It’s damned cold for late April! Torrential rains are taking a toll on Joe’s body. He’s not as spry as he once was, and his threadbare clothes don’t afford much protection from the elements. No raincoat or heavy jacket: nothing to protect and keep him dry and warm.
“Fucking weather!” he mutters.
Disabled from an old war wound inflicted in ‘Nam and homeless for ten years now, he has barely managed to stay ahead in the game of life. Some game. Death might be better than his existence, but he’s never been a quitter, even when the shit hit the fan. And it has, many times.
Up ahead looms a cemetery, the tombstones not doing much to lift his spirits. Peering at them through the veil of water falling from above distorts their image, making them appear even more ominous. It doesn’t help that the tree branches look like long fingers reaching out to grab him. The intermingling grays and blacks do nothing to lighten the ominous vista. His step quickens. He needs to leave this place, but… he sees something else though the rain.
“Holy shit,” he says. “Is that an open mausoleum?”
As scared as he might be of his surroundings, the open structure offers protection from the storm. He shoulders his pack a bit tighter, looks around to make sure no one is watching, and walks over to the building.
“This is all right! Out of the rain for me!”
Unable to see much at first, his eyes slowly begin to adjust to the darkness, nothing he observes discourages him from staying. Yet something tears at his mind, telling him this place is not safe. The odor of the wet dirt is not all he smells, an un-Godly stench pervades the mausoleum both within and outside as well. The reek of decay and filth lies heavy in his nose and on his tongue.
The noise of crashing thunder against the crypt sends vibrations throughout his entire body. Startled, he jumps in fear.
“Damn, Joe, get your shit together! It’s just a fucking storm.”
He opens his pack and takes out his sleeping bag, what’s left of it anyway. Too many nights spent curled up in cement alley-ways has left his travel bed worn and as thin as his clothing. Worn or not, it’s the only bed he’s known since that night so long ago. Riding in the car with his wife and two young children, all of them as happy as can be until… until that fucking Dually crossed over the line and smashed into them head on. The lights of the approaching truck, the impact, and the horrible crunch of metal meeting metal reverberate nightly in his mind; his dreams have become nightmares of unending pain.
Tears form around the edges of his eyes as he shakes his head, trying to chase the memory away, but the recollection lingers.
“Jesus! At least wait ’til I’m asleep! I need some peace.”
He rummages through his pack searching for a left over chunk of Italian bread from lunch at the Salvation Army. Food might help to keep his mind occupied. Merely cursing at the stale piece of dough should distract him. It was pretty tasty before, but by now it will be a little worse for wear. Things tend to shift in his bag. With the storm raging, he doesn’t want to walk to the other side of town to get dinner at the shelter. They can only sleep a limited number of heads, but they can feed many more hungry mouths but it doesn’t look like his will be one of them tonight.
The good news is that the bread isn’t stale; the bad news is that it’s waterlogged. Kinda gives the old bread and water saying a whole new meaning. Joe stares at it sitting in his hand and laughs before he slowly starts eating. No rush. This is all he has. He might as well enjoy it.
His laughter stops when an assault of lightning and crashing thunder shake the crypt. Repeated bolts strike everywhere and the mausoleum lights up before his eyes displaying crumbling walls and a seeming shift in the way burial arrangements were originally intended. The projected ‘high-rise’ of bodies looks ready to tumble to the floor at any moment.
“Shit! I hope the storm doesn’t tear this place apart.”
He sits quietly for awhile, watching the illumination of the walls and the dancing shadows. The storm won’t be letting up any time soon, so like it or not, he’ll be staying for a while. Needing to take a leak before going to sleep, he starts outside but changes his mind. Too much rain. The last thing he needs is to get soaked before he drifts off to slumber-land. Feeling bad about doing it, he stands at the edge of the entryway and pisses out into the storm.
“Sorry if I piss on anyone,” he mumbles.
Retreating to the relative safety of his sleeping bag, he slides inside and listens to the sound of the falling rain. It actually soothes him now, and he falls asleep quickly.
The dreams will come. They always do.
The pouring rain washes the dirt out of his hair and he relishes the feeling. His consignment to the ground below isn’t conducive to cleanliness, but hey, he’s a Ghoul. Once he starts feeding, all pretense of neatness goes away. His food is messy. Delectable, but messy. He can wash up again after.
Hunger attacks once more. Damn, he’s always hungry. Yes, but now his food larder has been enlarged. Even if bodies stop showing up here, he will always have a fresh supply. These humans multiply like rabbits, the same as the ones he tried munching on before. They were delectable little critters, and he loved the way they wiggled and tried to bite him as he slowly devoured them, starting at the tips of their toes and working towards those cute long ears. Alas, tasty is good, but the damned things were not very filling.
Humans. Ah, tasty and filling, and they can put up a fine scrap. Nothing like a spunky dinner. Time to find one.
‘How lucky can I be?‘ he thinks. ‘In the graveyard . . . my supper waits for me. Oh, these foolish humans. They come right to me. I don’t even have to seek them out.‘
The unmistakable scent of fresh flesh pulsing with blood calls to him. He leaves the tombstone he’s sitting on and searches for the source. A beating heart whispers to him, partially drowned out by the sound of the storm, but there nonetheless. His body hair goes wild the closer he gets, zeroing in on his prey. This one is male. He would prefer a female so he can delight in other ways as well, but hunger is his main focus. Perhaps later a luscious lady will walk into his lair.
As he gets closer, he knows his dinner is inside one of the mausoleums in this section of the graveyard. Most of his prey’s kind would stay out of such a place at night for fear of the unknown, but not this one. From the way his heart is beating, the Ghoul knows his meal is asleep.
‘This is your last sleep as the living, my tasty critter. Don’t feel bad. By giving your flesh to me, you will be serving a greater purpose than your kind does in its short, mundane existence.‘
For a creature his size, the monster walks quietly and with an agility the human race could only marvel at. He is thousands of years old, having come to this land from far away seeking a new home. The ship he took unknown passage on arrived in this country with nary a living person left aboard. Bones and blood scattered about, the cargo hold looked like a war zone. It had been attacked by pirates who killed everyone on the ship. This was a sweet happening for the hairy one. He feasted well until the ship ran aground on the coast of Maine. Having slipped off still undetected, the graveyard became his home.
Old or not, the flesh of humans made him strong, and he knows the meat of live beings will make him even more powerful.
The door to the mausoleum is open a couple of feet when he arrives. Joe is still asleep and his nightmares have taken him over once again. The beast is intrigued. He senses the man’s inner torment but does not know the reason for such maddening nocturnal thoughts. As much as he would like to find out the cause of this distress, he is hungry and must eat.
Before the monster reaches him, Joe wakes. Unable to see well since his eyes haven’t had a chance to adjust to the dark, he senses something in the room with him. Shit! The stench! Whatever it is, it’s the same odor from earlier.
He backs up to get away from the presence but focuses on the entry. If there is need to escape, he wants to be ready.
Whatever this thing is follows him to the wall, the odor becoming unbearable. It looms over him, poised to strike. There is no question in Joe’s mind now. This entity intends him harm.
A bolt of lightning strikes revealing the monster. It is unlike anything Joe has ever laid eyes on before, and he’s seen a lot over the years; the horrors of war, the accident that killed his wife and children. What the hell is this thing?
The creature is so big that Joe knows he won’t be able to get around it. He’ll have to fight his way out. Reaching behind him, he finds a brick and readies it for the assault.
With amazing speed, the creature leaps at him and lashes out with long filth-ridden nails. It tears off chunks of his exposed face and neck, and shoves them into its mouth. Joe stumbles from the impact but retaliates with the brick, slamming it into the monster’s head repeatedly. Blood flows from both of them, but the creature’s wounds close rapidly, further befuddling Joe.
“Oh, you puny human, you are no match for me!” the demon shouts. “I cannot be killed. You can.”
“Fuck you, you bastard!” Joe hollers and renews his attack, refusing to quit.
The mismatched skirmish continues; the monster taking chunk after chunk out of Joe, relishing the battle as much as he enjoys his dinner, taking his time to prolong the encounter.
Something new begins happening to the Ghoul. With each bite, he gets a glimpse of this man’s life, his pains, his past. His head becomes filled with memories of life in the jungles of ‘Nam, being wounded, the incarceration. Placards waved by people with longer hair than him being shoved into his face as they taunt and accuse.
He wonders what’s going on. Is this because he’s eating living flesh, parts of a man still in possession of his soul? Are the two joining as one? This didn’t happen with the girl.
Then the creature realizes it’s this man’s will that is doing this. He knows he can’t win, but he refuses to quit.
The hospital stay, the pain, the mental anguish tears away at him. Still gripping the human, he slows his attack and tries to clear his head. This cannot be! He is the master. This human is puny and insignificant.
“Get out of my head!” the Ghoul hollers. “Leave me alone!”
Even though Joe is losing a lot of blood and feels his life slipping away, he rams the brick into his foe without stopping. He doesn’t understand that his life’s memories and pain are being transferred to the creature. His instinct for survival and his courage refuse to buckle to this thing.
Bright lights from the Dually blind the eyes of the beast. He stumbles around in confusion, dropping Joe, careening into the walls of the mausoleum. And then… then the truck rams into him, knocking him down. In his mind, bodies fly everywhere as the seat belts snap from the force of the collision.
The demon cowers on the floor, not knowing what to do. He is helpless. Such psychological terror is new to him. He has no understanding of it, no control over it.
Freed from the grasp of his tormentor, Joe crawls towards the crypt’s entry. His heart pounds against his chest; breathing is near impossible with his lungs slashed, and his wind-pipe torn and damaged. But he keeps moving, pulling himself along, trying to escape.
The voices and confusion within the monster’s head are too much for it to bear, it rages after Joe, biting deep into the base of his skull, killing him almost instantly, but not before the blood from the wound laps upon its tongue.
Blood, the sustainer of human life, has told the demon a story. Joe may have lost the battle, but he is in a better place, reunited with his wife and children.
He is homeless no more…
~ Blaze McRob
© Copyright 2014 Blaze McRob. All Rights Reserved.