Tuesday, October 11, 2011
A Burial at Maple Hill by Brandon Hooks - A spooky story for your Halloween reading pleasure!
The glare of an early summer full moon bore down on Mitt Croonquist, thirty-eight, as he prepared himself for the final stages of the despicable act. A sliver of a brown-red cloud split the moon’s face in half, but still permitted enough light to peel away some of the darkness that was Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama. Stars were absent for the night, leaving in its wake a slight, red firmament. A sulfur-like odor mated with the moisture-laden air to birth problems for Mitt. However chastised he was by the atmosphere wasn’t good enough to force him to steal away from the scene and call it quits. He would see his plan through come hell or high water.
Leaves scrambled over and around his feet as a lone breeze passed through. Sickly trees that were normally vivacious hung their branches down against a backdrop of hundreds of black headstones, while the peek of a hill in the distance rose to kiss the breastplate of a Christ statue. The hill cut sharply to the right, and descended about a fourth of a mile into an additional part of the cemetery. The yard appeared as though it were burdened with a conference of thousands of demons in rituals due to how the moon’s light failed to reach this part, and how the darkness masked each headstone.
“That’ll show em,” Mitt mumbled as he hammered the remaining nail into the doomed, nameless guy’s coffin. His thoughts of how the idiot cut him off in traffic just yesterday drowned out the unearthly screams that shook the exposed coffin. His heart was exempt from sympathy. He didn’t care about the kid. And he sure as hell didn’t care about the fact that God above was trying to poison him with sulfur, and trying to suffocate him with humidity. Nobody cuts me off in traffic, and lives to see another day, he thought.
He stared into the hole that housed his victim’s deathbed. “So… what’s it like down there? How’s the weather?” He thrust his head skyward and laughed.
“LET ME OUT! PLEASE! GET ME OUTTA HERE!” In an insane fit the victim drove his arms into all corners of the coffin until bones protruded through his skin. His eyes widened and quivered, tearing the eyelid muscles.
“Nobody can hear you, guy. Everything in town’s closed, and people have turned in for the night. Can’t help you there, bud.” Tim proceeded with throwing the dirt on the hole. As each bit of dirt hit the coffin the screams curdled more of his blood, but he shrugged off the nightmare and steadily buried his victim within the earth.
Two things excited him as he went to work on the burial. He couldn’t believe how isolated he was from the other gravesites. He could not have picked a better place for the murder. No chance of disrupting the resting places of Ford Gilmore, and Terry Madding, he thought. What thrilled him the most was how after the road rage incident his father responded abruptly by racing to the scene once he’d knocked the driver unconscious with his iron right hook. He just hated that his father had to rid his wife of the coffin he put her in so that his son could have a spot for his victim. They transported the thing by way of his father’s big rig while the victim lie soundly in the back of his 2008 Chevy Silverado. So they’d made a night of it. Father and son heading out for a manly night on the cemetery. He was told to give him a call once the job was done and he was leaving. How did he actually agree with what I was doing? Tim thought. Murder… of someone simply cutting me off in traffic? What the hell!
As he finished the final touches in the burial the screams began to dwindle into muffled sobs and prayer. Like that would do any good. He directed his thoughts to the incident again. A little over twenty-four hours had passed so the details were still remarkably vivid. It was amazing how he and his dad were able to transfer the body to the truck without being noticed. No sign of evidence he knew of that would put them away for good. When the driver got out of his car and walked over to him in confrontation, he just calmed him down enough to walk with him and talk with him away from the traffic, and away from public view. Then he belted him in the face, and that was that. So here he was, now down to the closing act of his performance. The curtains were about to close. When he’d shoveled the last patch of dirt into the hole the screams were gone. He stood over the site while leaning on his shovel like an old man supporting himself with his cane. It was done. That ghost face, Marilyn Manson looking punk would be dead within thirty minutes… maybe an hour.
The moisture in the air and the rotten eggs smell began to feel insufferable. He wasn’t sure where this stench was coming from. He took a whiff of his arm pits. Nothing but the Burberry Touch Cologne caught his senses. Man, I feel as though I could one night stand someone and get’em pregnant. What woman could resist this fine, fine fragrance. He took a seat on the headstone of Terry Madding and sat staring at his achievement. He looked down and said, “So, can you not resist this cologne? Hmm? If only you were up here with me then maybe I could show you a good time out on the town.” Oh well, he thought.
He reached in his pocket, pulled out the cell phone and dialed the number. “It’s done dad.” “Really? So the job is done. He’s really dead?” the voice on the other end asked. “Yep. He’s gone. I can no longer hear his screams. I’m sure he’s done torn so hard at the walls of the coffin that his painted nails have worn away.” “You’ve made me proud, boy!” His father shouted in triumph and praise. He ended the call and shoved the phone back into his pocket. Man I need a nap. Just thirty minutes should suffice, he thought. As he shut his eyes he could hear a bit of a punch to the wind. The sulfur was all around now and increasing by the second. A burn to the air weakened the vessels in his nose creating a trickle of blood. He wiped away at it and sniffed the clot all the way back up to the roof of his nose. He would nap nevertheless.
He dreamt of the victim of his crime. The object of murder was grungy, huge in height, and he let his black hair extend down to his back as if he were a Metallica punk gifted with a supermodel’s head. He was quite certain he could pass for a twin of Marilyn Manson, and almost betted that people wrongly desired his autograph. What made him stand out from other gothic looking guys was his build. He packed a punch in his physique. Most of these types of guys were scrawny, but not this particular individual. He himself was not as built as this guy was, and it was only a sheer miracle that he was able to lay him out and bury him without interruptions.
He wiped his nose again, and squirmed at the discomfort of the egg-rotting stench that led to a succession of coughs and gags. The humidity succumbed to blazing heat. He tried to wake up but something felt as though it were pressing hard against him. He imagined himself paralyzed. I can’t move! He awoke to faint breathing. Who’s watching me? He wondered. He did a scan of everything in the area; nothing out of the ordinary. All was silent. His victim was probably dead for good now. With that knowledge and assurance he closed his eyes, readjusted himself on Terry Madding’s headstone, and indulged himself in another nap. Before images of his victim could flash across the screen of his mind again, footsteps approached him. The heat amplified as if it were a black summer day. He jolted up from his nap to see nothing but the shadows that were the gravestones, and the hill rising to meet the breastplate of the Christ statue. All in my head.
Instead of taking to Madding’s gravestone again for a nap, he fell to the ground, and shut his eyes. Mother Nature blew a fresh breath of sulfur on him, and the heat was reaching high magnitude. He thought he’d heard stifled laughter. “WHO’S THERE?” He shouted. The wispy cloud that had teased the full moon was gone. It shone down in all its glory on the scene of his atrocity. His heart began to beat faster. He feared he had been watched the whole time. If so his life was over. The sulfur was so extreme now that he bent over and vomited. The heat made him sweat, and the fatigue was still potent.
Once more he collapsed to the ground and fell asleep. For thirty minutes he’d gone without dream or thoughts on his successful act. Sleep consisted of nothing but the blackness that were his eyelids. When thirty minutes had ended he watched as his mind ran scenes of him once again being transported by his victim as if he were unconscious and being rescued from a blazing house. He squirmed in his sleep-this time he couldn’t wake up. Something felt hard against his body-paralyzing him all over. He tried to waken but couldn’t. He was bathing in sulfur now, and the heat was beginning to scorch him. He slapped at his face in hopes he could end the stings of heat.
He dug his fingernails into his eyes and pulled them open to find his victim staring into his eyes. This time his eyes were a deep penetrable, almost seductive purple. They widened then decreased as he looked his killer all over, staring down into the very fiber of his black soul.
Mitt drove his arms into all sides of the coffin breaking his bones, and hammered the right side with his head.
“HELP ME! GET ME OUTTA HERE! HELP!!!”
“Nobody can help you now. You’re mine forever, Mitt. I’ve been watching you since you were conceived. When you arrived I helped fashion your mind to what it is now. I molded it and shaped it. God the Father couldn’t have it. Jesus Christ couldn’t claim your soul. You had no desire for the good things of the soul. With that I took your heart from you. I robbed the Father of the very essence of who you are; your immortal soul. So I set up the traffic incident for your final downfall. I even took your father too. I molded his mind and convinced him he didn’t need to tolerate his wife’s naggings any longer. So I took control of him, Mitt. I forced him to take the life of his own wife.”
“So now I say it’s time to come with me. I have LOTS of friends and family awaiting your arrival. They’ve been waiting thirty-eight years. Come with me so I can show you your new home. The thing withdrew his face as Mitt lay lifeless from a stopped heart. His eyes were replaced with milky white films, and his face was locked in an expression suggesting a screaming fury up to the time of his death.