[Mysteriousheartland.com] The moon sat low in the midnight blue sky, while white pines teased its silhouette just beyond the entrance to Cumberland Cemetery outside Wenona, Illinois. A thousand insects buzzed, chirped, and whistled in the nearby woods and fields. Mike, Greg, Aurelia, and Misa stood in the shadows beneath the pine trees. They spoke in low whispers.
“After getting arrested for trespassing, again, do you think it’s prudent to be back in a cemetery at night?” Greg asked.
“We’ll just have to be more careful this time,” Mike replied. “Besides, this is where we agreed to meet our mysterious contact.”
“Why?” Greg asked.
“Because otherwise it wouldn’t be mysterious,” Aurelia said matter-of-factly.
Greg cleared his throat. “Well, I hope that car back there didn’t belong to him,” he said. He pointed to a white Ford Explorer partially hidden in overgrown weeds near the cemetery entrance. It looked like it had sat there for some time.
“It is quiet,” Misa purred in her characteristically breathless voice.
“I sense someone—or at least something,” Aurelia added.
Mike flicked a mosquito off his forearm and then folded his arms across his chest. “Crowley’s ass, that’s all we need. It’s bad enough we’re out here without Emmet and Davin. I don’t like running headlong into something that reeks of a trap without the entire team. I don’t like it one bit.”
“You know, after what happened last month, we can’t afford to be in the same place at the same time,” Greg said. “We can’t afford to let them get all of us at once.”
“I know,” Mike replied with a tinge of annoyance. “That’s why I told Davin and Emmet to stay at home.”
Greg chuckled. “We don’t need them anyway. What have they ever done, really? Davin is great if you need someone to get himself captured or sleep off a hangover on the couch.”
“That’s enough,” Mike said. “I know you don’t like him. This isn’t the time or the place—we have to find this ‘contact’ and get the heck out of here before the cops show up again.” An uneasy feeling developed in the pit of his stomach.
“It sucks when everyone is hunting you, doesn’t it?” Misa asked, recalling her own past.
Without warning, the temperature lowered noticeably. Aurelia shivered, but she did not sense anything threatening. Then, starting with a pair of worn-out, brown shoes and working its way upward, a man slowly appeared a few feet away. He was gaunt, with greasy blonde hair and a wry smile. He wore what looked like a uniform—rough wool pants and a dirty white shirt under a butternut jacket. The apparition flickered and glowed like a projection from an old film reel.
It startled the Fallen. Greg reached for his cane and Mike’s hand fell on the Ka-Bar he kept hidden in his waistband. Misa hardly flinched, used to dealing with both the living and the dead.
“There’s no need for that,” the specter said, eyeing Mike and Greg. “Not that you can hurt me anyway.”
“Who are you?” Mike demanded.
“I’m the one you came here to meet,” the ghost explained. “The name’s Johnny. I’ve been watching you since your trip to Decatur a few years back.”
“Greenwood Cemetery?” Greg interrupted.
“That’s right. I was one of those poor souls who met their end on that hillside. Buried alive, I was. There’s nothing worse, I assure you, but the past hundred years or so has tempered my anger. When you’re dead, you have centuries to think. I appreciated when you left that wreath for me and my brothers. Most people pass by without noticing.”
“So what do you want from us?” Mike asked, but before Johnny’s ethereal remains could respond, Aurelia answered for him.
“He’s the spirit who’s been helping me,” she said, then addressed the ghost. “Haven’t you?”
“Yes,” Johnny replied. “I knew there was something different about you the moment I saw you. I figured you could use my help. I know what it’s like to be hated and vilified for fighting for a lost cause.”
Mike chuckled. “The odds are against us, but we haven’t given up yet. We’ve still got a few cards up our sleeve. Why haven’t you made your presence known before?”
“I didn’t know how you would respond,” Johnny said. “It’s not every day you meet a ghost! But the more I learnt about you, the more I wanted to help. I waited until I thought you’d take me seriously.”
“Now that we’re introduced,” Mike interrupted, clearing his throat, “tell us why you brought us here.”
“Right to business, huh?” the ghost said. “A’ight then. Word is you’re stepping in the middle of something big. You’re angering things you don’t want to anger. Let me tell you—you don’t want to.”
“Tell us something we don’t know,” Mike said, thrusting his thumb toward Misa. “She’s already filled us in.”
“Can’t you be any more specific?” Aurelia asked. Her mind worked overtime, trying to detect anything from the ghost. Ghosts are notoriously fickle. Lacking the filter of a brain, their emotions are pure and sharp—uninterrupted by fleshly impulses. The living see and experience only a small fraction of existence. Aurelia’s brain was more sensitive to energy than most, so she could feel thoughts radiating from the spirit of Johnny. She could not discover whether he was being truthful.
“I watched you open a door into our world, and some mighty big players are angry about it,” Johnny explained. “They’ll be coming for you with everything they got, and from what I hear, you don’t ever want to meet these guys. These spirits you’ve encountered are just a taste.”
“How can we trust you?” Mike asked.
“Don’t have much of a choice, do you?” Johnny replied.
“He’s right,” Misa said with a grin. “We’re your only friends.”
“Great—the dead and the undead!” Greg exclaimed. “If we had any more friends we could reenact the ‘Thriller’ video.”
“Forgive me, but I have to leave you,” Johnny said. “My ectoplasm is drained. I need to return to the astral plane and regenerate.”
“Be careful,” Mike said. “We appreciate your help, and I’m sure we’ll need you again soon.”
“Wait,” Greg said. “What does a ghost do all day?”
Grinning, Johnny replied, “Oh, we just frequent our old haunts.”
With that, the ghost vanished as quickly and as mysteriously as he appeared. Stillness returned to Cumberland Cemetery. Mike looked at the faces of his friends before asking the obvious question. “Should we trust him?”
“I don’t see what choice we have,” Aurelia offered. “We have to trust someone. It might as well be a dead guy. He doesn’t have anything to lose. I never told you this, but when that spirit attacked me at Manteno State Hospital, something intervened to stop it. And remember that mysterious fog that appeared and crashed the van that tried to run us off the road at Blood’s Point? At least we know who’s been helping us.”
Mike deeply inhaled the midnight air and caught a tinge of electric energy, like that preceding a thunderstorm. He knew it must have been an aftereffect of the ghost’s appearance. He folded his arms across his chest. “We need to get back,” he said. “Emmet and Davin will be wondering what happened to us. Emmet won’t believe this, so I don’t see any reason to tell him. He’ll just think we’re even crazier than before.”
“Agreed,” Greg and Aurelia said in unison.
[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.