Happy Almost-Valentine’s Day! Here is a short story to warm your heart! …
The sun was beginning its descend. Long shadows of tombstones and statues tried to bar my way, with no avail. It was cold and unpleasant, like my life for past few months. I believed I had everything planned, but as always I underestimated myself.
Now it was time to turn things around for good.
Not a soul was present in the graveyard, the great necropolis of our city. With the coming dark my intentions would come that much easier. For a moment I freeze when I hear a sound nearby, of a brush sweeping across stones. I hide behind one of the many tall crosses and gaze from around it. The Groundskeeper, cleaning the paths to the dead. He should be of no problem however. Is it not normal for people to visit their dead, even at this hour?
I continue on, passing next to family mausoleums, tombs of great men, and unmarked graves of the poor and nameless. Very soon I see before me the resting place of my adopted family, and where I personally lay to rest my wife.
A home for the dead, it looked like a mansion; with a metal gate at the fore, colored glass panes, golden ornaments on the walls and roof of angels and demons alike. I produce the key to this mansion and open the gate, it creaks heavily. Just like the sun, I descend into darkness, holding a lantern to light my way. The graves were deeper, much deeper than one would expect, but this family of mine had a long, ancient history and many met their end here. How envious I was of their wealth and power, yet here I see their corpses, hidden away in stone boxes, away from anybody to see their sad state.
Finally I find her grave, a beautiful marble grave. I rest my hands upon its cover, her name engraved upon it. A craftsman’s hands worked tirelessly to make it pristine. Every letter carefully etched, in line, perfect symmetry. For a moment I feel a sense of regret, but its fleeting. I push against the cover, making it at first slide slowly until it falls with a resounding thud and I hear the marble crack.
Then I see her. Still as pale as when I left her, auburn hair, hands folded neatly one atop of the other on her abdomen. She was buried in her favorite dress, the one I first saw her in. And her slender neck, so slender and long, so easy to strangle.
The purpose of my visit rests before me, her heart shaped ruby, her amulet that was to keep her safe from people like me. A priceless heirloom that would let me crawl out of my debt and leave this damned place forever. When we married I hoped for a life of freedom, whores and gambling, but I underestimated her clinginess, how much of an impression I left upon her. It would had broken my heart to turn her away and lose all my gained riches. Murder proved far more practical.
With no proof of my wrongdoing, though suspicion was there, I enjoyed life to its fullest until the purse ran dry. Who knew that a life of debauchery was so expensive?
But now all that would change. I would be free once more, free from my financial obligations.
I reach for the amulet, but as I grasp it I hear a metallic clang behind me, and something locking. Was it the gate? As I look back, trying to hear if anybody followed me down hear something grips my hand and I look back to corpse.
It is her.
“My Love, I waited for you so long.”
Her eyes are dead but her lips are moving, and the smell of her rotting organs reaches me as she speaks. I try to pull my hand away, still holding onto the amulet. Unnatural strength she had, but I was faster. Fear and greed are greater forces than whatever drove this abomination alive. The chain breaks and I now hold possession of the amulet.
I turn and flee, up the stairs to the gate and of course find it locked. At first I try to push it open, thinking the wind closed it, but then I see the Groundskeeper standing right beyond said gate.
It is locked. I search for the key but it is not in my vest, not in my pockets. I grab the bars of the gate, trying to force it open but for naught.
“My love? Why are you leaving? Did thy not promise to be with me forever?” I hear her hollow voice from below.
I look around, to the floor, the gate, the key is missing, and then I look to the Groundskeeper.
“Help me man! The dead are walking! Open this gate and set me free!” I shout, but he does not answer. His face is hidden by rags, his robes old and gray like the headstones surrounding him. “Be a man of virtue and help me!” I beseech him.
But all he does is lift his hand, and I see the key in his grasp, just beyond my reach. He dangles it before like one would bait a hungry hound.
“My love, we will be together again.” I hear her words, approaching from below, as I press my body against the gate, trying to take the key from the keeper’s grasp. I stretch my arm as far as it can go, I beg and beseech him, but he only stands there. Then I feel death embrace me, as her cold arms wrap around me. I struggle to push her back but her hold is not one I can break anymore. With the strength of a demon she drags me down into the darkness once more. I kick and shout but the keeper remains unmoved.
“Forever…” I hear her moan as I find myself in her tomb. My strength and will sapped, unable to move, but still holding the damned ruby in one hand. As her ice-like hands caress my face a glimmer of hope comes to me in the form of footsteps, but when I see the keeper look down at me, holding my lantern, and sets the marble cover back atop of us, as my world becomes that of inkling darkness and all that I feel is her cold and unearthly words, I finally come to terms that it’s over.