Can a dead man reach out from the grave to exact revenge against those responsible for his death? Welcome to the twentieth installment of a story that explores that possibility. If you've not done so, read the story from the beginning HERE.
Dobbs was wearing a mask of guilt. No matter how hard he tried to convince himself that he was in no way responsible for the deaths of those young men and women, he felt he was not altogether blameless. How could he have known that the story he'd fabricated about a floating blue light would have manifested itself in such a way that nearly everyone in Soddy-Daisy were claiming to have seen it?
It was maddening. Both Agnes and Mildred had been claiming they'd even been in contact with Eddie. It must have been too much for poor Mildred Nolan, for she had grown ill before finally lapsing into a coma.
According to Agnes she had on more than one occasion spoken to Eddie's spirit. She claimed that "Eddie" was upset and had complained because he had not been buried in his favorite suit. He had told her that he hated the black suit they had put on his body. To Dobbs he'd found her most recent claims to be perplexing. She'd told him how Steven had found Eddie's glasses near the bridge, but then they had disappeared. They were missing from Eddie's desk where she'd put them.
It was becoming more and more apparent to him that the sins of the past had come back to haunt the Cooper and Nolan families. Then there was he. Smack in the middle of all those sins was he, Samuel Nolan.
He looked into the lot and stared for a moment at the car he had just towed there. He shook his head in silent remorse. He could see the blood on the windshield and he could not shake the image of the car's blood-soaked interior. He pulled the gate doors together and inserted the padlock into the links of the heavy chain.
A sense of urgency came over him once he was in his car speeding toward the site of the old quarry ... and the cemetery. Hopefully, he thought, the rocky ground was making Hunter Jameson's chore difficult. He pressed his foot heavier onto the accelerator. He could not allow that grave to be opened.
Steve lifted his head from the silent prayer he'd been saying for his mother. He looked upon her peaceful form. With a finger he wiped away a tear from the corner of his eye. He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead.
"I love you, Mom," he whispered.
Catherine stood up from the hallway seat when Steve emerged from their mother's hospital room. She had stepped outside to allow her brother a private visit with her. They hugged briefly.
Steve had offered to give her a lift home, but she had turned down him down stating that she was going to stay with their mother a while longer. It was a white lie, but she didn't want him know that she was going to be picked up by Marjorie and her date. Also, she couldn't risk Steve knowing who would be with Marjorie. More importantly, Steve couldn't know that they too were going to be at the quarry at six o'clock.
She waited until he had boarded the elevator before she put on her coat. She looked into the room and whispered to her unresponsive mother, "Love you, Mom. See you later."
Hunter slammed the spade onto the ground in disgust. For the last hour, with every thrust of the shovel into the grave he had struck nothing but large stones. He was perspiring profusely and every muscle in his body was aching. Not accustomed to physical labor, large blisters had formed on his callous-free hands. He had, however, managed to excavate to the point that he was shoulder deep into the grave.
He glanced at his watch to see that it was 5:15. Their meeting had been set for six. He took a deep breath and reached for the pick axe. He figured he had forty-five minutes to finish the task at hand before the gang ... what was left of them ... would show up over at the quarry.
He was about to swing the heavy tool over his head when he thought heard something above him. He paused and held his breath, listening. He shrugged his shoulders and readied the pick ax again. There was another sound somewhere beyond the rim of the grave. "Hello? Who's there?" he shouted.
There was a shuffling of heavy feet upon the ground beyond his line of sight. He froze when a voice spoke out, "Hey buddy. Need some help?"
The time was growing short she thought. Soon all of the principals would be together in one place for the first time in ten years. There were ten of them who had gathered at the quarry the night her brother had fallen to his death. There were ten of them who had made their unholy pact that night. They had all pledged a vow of silence about what had really happened. Even Steve, as much a victim as Eddie had been, had agreed to go along. So it was that they'd all established alibis that had placed themselves somewhere else.
Unknown to them, those ten weren't the only ones to witness what had happened that night. She had been there, as had Catherine. She had learned later that two others had also been present from another vantage point.
She and Catherine had once sat and talked with one another. They had both lamented over the deaths of their respective brothers. Then one day, from the sad tales they'd exchanged about their shared losses, they'd each learned that they had far more in common. They were related. They were sisters!
"Are you all right, Marjorie?" he said from behind the wheel. "You're awfully quiet."
Her thoughts broken she looked over at him and smiled, "Yes, I'm fine. I was just wondering what's going to happen tonight."
He nodded and said, "Well, it's all going to depend on how everyone concerned can handle the truth. It won't be easy for those who are going to learn that their whole lives have been lies."
She shifted in the seat feeling uncomfortable being confined by the restraints of the seat and shoulder belts. "I'm glad I know the truth," she said, "I don't think I can deal with anymore new truths about my own life."
His demeanor was stoic as he saw the turnoff just ahead. In a way he felt sorry for her. It was regrettable, but necessary that he had been leading her on and withholding certain facts. She was in love with him and lately she'd been pressing him for their relationship to move on to one more physical and intimate. There was yet one more truth for her to learn, a truth that would hurt her. He could not sleep with her - not with his sister.
She sighed and took hold of his hand, "I'm so glad we found each other, David."
"Who in the hell are you?" Hunter shouted again to whomever was up there. It was past dusk and in the near darkness he could only barely make out a human shape standing above him. The formed appeared almost gossamer, blue tinged.
"Let me help, won't you?" the voice said.
He didn't see the large stone falling toward him. He fell backward from the impact of it against his forehead. The back of his head then struck another large stone partially buried within the depths of the grave. He tried to speak, to cry out but could not. To his silent horror cascading sheets of earth began to fall onto him.
(to be continued... Echoes of Eddie -21.