Sixteen by The Heavy
Tellesco cast the beam from the flashlight about, and it flashed across rows of mounds and markers. He whispered, “Holy fuck.”
The little girl without her eyes walked over and set the wilted flowers down on a grave. She looked back at him and said something that he couldn’t hear. She began to cry, and dust fell from her hollow eyes. Then she did something odd. She went and sat on a mound nearby, and she lied down. Then she melted into the ground and disappeared from view. That mound was much smaller than the one next to it, which had those wilted flowers across it.
Tellesco felt his skin crawl. He knew that it was a grave of the little girl, and it was next to the grave of her mother. He hollered in his state of shock, and the response, overhead, was from those who entered the huge mansion. Tellesco covered his mouth with his hand clenched up into a ball. He looked around the dirt cellar, and he saw glints of reflections here and there, just beyond the reach of the glow from the flashlight. Eyes were opening, and faces began to appear in the far off reaches of the basement beneath the long mansion.
How many graves were there? Twenty? Forty? A hundred? Two hundred? A thou---
He heard someone scream from way up above, and it was me.
+ + + + + +
I backed away from the glowing woman before me. Lorelei had crashed and sunk to the bottom of the sea off the coast of
with her tray table locked and her seat in the upright position. This thing
before me was not her. This was a
figment of my imagination.
She smiled. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. She whispered, “I chust don’t vant you to be so sad.”
I screamed. I was fucking scared. I hate ghosts. This one wanted me to be happy, don’t worry. Be happy.
Then all hell broke loose.
There were shouts and hollers from the ground floor, and then the thumps of footfalls running down the corridors below. Them newcomers were heading for the stairs. There were several staircases that led up, but only two that led down. One was for the wine cellar on the other end, and the other was towards the hidden cemetery beneath the mansion.
Now I don’t know about you, but I was ready for an escape.
Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. There is no escape. There is only the entrance. You see, (and this is key), you can not go back in time. There is only forward motion. Every stairway door and every plywood window is a portal, and you can not “un-enter” them. Exit does not exist.
I looked into her green eyes, and I felt a connection to a lost memory. It seemed like a thousand years ago, a million light years away. It was the taste of orange sherbet over vanilla ice cream on a stick from a hot summer’s day back when I was eight years old.
It was the smell of my dad’s apple pipe tobacco in the cool evening breeze while I played in the dirt with my Matchbox cars and he sat in a lawn chair and sipped iced tea with his wife, my mom, within reach.
It was a stuffed down memory, repressed and locked away, but now the edges were sharp.
I did not have the strength to run away.
I was numb.
Lorelei said, “Veeee-ill. You have to fight zees people.”
Yeah, about that…
I faltered. I wilted. I did not faint, but I waned.
It wasn’t her.
I said, in my head, “It’s not her. She’s dead. It’s a trick. Time to bail.”
Lorelei stood right in front of me and she put her hand on my shoulder. She said, “It vill be okay, Veeee-ill. It vill be okay.”
+ + + + + +
Tellesco watched as faces rose from the dirt beneath the huge mansion, and they numbered in the hundreds. Some looked like they were waking up from a long dirt nap for the first time, and they wanted to have a fresh cup of campfire coffee to start the day.
Others looked like they had been disturbed from a nice summertime nap and they just wanted to go back to sleep.
Then there were others who looked like they had been tossed from their bed onto the hard pavement of reality, and they wanted answers.
They wanted them now.
It was a bit much for Tellesco, and so he fell to his knees, alone in the cellar, and he put his dusty hands up to his face and he began to cry. It made mud. His face was covered with grave dirt and tears, and all about him there were some angry folks.
He felt a tug on his kilt and he pushed it away. He wasn’t scared like I was. It was something else. He didn’t want to see the forgotten graves anymore. He didn’t know how there could be a mass burial like this one, and why it had lain hidden and forgotten as it was, for what must have been a hundred years or so.
A little hand tugged on his stolen leather jacket.
He wiped his eyes and looked up.
The little ghost girl had blue eyes. She said, “You came for us. Thank you.”
He said, “You can talk now?”
She said, “It ain’t that, mister. You can hear now.”
+ + + + + +
Lorelei’s hand froze my leather jacket on the shoulder. I didn’t run. I didn’t bail. I was too weak to do that.
She said, “Veeeee-ill. You must have zees people mit you now.”
I said, “Mitt me? Is that some kind of sex thing?” I know, it was a weak attempt at a joke, but she nodded.
She said, “I know zat Joey vas good to Nolei.”
My test worked.
It was her.
It was Lorelei.
+ + + + + +
Tellesco grabbed the little girl up and looked around. He saw faces that commanded decades of a hard life, and others that were fresh, if you can call withered and dusty “fresh” at all. Those were the faces of those who had perished at a young age.
What had happened to them?
Tellesco stopped and looked into the face of a young lady who reached for the girl on his back. He said, “Are you this little girl’s momma?”
He looked over her at the sea of faces beyond and he shouted to them, “If you want to follow me outta here, then tell me!”
From overhead, the rapid sound of boots stomping into rooms halted.
Now all ears were upon him, from up above.
But down in the basement, there came a thunderous response to him.
Their cheers echoed throughout the whole mansion.
Tellesco had an army of angry ghosts now.
+ + + + + +
I stepped close to her and smelled her perfume. It had been all over me in the stairway leading up to the fall of the water tower.
She was the one who had been protecting me all along.
Why did she do this?
I didn’t have the gumption to ask. I just put my arms around her and I squeezed her. I felt her against me. It was something I didn’t know would ever happen again.
God Help You.
God Help Us All.