Aug. 24, 2012

DEAD FLESH

Zombies freak me out. And for a girl who likes everything supernatural, that’s a very odd statement to make. So, how is it that I found myself face to face with the “walking dead,” so to speak?

 

Well, it all started on a scorching summer’s day. My best friend had just come back from a trip to the haunted fields of Gettysburg, and he was telling a group of us about how he took a tour of the haunted graveyards, and even went on a haunted train ride.

 

“It was totally awesome, Claire,” Jack (my best friend) said, as we walked to my house. The rest of our friends had gone home, and – since Jack, and I lived next to each other – we walked together.

 

“It sounds like it,” I said, excited that he was excited.

 

Jack turned around to face me, walking backwards for a bit. “It’s got me wanting to go and find out what’s haunted here.”

 

I rolled my eyes. “Jack, you don’t want to go ghost hunting. Trust me.”

 

“You scared, Simon?” he asked, using my last name.

 

“No,” I scoffed, “I’m not.”

 

He shrugged. “Then come with me.”

 

I shook my head. “I don’t know…”

 

“Please, Claire,” he begged, giving me the big hazel eye’s treatment.

 

“Fine,” I huffed. “But just you and me, okay? I don’t want anyone else’s blood being spilled because we were being stupid.”

 

Jack laughed, loud and musical. “Miss Claire Simon, ever the optimist.”

 

I rolled my eye, and he kissed my cheek. I felt the heat rush up into my face as I blushed. “What was that for?”

 

“For being a good sport about this,” he said, giving me his million-watt smile.

 

I never knew if he was flirting with me or not, but I always suspected he smiled like that with all the girls he knew. In fact, I was the only one of my girlfriends who didn’t have a crush on him. But when your moms used to wash you in the same tub together (like ours did), you kind of lose “romantic” feelings for one another. Don’t get me wrong, he’s handsome with his short cut raven colored hair, his beautiful hazel eyes, and his very symmetrical face, but most of his charm was lost on me. I mean, after seeing it for so long, I’d gotten used to it.

 

“When do you want to do this craziness?” I asked, as we stood on my porch.

 

He shrugged. “Tomorrow night? That okay?”

 

I thought about it for a minute. My mom would be totally cool with it. She knows how much I loved this sort of stuff, so she’d say yes in a heartbeat. “Sounds good,” I replied. “See you around nine-thirty?”

 

He nodded. “Awesome. And thanks, Claire. You rock!” He gave me a quick hug, and walked backwards to his house. “Tomorrow at nine-thirty,” he repeated, pointing at me. “Don’t forget to tell your mom.”

 

“Like I would ever forget,” I yelled after him. “See ya later, Jack Attack.”

 

“Bye, Claire Bear,” he said my nickname with a smile, while I stayed on my porch, watching him go inside.

 

We’d given each other those nicknames when we were about four years old, and they just stuck throughout our lives. This fall we’d be in different colleges at different ends of the state. Just the thought of that made me sad. Well, at least we’d have the rest of the summer together. Shows how much I know…

 

Jack came over around eight-thirty the next night. My mom offered him some cookies, while my dad just sat on his chair watching football.

 

Jack smiled at her, and said, “No thanks, Aunt Jenny. I’m good.” “Aunt Jenny” was the name he always called her. We weren’t related, but our moms and dads had always been “aunt” or “uncle.” In fact, my mom and dad were even Jack’s Godparents, and his parents were mine.

 

Anyway, my mom smiled at me, giving me a wink. She always wanted Jack and me to end up together. Yeah, right. I just shook my head, frowning at her.

 

“You guys need a ride somewhere?” my dad asked. That’s my daddy, always looking out for someone, especially if that someone is his little girl.

 

“Thanks, but I have my car,” Jack said. “We should be good.”

 

“All right. Well,” I said, clapping my hands together, “we should be going.”

 

“Okay, you two,” my mom sing-songed. “Have fun.”

 

As soon as she said it, I started to push Jack out the door. He waved over his shoulder at them, and I said my good-byes, all the while shoving him outside.

 

When we were out on the porch, I took a deep breath. It was getting dark out, and I looked at my phone to see that it was nine o’clock. “Okay,” I said, placing my cell back in my pocket. “Let’s do this craziness.”

 

I was walking down the porch steps when Jack took hold of my hand. I stared up at him. He’s almost a foot taller than I am (I’m about five four), so I have to crane my neck in order to look at him properly. I silently prayed that he was done growing for my poor necks sake.

 

“What’s the matter?” I asked, feeling uncomfortable with his hand in mine.

 

He shook his head. “Nothin’. I just… you know… think you’re really pretty.”

 

He was blushing, so I knew he meant it, but I cocked an eyebrow at him anyway. “You’re full of shit,” I said, playfully. “Since when do you think I’m pretty?”

 

“Since… well… forever.” He was stumbling over his words, and he never did that.

 

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” I asked, and he nodded. “Why tell me now?”

 

He shrugged. “Because we only have two weeks until we leave for college, and I wanted this night to be special. You know, it being our first date, and all.”

 

“First date?” I laughed, but when I looked into his eyes, I could tell he was a serious as the grave. “Oh,” I said, taking my hand from his. “Um… wow. So you asked me to go ghost hunting with you for our first date?”

 

He grimaced. “Yeah, not one of my best ideas.”

 

I shook my head. “No… I mean, it’s kind of… romantic. You know, in a weird and creepy sort of way.”

 

“So, you don’t mind?” he asked with that smile on his face. “This being a date, I mean?”

 

“No,” I said with a smile, and I could feel myself blushing. “I don’t mind.”

 

He nodded. “Awesome.”

 

There was a moment of awkward silence between us, and then I said, “Let’s do this.” I walked up to his car, which was parked in his driveway, and he followed. Then he opened the passenger door for me, and I smiled up at him as I got in.

 

His car wasn’t that old. In fact, it was brand new when his mother bought it for his birthday last year. It was a green Mustang GT with black racing strips on the sides and on the hood. The only reason I know what to call them is Jack had told me at least a hundred times, and was adamant about me calling the black lines what they were.

 

Anyhow, Jack opened the driver’s side door, and got in. Then once we were all settled and buckled in, he backed out of the driveway slowly, and we were on our way to the nearest cemetery.

 

We live in Southern New Jersey, so all we had to do was go a little ways, and we would find ourselves in a graveyard. So we headed to the nearest one, which just happened to be Manahath Cemetery in Glassboro. It took us about twenty minutes to get there, and once we passed the wooden sign, we stayed on the main paved road.

 

Jack had his high beams on because it was so dark that we couldn’t see a foot in front of our faces. “All right,” he said, parking the car. He turned off the engine, and we were plunged into darkness. Then he clicked on the overhead light, reaching into the back seat for something. “I got this online.” He pulled out a ghost hunting kit, and I realized that he’d been planning this for a while.

 

“How long have you had this sort of thing in mind?” I asked, as he handed me some funky looking equipment.

 

He shrugged. “Oh, about two months… you know… not too long.” I could see that he was embarrassed again, so I dropped the subject.

 

I was about to open my door when he leaned over, and kissed me on the cheek. I don’t think that’s what he was aiming for, but I’d turned my head, and that was all he could get to. “What was that for?” I asked through the curtain of my auburn hair. I didn’t want him to see that I was blushing again. He didn’t answer me. He just got out of the car, and I followed his lead. Once the doors were shut and locked, he walked over to me, handing me a flashlight.

 

“Come on,” he said, turning on his light. “Let’s go this way.” He pointed to his left, and we crossed the paved drive into the darkened cemetery.

 

“God, it’s dark,” I whispered, and Jack turned, shinning the flashlight in my eyes. “Gee, Jack, kill my night vision, why don’t you?”

 

“Sorry,” he said, moving the beam of light down to the ground quickly.

 

My vision spotted for a minute, and I had to blink a couple of times in order to clear it. Then I turned on my flashlight, walking in front of him. Jack seemed too nervous for words, and I knew it had nothing to do with looking for ghosts.

 

We walked in silence for a while then found ourselves a tree and stopped. “Now what?” I asked, and even though I couldn’t see his face, I had a feeling that he was staring at me.

 

He sat under the tree, and I looked down into his shadowy face. “First,” he said, “we turn on the equipment, and then we walk around the graves seeing if there’s activity, and if there isn’t any, we move on.”

 

I shrugged, sitting next to him. “Okay.” I got out the EMF reader from the ghost hunting kit and turned it out. “This looks like something from Ghostbusters,” I laughed, and Jack joined me.

 

“Yeah,” he said, “it kinda does.” He was quiet for a moment, and then, “Claire?”

 

“Yeah,” I answered almost automatically. I could feel that there was something heavy weighing on his mind, so I was just going to sit there and have him talk to me.

 

“Would you be angry with me if I…?” his voice trailed away, and when I looked at him, I saw that he was staring at me.

 

“If you, what?” I asked with a gulp.

 

He shrugged. “Kiss you?”

 

I blinked at him. “Kiss me?” I repeated, shocked.

 

“Forget I ever said anything.” He stared to get up, but I held onto his arm.

 

I looked into his face, finally seeing it clear enough to know that he was serious about this. Then I leaned into him, kissing his lips gently. He let out a breath, pulling me to closer to him. Finally, he kissed me, and I wrapped my arms around his neck, while he held my face in his hands gently.

 

My heart felt like it was going to explode by the time he pulled away from me. Then he leaned his forehead against mine, and I could feel him smiling. “I’ve wanted to do that since we were ten,” he said, and I laughed. “I know that it’s not very good timing, but Claire, I love you, and I have for a while now.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” I asked, trying to keep the tears from spilling over my eyelids.

 

“I don’t know,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “I don’t wanna lose you, Claire.” I saw a tear escape his eye, and I wiped it away with my thumb. Jack hadn’t cried since he was eight years old, and that was because he broke his arm jumping off the jungle gym at the park. “I don’t think I could handle not seeing your smile or your cat green eyes,” he paused, laughing. “And I definitely don’t think I can handle not hearing your voice every day.”

 

I hugged him closer to me, not wanting to let go of him, and I sighed against his cheek. “Oh, Jack. What are we going to do?”

 

I felt him shrug. “I don’t know.”

 

“Well,” I said, pulling away from him, “we’re gonna ghost hunt tonight, and then tomorrow we’ll figure something out. I promise.”

 

He smiled a quick flash in the darkness. “Practical Claire Bear, as always.”

 

“Well,” I huffed, getting up, “someone has to be.” I held my hand down to him, and he took it without a seconds thought. Once he was standing, he leaned down, kissing me again, but this time, I was the one to pull away first.

 

I let out a shaky breath. “You need to stop doing that. I can’t think straight when you kiss me.”

 

He laughed, loud and hard at that, and I smiled up at him. We had to figure something out. We just had to.

 

We swept the graveyard for activity slowly, but found nothing. And after about ten minutes, Jack decided that we should a call them to us. “I mean, it’s not like it’s a big deal or anything. It’s just a couple of words.”

 

I nodded. “Yeah, I know the words. It’s just… it can be a crap shoot.” I’m a practicing Wiccan, so I know all the spells and rituals that go with summoning the dead. But once you summon something it’s a bitch trying to put it back.

 

“I know that, Claire,” he said softly. “But can’t you try anyway?” He gave me that smile of his, and I was a dead duck.

 

I sighed. “Fine. I’ll try.” He clapped his hands like a little kid, and I laughed. Only Jack.

 

I took a deep breath. Then I faced north as the moon shone above us, and a hot summer’s night breeze blew around me. “Hear these words; hear my cry, spirit from the other side. Come to me; I summon thee, cross now the great divide.” It was quiet all around, a little too quiet. “Unknown spirit,” I began again, closing my eyes, “we call to thee. Those who wish to set you free. Cross on over, so that we may help. Come to us. Reveal yourself.”

 

Suddenly, the ground started to shake under my feet, and the head stone that I was standing next to started to sway. Then the ground underneath me started to crack and crumble.

 

“Claire,” Jack’s voice was panicked. “What’s happening?”

 

“I don’t know,” I yelled. “But we should run now!”

 

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Jack said, and we started to run, as the whole cemetery seemed to be opening up.

 

I knew then that this was not my magic. This was something worse, something dark. I was just the one to open the seal. “Shit,” I yelled when we finally reached the car. “Open the door!”

 

I heard the click of the lock, and we both got in the car as quick as we could. The ground trembled beneath it, and the car began to tilt. Jack turned it on, but it was too late. The car began to lean to its left, and we both screamed as loud as we could as the car sank into a huge hole.

 

“What the hell is going on?” Jack asked when the car settled.

 

“Something bad,” I breathed. “Something really bad.”

 

He looked at me, and I could see the fear in his eyes. “What do you mean bad? Your spell didn’t do this.”

 

I shook my head. “No, but my spell sealed some sort of black magic.”

 

“Black magic,” he almost screamed. “How the hell is there black magic in a cem…” his voice trailed away, as he stared out of the windshield, eyes wide. “What is that?” he asked, pointing to something in front of us.

 

I didn’t want to look, but something made me. Morbid curiosity, I guess. I turned my head to see a figure moving slowly towards us. Then another appeared behind it, and another behind that. My eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing, and my brain froze for a minute. It couldn’t be…

 

“Get out of the car, Jack,” I said calmly. “And start walking slowly away from them.”

 

“What are they, Claire?” he asked, voice high and panicking.

 

“Just get out of the car, Jack, and move slowly,” I repeated, and he nodded.

 

He tried to open his door, but it was stuck, so I motioned for him to follow me out of mine. He turned off the car, and once we were out in the darkness; we backed away from the car as slowly as we could, while the things, in the distance, slowly moved towards us.

 

I knew what they were the minute I saw them, but I still couldn’t understand how this could’ve happened. How could a little white magic spell raise a whole cemetery of dead?

 

I knew the answer to that. We were not alone in this bone-yard. Someone else was here doing some sort of ritual, and the spell I used just helped them finish it.

 

“Claire?” Jack said, as we backed away from the creatures. “What are they?”

 

“Promise you won’t freak out on me?” I asked when we were by the trunk of the car. I stopped, motioning for him to unlock it. He did, and I took out the two aluminum bats he always kept in there for baseball practice.

 

His eyes widened as I handed him one. “I promise,” he replied, taking the bat from me.

 

I shut the trunk quietly, bat tucked under my arm. “Zombies,” I said softly, “and by the looks of it, a whole cemetery full.”

 

“Zombies?” He gulped, and I turned looking behind us. Before I even looked, I knew, so the glance just confirmed that we were surrounded. “How do we kill them?”

 

I almost laughed at that. “We don’t kill them, Jack. They’re already dead. We just try to get out of here in one piece.”

 

“Claire,” he said, grabbing my arm. “Kiss me.” It wasn’t a question, so I did as I was told, kissing him hard and fast.

 

“It’ll be all right,” I said, trying to comfort him and myself at the same time.

 

“I love you, Claire,” he said with a smile.

 

I smiled back at him. “I love you too,” I replied, and then went back to look for a way out.

 

There was a small opening in the line of them to the left of us, and I touched Jack’s elbow. He looked down at me, and I pointed to the gap between two dark figures. I saw him nod out of the corner of my eye. He knew that was the only way out.

 

“When I say, run,” I whispered as the dead moved towards us, bringing the smell of decaying flesh with them. “Run.”

 

“Okay,” he whispered back, and I waited another second before I yelled, “Run!”

 

We ran as fast as we could, and almost like clockwork, the zombies reacted. They started to move swiftly, trying to cover the hole that we were going through, but we were too fast for them. Although, not fast enough because one of them grabbed my shirt. I swung the bat, hitting it in the head, but not before, I got a good look at it. Its face was half formed, half with flesh and half without. One eye was missing from its socket, while its teeth showed through a no lipped mouth and the smell… it was sickly sweet, and stuck to the back of my throat. Finally, when I had hit in the head, its neck snapped back, and it let go of my t-shirt.

 

“Are you okay?” Jack yelled. He had stopped running, and one of them started to grab for him. I hit the thing in the chest and heard the crack of the ribs before I grabbed Jack’s arm, pulling him into a run beside me.

 

A tree loomed only a few feet away from us, and I had an idea. “When we get to the tree,” I said in a breath, “climb it as fast as you can.”

 

“Okay,” he breathed back, and sprinted as fast as he could towards our only relief. Jack, even though he played baseball, wasn’t a runner. I, however, was on the track team, and could run faster than anyone in the city. In fact, I could out run anyone in the state, so I got to the tree first, climbing as fast as I could, while Jack climbed up behind me. Once we were a good distance off the ground, we stopped, sitting only a branch away from each other.

 

I sat there, trying to catch my breath, while the dead pooled around the tree. “Shit,” I hissed, and Jack looked at me. “We have to find whoever’s doing this. Look around to see if you can find anything suspicious.”

 

“Like that?” Jack pointed to his right, and I looked in order to see someone standing around a large altar. It was too dark to see it properly, but I had a feeling – actually; it was more than a feeling. I knew – that it was black magic.

 

“How in the world are we going to get over there?” I asked myself, but Jack answered, “I don’t know.”

 

I realized then that one of us was going to have to stay here and distract them, and I wanted it to be me. “Jack, I’m going to stay here and fight them off. You go over there and stop whatever’s going on.”

 

“Nuh-uh,” he said, shaking his head. “No way am I leaving you here to fight these… things off by yourself. Besides, if anyone should go, it should be you.”

 

“But--”

 

“No,” he interrupted me, “no buts. You’re faster than I am, Claire, and I’m stronger than you are, so no buts. Besides, you know all about this magic crap, I don’t. You have to do this, Claire Bear. You’re the only one that can.”

 

I knew it wouldn’t do to cry, but I felt the tears sting the corners of my eyes. “You have to promise me something before I leave you here.”

 

“What?” he asked, looking down at the zombies below us.

 

“Don’t die on me, okay?” I tried to smile, but it was too much of an effort.

 

Jack looked up at me with that melt your heart smile on his face. “I promise,” he said, crossing his heart like we did when we were kids. Then he leaned up, giving me a soft kiss on the lips. I wanted to pull him into a hug, but it was physically impossible, so I settled for kissing him on the forehead. “Okay,” he whispered, taking a breath. “I’ll drop down first, and move them away from you. Then you come down, and run as fast as you can.”

 

I nodded, and then realized he couldn’t see it. “Sounds like a plan.”

 

“Claire,” his voice sounded very serious, so I knew his face was too. “Be careful.”

 

“You too,” I told him, and with that he dropped down out of the tree, wadding into the zombies like they weren’t rotting corpses. He moved them away from the tree slowly, swinging the bat any time they got too close, and once he was far enough away from me; he screamed, “Go, Claire! Go!”

 

I wiggled down the tree with one more glance at Jack. The rotting corpses were surrounding him, and I had an urge to fight them off. But I knew that wouldn’t stop them. I had to find the person responsible, and shut them down. No matter what.

 

With that thought, I turned, and I ran as fast as I could in the direction of the altar. I weaved in and out of the tombstones and open graves, until I was only a few feet away from the chanting cloaked figure. That’s when I crouched down, making sure the person didn’t see me.

 

He was chanting in a different language. I knew it was a man by the deepness of his voice, and the fact that he was… well… shirtless under the cloak. I watched him for a minute, as he circled a large altar, chanting and throwing up his hands at certain points of the spell. This was a devil worshiper if I’d ever seen one.

 

Slowly, I stood walking into the circle of power that he created. “Hey, asshole,” I screamed at him, and he stopped his chanting, his hood moving towards me. “What’s with the army of the undead? Are you trying to kill somebody?”

 

“Go away, little girl,” he hissed. “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”

 

I shook my head. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell your zombies to stop hunting me and my boyfriend.” Calling Jack my boyfriend sounded weird, but I wanted to get my point across.

 

He flicked his hand towards me, and some invisible force pushed me back. I went flying into the nearest tombstone, hitting my lower back on the cold stone. A shock wave went through me, and I had to sit there for a second to see if I could move my legs. They were fine, but one thing was for sure; I would have a huge bruise tomorrow.

 

I got up slowly, staggering a little. I held onto the tombstone, and felt the anger run through me like a current. “All right, now you’ve pissed me off.” I picked up the fallen bat, swinging it around like I knew what I was doing.

 

He stood very still as I walked towards him, and when I was close enough, I swung the sold piece of aluminum at him. Either he was arrogant or just plain stupid, because he didn’t move out of the way. The bat him full force, and he went sprawling out on to the grass.

 

“You shouldn’t have done that, little girl,” he hissed, and floated up, so that he was standing in front of me again. My mouth dropped open. I was in trouble now.

 

Before he could flick his hand at me, I heard someone scream in pain, and I knew it was Jack. Both of us looked in the direction of the screaming to see him being dragged by one of the newer undead. The grayish looking man had Jack by the shoulder, and when he threw him towards me, I could see that he was bleeding from his mouth, nose and had a deep gash in his arm.

 

I ran towards him, kneeling beside him. “Jack are you okay?”

 

He looked up at me, and grimaced. “Not really,” he breathed. “But I will be.” He tried to sit up, but it was an effort for him, so I helped.

 

The cloaked man started to laugh, and I glared back at him. “You son-of-a--”

 

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” he said, wagging his finger at me. “Now, now, little girl, there’s no need for that kind of language.” He snapped his fingers and the zombies surrounded Jack and me, and when he snapped them again, they stopped and stood around us like we didn’t exist.

 

“Claire,” Jack whispered to me. “What are we gonna do?”

 

I shrugged. “I don’t know.” I tried to look around the mass of rotted flesh and bones blocking my way. Then I had a thought. If I was the one to seal the deal with his devil, then maybe, just maybe, I could control these things too.

 

I stood slowly, and Jack cocked an eyebrow at me. “I got this,” I told him, and he nodded. I looked at the zombie in front of me. Her flesh was sagging from her skin, both eyes didn’t have eyelids, and her hair had thinned to a stringy mess. I took a deep breath, which was a mistake, because she smelled like a sewer system, but I plugged ahead with my idea.

 

“Move,” I said, and she looked at me blankly. “I said, move.” She looked at me again, this time, she was a little more focused. “I command you to get out of my way!” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, she moved aside stiffly. “I command the rest of you to back up! Now!” The dead followed my orders and moved away from Jack and me.

 

“Whoa,” Jack said quietly, and I helped him stand. “How did you do that?”

 

“I’m the one that made his spell work,” I said like it was obvious. “Without me, he would have never called them.”

 

Jack shook his head. “It’s not your fault, Claire. You didn’t know.”

 

“Yes, Claire,” the cloaked figure hissed at me. “It isn’t your fault. After all, little white witch, you didn’t know that you could raise the dead. But you’re not the only one who can command them. Get them,” he yelled. “Now!”

 

The zombies moved towards us again, but I told them to stop, and they did. “This can go on all night, Mister. It’s your choice.”

 

“You’re right,” he said. “It can go on all night, but I don’t think it will. Jack.”

 

As soon as he said his name, Jack’s arms wrapped around me, holding me tightly to his chest. Then he placed his hand over my mouth to silence me. “I’m sorry, Claire Bear,” he whispered in my ear. “But this is the only way we can be together.”

 

I couldn’t understand what was going on, but when I looked at the cloaked man, he was walking towards us. “You see, Claire, Jack and I have an understanding. You help me destroy the world, and he gets to have you for all eternity. What did you think? That him bringing you here was a coincidence?” He laughed, throwing his head back. The cloak came away from his face, and I could see what he looked like. His eyes were black and sparkled in the darkness. His nose was sharp, as was his goateed covered chin. He looked like a picture of the devil, and I shivered as he stared at me again, those eyes looking like they were on fire.

 

“Poor, Claire,” he said condescendingly. “Jack is one of us. He has been for a while now. It’s amazing what you can do on the internet, isn’t it?” He cocked his head at me. “Although, I have to admit, if I’d have known that you were so pretty, I would’ve denied him his request of keeping you. I mean, even the ruler of the world needs a queen, and you would’ve made a good one.”

 

I struggled against Jack, trying to scream, but he gripped me tighter. How could he have done this to me? I was his friend, and I thought something more. “You promised her to me, Demetri,” Jack said, as I struggled against him harder. “She’s mine.”

 

Demetri nodded. “A promise is a promise. Don’t worry,” he said with a sadistic smile on his face, “she is yours. Let go of her mouth for a minute, I want to get a good look at her face.”

 

“Don’t scream,” Jack told me, and I nodded. There was no use anyway. No one could hear me.

 

Demetri walked up to us, watching Jack carefully as he took his hand away from my mouth. Then he stared at me very intensely. It was like he was trying to memorize my face, and when he was only a few inches away from me, he leaned in smelling my face. “Mmm…” he said, as he took a deep breath. “You smell like cotton candy. May I?” he asked Jack, and I felt him stiffen, but he must have nodded, because Demetri touched my face gently. “So soft,” he commented, as his fingers ran down my cheek to my jaw. “So young and so beautiful,” he grabbed my chin, so I had to look at him. “It’s a shame that we didn’t meet under different circumstances. I think I could’ve made you mine.” He smiled at me, and then he leaned forward, kissing me on the lips. Big mistake. I grabbed hold of his bottom lip and bit down as hard as I could. When the blood came to the surface, I stopped, spitting it back in his face. I elbowed Jack in the stomach, getting an “oomph” from him, and he let me go. Then I picked up the bat off the ground where I’d dropped it.

 

Jack started to move towards me, but I swung the bat at him, and he backed off. Demetri tried for me, but I swung at him too. “Now, now, Claire, no one’s going to hurt you,” he said with his hands raised, but I knew better than to trust his ass.

 

I backed away from the two of them, moving towards the altar. I looked at it carefully, seeing that it was in the shape of a pentagram with small white bones, and dead things on it. I had an urge to smash it, but that could cause some major problems, so I settled for putting it between them and me. “You move any closer, and I’ll have them rip you to shreds,” I told Demetri and Jack, my voice very calm. I knew Jack believed me, but Demetri tried to move forward again. “Don’t,” I hissed at him, and he stopped.

 

I looked at Jack, and felt nothing but disappointment. “How could you do something like this to me?” I yelled, and he flinched. Good, I was glad he was hurting. “You’re my best friend, Jack. How could you betray me like this?”

 

He looked down at his shoes, and my eyes flicked to Demetri. He stood his ground, and I realized he was a little taller than Jack was. “I’m sorry, Claire Bear--”

 

“Don’t call me that,” I snapped at him. “Don’t ever call me that again!” Demetri laughed, and I glared at him. “What’s so funny? In case, you didn’t notice, I’m the one with the bat, and the power here, so shut up!”

 

Demetri looked at me for a minute, studying my face, and then nodded. “You’re right, Claire. You do have the power, which proves to be a problem for me. But if you join me, I will make sure that your ex-best friend over here pays for what he has done to you. What do you say, Claire?” He moved closer to me, but I held up my hand, and he stopped, watching me carefully.

 

“What would you do to him?” I asked. I was very curious about the answer.

 

He shrugged. “Whatever you want me to do to him, after all, you will be my queen. That is, if you say yes.”

 

I stared at Jack for a minute, his eyes pleading with mine to think about it before I answered. Slowly, I turned my head towards Demetri, and I smiled. “Your queen, huh?” I thought about that for a minute. “Sure, as long as he suffers.” He smiled wickedly at me, as soon as I said it.

 

Jack started to walk towards me. “Claire, no,” he yelled, and Demetri snapped his fingers. Two very fresh zombies grabbed Jack, holding him in place.

 

“Silence,” Demetri boomed, and Jack shut up. Then he walked over to where I stood, placing his hand on my cheek, his thumb playing with my bottom lip. “What do you want me to do with him, my queen?”

 

I looked at Demetri up and down, and saw a knife sheathed in his belt. “Human sacrifice,” I said, touching the hilt of the blade, and he smiled down at me.

 

“My thoughts exactly,” he whispered against my lips, and then snapped his fingers. “Bring him,” he yelled at the dead, and they walked towards us slowly. They placed Jack on the altar, ripping his shirt open. Then Demetri pulled the knife from his belt, handing it to me. “Do you wish to do the honors?” he asked, and I nodded, taking the knife from him.

 

I leaned up, kissing his now bruised lip, and then walked over to Jack, who was being held down tightly. I climbed up on the altar, dropping the bat and straddling his waist. “Claire, don’t--”

 

“Shut up,” I hissed, leaning over him. I looked at Demetri when I kissed Jack, and as I pulled away, I lifted the blade slowly. I held it two handed, and as I brought it down, I sliced my palm open, placing it on the altar.

 

Demetri’s eyes widened. “No!”

 

“With my blood,” I said to the night sky, “I release all of you back to the earth.” The ground started to shake again, and I placed my body on top of Jack’s to protect him. Did I mention that I went to Theater Camp almost every summer?

 

I watched as the dead obediently walked back to their graves, and saw the ground swallow them up, reverting to the way it once was. Then before they could all go back to sleep (so to speak), I began to chant, “Demetri, I bind you from doing harm to others or yourself.” His eyes widened, and he tried to move towards me, but the ground was shaking too violently. “Demetri, I bind you from doing harm to others or yourself,” I repeated, and he kept trying to get to me. “Demetri, I bind you from doing harm to others or yourself.” At the last chant, he crumpled to his knees, wrapping his arms around himself.

 

The ground settled, and watched the last of the dead go back to their graves. I got up off Jack, sliding down from the altar. I picked up the bat again, and once Jack was off it; I smashed the thing to pieces.

 

My hand was still bleeding, so I balled it up into a fist, placing it over my heart. Then I walked over to Demetri, throwing the knife down in the ground in front of him. I turned my back on him and started walking away. That was a huge mistake, because Demetri grabbed me from behind, holding the knife steadily to my throat.

 

“Just because you bound my powers, little girl, doesn’t mean that I’m not strong enough to overpower you,” he hissed in my ear.

 

I had just about enough of this for one night, so I did the only thing I could think to do. I recited the spell that got us into this mess. “Hear these words; hear my cry, spirit from the other side. Come to me, I summon thee, cross now the great divide.”

 

At first, there was nothing, but then white shapes appeared, swirling around us like beautiful orbs of energy. I closed my eyes focusing on them, and then I said softly, “Kill him.” As if, they knew which one of the boys I was talking about, the orbs became aggressive. They separated Demetri and me, surrounding him.

 

“Claire,” he said panicked, trying to get rid of them by swinging his knife. “You don’t want to do this. You and I, we could--”

 

“Do what?” I interrupted him. “Good-bye, Demetri. See you in hell,” I said with a smile, and then snapped my fingers. The white pieces of energy encircled him faster and faster, until I could see him hold his neck like he was choking. He collapsed to his knees, his eyes going wide, and then he reached out to me, pleading. His cheeks started to sink in, and his flesh turned an ashen color. Then his once dark eyes became milky, while his lips shriveled to nothing. I heard the snap of brittle bone, and the body collapsed in half. The spine broke, and he was dead.

 

I stared blankly at the corpse, watching as the orbs settled above it. “Thank you,” I told them. “Now take him away, please.” The ground opened under the body, and the orbs pushed it down into the open earth. A bright orange and red flame began to rise from the hole, and when the ground swallowed him up, the flame was so bright I had to cover my eyes with my good hand. I heard a loud crash, and the ground rumbled again. Finally, I looked at the earth, and the hole and the corpse were gone.

 

The orbs waited for my instructions, and I bowed to them. “Thank you, beautiful spirits. I release you into the light.” With that, they swirled around me, brushing my face tenderly, and left me smiling.

 

I turned, facing Jack. He was looking down at his feet, and I walked up to him. When I stood in front of him, glaring at his forehead, he lifted his head slowly. I placed the bat into my cut hand, and smacked him across the face. “I deserved that,” he said, holding his cheek with his hand. “I’m so sorry, Cla--”

 

“Shut up,” I interrupted him forcefully. “I’ve never hated anyone in my life, as much as I hate you right now. So you will shut up, and take me home.” He nodded, a tear running down his cheek.

 

He had no right to cry. I was the one that was betrayed. Not him. But I let it go. He took me home without another word, and that was the end of that.

 

Sometimes I lie in bed at night, thinking about what happened to us. To me. But there’s no use dwelling. The rest of the summer, I spent away from Jack, and not only do I now have a scar on my palm, but I have a scar in my heart where my best friend used to be.

 

He’s tried to apologize to me, but I won’t let him. My mom wants to know what happened. I just keep on telling her that we had a fight. I’m afraid that if she knew the truth, she’d send me to a mental hospital.

 

I don’t have any guilt towards Demetri’s death. I know I should, but I can’t seem to shed a tear for him. Maybe that’s a good thing. But I do know one thing for sure… I will never go ghost hunting again.

 

 

THE END

 

 

Short story by: Laura Del (a.k.a. The Fiction Writer)