She shivered as she saw the first flakes of snow falling. Agnes Nolan drew the collar of her sweater tight against her neck. It was much colder than she had anticipated. She should not have ventured out into the night.
It was Sam's telephone call that had prompted her to go to that cursed place. It wasn't that he'd told her that Brad Sampson had become another name on the growing list of tragic deaths that had troubled her. She had felt no sorrow that those kids were dying, because all of them had been there the night her son Eddie had died. Both time and guilt had hardened her heart.
When Sam said that the Jameson man was going up there to open Eddie's grave she was horrified. She could not, would not stand by and let her son's grave be defiled.
She stood unseen in the shadows and watched as her estranged husband stood by the mounds of earth that once filled the grave. He was looking around in all directions. Did he sense that he was being watched?
Catherine had felt compelled to walk in the direction of the cemetery while Marjorie and David headed to the large clearing which abutted the old quarry. She gasped when she saw that the grave had been disturbed. There had been movement within the earthen cavity.
She stared in wonder at the two figures. Dobbs, who she knew was actually Samuel Nolan, was standing over the grave site with the shovel in his hand. About twenty yards away, in the shadows of the trees Agnes Nolan was also watching the man.
That the three of them would be there at the same time at that foreboding place must have been some cruel twist of fate. The three of them, who were were so intrinsically linked by he sins of one past, were seemingly being drawn together again by the sins of another past. Were those sins of the two pasts about to be atoned by sins of the present?
Tiffany's revelation was not what Jack so desperately wanted to hear. He was certain that she was finally going to tell him that he and not Hunter was little Billy's biological father. Although he'd never pressured her about it, he had long suspected it to be so.
The words he'd anticipated however, were not forthcoming. Yet, the words she did utter evoked emotions and memories the two of them would rather have remained suppressed.
"Jack, Hunter is on his way to the cemetery. He's going to dig up Eddie's body!" she'd exclaimed to him. "We have to stop him!"
Jack was dismayed when they pulled onto the unpaved lot situated below the path leading to the crest of the hill. Not only was Hunter's car sitting there, but on either side of it were two others. One belonged to Marjorie Nolan. The other was the one that the tow truck driver Dobbs usually drove.
More disconcerting, however, was the third vehicle, an old unregistered Pontiac. It had been parked next a row of uncleared brush, its driver-side door standing open. The worried looked their faces were sharing expressed the same question, "Why was Agnes Nolan there?"
It was with urgent resolve they found themselves struggling to climb the path. It wasn't lost in their troubled thoughts that others, others who were not supposed to be there were already on the scene. Jack was as equally troubled by the fact that the one car that should have been there, that of his brother Steve, was noticeably missing.
Steve watched Catherine as she left the hospital and climbed into the backseat of the car. As he'd expected Marjorie and David were in the front seat. At that distance he couldn't make out the young man's face. It was troubling to think that he would become a part of whatever might occur up on that hill. They would be on their way to quarry and he would arrive a few minutes behind them. He closed his eyes and rubbed his throbbing temples.
He was standing before an unattended grave. He was alone in a cemetery which sat upon a knoll overlooking the wooden post that marked the city limits of his hometown. He knelt before the grave and gazed upon the lettering etched into the marble headstone: Edward Nolan - Jan.12,1980-Dec.29, 1997.His eyes opened with a start. Momentarily confused he looked about just in time to catch sight of the disappearing tail lights of Marjorie's car. The recurrence of the dream, for the first time had not left him terrified but had given him a sense of inner peace. Soon the major players, with the minor cast having been eliminated, would be united on the stage where it had all begun so many years before.
"Eddie, please forgive me. I'm so sorry I didn't try to help you!" he exclaimed as he fought back the tears welling in the corner of each eye. Above him a howling wind that seemingly had been summoned by unseen forces, tore across the foreboding graveyard. Dead branches in dead trees creaked in a mournful dirge.
He reached out and placed a trembling hand upon the cold marble of Eddie's stone. He tried to speak again, to beg forgiveness again, but the words were caught in his throat. His eyes widened at first in wonder as bits of earth upon the grave seemed to move. The wonder became fear as larger clumps of earth fell to the sides of a rising mound in the center of the grave.
Fear gave way to terror when a skeletal hand, bits of rotting flesh clinging tenuously to it, suddenly burst free from the earth. Bony fingers latched onto his arm and began to pull him. A silent scream froze within his chest.
He realized he had nothing to dread. Some inner voice gave him cause to relax and to do what must be done. It was with frantic purpose he began to claw at the earthen mound.
It had been a near traumatic experience to meet David face to face again. She'd hoped he wouldn't sense the resentment she'd felt for him. She had prayed that the resentment would no longer be present. She had to remind herself that it wasn't his fault. He didn't asked to be born when he was. He hadn't chosen to become the baby of the family. Yet, his arrival had stripped her of that favored standing.
Catherine raised a finger to her cheek to intercept a tear drop that had crept from her eye. She knew in her heart that it wasn't really David she hated. No, her resentment should have been forged into anger and it should have been directed at her father. She shook her head and clinched her fists that fate had intervened and spared the son of a bitch. The coward had taken the easy way out and had hanged himself.
After that night never again did he raise his fists in anger at anyone in the house. Never again did his angry voice shatter the peace of their home. She shuddered trying to hold back the threatening tears. Although the pain and the shame were still pent up within her thirteen years later, she was able to take solace in knowing that he would never sneak into her bedroom again. He would never again touch her.
"Perhaps it was a bad idea," Dobbs whispered to himself. "Maybe I shouldn't have arranged for everyone to be together in one place."
He glanced into the depths of the grave at the unmoving body. It was with a contrived measure of remorse he paid respect to the man. "You've been nothing but an asshole, Hunter, but you weren't supposed to die. None of you were supposed to have died."
The deaths were troubling. He himself had planted the seed of the presence a ghost with his tale of the floating blue object. His story, combined with the ad that had appeared in the paper, had been enough to spook everyone who had been at the quarry that night. That was their intention. Then there were the accidents! They had all occurred in such a relative short period of time ... two days. It didn't seem possible that they could have all been coincidental, and yet, there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.
His partner and fellow mastermind seemed to be dealing with the unexpected deaths with a show of passive indifference. When they had met five years before he had been reluctant to dredge up the memories of that night. Given the chance to get even with them was tempting, but to also let the truth of that night be known was something he couldn't take lightly.
It wasn't only that truth that worried him. There were the other truths ...
( to be continued... Echoes of Eddie -23).