Looked like John and the ghosts of my parents disappeared
There was nothing left to live for
even as a zombie
I was desperately trying to die
I could feel the electricity leaving my veins
as so much blood
the electrical sparks previously fluttering around me
crashed and burned out
my mind on the edges of Golden Gate Bridge
and ledges of all the cliffs in the world
telling me to Jump!
But no, turns out I could not rest in peace
and I could not die in peace
as I was staring into nothing
a loud almost grumpy voice pounded my ears
“The nothing you are staring into
the great void
is the ocean of possibilities
only imagination can fill”
My body was thrown with great force across the room
I screamed in pain
I could see a purple visage of bones and peeling skin
echoes of centuries etched on his face
Trembling I sputtered the words
“Who are you?”
“I’m Harry, your guardian angel”
“What the hell do you want?”
“I’m here to keep you from dying”
“No, no, please let me go back to nothingness. I can’t stand the loneliness!”
“When you’re dead, you’re alone. Trust me, no parties and happy gatherings after you’re gone. Go ahead, put her hands in the electric socket, juice yourself up. You have a busy undeath ahead of you.”
And with that, Harry vanished.
Why would I listen to a grumpy guardian angel?
Some otherworldly sense of hope flooded my chest
I slowly reconnected the broken wires in my wrists then dragged myself for what seemed like
an excruciating eternity to the electrical socket and stuck my fingers in, jolting me to my feet
Suddenly hungry, I found a box of Poisonberry Crunch Cereal and poured it into the bowl
In the bottom, another wrapped surprise! My childhood excitement for these tiny treasures returned as I fumbled with the wrapping, revealing –
a bloody skeleton
It scared me, honestly, it was different from the other surprises
It started moving!
Within a few minutes, it started multiplying popping up out of itself like a graveyard Russian nesting doll popping like popcorn all over the table
There were at least a hundred, maybe more
Suddenly the television turned on and there was the face of my mother, her face a skeleton with red beaming eyes
“Lucy, this is your mother”
“What are you doing in my television!” I yelled
“Ssshh – before your father gets back, you need to get out of this house. There’s danger in the walls. You have to leave – Now!”
The walls and floor began to shake stronger than any earthquake I had ever experienced
My chair rocked and tossed me onto the ground
A green gas appeared from the walls, a laughing ghastly ghost of my father
“No rest for the wicked, my damned daughter! You became nothing while alive and now suddenly you have something to be undead for?”
My mother started crying
“Run, Lucy, run! They’re waking up!”
I looked around
“Who is waking up?!”
From a darkened corner, John lifted his head
“All the dead bodies…”
My father yelled
“Shut up! You demented derelict.”
He picked up the sofa and flung it at John crushing him, his screams piercing my ears.
My mother was in a panic
“Lucy, after the car accident that killed your father and I–”
John managed to push the sofa off of his mouth just enough to speak-
“That was no accident”
My father bellowed
“That was no accident. I cut the wires and greased the brakes. I knew you were going to visit Uncle Tuccie up Breakneck Hill so I made sure you would crash to your death, you son-of-a-bitch!”
Lucy looked at the remnants of her brother then her mother who was crying, her head in her hands.
My mother shrieked – “How could you do that to us?”
I chimed in now, furious.
“How could he do it to you? Dad did nothing but beat the crap out of us in a drunken rage day after night. I lived in terror afraid to sleep from age three when he threw me down the stairs and I had to go to the emergency room! Did you think I didn’t remember that? And what did you do, Mom?
Nothing. You scolded me for nearly giving him a heart attack from the force he threw my little body, telling me it was my fault. All of you go back to the hell you belong in and leave me here.”
My mother was sobbing, as she was being swallowed into the screen of static, but sputtered
The walls shook again then started crumbling from the weight of the evil force hidden behind them.
The walls crumbled inward
bricks, wood and debris avalanching down on me
I couldn’t see for a long time
I wiped my eyes of a hundred years
an inferno of dust
torrential downpour of crimson
dried blood and bones
a lavish display of the lurid lies
hiding behind the walls
I cleared the tears
and coughed nearly choking
when my vision finally cleared
I saw before me
a hundred ghosts yet with skeletons attached
screaming at me in high pitched that broke my eardrums
now my ears were a rainfall of blood
their voices telepathically spoke
as I asked
“Who are you? What do you want?”
The tallest creature changing colors as he spoke
“We are Skeltergeists. Second cousins to zombies.
We have some of our former bodies
We are undead in an eternal purgatory
in search of justice
in search of peace
sinking deeper into the earth
then unburied in an anguished agonizing nightmare
“How did this happen?”
“This house was a funeral home before you were born. Run by your Uncle Tuccie.
A criminal in the land of the undead
instead of burying us in the cemeteries
as were the wishes of our families
that he was paid a fair or handsome sum to do
He packed us in these walls like Satan’s sardines
to be tortured for a century in an inferno of suffering
This entire house is an open grave!!”
My jaw dropped
I gasped at the gruesome truth standing before me
overwhelmed by the evil of my own family
of course I was raised to be a zombie
but not the kind that seeks revenge for crimes against me
but justice for those who cannot cross the realm of the undead
I realized – this is my purpose, my mission against the true monsters of this world
Only one sentence could be uttered
“How can I help you find peace as I am forever at unrest too…”
“We must all be buried according to the original requirements of our loved ones
but first you must bring your uncle to us for a trial by supreme court of the Skeltergeists!”
Surrounded by a hundred skeltergeists
with rusted rotting translucent bones
crumbling in front of me
I fixed the wires in my wrists
and jammed my fingers into the electrical socket
a sizzling sound like burning meat and a smoke joined
the sparks flying around my body
stinging me with bites into my skin as they collided
I stood up and looked at the skeltergeists
they were taking notes
I felt empowered beyond the electricity
I left fear behind a lifetime ago
Now I needed to fulfill my destiny
I sat at the table and opened the box of Poisonberry Crunch Cereal
I poured all of it into a bowl
in the bottom of the box – another wrapped surprise!
This time I tore the wrapping like a bandage off a fresh wound
inside a tiny pristine gavel
Judgement Day – but for whom
I ate my cereal and put the gavel in my pocket
I put on my good coat and hat
“I have to go to the garage and see if the car will start.
I’ll take you to Uncle Tuccie.”
The eldest skeltergeist stepped forward
“No, you need to bring him here. We can’t leave this house.”
“Aren’t you worried I just run away?”
“No, the truth is transparent in death. That’s why we chose you.”
I nodded, respectfully. I walked slowly up the creaking stairs of basement.
I had agoraphobia when I was alive. That’s why I never left.
Now I was free of fear
I just had to die, I guess
In the garage, I grabbed the car keys from the tin cup on the shelf
with random power tools
I got into the car and turned the key in the ignition
Battery dead like everything else
I started laughing to myself
Lifted the hood and dusted off the car battery
I hadn’t driven in years
I did what any electric zombie would do in this situation
I hooked up my wires to the battery and
the battery started charging
I rushed back to the front seat and put the key in the ignition
It started right up, humming with power
I backed out of the driveway and stared at the house for a moment
it looked like a haunted house now
because it was
I was always haunted day and night
now I finally had a chance to end the nightmare
once and for all
I drove up Breakneck Hill to my uncles’ house
a new Cadillac in the driveway
I parked behind it
and walked into the house
Inside I walked up the stairwell and found Uncle Tuccie snoring
next to Aunt Cora
they were both about ninety years old now
I stood there a moment then nudged my uncle waking him
He screamed – of course I looked like a ghost and a zombie
“Uncle Tuccie, you have to come with me. It’s Judgement Day.”
“No, no, I’m just dreaming, what is this?”
“You left a hundred people unburied in my house. You’re going to pay for your crimes
and I’m going to help make sure you pay. Shame on you!”
Uncle Tuccie grabbed a bat from under the bed and started hitting me with it.
I zapped him with my wrist which seemed to subdue him and I grabbed him by
his arms and dragged him out while Aunt Cora sat up, sobbing. I glared at her.
“You knew and you did nothing?! For sixty years?!”
“I didn’t know — Where are you taking him?”
“Shut up. I don’t want to hear one more excuse from another human being I used to call family. You disgust me.”
I somehow felt stronger than before as I dragged my uncle into the car and drove back to my haunted house.
As I drove, I stared up at the sky and wondered at the cosmic connection of all of us – dead and alive.
The clouds seemed full of ghosts looking down on me holding their collective breath of their former lives and I thought-
We all deserved a respectful burial. We all deserved to rest in peace – eventually.
I wondered if someday peace would find me.
I hauled my Uncle Tuccie down the stairs of the basement
He was weeping and wailing then horrified
as he saw the hundred ghost faces of the people he cemented into the walls
instead of burying
They all held their funeral contracts red with fire and blood
The eldest Skeltergeist – Oah – stepped forward
his breath was acid burning holes into Uncle Tuccie as he spoke
“You are convicted of the crimes of the unburial of a hundred bodies
and the unrest of a hundred souls”
Tuccie trembled losing his balance
“Don’t I even get a trial?” he screamed
“Death has no trial. It is absolute truth. As your punishment, I sentence you to
electrocution in a pool of the undrained blood of your victims.”
“No, no, please —” Tuccie pleaded for mercy but it was too late to make amends with the Grim Reaper.
Oah snapped his fingers and twenty skeltergeists grabbed him and chained his arms and legs and placed him on the wall, locking him into a revolving circle.
Oah continued in a prayer, a language I did not know or ever heard before as each skeltergeist stepped forward and poured a container of their blood into a pool at Tuccie’s feet.
One after another poured the blood of their life into this pool that rose and crashed against Tuccie’s face.
Tuccie screamed and begged to be forgiven as the blood rose up to his waist then his shoulders, then covering his mouth.
He was now drowning in the blood of his crimes.
Oah went to the electrical circuit and pulled a lever that wasn’t there before.
Tuccie was electrocuted – his eyes popped and skin burned and smoked and then caught fire to screams only hell knows how to translate into feeling.
I stood overwhelmed – I watched my uncle drown and burn simultaneously – his body convulsing
his natural impulse to reach for breath met with the mouth of death’s eternal kiss
Suddenly the electricity overloaded and the walls caught fire – burning the walls
I finally had to speak “What do we do now?”
“We are immune to the flames – You can go outside but I’m afraid this house will be swallowed into the abyss.”
I nodded. “Let it burn.”
I turned to Oah.
“What else do you need?”
“We need to be properly buried. We must feel the earth above us and below us before we can rise again.”
My heart jumped into my throat. I thought I might faint.
“What do you mean – rise again?”
“You will help us transition from skeltergeist to zombie. You have that ability.”
I was too terrified to respond and walked up the stairs and went outside.
From the backyard I watched the house I grew up in go up in flames and burn to embers and ash.
I spent the next months having funerals for the skeltergeists using my insurance money to pay for proper services and burials according to their original requests. Then I fell asleep in the back shed with the two laptop computers I was able to take with me and a few boxes of Poisonberry Crunch Cereal.
I felt I died again, now another kind of phoenix rising from the ashes of my ancestors with wings of electric steel. I’m a new creature – part monster – part savior – part unknown.
I looked up at a blood-soaked sky about to break into stars
a spectacular prism of opened prisons and howling clouds in the shape of a gasp
What cosmic wonder of life and death and afterlife were about to collide?
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
Buried family secrets are unearthed and Lucy must avenge the evil of her family as a new hybrid of skeletons and poltergeists called “skeltergeists” seek justice and peace from their eternal unrest.