Here is a short story that I considered expanding, but as of now, this is the extent of the narrative.
“Sometimes the dead don’t stay buried”, a saying that my grandfather would always use when I was growing up. It was something that he would say in even the most mundane of situations. If, for instance, there were a clogged toilet and the mucky water came flowing back up, there would be grandpa rattling off about how “the dead don’t stay buried”. He used the phrase in joking, of course, never meaning it in a dark or disturbing way. But, still, there was something unsettling about it, something chilling.
Whenever he said it, my head was filled with images of boneyards and crypts crawling with its decaying, long since passed denizens. Their rotting and peeling skin oozing with the mangled remnants of horribly infected innards. The fog begins to thicken as these disfigured undead begin writhing up out of their holes. You suddenly find yourself in the middle of the necropolis now completely enshrouded in fog. With no other choice, you run, run as fast as you can just hoping you’re going in the right direction. As you run you heard it, they have found you. The grotesque hellspawn have found you and are all around.
You keep running, if you keep running maybe you’ll find a way out or maybe someone will come to your rescue, all that matters is that you keep running and you don’t let them catch you. As you continue this race against evil, the sounds get louder. The groans become more audible, the click-clacking of their ancient bones and joints more clear, and worst of all their footsteps even closer. While the thoughts of their quickening pace fill your head you lose track of where you are at–not that paying attention in this fog would have made any difference–and strike a gravestone, bringing you to the ground.
You look down to seek that your leg has been broken, with the shattered bone jutting out of your now torn jeans. As you lie there thrashing in pain and blood spilling out onto the ground, they close in. Honed in on the smell of the freshly spilled blood, they descend in droves tearing at your clothes and into your flesh. You see, as they rip you piece by piece, that within their rotten mouths they posses discolored teeth dulled from years of underground imprisonment. The creatures tear away your flesh and begin tearing out every organ from inside your still living body. Just as you feel like you can no longer hold on, just as the pain and agony have felt too much burden to bare, the final blow is struck. A single bony claw, to whom it belongs you can no longer see now that your eyes have been wrenched from their sockets, reaches into your chest and extracts from it, your still beating heart.
With your worldly body gone your spiritual body is forced to remain and watch the final atrocities performed on it. The claw you can now see belonged to the beast that lacked half a skull with brains pouring out the other side. With nothing left for them, they retreat, back to their crypt and demon-holes to await the next victim. You now feel yourself being taken away, to where you do not know, but before it all goes black you get a final glimpse of what you’ve become. A crimson stain on the earth, littered with bits of bone and cloth, no meat left remaining of what you once were.
And then all at once, my visual torment would be broken by the pure and hearty laughter of my grandfather. Whenever Grandpa started in with that laugh of his I knew everything was going to be alright, no matter the situation. When I was younger the thought of being trapped inside a cemetery with nothing but undead monsters truly terrified me, it wasn’t until Grandpa sat me down and helped me through it. I remember the conversation so well despite the fact that so many years have passed and despite the fact that Grandpa is no longer with us.
I was about eleven at the time and was just getting through another one of my waking nightmares that I would have nearly every day.It had finally been enough, Grandpa had witnessed each and every one of my trances and was equally terrified by my seemingly unprovoked convulsions and screams of terror. He came to visit us one day, he said he had something very special to give me. The morning sky was slightly overcast, the sun barely peeking out from behind the slate clouds. I had woken up early, about four hours early, so I could wait by the window and watch for Grandpa.
It was a little after seven when I heard his old 1958 Packard haul its way up the driveway. When it sputtered to a stop at the foot of our garage I saw him through the windshield in his accustomed attire. He wore his beige Panama hat with a navy buttoned shirt and, although I couldn’t see them, I was sure he had on his black slacks. He pulled himself out of the car, using his plain, oak cane for support. I leaped from in front of the window and made a dash for the door. Before he could even ring the bell I had the door opened. There was no sign of the something special that he said he would bring, instead, he hugged me and proceeded to our living room. He lowered himself onto the couch with a grunt and brought his cane to rest across his lap. The look on his face was pained like there was something that weighed heavily on him. When he noticed me staring he made an effort to appear less stressed, but not a very convincing one.
We talked for a long time, well he did most of the talking. He talked about life and the “many intertwining fates of the people around us” and about how “sometimes the most ordinary of people have the greatest responsibilities.” Most of it went over my head, I was eleven at the time, but his words still stayed with me. But, it was the last thing he did that changed everything.
After going on for about two hours, my grandfather fell silent and reached into his pocket. He produced from it a necklace with a crystal akin to that of Dionysius’ Amethysta. It had a faint glow resonating from the core, an aura of cold surrounded it. He placed it in my hand and said, “ You don’t realize it yet, but you have a very important role to play. You could be the difference between life and extinction for the human race.”
We sat there until the Sun sank low and rested just above the horizon, not having anything to say. The silence broke when I let out a roar of laughter. It was ridiculous to think that anything my grandfather, no matter how serious he said it, told me was true. He was from the coach, straining as he did so, and patted me on the shoulder. Before he left, he gave me one last piece of advice, “ When the day comes that you have to use that, remember what you’re fighting for and never give in.” We hugged one final time before he left, it was the last time I saw him. Grandpa died in his sleep the next day.
I’m twenty-seven now, and the world is in flames. Six months ago, February 2016, they appeared. The virus ripped through everything a few weeks before that, sixty percent of the population gone just like that. We thought that would be the worst of it, it had seemed to go away. No more sick people, and no more deaths. Then, in a more terrifyingly grotesque display, the bodies started rising. All over the world, the infected dead started coming back and ravaging everything in sight. No one knows how or why, but then again there aren’t many left after this new plague. I was lost and afraid, didn’t know where to turn, but then it gave me a sign. The crystal, my grandfather’s, began to shine, began to release these waves of energy. The waves, they cleared me a path. A path straight through the ‘Fecs. It was then that everything he told me, everything I laughed at, was preparing me for this moment. The World needs a beacon, something to put their hope into, something to show them that they can fight this. I can be that guiding light. I can be their hope.