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The Fallen Chronicles: Episode 9

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009[Mysteriousheartland.com] Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” blared from the speakers of the rickety Toyota Corolla as it transported its five occupants up the gravel road under a giant microwave tower. They climbed Williamsburg Hill toward Ridge Cemetery in rural Christian County, Illinois. The Fallen sat in their usual arrangement―Mike in the driver’s seat, Greg in the passenger seat, and Aurelia, Emmet, and Davin in the back. Davin appeared as though he might pass out, and Emmet repeatedly wiped the sweat from his forehead.

“Hey, it beats being in jail, huh?” Greg asked jocularly. “So, Mike, I guess this means you can’t make fun of Aura’s boyfriend anymore.”

“I think our situation was a little different,” Emmet chimed in while Mike merely grit his teeth angrily. “Police arrested Aurelia’s boyfriend for selling crystal meth to kids at a skating rink. We only trespassed. If that’s the worst crime we ever commit, I’d say we’re alright.”

“You guys are missing the point,” Mike blurted. “If we don’t find this astral portal soon, those white-suited, slick haired zealots will.”

“Oh, here we go again,” Emmet interrupted. “Can’t we ever go anywhere without that coming up?”

It’s important,” Mike insisted.

“It’s a waste of time,” Greg said as their car stopped at the chain link fence in front of the cemetery. “We don’t even know this portal exists. You’re basing this entire quest on a seventeenth century manuscript. A manuscript that has never been authenticated, by the way.”

“The author traveled hundreds of miles to bring the manuscript to his monastery in New England. Why would he go through all that trouble if it wasn’t true?”

Ridge Cemetery at Williamsburg Hill, Illinois. Photo by the author.

Ridge Cemetery at Williamsburg Hill, Illinois. Photo by the author.

“Yeah, and American Indians never lied to European missionaries,” Greg countered.

“Well, those zealots know about it, so it must have some basis in reality,” Aurelia said.

Mike shut off the engine, ending the discussion. Emmet pushed Davin out of the car and headed for the cemetery gate.

“Wait a minute,” Greg said as he took off toward the tree line. “I have to take a leak.” He went no more than a few steps when he stumbled on a gruesome scene. A corpse in an advanced state of decay lay sprawled in the leaves and gravel at the edge of the forest.

Moments later, Mike arrived at his side. “That doesn’t look human,” he said. “It’s too big, and it has hooves. Look at the skull too. It’s obviously a deer.”

“I know it isn’t human,” Greg replied, irritated, “but look at the way it’s arranged. Its limbs form an ‘X.’ It didn’t just die that way.”

Aurelia elbowed her way between the two. She cleared some of the leaves with a stick and revealed several melted nubs of black candles. “Someone tried to perform a ritual,” she theorized. “A sloppy ritual, but interesting anyway. I don’t know of any covens around here.”

“What are you, the pagan directory?” Davin said with a weak laugh that turned into a cough.

“Could have been anyone,” Greg said.

“It could mean we’re on the right track,” Mike replied.

Emmet laughed. “Yeah,” he said. “It could also mean someone around here has been listening to Cradle of Filth and took it a bit too seriously.”

Mike snapped a few pictures of the bizarre scene, then suggested the group move into the cemetery.

After passing through the chain-link gate to Ridge Cemetery, Emmet and Greg stood and talked under a tree while Mike and Aurelia scoured the area. Davin loitered alone near the fence.

“Please tell me you think this portal is not just stupid, but a little crazy,” Emmet said to Greg. He watched Mike, holding a string with a crystal attached to the end of it, pace in the distance.

“You might be right,” Greg replied. “Is it possible an astral portal exists somewhere? Sure. I just don’t think we have enough information to find it.”

“Where the heck did he come up with this so-called manuscript?”

“Back at St. Sebastian’s College,” Greg explained. “Mike found a few loose pages in an old library book. It was in Latin, so we had to take it to a professor to have it translated. The religious order that founded the college believed they had discovered several gates that could transport a person to the astral plane.

“The trouble was that they based their information on Indian legends and stories from French fur traders. Mike decided they were describing a location somewhere in what is now Illinois, but it could have been anywhere in the Midwest, or it could have just been a rumor.”

“So that’s why he insisted on coming out here,” Emmet interjected. He chuckled. “Poor guy. We come all this way, he goes on a wild goose chase, and Aurelia hooks up with a loser who ends up in jail. Now cultists are stalking us.”

“Man,” Greg said, referring to Aurelia. “That girl is frightening.”

At the other end of the cemetery, Mike and Aurelia paced near some of the older headstones. Aurelia, wearing her usual summer outfit of camouflage pants, a black tank top and platform boots, made sure to stay within a few paces of her companion.

“I think Emmet might have a point,” she said as Mike growled in frustration at the quartz crystal pendulum in his hand, which showed no results.

Ridge_Cemetery2“Not you too,” he whined.

“Look, we went to Bachelor’s Grove―”

“And found a couple of foundations,” Mike interrupted.

“Greenwood Cemetery,” Aurelia continued as though Mike had said nothing. “Resurrection Cemetery. Some of the most haunted places in Illinois, plus a bunch of more obscure places. We’ve found nothing. Maybe there’s nothing to find.”

“You need to be patient,” Mike said. “You can’t expect everything to just unfold immediately.”

“Screw that,” Aurelia countered. “I want it now.” She laughed and gave her friend a playful shove, which sent him stumbling.

Suddenly, Greg’s voice rang out across the graveyard. “Mike!” he shouted. “Get over here!”

Mike pocketed the pendulum. “Let’s go see what they want,” he grumbled.

As Mike and Aurelia neared the rest of the group, they found Greg and Emmet laughing and examining Davin superficially.

“What’s wrong with him now?” Aurelia demanded.

“He said he got the chills suddenly, like the temperature dropped below zero,” Greg explained. Davin appeared pasty and pale, but that was not necessarily out of character.

“Maybe this has something to do with that ritual site we found earlier,” Mike wondered aloud.

“Davin gets sick twenty times a week and this time it’s due to supernatural causes?” Emmet snapped. “Do you realize how crazy that sounds?”

“I’m just throwing out possibilities,” Mike said defensively.

Davin’s teeth chattered and he visibly shook. “I think I need to go home, guys,” he stuttered. “Something isn’t right here.”

“Oh, great,” Emmet said. “Now he thinks he’s cursed too.”

“Wait a minute,” Greg interrupted. “Do you hear something?”

The Fallen fell silent. Oddly, the usual background noises―birds, crickets, cicadas, etc.―were absent. The wind blowing through the nearby trees was the only audible sound, until, faintly at first, an electric hum pierced the air. The clamor did not come from any easily discernible direction.

“Okay, now that’s creepy,” Emmet admitted.

“Maybe those zealots are psychically oppressing Davin,” Greg suggested.

Mike shook his head. “No, we haven’t seen anything that would indicate they are capable of  performing a supernatural attack.”

“Clearly we should leave,” Emmet said. “Whatever the explanation. Davin needs to lie down.”

As the words left his lips, the chain link gate, which they had left open, swung shut with a clatter. They jumped and spun to face it.

“I told you!” Mike shouted triumphantly.

“It was just the wind, buddy,” Emmet laughed.

Helping Davin, the Fallen climbed over the fence and headed for their car.

[New episode every Friday…]

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This page is copyright Mysteriousheartland.com, 2016. You do not have permission to copy this for any reason. Please learn how to cite your work.

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