Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Monday, December 19, 2016

RESTINGPLACE.COM: Chapter Nine

Welcome to a preview of my new novel.  Please read the earlier chapters first.

Click here to read Chapter One.
Click here to read Chapter Two.
Click here to read Chapter Three.
Click here to read Chapter Four.
Click here to read Chapter Five.
Click here to read Chapter Six.
Click here to read Chapter Seven.
Click here to read Chapter Eight.



CHAPTER NINE


W A R  I S  D E C L A R E D


Gasping for air and still shaking with fear, I became a man with a mission after I left the mausoleum. I refused to be manipulated like that again.

Elisabetta Kostek, whoever or whatever the hell she was, had already taken up too much of my time. I was going home to delete the photos of her from my camera and hard drive, and then delete her memorial from RestingPlace. I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone else looking into those eyes. Especially Teri. She already expressed too much interest in Elisabetta after I mentioned her. I was tempted to call her and reiterate my warning, but I knew I couldn’t. She’d think I was crazy, and that would be the end of our relationship.

When I got to my car, I found a slip of paper under the windshield. It read simply: “Never come back.” It was obviously written by the mourner. There was no one else around. But what did she mean? Was her note a threat or a warning? She left no signature or phone number. I wish I had written down her license plate number. Anything. She obviously knew something. I wish she would have waited, but she was long gone.

I got into my car and headed out, passing the graves of my family along the way. As I drove I caught sight of some guy standing near the graves. From the familiar hunch of his back I knew it was Lenny visiting mom’s grave. I looked ahead again, thinking nothing of it, but then it struck me: Lenny was dead. He had never visited mom’s grave because he died before she did. I hit the brakes and turned back to the grave. As I suspected, no one was standing there. But it was too real to just be my imagination. My eyes went to the nearby willow tree, which swayed in the light breeze.

“Probably just a shadow,” I said, reason restored again.

I was tempted to back up to see if I could repeat the same optical illusion again, but I decided not to do it. I feared the implications of not being able to repeat it. It was one thing to have a bad dream. It was another thing entirely to see your dead brother in broad daylight. I was now willing to admit that something supernatural was taking place, but I didn’t want to press the point. I just wanted to get back to normal.

While driving home, I was suddenly overcome by a great hunger despite having eaten a full meal with Teri. I ordered a super-sized Big Mac meal and a cheeseburger at the McDonalds drive-thru near my house. The day before, the pictures of food made me nauseous. Not so today. I took it as a sign that my resolve had broken whatever spell the dark woman had put on me. I was free.

I ate the cheeseburger on the way home, but my fries and Big Mac were untouched as I entered my apartment. I carried the food over to the desk and sat down. I turned the monitor on. I expected to find Elisabetta’s image on the screensaver looking at me. In fact, I was hoping to see it, but instead I found a random tombstone photo for one of the memorials I had created. I used the mouse to dispel the screensaver then turned my attention to my Big Mac. I took a bite. It tasted great. Putting the sandwich down, I clicked on my photo folder and opened it up. Then I clicked on the cemetery folder, where I kept all the photos I took for RestingPlace. I knew they were the most recent files: DSC_0591 and DSC_0592. I clicked on the second one to bring up the close-up of her face. She was still smiling in the face of digital death.

“Say, bye, bye,” I said.

As I reached for the mouse again to do the deed, I took a nice big gulp of my Coke. As I did, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I had just taken a bite out of the Big Mac, exposing those little onions, except they weren’t onions. They were wriggling. I turned to get a better look and saw that they were maggots. Tiny little maggots, and I had eaten them!

I immediately vomited out everything I had eaten and drank all over my keyboard, mouse and monitor. In the process, I managed to spill the rest of the Coke, too. I jumped out of my seat and headed for the bathroom. This wasn’t a paper towel spill. This was a bath towels spill -- plural. By the time I raced back to the desk, there was already a large puddle of Coke and half-eaten food on the floor. I dealt with the desk first. The keyboard was toast. No question about that. I unplugged it and tossed it directly into the nearby trashcan. As I sopped up the sticky liquid and half-eaten food, I turned to the now drenched Big Mac. Just as I expected, there were no maggots. It was just another mind trick, and I knew who was responsible.

I think that was the moment that I finally put aside my rational, scientific preconceptions and admitted to myself that I was involved in some sort of supernatural warfare. The hows and the whys and the parameters of the battlefield were still a mystery to me, but at least I knew the name of the enemy: Elisabetta Kostek. Everything started when I took that picture of her. No, I corrected myself. I think it actually started when I looked at her. That’s what seemed to trigger it.

Whatever.

It didn’t matter how it started anymore. I was going to end it.

I dropped the towel and turned my attention to the mouse. I didn’t need the keyboard to delete those files. When I touched the mouse, the cursor moved. Good. I moved the cursor to the close-up file and clicked on it. Or should I say I tried to click on it. Although the mouse still moved the cursor, the right and left buttons no longer worked.

“Crap!” I said as I unplugged the mouse and tossed it in the trash.

The monitor turned black and the screensaver started. Needless to say, I was greeted by the smiling image of Elisabetta Kostek. I had set my screensaver to start five minutes after I last used the computer. This time it started a mere few seconds after I unhooked the mouse. I took her appearance as a little show of force to prove that she had the power to manipulate more than just my mind. She could manipulate my electronics, too. Unless, I thought, I was only imagining seeing her on the monitor now.

Yikes. What was really real? There was a lot to consider, but I didn’t have time to wade into those weeds now. It was time to take offensive action.

“How you doing, Liz?” I asked with a smile as I turned back to the monitor.

I grabbed my camera and turned it on. I found her picture on it and turned the view screen around to the monitor.

“Recognize her?” I asked.

I pressed the little trash button on the camera. A dialogue box came up over Elisabetta’s close-up. It read: “Are you sure you want to delete this photo?”

“Yes, I do,” I said aloud. Then I pressed the trash button again. The photograph was gone, and the wider one of the grave itself appeared in its place. Two quick presses on the trash button made that photograph disappear as well.

Call me crazy, but I half-expected to hear a faint ghostly wail of pain in response, but my actions were greeted by cold silence. Elisabetta herself even left the monitor. The screensaver replaced her with a photo of my mother, my father and Lenny and myself taken before my sister Janet was born. Everyone in the photo except me was dead.  I took the photo as a warning that I would soon be joining them, but I wasn’t spooked. Now that I knew what I was battling, I expected a quick victory.

That’s how foolish I was.



Copyright 2016 by Sean Paul Murphy.  All Rights Reserved.

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