Entry for Angus' revitalised "Screams!!!" contest
GOLD AND GINGER
A cemetery at midnight is not the usual place for a tryst, but on this night a ute pulled up at the old abandoned graveyard way out in the backblocks. Two figures left the vehicle, and started arguing.
“Tell me again, Joe, just so I’m in no doubt. Why are we out at this godforsaken place at midnight?” This from an attractive, well developed redhead.
“Ginger, honey, this is a perfect way for us to get the money we need. When old man Maybould died, he took it all with him. His coffin is packed with gold sovereigns he bought a couple of weeks before he karked it.”
“You sure of this Joe?”
“Dead set,” Joe sniggered at his little joke. “Let’s get digging.”
Telling Ginger to grab the lantern, Joe picked up two shovels and strode towards the grave sited it out beforehand and knew the exact location.
Setting up the lantern, he handed Ginger a shovel. “Here we go – Clarence Maybould, 20 June 1920 to 14 September 1987. Soil around here is pretty sandy, and anyway, these country cemeteries didn’t usually insist on the full six feet.”
Even with two digging, it took about four hours before a hollow thump told them they’d reached the coffin. As they cleared the soil from the lid there was a hollow explosion, and in a cloud of dirt and dust, the lid flew into the air.
A stink of decay filled their nostrils, but even more disturbing; “Oh my God, Joe, it’s wide open.”
“Yeah, wide open and empty. No Clarrie Maybould. But wait, look in the bottom of the coffin,” and Joe jumped down into the casket. “Well, would you look at this,” and stooping, he gathered handfuls of golden coins, trickling them to the floor of the coffin in a glittering shower. “Come on down, honey.”
She did so, and they laughed hysterically as they dropped the coins back into their resting place.
The laughter was short-lived when a blinding flash of lightning illuminated the desecration, and a roar of thunder filled their ears. At the same time, a black cloud gathered in front of them, bringing with it a stink of blood, decay and brimstone.
“Joe, we’ve got to get out of here,” Ginger’s hysteria had taken on a quite different quality and they both scrabbled to leave the coffin. But somehow, they were prevented from doing so—try as they might, neither could pull themselves out.
The black cloud swirled and coalesced into vaguely human form, save for glaring red eyes and a voice reminiscent of every horror movie either of them had ever seen.
“Well, well, well, what have we here? What makes you think Clarrie Maybould would allow his treasure to be taken by a pair of bungling fools such as your good selves?”
“Hey, wait a minute … “ Joe attempted to maintain some dignity, but the response was immediate and unequivocal.
“Silence,” screamed the apparition in a voice capable of cutting glass. “You have violated my grave and attempted to steal my possessions. You shall both suffer for this in ways you could not imagine in your worst dreams.”
“I shall deal with you later,” he told Ginger and, pointing his finger at her, caused her to rise from the coffin. She felt as if she had been wrapped in a tight net, and her struggles only caused the net to draw tighter around her. She felt herself dumped into the tray of the ute.
By this time, Joe was howling apologies and begging to be released.
“I don’t think so, Joseph. ‘An eye for an eye’ and all that.” With a wave of his hand, the spectre gathered up all the gold pieces into a canvas bag and gave a sepulchral laugh. “You wanted to get into my coffin so badly, Joe, I think it only fair you should stay there.”
“No, no, oh my god, no. Please, you can’t do this. I’ll suffocate. You can’t just leave me like this, you can’t …”
“Oh, stop your snivelling, Joe. It shouldn’t take too long. You’ll drop into a coma and be dead in a few hours. Oh, and one last thing—you came here after my gold; it would hardly be fair to leave you without any,” and so saying, he flipped a single gold coin into the coffin with Joe. And then with another wave of his hand, the lid sealed itself onto the casket. Joe’s muffled screams diminished as the soil piled itself automatically back into the grave.
Clarrie Maybould had now taken on a human form. A grizzled man in his sixties with a pronounced beer gut, thin, straggling grey hair, bad breath and the face of an alcoholic. Not a pleasant sight. But this was the sight greeting Ginger as he released her from her captivity.
“Now, my dear, we had better make a move. We have a lot to do. You can drive.”
“What have you done to Joe, you pig. Get the hell out of here and let me go.”
“Not so fast, young lady. You see, your punishment is to be tied to me for eternity. You will be my partner, my constant companion and make your body available to me whenever and however I choose. Ooh we’re going to have so much fun—well, I am at any rate.”
Ginger’s screams rivalled Joe’s in both volume and desperation.