Ghost stories from hell, p.36

Ghost Stories from Hell, page 36

 

Ghost Stories from Hell
 



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  The dead man shook his head and made a ‘tsk-tsk’ sound before he continued. “That I could not have. So when he drank again, I barreled in and made sure he made himself available to me.”

  The ghost of Mulvanity lifted up the arms of the corpse, allowing the Priest a good look at the open gashes down his forearms.

  “So, in a word, yes. I am dead. Long ago and far away,” the ghost of Mulvanity confirmed, laughing. “Did you know what would happen when you trapped the old Buddhist within Pine Grove?”

  “Yes,” the Priest answered, “but how did you fall victim to him?”

  “To him?” Mulvanity asked, a twisted, insane tone to his question. “You mean the old Buddhist? Oh no, there are so many more now. So many created by him within the cemetery. In fact, the one who created me was a woman, the first one he had slain. You know her, and her husband, I suspect. She, Debra Mann, helped to spread the old Buddhist’s hatred. It is like a sickness. Your little bead spread death. To so many, and they, in turn, spread out. And I am here. Stuck here.”

  “But why?” the Priest asked.

  “Because!” Mulvanity screamed. “Because God hates me as He hates you! I have long dreamt of killing you. And then I heard your voice yesterday. Saw your face. Fatter and paler, but your face still. I sought you out, I remember where the clergy lay their heads. This corpse, so near myself, served me well, did it not?”

  The Priest could only nod in agreement. Mulvanity did not seem sane. Not anywhere close to logical. A far cry from the control Feng exerted over himself.

  And the Priest had nowhere to run.

  Mulvanity did his strange, stiff-legged walk and came closer to the Priest. The dead man’s face looked as though it were mottled porcelain, the pale skin shot through with deep blue veins and broken capillaries. As the lips curled into a wider smile, the Priest thought he heard teeth and bones break.

  “God hates you,” Mulvanity whispered, “and so do I.”

  He lifted his hands up and shambled the last few steps forward. When the dead man’s fingers brushed his chest, the Priest screamed with fear and struck out with both hands. His fists smashed into Mulvanity’s cold, dead flesh, and the ghost let out a shriek of pain and terror.

  The corpse fell backward, slammed into the desk, bumped into the chair, and fell to the floor.

  And there the body remained, dead eyes staring at the old plaster of the ceiling.

  The Priest’s hands tingled, a curious, pulse that left him with a strange sensation. It felt as though energy coursed through his bones. He flexed and relaxed his fingers, feeling the power within them.

  His attention returned to the corpse of Mulvanity.

  No, the Priest told himself, not Geoffrey Mulvanity. Only a corpse the ghost of Mulvanity had possessed. Where is he?

  Then the Priest looked at his hands and had an epiphany.

  He had driven the ghost out of the stolen corpse.

  The Priest looked down at his hands again, turning them over and chuckling. On his ring finger, the plain, silver ring he wore throbbed and pulsed with a pleasant, curious heat. It had been a gift to him from his late mother, and it had belonged to her uncle, who had been a priest in Ireland.

  The silver, normally dull and unnoticeable, glowed.

  A smile spread across the Priest’s face.

  He felt stronger.

  The ring, he thought, there’s something about it. It’s special, and I need to know more.

  The Priest lowered his hands, stared at the corpse, and wondered, suddenly, how he was going to dispose of such a large body.

  Chapter 29: Seeking Help from Hu, August 11th, 2016

  By noon of the day after his father’s death, Connor made a decision.

  He would ask Hu if he could live with the man.

  Connor knew that continued use of his old, childhood home was detrimental, not only to his physical health, but his mental health as well.

  After he had packed his few belongings and those of Rex, Connor and the dog went to Hu’s house and knocked on the door.

  There was no answer.

  Connor knocked again, a little louder. Hu was old and perhaps needed hearing aids.

  By the time Connor knocked a third time, waves of anxiety crashed over him at a pace that threatened to disable him mentally. He imagined Hu on the floor, unconscious, or dead. Connor wondered what was capable of such an act.

  Or the thing that had been his mother.

  He had a sudden fear that his father would be a ghost as well, both of them out for his blood.

  “Hello?”

  Connor shouted in surprise as he jumped and turned around. At the end of Hu’s driveway was a man in his seventies or eighties. He looked at Connor and Rex, then glanced to Hu’s door.

  “Hey,” Connor said, trying to decide if the man was friendly or not. “Can I help you?”

  “I certainly hope so,” the man said, “though I’m not quite positive as to how to proceed from here.”

  Rex didn’t growl or move towards the stranger, so Connor waited.

  The man cleared his throat, gave a nervous smile, and said, “I’m going to say something odd, and I hope you don’t think I’m insane.”

  “Go for it,” Connor said. The calm tone of his voice belied the frantic beats of his heart.

  “Did you, ah, well, did you see a silver fox run past?” the man asked, his voice a low whisper.

  Connor was too shocked to speak, but he was able to nod.

  “You did,” the stranger said, his voice only a hint above audible. “My God, you did.”

  Connor nodded his head several more times. “Yeah. And a long time ago, too.”

  The stranger gasped and said, “You’re Mann’s boy!”

  “Yes,” Connor agreed.

  “I remember you,” the man said in a soft voice. “I remember you were the one who found your mother after it had killed her.”

  The stranger’s statement ripped through Connor’s mind. Each syllable slammed into him, sent his thoughts into a wild tailspin he couldn’t control. For he remembered the stranger. Much younger, sturdier. Helping Connor to his feet, turning him away from his mother’s corpse.

  “You were there,” Connor said, his voice raw, and each word like broken glass in his throat. “I remember you.”

  The man nodded. “Yes. I was the first to find you and your mother. My name is Lloyd, Lloyd Strafford.”

  “Thank you,” Connor murmured. “Thank you for helping me.”

  Before Lloyd could reply, the side door opened and Hu stepped out. His beard was a mess, his clothes rumpled. There was a wary, dangerous look in the man’s eyes as he fixed them on Lloyd.

  “Who are you?” Hu demanded.

  “Hu,” Connor said, stepping forward, “he’s okay.”

  Hu shot a withering stare at Connor, but he remained firm, saying again, “He’s okay. He saw the fox.”

  Once again, Hu focused his attention on Lloyd.

  “Come into the house, both of you,” Hu said after a few seconds of silence. “If you truly saw the fox, then it is best for you to speak of it to us. And you, Connor, have you come to rest for a bit?”

  Connor nodded. He almost told Hu what had occurred in the house, but he could get to that after he was inside.

  Connor moved aside, and he and Rex waited for Lloyd to put his bike against Hu’s garage. With Lloyd in front of him, they went into the house. Connor hesitated at the top of the stairs, turned and looked at his house. Around the foundation, hiding in the shadows and clinging to the overgrown bushes, he saw small shapes.

  Each dark and not truly defined.

  Connor knew what they were, and he had a terrible, gut-wrenching realization.

  The ghosts weren’t bothered by daylight.

  Keeping his blossoming fear to himself, Connor hurried into the house after Lloyd and Hu. He followed both men into the kitchen where the three of them sat down at the table. Hu looked expectantly at Lloyd, and after several seconds of silence, L
loyd cleared his throat and began to speak.

  Connor listened as the man told them of his job in the cemetery, of the death of a man named Avery. Admiration for the man’s determination grew as Lloyd presented his evidence as to why the ghosts in the cemetery had to be Chinese in origin.

  Lloyd ended his short monologue with a description of the fox outside his home, and managing to track it to Hu’s.

  Fear settled into Connor’s heart as he listened to Lloyd speak about the way the fox had run when the side-door had been opened.

  Connor had been the one to step out onto the side steps. The one who had frightened off Feng in fox form.

  Would he have run off if he had known it was me? Connor wondered. With growing trepidation, he thought. No. He would have stayed to say hello.

  And the idea terrified him.

  Chapter 30: Henan Province, China, January 3rd, 1988

  Hu sat in the outer chamber of the Monk’s rooms, wrapped in an overcoat and with thick boots on. He had tucked his hands into the sleeves of the coat and sat in silence, waiting to be invited into the room.

  A short time later, the Monk’s assistant, a young monk with a shaved head and the orange robes of a Buddhist, offered up apologies for the delay and invited Hu in.

  Hu stood up and followed the young man into the senior Monk’s quarters. The younger monk remained only long enough to pour tea and then left on quiet feet.

  “Hu,” the Monk said, “it is a pleasure to finally see you. I must confess I did not quite picture you as so militant. There is a gentleness to your words, an elegance to your writing.”

  “I am afraid that I can barely make myself understood,” Hu said, nodding his head humbly.

  The Monk smiled, took a sip of his tea, and said, “Have they told you anything about your task?”

  Hu allowed himself a small smile.

  “No, sir,” Hu said. “I know only that I am to watch the cemetery.”

  The Monk frowned, returned his teacup to the tray, and said, “I am afraid that there is much more than that. You are looking for something dangerous, Hu. An item which was stolen from us after the war against the Japanese had ended.”

  “Ah,” Hu said, and he waited for the Monk to continue.

  The Monk straightened his long beard, tugging at the ends of the gray hair.

  “In the past,” the Monk said, half closing his eyes as he spoke, “there was a Monk. His name was Feng for he was like a hot wind bringing famine and death as it dried out the fields. Feng was a wicked and terrible man, a creature of the past who had loved to sow confusion. The man was brilliant. His ability to persuade a person was not supernatural in nature, but merely through a careful study of the individual he spoke with. He was, when he desired to be, exceptionally charismatic. Feng was a man who could, over the course of several months, convince the weak-willed to do the unthinkable. Feng once led a husband to murder his wife. A mother to slay her children. Numerous cooks to poison their patrons. Even disciples to turn against their masters. And he would linger, to serve and say the prayers over the dead.”

  The Monk paused, took a sip of his tea, and straightened his beard once more.

  “Feng lived to be an old man, and he had taught himself a terrible ability,” the Monk said, sighing. “How to trap a spirit in an object. For Feng, this was a set of Mala beads. Each bead was carved from a child’s bone. In some cases, the spirit bound within the bone was from the same child.”

  Sorrow flashed across the Monk’s face, but it vanished, replaced by the calm and stoic expression he usually wore.

  “When Feng died,” the Monk continued, “he bound himself to his 100 bead Mala. This was discovered shortly afterward. A silver fox was seen on the grounds of a monastery in the Yunnan Province. Several of the monks passed away rather suddenly. At the Ghost Festival, Feng and those he had bound were unleashed upon the monastery.”

  “Did the monks survive?” Hu asked.

  “A few,” the older man replied, “though only because one of the bound ghosts told them about Feng’s Mala. The surviving monks went into the pagoda by the monastery and removed his Mala. They placed it within a dog statue, with the animal’s spirit, and sealed it. There Feng’s Mala remained until the defeat of the Japanese and the expulsion of the Nationalists. An American soldier, traveling through the Yunnan Province, came upon the monastery, and he stole the statue.”

  Hu shook his head, repressing the anger he felt.

  The Monk waited until Hu regained his composure, and then picked up the tale again.

  “Until several months ago we did not know the name of the American, or what had happened to the Mala,” the Monk said.

  “What happened?” Hu inquired.

  “A death,” the Monk replied, “seemingly innocuous. A young mother died in a graveyard, suddenly. Her son was a witness. The following year the woman’s neighbor died.”

  Hu frowned. “How were these deaths significant?”

  “They both occurred at the beginning of the Ghost Festival,” the Monk said, “and the boy reported seeing a silver fox.”

  Hu leaned back in his chair and nodded.

  “We have had monks searching for the Mala for close to fifty years,” the Monk said. “It is time for a soldier to go and retrieve it for us.”

  Hu straightened up in surprise, but before he could question the statement, the older man raised a hand and silenced Hu.

  “Your commander was my disciple when he was younger before he joined the army,” the Monk stated. “I had always hoped he would return and seek enlightenment, but China, it seems, needed him elsewhere. With the discovery of Feng’s Mala, I reached out to him and asked for the finest officer he had. One willing to sacrifice himself for humanity.”

  While pride flushed through Hu, so too did a sense of dread. He did not know what the Monk was going to ask of him, but he knew it would be difficult.

  Hu cleared his throat and asked, “What needs to be done?”

  “You need to move to America,” the Monk replied, “and seek Feng there. He must be found, and bound, and then brought back.”

  Hu’s mind raced, thoughts swirling through it and difficult to control. He strained and focused his thoughts. After several deep breaths, he said, “Yes. I will.”

  “Thank you,” the Monk said.

  “Is there more information about the deaths?” Hu asked. “Is it known why Feng has appeared after all this time?”

  “Nothing certain, I am afraid,” the Monk said, “but we have found out that there is a man in the vicinity of the deaths who bears the same name as the soldier who stole the statue.”

  “It cannot be the same person,” Hu said, unable to keep his surprise to himself.

  “No,” the Monk said, “it is certainly not. But we believe his father was the soldier.”

  Hu nodded. He understood.

  “What is this man’s name?” Hu asked.

  “Michael Goyette,” the Monk answered. “Father Michael Goyette. You will be hunting down a priest for more information. He may not know what he did and thus released Feng accidentally. Or, as I fear, he may be helping Feng willingly. If that is the case, you may have to hurt him. Is that an issue with you?”

  “No,” Hu said, picking up his tea, and taking a sip, “I have no issue with that at all.”

  Chapter 31: The Wrong House, August 11th, 2016

  Tom Brewer crouched behind an elm tree by the Pine Grove Cemetery. In the darkness of the night, he was able to see the house of Cody Mann. The gentleman had passed away the day before, and from what Tom had heard at the morgue, there was only an estranged son to worry about.

  Tom had watched the house for over an hour, and he hadn’t seen or heard anything from the house. No lights came on as darkness had settled in, and no sounds were emitted from the house. It looked abandoned. The building was in general disrepair, and there was a large pile of trash bags at the top of the driveway.

  Around the morgue, there had been the usual chatter, gossip
about co-workers and the newly minted dead. Word about Cody Mann had been that he hadn’t worked since his wife had died in the seventies. And he had never been in for any sort of medical treatment.

  And that, to Tom Brewer, sounded like an old miser who had hidden his money away.

  Tom had worked at the morgue for three and a half years, and after the first six months, he had figured out that dead people were the best to rob.

  He did his research on each person that ended up on a slab in front of him. They weren’t slabs of meat with ‘Y’ incisions anymore. The corpses represented lucrative paydays.

  Over the years, Tom had stolen and sold cars to chop shops in Lowell and Billerica, Massachusetts. He had dumped jewelry off in pawnshops from Bangor, Maine to Brooklyn, New York. And there had always been a little cash. Sometimes in bills, but more often in coins.

  Tom had read about the mistakes people made when it came to theft, and the biggest one was spending the money.

  Like any sound financial plan, Tom lived below his means when it came to appearances. He didn’t have jewelry. No brand name clothes. And he drove a beat-up Ford Taurus that was twenty years old.

  At his bank, Tom had four lock boxes, with a total sum of $76,120 in cash. The plan was to get enough tucked away to buy a house and find a job where he didn’t have to clean up after autopsies.

  Tom brought his thoughts back around to the job at hand.

  Breaking into Cody Mann’s house.

  He straightened up, crossed the street and walked up to the porch. He climbed the stairs and gave a bold knock on the door.

  It swung open and caught him off guard.

  A foul odor drifted out of the house, and Tom coughed.

  Too bad someone didn’t leave a window open, he thought, stepping into the house. Damn, guy didn’t smell this bad on the table.

  Tom tried the kitchen light, and nothing happened. He shrugged, took a flashlight out of his back pocket, and flicked it on. He turned to close the door and found it was already shut.

  Did I do that? he wondered, trying to remember if he had or hadn’t. Finally, he went the rest of the way into the kitchen.

 
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