Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
The chill of the night air was bitingly cold against the exposed skin of my face. A graveyard is never really a pleasant place to be, but it’s an especially uncomfortable location on a cold, dark night. I had dressed warmly, but the ominous feeling of the graveyard that night seemed to seep through my clothes and freeze my whole body. It was as if the decaying inhabitants of the grounds were warning me away before I could complete my task. The bag I had brought with me contained five black candles, matches, a photograph, a vial of murky liquid, and a sheet of paper containing the words I needed for the ritual I was about to complete. I was more than a little afraid of the task ahead of me, but I couldn’t move on with my life until I had closure with Marcus.
“What you’re asking for is not natural,” the old woman said. Her wrinkled face was set in a look of disapproval and her black eyes seemed to stare right through me. “I know it isn’t, but it has to be done. I can’t move forward until I talk to him one last time,” I pleaded with her. I had told her about my wish to speak with my dead boyfriend one last time before I married my fiance. My boyfriend Marcus had died in a car accident on his way home from work, and six months later I had met Sam and eventually fallen in love. Now a year later I wanted to speak with Marcus one last time and gain his approval before the wedding. The old woman sighed, rose shakily from her seat on the porch, and motioned for me to follow her into the house. The old woman was known as Miss Claudette and the people in my town regarded her with a mixture of fear and respect for her powers as a witch. Of course if you asked anyone in a straightforward manner if Miss Claudette was a witch they would most likely scoff and ridicule you for even asking, but these same people could be seen leaving her house with oddly shaped packages or vials of strange liquids.
I followed her into the parlor of the house where she disappeared behind a shelf crammed with jars, bottles, bags, and various containers filled with unknown substances. In truth the house made me nervous. The parlor was lit only by candle light and the room was filled with old leather books with latin inscriptions, strange looking artifacts, and photographs depicting several generations of grim faced women with black eyes. I listened to Miss Claudette rustling around behind the shelf and wondered if what I was asking for could actually be done. The logical part of me said that all of this was nonsense and I would never speak with Marcus again. However, the less logical side of me urged me to try. Miss Claudette emerged from behind the shelf carrying a bag filled with the things I would need for the ritual. She handed me the bag reluctantly. “You will find five black candles, matches, a potion, and the words you need to complete your foolhardy task. You’ll also need a photograph of the dead one you seek to raise,” she said dryly. “All you have to do is light the candles, pour the potion over the grave, and speak the words on the paper.” I took the bag from her, thanked her, and turned to leave, but she wasn’t through with what she had to say. “I’ve never turned away anyone who was in need of my services, but what you’re doing is foolish, girl. Throw away any misconceptions you have about the dead being enlightened or pure, that bastard will be the same hard-hearted man he always was,” she said coldly. I was startled by her words and slightly indignant. “I loved Marcus, and he loved me. You don’t know anything about him, or our relationship,” I said. She fixed me in that piercing stare until I began to fidget. “I know a lot of things, girl. I know that man would have given you nothing but misery every day of your life if you would have married him. He cared for no one except himself, I know that as well as my own name. I’m not the only one who saw the way he jerked you around, or heard the way he talked to you when he thought no one could hear. Want my advice? Leave the bastard to rot,” she said walking back into her house and shutting the door forcefully. I was rooted to my spot in disbelief at the speech she had given me. Memories of a raised voice and hands that could turn from gentle to rough in the blink of an eye came to the surface and I shook my head to clear my thoughts. Of course Marcus’ temper could get out of control, but I never doubted he loved me. He was my first love and I was sure he would support my decision to marry Sam and be happy again.
I arranged the candles around the grave and lit them one by one. I propped Marcus’ photograph against the tombstone and poured the vial of liquid over the grave. The liquid hissed as it met the ground and the earth seemed to bubble where it fell. I took a deep breath and unfolded the paper Miss Claudette had given me. The air seemed to have gone still and everything seemed too quiet. Unease began to wash over me. I could forget the whole thing, walk away, and marry Sam without stirring the dead, but at the same time memories of Marcus bombarded me. Memories of Marcus smiling at me, laughing at something I had said or done, holding me close to him as we cuddled together, or whispering “Always” in my ear when I jokingly asked how long he would love me. In my heart of hearts I felt that I needed his approval in order to fully move on with marrying Sam. I cleared my throat and read the words on the paper. “I call upon you, spirit. Rise from the earth. Speak with me, and heed my words.” I listened to the stillness around me waiting for my words to take effect. The silence was so heavy it seemed to press down on me, making me feel claustrophobic and anxious. A vague stirring sound seemed to come from deep within the ground in front of me. I stepped back as the ground began to tremble and the once solid earth began to crack. I watched in fascinated horror as a decayed hand slowly pushed through the dirt surface. My stomach clenched when I noticed the class ring Marcus always wore on the ring finger of the hand. I was unable to move or speak and as I watched another hand emerged, then the head and shoulders of the thing from under the ground broke the surface. As the decayed form that was once Marcus pulled itself from the grave and stood upright I began to regret what I had done.
The thing shook the dirt off itself and stretched its arms and legs slowly, flexing its fingers and turning its head from side to side as if to make sure all its pieces were in working order. I looked on in horror as the moon came out from behind a cloud and fully illuminated the being in front of me. It was Marcus, but at the same time it wasn’t Marcus. The potion had been unable to fully restore him to a lifelike state. His once thick brown hair was matted and full of dirt, the skin of his face was decayed and I could see his skull through missing patches of skin on his forehead. His once alert brown eyes were sunken back in his head and a small growth of mold was visible on his lower lip. The rest of his body was, thankfully, mostly covered by ripped clothing, but the way his clothing clung to him suggested he was little more than bones. I tried to speak and a little choked noise was all I could manage. Marcus turned to focus on me his sunken eyes lighting up in recognition. “Sarah,” he spoke in a gravally voice that sounded as if his throat were full of the earth he was buried in. I was rooted to the spot and could only watch helplessly as he made his slow stumbling way towards me. The closer he got the stronger the stench of death and decay became. The smell was enough to make me gag, but I was still immobile with terror. He stopped in front of me and I stared into his sunken eyes with wide eyes of terror. He lifted one hand slowly to graze the side of my face and run his fingers through my hair. I shuddered at the touch of his cold flesh against my cheek and fought to find my voice.
“M-Marcus, I came here because I needed to talk to you one last time,” I said shakily. He stared at me in silence and I was unsure if he had been able to comprehend anything I had said, but then he leaned down close to my face. Just as I realized what was going to happen I tried to turn my head, but it was too late. His deathly cold lips met mine and it took everything I had not to scream as I remembered the patch of mold on his lower lip. I forced my hands to cooperated and I reached up to push him away. In a sudden flash of motion he grabbed my left wrist with all the strength he had when he was alive. His eyes narrowed as they locked onto my new engagment ring. “What is this,” he demanded coldly. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” I said as I tried to pull free of his grasp. “It’s been almost two years since you died and I met a really nice man named Sam. We’re in love and I want to marry him, but I wanted your blessing. I knew you would want me to be happy, but I wanted to talk to you one last time before I went on with the wedding,” I rambled. I watched as his face softened and he smiled down at me. I smiled back in relief. “Sarah, do you remember what we used to say after telling each other we loved each other,” he asked me in that eerie choked voice. “Always?” I asked. “Always,” he said before locking his hands around my throat with lightning speed. Panic exploded through my brain as I struggled for breath, kicking and clawing at him with as much strength as I could muster. “You said always,” he said accusingly digging his thumbs deeper into my windpipe. I was no longer getting any air and my vision was beginning to go black. I could no longer feel his thumbs at my throat, I was drifting…
Miss Claudette found the grave without much trouble. The tell-tale black candles and the photograph of that dead bastard were still at the grave. The ground looked undisturbed in the early morning light, but Miss Claudette knew there were now two bodies in the grave. She sighed and shook her head and began gathering up the candles and the photograph. “What did that stupid girl expect,” she wondered as she walked away from the grave. “Once a hateful bastard, always a hateful bastard.”
Credit To – J Cran