A Coffin in the Yard
“Afterwards I remember the moaning.” Thomas spoke over an air conditioner hum to his new therapist. “Before I woke up early, the morning after Halloween night to read like I always do. Basically my ears became accustomed to any ruffling while everyone slept, and this gave me great comfort as I fit in an hour reading into my day.”
“Please continue.” His new therapist quickly wrote in her notepad. “I am listening.”
“Of course.” Thomas fiddled with his car keys as he continued. “Afterwards I noticed a moaning came from my son’s room, so I moved quickly, and I saw him. You are the first person I have told this story.”
“I feel privileged.” The therapist moved in her chair. “I am ready to listen.”
“When I opened the door, he had curled up into a ball by his Ouija Board, the one we bought him. He held his knees and rocked. First, when I tried to speak to him, he did not respond and when I got close. Second, I noticed his eyes had rolled up into his head.”
“I screamed to my wife to call 911 and soon we moved him to a hospital.” Thomas rubbed his face with his hands pulled his hair back and sighed. “Additionally months and months of tests followed. Finally, the Doctors told us he had a Glioblastoma and only had from a week to maybe a few months to live. Therefore, there was no guarantee that he would wake from his coma within the time frame given.”
“How did you feel?”
“Really that seems like a foolish question. At first, I denied it like those whole stages of grief thing. Then I just wanted to destroy the world.”
“How are you now?”
“I still want to destroy the world. Recently I received a strange book in the mail. I think around a month after my son died.” He stopped for a second and looked at his feet. “Some book on mysticism with a return address from Virginia City Nevada and no name.”
“I am sorry to interrupt but our time is done for the day. We will continue after Halloween our office is taking a few days off.” The Therapist closed her notepad and stood up.
“Fair enough.” He said as he stood up also and headed towards the door. “See you later Doc.”
He repeated the name of the book, Nekromanteia, over in his head as he left her office and headed to elevator. Before shadows from the car garage engulfed his car he opened the door and took a seat.
“Not mysticism per se, Necromancy.” He said to his reflection in the rear-view mirror before starting the ignition. “I don’t care about spirits I want to bring back the dead.”
His cell phone notified him of an incoming text. The text informed him he needed to stop by the Spirit store to pick up a list of party favors and decorations for their Halloween party.
Before he walked through cheap plastic models of skeletons and ghouls his thoughts fell upon a different search. After reading Nekromanteia and struggling with the fact of no return address he realized what Necromancy referred. Someone knew his innermost desires? Who would send this beautiful ancient looking bound book explaining how to make his, Thomas’s, desires reality.
Afterwards he forgot about these questions and started a search for objects needed to fulfill a dark recipe. Most of these items were not found in the party favors sections of a Spirit Halloween. Suddenly his attention fell upon his wife’s list. First a package of party cups. Second, plates and a black tablecloth. Most of the party cups displayed Witches but he preferred the Pirate cups with The Skull and Crossbones.
“I need to check for some old decorations in the shed.” Thomas announced to his wife in the kitchen. “Here are the cups, plates, and tablecloth as asked.”
“Thank you, Honey.” Margaret reached over from their messy kitchen counter and kissed him. “Don’t take too long I need help with party prep.”
“No worries this will only take a few minutes.” He replied as he left. This time he headed towards a storage shed in their backyard. “I will be back shortly.”
After a few brisk steps he arrived at his shed hidden within his fenced backyard. He searched through a large ring of keys until he found his pad lock key. First, the door to the shed opened onto a makeshift coffin that sat upon two sawhorses. Second, the smell of the shed brought back memories of the day Eric died.
He remembered the bedside where he held Eric’s hand and how his hand went slack at the wrist, so he pushed the nurse on call button and informed Margaret. Margaret arrived almost immediately; she entered before the nurse who worked with Hospice.
Sorrow fell upon them like a curtain of iron that pushed them towards the floor where they genuflected over Eric’s lifeless body. The nurse worked steadily around the mourning couple preparing even after life left Eric’s body. This movement of the nurse through the genuflected weeping couple seemed to continue for two days.
“We must inform the Mortuary and your son’s Physician.” Eric’s Hospice Nurse said. “One of you must take action.”
“Yes.” Thomas replied. “I have Eric’s physician on my phone I will dial him now.”
“I can’t do this.” His wife cried.
“Honey I will take care of the details.” He stood up and put his phone to his ear. “Trust me.”
Now he stood looking over a black coffin with the lid closed. He bent over near some empty cans of Lye to an open cooler. There were five coolers to choose from, but he chose the closest to the empty paint cans and hardened paint brushes. He nodded as he rummaged through the cooler.
“Everything is ready for lawn decorations.” He told his wife after he locked up the shed. “Once we get all the food stuff and house decorated, I need to move out to the lawn to start the decorations.”
“Ok.” Margaret moved frantically around the kitchen. “Afterward start making the punch. First mix those 2-liter bottles of Lemon-Lime soda, a fifth of vodka, and one frozen punch concentrate.”
“I cannot believe tonight is the night. Finally, the Halloween festivities have arrived!” Thomas proclaimed as he poured a 2-liter bottle of Lemon-Lime into a large bowl along with a Fifth of Vodka. Before he placed the frozen punch concentrate, he removed a beige packet from his pocket and dumped a white powder into the punch and stirred. “Tonight, is the night Honey. Everything will be better after tonight.”
After he finished preparing the punch he asked his wife if he could begin preparing the front yard for the evening. The front yard seemed full of boxes and soon a black coffin made it on top of a pile of orange crepe paper. Soon the contents of the boxes had been emptied, ordered, and finally placed strategically around a few Jack-O-Lanterns. In the center of a new graveyard of cardboard tombstones Thomas placed his copy of the Nekromanteia. He began to create a large copy of a pentagram shaped ritualistic symbol with a powder that looked like white chalk removed from a paper bag. The process, detailed and tedious, took much of the afternoon.
Before his neighbors walked by and waved, he carefully added ancient cryptic symbols of old language along the inner circle. Sweat began to fall from his brow but he carefully aimed to avoid drops from interfering. After he finished a detailed replica of the pentagram from the book, he slowly placed two sawhorses and the coffin, without breaking the white lines or symbols, in the middle. Large white candles on black Spirit Halloween plates were placed on all six corners of the pentagram where the star touched the circle.
“That is amazing Honey.” His wife came out with some water. “This is truly creepy. Our fold up table is leaning on our porch steps. I put the punch and goodies next to it. Do you mind setting up refreshments?”
“You didn’t try the punch?” He stopped working for a second. “We barely have enough for our own Halloween cheer later!”
“No, I did not.” She gave him the water. “Thanks for trusting me, Honey.”
“That is my job.” He replied giving her a kiss on her cheek.
“I still got a few hours until I finish all the ghoulish desserts.” She backed away from his kiss and started to head back to the house. “I don’t want to interrupt your Halloween creativity.”
He followed her to the porch and picked up their leaning folding table and put it up next to the pentagram. Therefore, a covered punch bowl and another bowl full of Skull and Crossbones pretzels found their home on the folded table. He sat for a bit and looked over his work going over everything in his head. Everything needed to be perfect. The only thing missing seemed to be seven folding chairs located directly behind each candle.
He wiped his brow and moved back to the shed to grab the folding chairs and move them up front. Neighbors had started their evening walks and stopped to admire the workmanship. The scary graveyard with plastic skeletons coming up through the graves along with a huge chalk pentagram and a closed black coffin in the middle.
“Honey I am going to drive to the grocery store we need more candy, and I am missing some ingredients for dinner.” Margaret quickly walked by as she flashed her keys in his face. “Stay out of trouble I will not be long.”
“No problem I got this.” He laughed in response. “I will finish up.”
Their car left the driveway as he sat down on one of the folding chairs and picked up the book. If this was going to work, he had to get the incantation right. He studied the symbols and pronounced them in his head.
After he reached a level of comfort with his script, he finished all the fine details and some extra work in the house. Soon Margaret came home from the store, and he helped her to unpack and cook a few final dishes. At this point in the set-up neither of them had anything to say since they both concentrated on creating Halloween perfection.
They moved inside to eat dinner and wait for the party guests. One by one everyone they invited arrived. Six in total. John and Julie arrived as the Hulk and She-Hulk. Clinton and Erik arrived as Gladiators and Maddie and Leaf wore Hippy attire and called themselves 80’s Hippies.
“Listen up everyone.” Thomas grabbed the party’s attention. “Let us enjoy a few drinks inside then move outside to the lawn chairs to watch Trick-or-Treaters and continue our creepy Halloween evening.”
“Cheers.” Maddie lifted her cup as the group followed. “Happy Halloween everyone!”
“Any good Halloween drama?” John asked Erik over their drink. “I think Thomas has a very interesting night in store. Or at least that is what he has been bragging about for days.”
“Don’t worry.” Thomas put his arm around John’s shoulder. “These are the dramas that are going to kill you or bring us back to life!”
“So, Halloween cryptic.” Clinton began to howl like a werewolf.
The last Trick-or-Treaters from the neighborhood closed their bags around the last bit of candy and walked down the street. First John led the way to the front lawn with Julie directly behind. Second, everyone filtered slowly out through the foam graveyard past the plastic skeletons crawling out of the lawn.
“Clinton and Erik please sit here.” Thomas moved the two to chairs facing the chalk pentagram. “Everyone needs to sit where they are assigned. First, please, as I seat you do not disrupt any of the chalk lines. Second, the line cannot be broken.”
“What is with this sudden authority?” Leaf asked as he sat next to Maddie. “Very bossy mood tonight.”
“Everything has to be perfect.” Thomas moved Margaret next to Maddie. “Thank you, guys, for being understanding this will pay off trust me.”
“Well, what is in the coffin?” Maddie asked. “I need another drink.”
“First of all, Maddie the coffin is the surprise. Second, I will serve you all our famous Halloween punch shortly.” Thomas answered Maddie while looking at his watch. “The time is almost here.”
“Midnight! How cliché.” John laughed pulling out a flask. “Here Maddie enjoy some of this.”
“I guess you are right John. Well at least after midnight.” Thomas walked around examining the white line. “Flasks are fine just don’t disturb the line.”
“Is that humor I hear?” Margaret asked. “I have not heard humor from you in a long time.”
“Thank you, Honey.” Thomas said as he kissed Margaret on her cheek. “Everyone is seated. We are ready for instructions.”
“Instructions?” Clinton exclaimed. “I am too drunk to follow instructions.”
“No. Don’t worry. They are simple instructions. All of you must remain seated. I am going to begin chanting my incantation while I hand out everyone’s punch. Don’t drink until everyone has their cup. Once I finish a few more incantations and we will drink together and then the surprise.”
“We all agree.” Clinton placed his hand on Erik’s knee. “I speak for everyone.”
“Ego, Thomas Keargarden, consicro er benedico istam circulum.” Thomas started to chant as he handed out a cup of punch to everyone around the circle. “Per nominee Dei Altissimi, in hec scripta, ut sit mihi et omnibus.”
“I like the Skull and Crossbones on the cups.” John blurted drunkenly.
“Shhhh.” Maddie put her fingers to her lips and held her cup of punch firmly in her hand.
“Scutum et malignus spiritus dei fortissimo,” Thomas continued after handing out the last cup. “Elohim Invictus, gerum malignus spiritus.”
Thomas slowly moved around the circle and lit each candle and checked to make sure everyone had their cups in their hands.
“Gerum malignus spiritus.” He repeated louder this time. “Happy Halloween let us drink.”
The cups were lifted in unison as everyone finished the punch quickly. Suddenly Clinton’s face turned bright red as if all his blood had moved to his cheeks and he fell from his chair onto the ground in the circle. Erik reached over towards Clinton and released a gasp of air and followed to the ground. Not one person spoke as faces contorted into expressions of extreme pain and fell forward into the circle.
“I love you, Honey.” Thomas said as he kissed the top of Margaret’s head. “Please forgive me.”
Thomas then pushed her now lifeless body forward. His incantations continued as he repeated dark words from the book and moved into the circle towards the coffin. The words seemed older than Latin this time. He stepped over the bodies of his neighbors who died clutching themselves with looks of agony on their faces.
Time stopped as he opened the lid of the coffin and looked down upon the gray complexion of his son. For a second the father’s heart seemed to break into a thousand pieces as he placed his hand over his son’s chest and took a hunting knife from his pocket and began to cut from the base of his palm towards his inner elbow. He cut as deep as he could the spell required the end of life, but he didn’t care. All he wanted was to see his son live even if during his last minutes.
First his blood fell into the coffin and spread upon the gray dead chest of Thomas’s son, Eric. Second Thomas’s blood quickly soaked into the skin and seemed to disappear as Eric turned red and his mouth moved.
“I love you, Eric.” Thomas said.
“There is no room for love here.” Eric spoke in a low raspy voice as a thick black tar oozed out of his mouth and pores. Soon the corpse of Eric transformed into a figure made of black oozing ancient tar. Arms of tar lifted towards Thomas’s head and pulled it into Eric’s black oozing chest before throwing Thomas’s lifeless body to the ground. The figure stood up from the coffin and started to walk slowly passed the corpses huddled on the lawn.
“F-R-E-E-D-O-M.” The tar lips of this ancient demon repeated in a raspy voice as it walked into Halloween night.
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