by super sleuth
Escape was the motive, fleeing a necessity.
THE OPEN GRAVE
E C WESCH
'The graveyard was quiet...too quiet', Amos Grimes thought, as he wove his way between the gravestones. His tentative foot steps echoed loudly in his ears.
"DAMN! Where is it?" Drawing a soiled hankie from his coat pocket, Amos wiped the sweat dotting his forehead.
His eyes scanned each moldy, marble surface, searching as if his life depended upon it...which it did. He knew he didn't have much time left. The sun was setting, the dark, plum sky hungrily consuming the bright, orange globe. Once the darkness devoured the light, he knew it would be too late. He cringed as he watched the last rays of sunlight filter through the trees. The long, eerie shadows, growing longer by the minute, seemed alive as they slithered among the quiet stone sentinels. He continued onward, frantically searching, his dark blue eyes darting in all directions. His skin crawling as if someone or something were watching him.
He used to love the night, was comforted by its concealing cloak, and felt secure in its darkness--but this felt like evil, pure evil. His hands trembled and he was unable to steady them. He stumbled and fell as the last rays of light cast the cemetery in total darkness. As if it too were afraid, the moon seemed to be hiding behind the darkened clouds, .
"It's too late," he cried as his eyes searched in vain, knowing his fate if he failed in his quest.
He turned, to go back the way he came. His dark, blue eyes searching for a familiar landmark, as blackness slowly turned to muted shades of gray. An owl hooted, breaking the silence, and something scurried in the near-by grass. His heart beat faster, harder, as if it too seemed to seek escape. Although it was a cold evening in late November, sweat soaked through his gray woolen suit.
In a panic he started to run. Amos considered himself in good physical condition for a man of forty-nine. Maybe, just maybe he could reach the sanctuary of the church in time, and wait out the night, but the cemetery was bigger then he had anticipated. He'd searched all afternoon to no avail. He knew it was here, he could feel it, he just had to find it in time...and his time was almost up. He only had this one night left to find the right grave.
The howling wind seemed to call his name, "Amos, it's time."
Amos spun his head around, his black hair whipping across his eyes as his long overcoat tangled around his legs. Stepping back, the ground beneath him suddenly disappeared. He could feel himself falling, his arms flailing outward desperately searching for for a stronghold. The earth crumbled through his fingertips as his hands brushed against the sides of the open grave. His fall seemed to last forever. When he hit bottom, he hit hard, the air escaping from his lungs in a heavy whoosh. Amos lay there immobile for several minutes, until the pounding in his head subsided to a dull ache.
"Amos," the voice repeated, "It's time."
Amos scrambled to his feet, his hands clawing through the loosened soil. Sweat beaded his forehead, yet he felt chilled through to the bone. A light, milky mist began settling around him filling up the hole choking off his air. Amos looked up, his pale face bathed in its silvery glow. The moon, full now, seemed to mock him as a cloudy sneer appeared across its surface. Raising an angry fist toward the sky, Amos screamed, "You'll not have me. I forbid it!"
"It's time." the voice whispered.
"NO! NOT NOW! My life is only just beginning to matter. I finally found my soul mate, I have two sons," he shouted at the surrounding mist.
"Amos, you know the rules. You swore on your mother's life."
"I don't care," he cried. "Give me more time. I need more time."
"Your time is up."
"PLEASE," he cried.
"Don't waste your tears on me. You know it's pointless. You've had a good life these last twenty years. You bargained with me to give you more time, I did. Now it's time to pay up. DON'T make me angry."
"I've turned my life around. I've given up my life of crime, doesn't that count for anything?"
"Not with me. He may forgive you your past sins, but I don't. What matters, is you now belong to me. A pact is a pact."
"But I still have a few more hours to find the right grave. You said if I found it within the twenty years I would be free of you. I know it's here. I feel it."
"What a fool you are. Why did you wait 19 years before you started searching?
Did you think it would be easy? Ha Ha! Did you honestly think I would make it easy for you? You haven't changed."
"Yes, I have!"
"NO! Your a lazy bastard. Your wife does all the work. She raises your children. She earns a living taking in other people's laundry and doing alterations, while you wine about there not being enough food or ale for you to guzzle down. Did you think I wouldn't keep my eye on my investment in you? Guess again."
"That's not true, I have changed."
"By the way. Your mother sends you her regards. She's waiting for you. Shall I get her?"
"NO! Please let me stay here, I'll do anything. Tell Mama, I'm sorry."
"I don't think she cares anymore."
"Mama, I didn't mean to do it, but I was afraid to die. You were old and sick. I still had a full life ahead of me. What did it matter if he took you instead of me?"
"You stole from her the twenty years she still had left. Now it's time to give them back. She's waiting for them.
Amos screamed, digging his fingers deeper into the loose soil trying to find a foothold. He scratched until his fingers bled. He dug and dug into the side of the grave and only managed to form a crumbling tunnel for his efforts. At the stroke of midnight his tired, aching fingers touched something solid. It felt like wood. A wooden casket.
"I've found it!" Elated he continued to dig around it. "I'm free, I'm finally free."
"Not so fast, Sonny boy," the voice said as long, bony fingers encircled his wrist.
"Mama?" Amos stood still. His body frozen by the touch and sound of his mother's voice.
"I've waited twenty years for this. What was once yours, is now mine. I'm taking back what you stole from me."
"Mama, please help me?"
"Why should I? What do you have to offer me in return?
"You love me mama."
"Not any more. You didn't even have the decency to give me a proper burial. You left me at the morgue and never claimed my body. A pauper's grave is what I got for loving you. Now it's your turn. Let's see how you like watching your skin rot off your bones. Your eyes being eaten away by ants and any other crawling creature that dwells in this hell hole."
Amos choked back tears, not believing his ears. He stood transfixed as he watched his mother's body filter through the ground above him like a whisper of smoke.
His scream was smothered by the cascading earth as the cavern he"d dug began to collapse upon him. Her laughter faded away as the crumbling earth clogged his ears, burying him under a mound of dirt.
"I'm free! I'm finally free!" screamed the naked, mad-crazed woman running among the tombstones, her voice echoing in the darkness. "It's all yours now Sonny boy, it's all yours."