Can a dead man reach out from the grave to exact revenge against those responsible for his death? Welcome to installment number 34 of a story that explores that possibility. If you've not done so, read the story from the beginning HERE.
David looked down at his abdomen and laughed. There was no gaping hole or flowing blood. Where the muzzle of the gun had touched him when George pulled the trigger was but the blackened residue of gun powder. He advanced toward the man in defiance.
"You cannot kill a ghost, George," he beamed taunting the man.
"No! No! It can't be!" George murmured. He pulled the trigger again at point blank range. The young man was still coming, unaffected.
There was a sudden chilled gust of wind that swept across the crest of the hill. Everyone shivered at the sudden onslaught of the December winds. Above them tree limbs were creaking, as if crying out in fear. Even the clouds above seemed to be in alliance with the moving air, slipping aside to allow the full moon to appear.
George was trying to back away, to reassess what was happening. He looked around and saw that the shadows were taking on a purplish hue. He froze when his eyes fell upon the tree where he had deposited Jack. He was gone! He turned to where Sam had fallen. He too was gone!
Steve had been watching the drama unfold with mixed emotions. Their plan to draw his father out into the open had worked. Sam had assured him that George's ego would take control. Sure enough, not only had he admitted to being responsible for the deadly accidents, he had proudly boasted about his deeds.
When Sam had contacted him five years before, he'd told Steven the truth about his and George's affairs with their respective wives. If Steve had been in stunned shock when Sam unraveled the tangled tree that was the Cooper and the Nolan lineage, he was speechless to learn that his baby brother David was still alive.
There was sadness in Sam's voice as he described the night that George and David had "died." He explained how years before that he had left his wife and family because of the burden of shame due to his affair with Mildred Cooper, and George's dalliances with his own wife Agnes.
Sam had told him how he'd learned of George's uncontrolled anger from a frantic phone call from Agnes; how'd he'd been beating both her and Mildred, and most alarming of all, that he'd been molesting both Catherine and Marjorie. Steve had listened to Sam's account in subdued silence. His story was so unbelievable that it could only be the truth, Steve had thought.
When Sam returned to Soddy-Daisy Agnes had already confronted George in front of Mildred about their affairs, the abuse and the molestations. George had by then stormed out of the house and had begun what would turn into a week-long binge of drinking.
In tears Mildred had agreed to their plan to take little David away so that at least he would be safe. Catherine, at that point terrified of her father, had helped them. Sam was remorseful when he recanted the scene at the quarry. He thought Agnes had killed him when she'd hit him on the head with the stone. It was then he'd used the rope to hoist George's body onto the tree limb in attempt to make it look like he'd committed suicide. Hanging above David's shoe and cap floating in the water, no one questioned why a distraught father might have hung himself.
Then Sam had learned that George had not died after all, that he'd come back with a vengeance. It hadn't taken much effort to learn of George's plans to avenge his own "death," however his plans were far more sinister. In George's tortured mind, he had for some reason decided to wipe out everyone in any way connected to his life. In order to get them all together he'd concocted the ghost stories. He'd then started picking off one by one those connected with Eddie's death. He'd known that even Steven would be drawn back home.
After he'd heard Sam's incredible story, they had spent several weeks working out the details of their ambiguous plan. First and foremost Steve had only wanted the truth about the night Eddie had died to be revealed once and for all. Once that was accomplished, he was hoping that his nightmares would come to an end. He had to agree with Sam that the all of the skeletons, all of the demons had to be exorcised from their respective closets.
When Steve's mother had taken sick it had moved their plans ahead by a couple of months. The irony of the dates had not been lost on him, and it had necessitated that they should be ready to go with their emergency backup plan. Steve had dreaded that possibility, doubting that he would be able to convince his father that he wanted to team up with him. To his surprise, he had swallowed the bait and had accepted Steve as a partner.
Carried by the wind, there was a low moaning sound drifting from behind the stand of trees. George thought he heard what sounded like a disembodied voice and trained his eyes upon the shadows before the trees. A blue shimmering form of no discernible shape emerged into the area lit by pale moonlight. It was undulating in rhythm to the mournful sounds emanating from it.
At first George sneered. They weren't going to scare him. It was a trick. Sam must be still alive and he was wearing the jacket he had discarded earlier in attempt to turn the tables. Keeping his eye on it, he was still backing away from David. His foot was suddenly tangled in something on the ground. He stumbled and fell. He sat up and looked at his feet to see what had tripped him. His face became ashen and his body began to tremble. His jacket was still on the ground where he'd dropped it!
George shrieked. He was hearing his name being called by the wraith-like thing as it continued drifting closer. He turned to the others for help, but they were standing still. He looked up imploringly at Steven but he had averted his eyes from where he lie. Why were they ignoring that light thing, watching instead him? They were reveling at his plight? Why weren't they afraid?
The thing was hovering over him, its tendrils of light brushing against his chest. He was struggling to breathe. He could feel his blood pressure rising. His heart was beating faster and faster. It felt as if his chest was about to burst open. Then the thing begin to drop lower and lower. The damned thing was disappearing into his chest. It was stealing his soul! He opened his mouth to scream.
Steve looked upon George's contorted face, a frozen death mask. The shapeless thing rose from the still body and drifted in his direction. He should have been trembling in fear, but somehow he felt relaxed. He welcomed its embrace.
(...to be continued ... the conclusion... Echoes of Eddie-35)