by Laurie Razor
A reworking of possibly my first horror short. Originally titled, 'Dust and Sound'.
Naked in the graveyard, Johnny shivered at his stupidity beneath the pale blue moonlight. His body glowed, pasty white, contrasting his dull grey surroundings. "What am I doing?" He thought aloud as he rested on the dilapidated base of a forgotten memorial. Sylvana wrote to undress at the gate and seek out a tombstone that read 'DIRT.' Chiseled into a short semi-circular stone, akin to many others, were those exact four letters, ominously staring back at him. Had she constructed this relief for him to find before her passing? The thick clouds of dust that swarmed around most parts of the cemetery were strangely absent from this stone, almost as if the letters themselves repelled it.
"John-Bug? Is that you?" A voice from the shadows radiated around the pallid monuments; that sultry occidental accent belonged to her, and he knew it. Filled with equal parts fear and hope, Johnny responded to her call. "Sylvana? My sweet, where are you?" He leaped from atop the granite and looked around, trying to discern from where her voice hailed. "Over here." This European Goddess's warbling grew closer, though its origin remained unseen. "Come closer to the dirt." He stumbled warily toward the strange stone. "I'm here, my love. Where are you?" The haunting breeze near chilled his whispered shout before her words returned. "Closer, come closer to the dirt. Closer still to the dirt." She commanded over and over.
In front of the stone, he tried lifting his feet to take another step but found he couldn't, an indescribable force plastered his foot to the ground, paralyzing his body. "Do you remember how we first met? Well, do you, John-Bug?" Johnny reminisced about their first encounter fondly, altogether forgetting about his ghastly ensnarement. From across the avenue of a busy market strip, he spotted a beautiful gypsy girl lying on the ground; from her basket, a dozen unripened oranges had spilled. The world around him disappeared as he helped her to her feet, and refilled her basket with oranges. "Did nothing seem odd to you then?" All he recalled was her, and the citrus basket she dropped, though he didn't know why. Had love blinded him so?
"Think, John-Bug, think. What else happened that day?" He fell to his knees as he suddenly remembered the children walking with their parents; their feet passed straight through Sylvana as though she weren't there. "You're not real, are you? Nobody helped you to your feet, because nobody saw you, did they?"
"Oh, John-Bug. You're almost right. Nobody saw me, but I am real. So, if I'm the real one, then what are you?" He tried to look at himself but saw nothing, nothing but a cloud of dirt floating amid the thick air. When he tried to speak, to question what happened, sound failed to escape his formless consciousness. No longer could he feel, taste, talk, or smell, although he could still see and hear, which added to his torment.
She walked out from behind the headstones, revealing her beauty to him once more. "I am very sorry, John-Bug, but I didn't know how else to tell you. The flesh you once inhabited wasn't the same as a man's. Before this, you never were, now you're at least a memory of intelligently assembled dust and sound." Here, in this place of death, Johnny remained, forever floating in stasis as a damned unborn spirit haunting a dirt grave he didn't know he was.