallway just ahead on the right. We kept very still and waited.

Nothing happened.

So we waited a little longer. Still nothing.

I began to wonder how much time had passed. Was this one of those moments when you’re so tense that you think time is passing much more rapidly than it really is? Or was I so focused on what might be lurking in that hallway that my brain had already accounted for the typical reaction of overestimating time in tense situations and compensated for it, so that when I thought twenty minutes had passed I was actually correct.

Wait, twenty minutes? No, that can’t be right. I must be over exaggerating.

An anagram for ‘over exaggerating’ is ‘extra veggie groan.’

“I’m not hiding another second,” I whispered to Absola. “My brain is getting too loud and too weird.” I loaded shells into the shotgun and stepped away from the boxes.

“I know someone’s there,” I said. “Show yourself.” I moved around the boxes and looked into the bright hallway.

The long passage was clean and well maintained. The floors were polished, and the white paint on the walls looked fresh. At the far end of the hall was a narrow metal staircase. I could only see part of the staircase, but the placement and direction made it clear the stairs led up to the greenhouse.

“Dr. S?” I queried.

No answer.

An idea popped into my head – it might be Matt and Charlotte in the hallway. They were supposed to look for the lab after they looked for Herbert Shanks. Maybe they had arrived just before us, and found a way in through the greenhouse.

I took some tentative steps forward into the hallway, the shotgun ready to fire in case I needed it. I heard a shotgun pumped behind me and knew that Absola was preparing to follow.

“Matt? Charlotte?” I asked.

Something big and sticky sprang out at me from a doorway. I swung the shotgun around, but it was knocked away. The thing slammed me into the wall. The sight of green skin, wild hair and pulsing red eyes registered in my brain. Then the zombie opened its mouth and all I could think about were the rows of sharp thorny teeth.

I hate zombies.

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Binding Precedent - Part 14

This is Part 14 of a Serial Story.  The story began here.

I’m sick and tired of supernatural things destroying my rides. Zombies totaled my truck in law school and now some freakish plant bound to the zombie form of my undead biology teacher has engulfed my truck.

“Are you okay?” Matt asked me.

“No, I’m not. How long until we reach Roger’s farm?”

I’m sure your car is fine, Maryanne. R.J. said that when they cut the vines away from the restaurant they’ll uncover your car too.”

“With my luck that bindweed has a taste for used Saturns and there’ll be nothing left to uncover by the time R.J. gets there.” I pulled up the number for the law firm and prepared to dial. “I’m calling the office,” I warned Matt. He nodded.

“Law firm. How can we serve you,” a woman said disingenuisly. It was Ms. Ibsen, Mr. Drake’s new assistant. I was surprised they were letting that Rottweiler of a woman handle the main line. After hearing her voice a new client would hang up and flee.

“Hi, it’s Maryanne. I’m calling in sick today.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Excuse me?”

“You don’t sound ill to me, Maryanne. You sound like an associate who’s late for work and fishing for excuses.”

“It’s not a physical ailment. I saw a dead body last night and it shook me up. I spent the night at my parent’s house and right now a friend is driving me back to my apartment. I don’t have a car and I’m still feeling mentally disturbed, so I’m going to spend the rest of the day in bed.” I was quite proud of myself after that little speech. Nearly everything I’d said had been completely truthful until the last part.

“Why don’t you have a car,” Ms. Ibsen said suspiciously.

“It’s…still at the restaurant where I had dinner last night. And saw a dead body.”

“Why didn’t your friend take you back to the restaurant to retrieve your car,” Ms. Ibsen demanded triumphantly.

Dang it. “Because…I’m too upset to drive. My friend doesn’t think I’m well enough to drive.” I turned to Matt and said, “Do you think I’m well enough to drive?”

“I think you should have your head examined,” he said sincerely.

“It’s agreed then – I am not a well woman,” I said to Ms. Ibsen. “Now if you would be so kind as to transfer me to Belinda, I would like to discuss some cases with her.”

“Belinda is not available.”

“Then put me through to her voicemail.”

There was a pause while I waited for the transfer. Were there cases to discuss with Belinda? Maybe. I could think of some if I had to. But I actually wanted to check on her, see if she had calmed down a little since yesterday. I liked her. If we’d met under other circumstances we would probably have been friends. As it was we were co-workers, fellow sufferers under the dominion of the partners at the firm. We needed to look out for each other.

“This is Mr. Deitrick.”

Huh? “I’m sorry, I was trying to reach Belinda.”

“Belinda is no longer with this firm. Who is this? Maryanne?’

“What do you mean? You fired her?”

“Are you aware of the hour, Maryanne? You’re late,” Mr. Deitrick said.

“I saw a dead body last night; I called in sick. Ms. Ibsen knows about it. What happened to Belinda?”

“As I said, she is no longer with this firm. I will be hiring a new associate to replace her. Am I to understand that you called in sick over a dead body?”

I began to wonder how I could end the conversation. It was uncomfortable and pointless. “Yes, sir. I’m too upset to work,” I said woodenly.

“I did not know death disturbed you so much. Did you know this person?”

“Not personally, no. She was the hostess at Shank’s restaurant. I had a…necklace accidently ended up in the trash, and I was in the alley looking for it in the dumpster and found Andrea’s body.”

Silence. Mr. Dietrick said slowly, “You discovered the corpse of Andrea in the alley behind Shank’s. How…interesting.”

“What happened to Belinda?” I asked again.

“The details are none of your concern.”

Pompous twit. “Fine. Then would you please transfer me to Mr. Drake?”

“I will deal with Drake. And I will explain to him that you are indisposed,” Mr. Dietrick said. His voice sounded strange, like the muffled clank of a knife hitting the stem of a wine glass – definitive, but impure.

Whatever, I thought. “Thank you,” I said and hung up.

“Everything okay?” asked Matt.

I sighed. “No. There’s something weird going on at the firm.” Rubbing my temples seemed like a poor way to ward off a burgeoning headache, but at least it was taking action. “One of my co-workers has been fired. She’s a good lawyer…it doesn’t make any sense. I have to figure out what’s going on,” I said.

“But they’re okay with you taking a sick day?”

“I guess so. Maybe they’ll think I’ve got PTSD or something.”

Matt went very still. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is not something to joke about, Maryanne,” he said.

“Who’s joking? I’m just throwing out a term.”

“Don’t,” Matt said sharply.

I turned my head and stared at him, seeing the stiff set of his jaw. “Why did you leave the Army?” I asked slowly.

“IED. Took out two vehicles in the convoy. I was injured.”

“Yes, I read about that in the local paper. Mom sent me the clippings. You got a medal for saving some of the other soldiers. But you had the option of going back, right? The physical injuries weren’t so severe that you were medically discharged.” I knew what he was going to say. But he needed to say it…or I needed to hear it.

“I can’t remember parts of the accident. No matter how hard I try, there are gaps. How can I trust myself in battle if I can’t piece together the shards of my own mind?”

Matt Hawthorne, star quarterback of our high school football team. Local cutting team champion. The guy who graduated as salutorian of our class despite the time he spent on other activities…this man was doubting himself? “I don’t understand it,” I said. “You’re the most confident person I’ve ever known.”

“Not anymore,” Matt said.

I didn’t know what to say, so I looked out the car window to check the weather.

Weather on the plains can change in a heartbeat. Sometimes the change is violent; frequently the weather that comes is extreme. The only certainty we have about the weather is that it will change. You put all of that together and you have the safest and surest topic of conversation known to mankind. Long silence on the phone with a tech person? Talk about the weather. Stuck in an elevator with a stranger? Talk about the weather. Awkward silence during a car ride with a man who teased you incessantly as a kid, but who you secretly looked up to? Weather.

“Clouding up,” I observed.

“There’s a tropical storm off the coast. Guess we’re seeing some of the system drift up here,” Matt replied.

“Doesn’t look like it’s building. Just sitting there.”

“Yeah. Probably won’t get any real rain out of it.”

The silence is companionable now.  I think we’ll make it to Roger’s farm without a storm.

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mutant of the Week: August 6, 2010

It's Mutant Day! Time to hop over to EYE iN tHE hAT productions and see what Jesse Garson has created this week.

And now...the Mutant of the Week!



You can view the growing collection of mutants here. It's mind boggling how many mutants there are to see. They multiply so fast, like some kind of...animal that...frequently reproduces.

Visit Jesse's Mutant of the Week store here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Binding Precedent - Part 11

This is Part 11 of a Serial Story.  The story began here.

“If you want my help, Matt, you have to tell me what’s going on,” I said.

Matt looked at me oddly and shook his head. “I can’t believe I’m about to do this. This story is so strange, so outlandish, that no one in their right mind would ever believe it,” he said.

I glared at him and said, “Insulting me doesn’t help you.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Matt said quickly. “I meant that…that…okay maybe I did mean it like that. Let’s just say that this is an uncommon situation and you have an uncommon brain.”

“Start talking or start walking.”

Matt nodded. “It started as a normal day,” he said. “I was reviewing some paperwork when Mr. Shanks came into the office and told me that Dr. S had been found dead in her apartment.

He looked a little odd when he said it, so I asked him if there was something I needed to know…implying the more specific question of how had she died. Herbert didn’t say anything. He just shook his head and gestured for me to follow him into the embalming room.

‘I don’t know how to describe this, Matt. Her skin is completely discolored and her eyes are…well. See for yourself,” Herbert said. He pulled the sheet back from Dr. S’s face.

I couldn’t look at her for longer than a few seconds. Her skin was dark green like the stalk of a plant, and her eyes were yellow. ‘Why haven’t you closed them,’ I said, pointing at the open eyes.

‘I did,’ Herbert said grimly. ‘Trust me, it’s better to leave then open.’

I didn’t believe him, so I reached out and closed Dr. S’s eyes with my hand. The yellow glow of her eyes shone through the eyelids like lit bulbs behind lampshades.”

“Creepy,” I acknowledged. “But about the green skin…did Herbert have any idea about what caused it?”

Matt shook his head. “The EMTs who found Dr. S and the coroner were baffled. They were hoping that Herbert could come up with an answer. The family was hoping that we could cover up the green skin before the funeral. It was going to be a long day.

Herbert started the embalming process. His plan was to test the fluids collected in the process. But there were no fluids. It didn’t make any sense. Looking at the corpse anyone would expect fluids to be present.”

Ew, I thought. I drank some more coffee and listened.

“The makeup problem was every bit as strange. Wherever makeup was applied the skin would shrivel. Within minutes of applying makeup to the face the skin was dry and taut like a mummy’s. Nothing was making sense.

I left the funeral home to pick up lunch. Not seeing Herbert in the office, I assumed that he had lost track of time and I went looking for him.

I walked into the embalming room. The place was a mess – tables and machines overturned, instruments scattered across the floor. ‘Mr. Shanks?' I called out.

Silence, followed by a distant thud. ‘Mr. Shanks? Where are you?’ I asked. I went back into the hall and looked around. There was a second thud and a heavy grinding sound from the dark corridor to the left.” Matt paused for a moment. “Do you know anything about the layout of Cherry Hill Funeral Home?” he asked me.

“I’m familiar with the parking lot and the front door,” I replied.

“Right,” Matt said. “I’ll have to describe the basement to you, or the rest of this won’t make much sense.

The cemetery next to Cherry Hill has been around for over a century. When the railroad was built across the plains some local merchants saw an opportunity to promote the city as a major trading center, and encourage more people to settle here. One of the businessmen contacted the Catholic bishop for the region and suggested that the archdiocese should be moved to the city. The bishop said the offer would be considered if the community would build a cathedral that would include a sepulchre to house the remains of deceased bishops. So this business man, Patrick Salt, started to raise money to build a church adjoining the cemetery. To say that the Baptists weren’t pleased would be a huge understatement. They did everything they could to stop Salt’s fundraising, and they nearly succeeded.

Salt collected enough money for a small chapel, most of it his own. He went ahead with the building, even including the sepulchre. But when the bishop saw the size of the chapel he refused to relocate, and left the city in a huff.

The chapel fell into disrepair, and over time the stone walls were torn down and the building materials reused in other structures. Cherry Hill Funeral Home was built next to the old church foundation. I don’t know if the builders first discovered the old sepulchre or if Herbert found it. By the time I started working there a hallway existed between the basement of the funeral home and the old sepulchre.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Are you telling me that the funeral home is corrected to some creepy old underground tomb?” I asked.

“Not a tomb, a sepulchre. And its just dark, not creepy. No one’s ever been buried there,” Matt said.

“Then what the heck does it have to do with this story?”

“I’m getting to that,” Matt said. “Be patient. Where was I?”

“Creepy noises from a dark hallway.”

“Right. I walked down the hallway to the old sepulchre, where I assumed the noises were coming from. There’s a heavy metal door between the ruins of the chapel and the funeral home, like the door on a safe in a bank. I had never seen it open before, but it was wide open that day. There was a faint light coming from the other side. I stepped through the entrance and called out for Mr. Shanks.

The light moved towards me, and I could see it was a beam from a flashlight. Soon Herbert stood before me. He was pale and shaking.

‘Hurry,” he said, tugging at my arm. ‘We must leave this place.’ He pulled me back into the funeral home and pushed vainly at the door. ‘I’m too weak. Help me,’ he pleaded.

We threw our shoulders against the door and forced it shut. I watched Herbert twist the wheeled handle, sealing the door shut.

‘What is going on?’ I asked.

‘Tell no one,’ Herbert ordered me, ‘And don’t let her out.’

‘Are you saying that…she’s…alive?’

Herbert nodded, too exhausted to say another word.

The next day Herbert went crazy…his mind snapped. He was dragged away to the mental hospital, screaming.

I went into the sepulchre to check on Dr. S. Herbert had forced her into a low tunnel in a wall and put a grate across the opening. I walked over to the grate and shined the flashlight into the tunnel. She was so still that I started to think Herbert had made a mistake. Then she lunged at me, her green arm thrusting between the metal bars as she tried to grab me. Her eyes glowed piercing yellow. Long after I had left the sepulchre I could feel those eyes burning my brain.

I don’t know what Dr. S has become or how it happened. I’ve read every book and article I could find. Nothing makes sense.

After everything that happened at the restaurant I decided to check on Dr. S again. The metal door between the funeral home and the sepulchre was lying on the ground, torn off the hinges. Bindweed vine trailed out into the passage and grew over the broken door. I followed the vine into the sepulchre…it was growing out of Dr. S’s tiny prison. She’s completely disappeared,” Matt finished.

Okay. After hearing all that I’ve got nothing.

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
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