It had rained earlier, just before the sun went down and now a light wind was gusting. It was a cool, crisp New England autumn with winter just around the bend. Soon it will be piles of snow, inaccessible streets and fighting over cleared parking spaces. But that’s not now.
Liam drove in silence. Even when he was a teen, a decade earlier, he never got into music. Was he envious of those who get lost in it, forgetting their problems in the soundscape? Of course he was, nothing seemed to settle his anxiety except for one place.
Yesterday he was a young man with a job, a steady flow of income and although it wasn’t the best, he could survive on it. That was yesterday, today he got the can. Six years working for a company and all he got was a phone call one hour before his shift to alert him of his termination. The reason? He took too many extended breaks.
Well, what the fuck? He spent most days in total anxiety, ripping at him and causing him to feel like at any second a heart attack would strike. Of course, it never did, but those extended breaks were used for emotional breakdowns. Crying is what got him through the day, that and the place Liam just pulled into.
There was a modest church, white with chipped paint. The large doorways seemed both intimidating as well as welcoming. Outside was a lighted up sign which had the hours of worship posted. There were no services at two in the morning, but the church wasn’t why he came here.
All his endless torment and mental exhaustion seemed to dissipate the moment that he pulled into the parking lot. Putting the car in park, off in the shadows as not to be seen by people driving by, he looked at the only source of light. The street style light post was old and cast a soothing yellow glow. Liam stepped out of his car and made his way toward the grass.
Before him was the one place that would cleanse him of all his worries. Here he could calm his gut, reduce his heart back to a normal rhythm and bask in the beauty of letting go.
These visits to the St. Stephen Cemetery were weekly, at least. There was a time where he’d go twice a month, but as the month went on, he found himself drawn time and again back to that small graveyard.
He held his hand out, brushing headstones gently as he walked slowly down the row, breathing in that peaceful air. When he was younger, he tried smoking pot, drinking of course, but none of that helped. But this, that crisp air brushing past his cold cheeks, channeled a soothing vibe throughout his tired body.
Something was off.
Although calming initially he felt his anxiety returning.
Close your eyes
Slowly walking through the rows, breathing calmly with his eyes closed tight, he tried to release but instead he felt a rush of panic.
You fucking loser!
He felt his right arm tingle, his chest tightened and suddenly his breathing became labored.
Not a panic attack, not here please!
It felt like a hand, not like a human, more ethereal, clasped around his throat, straining his airways. He wanted to scream but it was stuck in his chest. His gut swayed like it does on a ship in choppy water. Then suddenly it was all gone.
The anxiety, the strangling sensation, everything was gone, and he felt that calm and tranquility returning.
What the fuck was that
Liam opened his eyes. To his left was a glow, on the far end of the cemetery. Without lights it was hard to make out much else, but he felt a draw to it. The closer he got the calmer he felt. Halfway there he had reached a level of contentment he had never experienced before. All his worries were gone. The job, his shitty apartment with his shitty roommate, even his ex-boyfriend, whom he still loved, it all disappeared.
Just feet away he could make out a large mausoleum, covered in candles. Its gothic architecture appeared sinister among all these peaceful graves.
This wasn’t here before. I have come here a thousand times, seen every inch of this small cemetery and I have never seen this.
There was a voice, a woman’s voice, humming a soft, comforting tune from within the building. As if under a spell, driven by curiosity as well, Liam approached the building, slowly climbing its steps and into the open door.
Everywhere were candles but just as equally scattered around the tomb were human remains. Heads, torsos, hands, feet; all in various stages of decomposition and torn apart as if a wild animal had gotten to them. In the far back of the stone building was a chair, throne like in appearance, and on it was a naked woman.
She was covered, from head to toe with fresh slice marks. Her entire body bled. Her hair was tattered with leaves and twigs, and she was in the middle of…was she slicing off her own finger?
“Hey!” Liam yelled.
The woman stopped humming and turned toward him. She was a mutant of some sort, a living corpse. Her face was partially rotten and her eyes, peering deep into his own, were lifeless and cold. She opened her jagged tooth mouth and let out a scream which ripped through him, tearing out his tranquility and replacing it with fear.
Liam turned and bolted out the door. Everywhere were voices.
“You’re going to die Liam” a woman’s voice said.
“You can’t get away” it was the voice of a child.
“You better start running.”
The voices came from the ground. They were the dead speaking to him, warning him of something.
From the woods that lined the cemetery came a loud, demonic shriek. There was a rustling in the leaves.
“Oh, he’s fucked.” A man said.
From the woods emerged a monster. It stood about eight feet tall; its flesh rotting with the stench of putrefaction. It had a large head with long twisting horns. It had large black eyes and a large mouth full of enormous sharp teeth, they barely fit in its head. It was tall and gaunt. It shrieked and Liam ran.
Behind him he could hear the beast stampeding toward him, knocking over gravestones in the process. All the while the voices continued.
“It ends here Liam”
“You will join us soon.”
“You will make a fine addition to the mausoleum.”
Liam saw his car and like a runner at the finish line he gave it everything he got, that beast just behind him. Once at the car he quickly pulled the door open and dove inside. Keys in the ignition he turned but the car just sputtered.
“Come on you piece of shit!”
The car continued to rev. Liam began punching the steering wheel, unleashing every swear he could think of. The panic, the fear, the anxiety, it was all back and worse than ever. His heart pounded in his chest; his breathing was rapid. Then he saw it, through his windshield.
The beast stood there, watching Liam. It didn’t move except for deep breaths. The monster was once human, it was obvious, but something turned it and now it was staring Liam down.
It rushed forward, onto the hood of the car and then up onto the roof. Liam screamed as the beast shrieked and pounded the roof of his car, leaving massive dents. The beast moved back to the hood and peered into the windshield. Liam quickly pulled himself up into the back seat just as the creature was pounding the windshield. It took two hits, and the beast was inside, eyes locked on its prey and making its way toward the terrified man.
When morning came a passerby called the police to report a badly damaged car. When they arrived, they found the car was registered to a Liam Sullivan. Upon further inspection officers found blood all over the car, but no sign of Liam.
An officer walked over to the edge of St. Stephen’s Cemetery and looked out at the small lot of stones. Nothing was disturbed and there was no sign of the tomb. The officer shook his head.
“Who wants to take a bet? I say the fucker’s dead.”