The Paupers' Crypt: Moving In Series Book 5
The Paupers' Crypt: Moving In Series Book 5
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Trapped in an icy fog with no escape but a crypt ruled by a malevolent spirit...
Brian Roy, ghostbuster extraordinaire, is forced to admit the chills and thrills of his career are taking a toll on his bad ticker. To save his life, he takes a no-stress job as Superintendent of Woods Cemetery and can’t be happier … until dead people – angry dead people – rear their grisly heads and grasping hands, pulling him back into his old job!
Brian’s first day quickly goes downhill when fog descends like an icy fortress, separating him from the outside world. Caught between a rock and a tombstone, he takes refuge in his office and learns there may be one way out. The crypt.
Ruled by a malevolent spirit, the crypt and its undead residents are determined to make Brian their latest victim. When Brian’s wife, Jenny, learns what’s happening, she takes matters into her own hands. With the help of a ghost hunter, Jenny goes after her husband. But, nothing – absolutely nothing – can prepare them for the horrors they’ll face!
Brian had worked at a few places in his life. Ghostbusting, as it were, had been interesting, fun, and dangerous as hell.
But Rye, New Hampshire, and the dead Japanese had been too much.
Brian decided he didn’t want to have another heart attack. The next one, he was fairly certain, would put him in the ground. Jenny agreed.
Nearly three months had passed since the last brutal deaths and mutilations. Brian hadn’t gone on any more jobs, and he hadn’t heard from Leo either.
Which was fine with him.
But since dealing with the violent dead was too stressful, he decided he wasn’t going to be a ghost hunter anymore. Which meant he wouldn’t dip his hands into Leo’s bank account anymore either. Brian needed to find a job that wouldn’t stress him out, and preferably one where he didn’t have to deal with many people.
He and Jenny had talked it over, and when the superintendent job at Woods Cemetery in Mont Vernon had popped up, Brian had applied. He had gotten the job as well. It was, for the most part, a one-man deal. Make sure the cemetery office was open Monday through Friday, seven to three. Saturday, eight to twelve. He also had to keep in touch with the town’s maintenance crew so they could trim the grass, cut back trees, and do whatever other work was required. Brian would be no more than a glorified custodian.
It was perfect.
In fact, Jenny would drop him off on her way to work, and pick him up at four. He didn’t mind the extra hour. Brian planned to write during that time. He had a couple of good ideas for horror stories.
“Ready, sleepyhead?” Jenny asked, walking into the parlor.
“Hm?” Brian asked, looking up and smiling at her.
“Ready for your first day at work, babe?” she asked. Her face was absolutely glowing; she was thrilled with his early retirement from ghost work.
“Yeah,” Brian said with a grin as he stood up. “I’m ready.”
He picked up his travel coffee mug off the side table, stuffed his copy of ‘Salem’s Lot into his jacket pocket and followed Jenny out and onto the porch. He waited as she locked up, and then slapped her on the behind as they went down the stairs.
“Hey!” she said playfully. “You’re frisky this morning.”
“Just excited about the new job,” Brian said, getting into the passenger seat of her car.
She raised an eyebrow as she started the car. After she had backed out and shifted into drive, she glanced at him and asked, “What’s going to happen if there are ghosts wandering around the cemetery?”
“I’m going to ignore them,” Brian said, putting his coffee down in the cup holder. “Absolutely, positively going to ignore the hell out of them. They do not need to know I can see or speak with them. I am looking forward to a job filled with peace, quiet, and only living people to occasionally speak with.”
Jenny smiled at him. “Good.”
She turned on her iPod, synced it with the car, and soon they had Social Distortion blasting through the speakers.
Brian grinned and relaxed into the seat. Today is going to be a good day.
They made it all the way through the song Bad Luck before Jenny turned on to Partridge Road and came to a stop at the gate to Woods Cemetery.
“Ready for your first day of school?” she asked teasingly.
“You know it,” Brian replied.
Jenny shook her head and laughed.
He leaned over, gave her a kiss and said, “I’ll see you at four, babe.”
“Yes, you will,” she said, grinning. “I love you.”
“Love you, too,” he said.
Brian grabbed his coffee, got out of the car and closed the door before he waved goodbye. He watched her until she turned onto Elwood Drive, and he went over to the gate. It was made of wrought iron, as was the entire fence, and it had a large, heavy chain and lock on it.
Brian fished out the key ring he had been given the day before when he’d stopped at the town hall, and found the right one for the lock. He put his mug on the ground and opened the gate. Brian looped the chain and lock through one of the gates, retrieved his coffee and looked out at the graves.
Woods Cemetery was small and beautiful. Tall oaks and elms lined the thin, ribbon of asphalt proudly labeled a road. To the right of the gate, with its own small driveway, was a one room shack with the glorious title of “Woods Cemetery Office.”
My kingdom, Brian thought with a grin.
An old farmer’s mailbox painted bright white stood to the left of the door. The mailbox was large enough to hide a small child in. The idea broadened the already large grin on his face, and he chuckled as he unlocked the door and let himself into his office.
He stood there for a moment, took a sip of his coffee, and looked at the room in front of him. Tall, thin filing cabinets lined the left and right walls while a small, roll-top desk was placed directly beneath the window. The back wall contained a pair of doors, one conveniently marked ‘Bathroom’ and the other ‘Closet,’ as well as a map of the cemetery. Brian suspected it was older than he was.
Brian realized there was no computer on the desk. Just a notepad, some pencils and a sharpener, a green-shaded desk lamp, and a rotary phone. An honest to goodness black rotary phone. There was, however, a rather comfortable looking chair, and Brian walked to it, pulled it out, and sat down.
And yes, ladies and gentlemen, he thought, it is as comfortable as it looks.
Brian looked around the office, smiled to himself and looked through the desk. He found a folder which listed important phone numbers for the town and state. There was also a telephone book from 2010. When he opened the center drawer, metal clattered against metal, which turned out to be a second key ring. This ring had two keys. Each was marked with masking tape. In neat letters, one was labeled as ‘Crypt, Outer,’ the second ‘Crypt, Inner.’ Brian held the keys in his hand and looked at them.
Finally, he stood up, went across the short room to the back wall and looked at the map tacked between the closet and the bathroom. It showed the cemetery was divided into seven sections, each numbered accordingly. At the far right corner, though, which corresponded to the hill at the back of the cemetery, there was ‘The Paupers’ Crypt.’
Brian looked at the keys in his hand and wondered, When was the last time anyone was laid to rest in there?
He added the key ring to the one given to him by Barbara Coryelle, the town manager, and went back to the desk. After he had picked up his mug, he lifted the receiver on the phone and was surprised to hear a dial-tone.
Guess it’s not a decoration, after all, he thought, chuckling to himself. He returned the phone to its cradle, opened the door and stepped out into the spring air.
It was colder than when he and Jenny had left the house, and clouds had begun to gather along the northern part of the skyline.
Don’t remember any rain for today, Brian thought.
With a shrug, he closed the door and decided to walk the perimeter of the cemetery.
Today, Brian decided, smiling happily, today is going to be a good day.
Thirteen days had passed since Emily had died.
John still couldn’t sleep without half a bottle of vodka in him. It would kill him eventually, and as much as Emily would have hated it, John didn’t mind the idea of it.
He had shaved for the first time since the funeral, and his face felt raw in the cool, May breeze. The jacket he wore was the thick, fleece-lined flannel she had bought for him, ten years before. Here and there the coat had been repaired, the small, neat stitches a constant reminder of Emily’s careful, beautiful personality.
John fished a pack of American Spirit cigarettes out of his breast pocket, lit up and stared at the cemetery.
She’d be so angry if she could see me smoking, John thought. He exhaled a long, steady stream into the morning air.
She had helped rid him of all of his vices. Not in a nagging way. Never nagging. Care and love. Things John never had much of before Emily.
But the cigarettes and the alcohol helped him deal with her loss. They were crutches, he knew, but they were familiar ones. Old friends half-forgotten with age. John was seventy years old, and his continued existence was a testament to Emily’s love, and to the blind eye of a malignant God.
Sinners in the hands of an angry God, John thought, remembering his Jonathan Edwards. He fought the urge to blame God for Emily’s death. To blame anyone or anything for her death.
But her heart had given out. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.
John sighed and smoked while standing outside the entrance to Woods Cemetery. Emily’s headstone had been delivered the day before, and the company, which was out of Nashua, had called and left a message at seven in the morning. John would be damned if he wasn’t shaved before he visited her. Didn’t matter if she was dead or not; Emily had never seen him up and out of bed without a shave.
And he wouldn’t stand at her graveside with a cigarette in his mouth either. He threw it down, crushed it out on the old, cracked asphalt. Self-consciously he brushed at his jacket, swept his fingers through his still damp, silver hair, and then he stuffed his hands into his pockets before he stepped over the invisible threshold and into the cemetery.
As he did so, it felt as though the temperature plummeted ten degrees. He shivered, pulled his head further into the collar, and glanced at the cemetery office off to the right. There was a light on in the sole window, and a man was bent over, probably at a desk.
Good to know someone’s here at least, John thought.
He turned his attention back to the cemetery. As he started to walk along the battered old road, he felt uncomfortable, as though someone sat in darkness and watched him.
John’s skin crawled, and he looked around several times. Yet he couldn’t see or hear anyone else. Beyond the iron fence, however, a late morning ground fog had sprouted up. The marshes beyond the perimeter were undoubtedly the culprit, but nevertheless, it was an eerie and uncomfortable sight. It almost looked like someone had a special effects machine which had been turned on and left to run.
John shook his head and focused his thoughts on Emily, on her grave. Within a few minutes, he reached her burial spot. The marker was there.
Emily Ann Lee,
Beloved Wife of John, Salve for his Soul.
Born June 6, 1946.
Died April 20, 2016.
The stone was a pale pink, her favorite color.
He tried to think of something to say. Anything. John knew it didn’t matter. She was dead. She couldn’t hear him. And what could he say?
A flicker of motion caught his eye and he turned away from the ground which covered his beloved wife to the stone, so recently, placed there.
Nothing, he scolded himself. You’re getting old.
But as he turned away, something moved again. John looked back and caught a glimpse of white within the headstone itself.
A trick of the light, John said, yet even as the thought came, he realized there was no visible sun. The northern clouds had swept in and hidden the great day star.
Suddenly, there was motion and a quick flash of white. John straightened up, stepped back and tried not to call out in surprise and shock.
The white he had seen was a hand. A hand pressed against the flat surface of the stone, from the inside. As quickly as he had seen it, though, it had disappeared.
You’re going crazy, he told himself. Too much vodka. You’re pickling yourself.
Before he could retort, the hand appeared again. And he recognized it.
It was Emily’s hand.
Pale and terrible to look upon, the palm continued to press upon the stone as though it were a piece of glass. John stared in shock, unable to look away.
Then, her second hand appeared. The marker groaned as she pushed against it, the polished granite bowing outward slightly. Faintly, horribly, she mouthed his name. Emily’s face suddenly pressed against the surface, the nose and lips flattened. Black, hollow eyes found his and a wicked, terrible smile spread across her once sweet face.
John staggered back, heard a high pitched scream and dully realized the noise was his own.
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