In lieu of anything else to say, here’s a short short I wrote in February. It’s not the greatest, but hey. It keeps the blog going.
He had driven past the cemetery for almost twenty years and hardly thought of it in all that time, much less look at it. When he did, all he saw was row and row of gray stone and the occasional statue worn smooth by the passing of time. He would think, “What a waste of good property.” And then he wouldn’t think of it again until the next time, long after.
This night should have been the same. Maybe a little different; his mistress had come back to town after a long absence taking care of an ailing mother. Through it all he had to bear up under the ministrations of his wife, which had never been much in earlier times and even worse now. Now that the mother had cacked it, he intended to make up for lost time.
So he was doing a little speeding, okay a lot of speeding, say sixty in a forty. He had a nice, fast car, sporting colors, and it felt good to trot it out once in a while. Had he his druthers he’d be doing more. In fact, with the thrill of the ride and the promise of the mistress, perhaps he would do a little more.
His foot pressed down against the gas, and now he was at the cemetery, almost to his work during the day, almost to the mistress now, and his head turned its direction. Not that he expected to see anything, not in this dark. The city had cut back on lit street lights to save money and the moon refused to move from behind the clouds. Still, what was there to see but a waste of good property?
Except there was something there. Something more. A bright pale shape beside the cemetery fence. Almost as soon as he realized he was seeing something, the apparition moved, tearing through the air at an incredible speed, straight for him. As it neared he saw in its pale glow blackness instead of eyes, blackness instead of a gaping mouth. The blackness was so malign that without thought he twisted the steering wheel of his fine car, twisted it hard without even the thought of slowing down.
The car flipped over.
How many times it rolled, he could not say.
Oblivion claimed him a moment.
When he returned, he was in the ruins of a car. Parts of him hurt; what didn’t felt horribly, horribly numb. He thought he was dying.
Perhaps it would have been better if he was.
He turned his head and saw the apparition looking in on him. It stood upright, yet bent at an impossible angle to leer in upon him.
To stare at him with that malign black eyes.
To grin at him with that malign black mouth.
A thousand thoughts assailed him at once. To pray not to die, to survive, to be forgiven for his infidelity and for the thousand of sins both little and small that he committed in his life.
But instead of giving voice to these pleas he asked the apparition one of the world’s oldest question: “Why?”
The answer came as a single amused word. “Lonely.”
In time the paramedics and police came. As they worked, none of them noticed the two pale shapes standing nearby on the other side of the cemetery fence.