1000 Yard Stare: Resting Bones, a short story by Ax. Date added: 2012-02-22. Times viewed: 392.
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- Intro: [Ax]
“Here lies the body of Harold Palmer, 1790-1816.”
Here on the North Side of the church, hidden amongst the advancing weeds and moss, the memory of Harold Palmer lies hidden, but not forgotten.
At the turn of the century, Harold Palmer took an axe and murdered two men and a woman. His attack lacked any understandable motive, and so the town remained clueless as to whom the murderer was. Fear of the unknown gripped the village. An assailant that can be monitored, tracked or understood, can also be predicted, trapped and caught. But those that will not, or cannot understand such motives, are always the first to try to classify the problem; a desperate and futile attempt to comprehend that which they fear. The fear afflicted the village like a crippling plague, all commerce and trade ground to a halt, and for days the villagers rationed food and risked illness, for fear of being taken victim themselves.
The village idiot, the local lunatic. Metaphorical branding still exists to this day. It’s easier that way. That way, nobody has to make anything change. We are normal, and they are not. They are different to us, and that’s just the way things are. There are lots of reasons to fear a dangerous lunatic, primarily, that they may kill or injure you. Secondly, that such phenomenon escapes all form of logic and reasoning, and hence, cannot be classified, understood, mastered or tamed; But perhaps most haunting of all, the fact that is the hardest to accept, is that such men are not beasts or demons, nor are they born with such sadistic, perverse tendencies. They are the product of our own culture, and you, or I, can become one of them. Some of us will.
Alas, Harold himself gave into his own fears, which even a monster can possess. He went missing, fearing that the police would eventually find him. After three days, he was found hiding out in the cellar of a pub, where he was cornered by the locals and captured. After his trial, he was sentenced to death, and gibbeted at a crossroad on the edge of the town. After the last scrap of flesh fell from the cage, the bones were taken down in the night. Many villagers wanted to dispose of the bones of Palmer, in a way conforming to the practice of Damnatio Memoriae. In ancient Egypt and Rome, this was considered one of the highest punishments, a fate worse than death itself; removal of a person from the pages of history.
The Murder Act 1751 states that in no case whatsoever shall the body of any murderer be suffered to be buried.
The vicar however, insisted that the bones be placed in the Northern quarter of the graveyard, along with all the other lunatics and suicides, with a gravestone placed to mark them. I believe he did this because he knew that to forget the lessons of history is to be doomed to repeat them. Even the memory of the most callous, cold-hearted, sociopath must be respected and studied in the same manner as one would study and cherish the memory of the greatest minds and bravest revolutionaries. How else can evil truly be defeated? Respect for the victims of atrocities commands you to prevent further tragedies by learning and understanding how such horrors have emerged. The alternative? Pretend these occurrences are the manifestations of the insane, anomalous individual, and will have no further cause or effect. Play the fiddle, watch Rome burn.
Cold night tonight, hardly anyone about on a cold night, not even the police. On a cold night, they won’t leave their car unless they know they have to. In some ways it was better, me and Tom could do whatever we liked. In other ways, it was worse. I’ve got to admit, running from the police is a hell of a rush, deep down, I think that’s why we do stuff like this. I know there’s nothing else going on.
I look over at Tom, an angry sneer crosses his face as he raises the pole up above his head and brings it crashing down on another gravestone. A few more hits and the top of the headstone cracks and begins to break off.
I swing my pole like a golf club, it’s easier than how Tom does it, but it takes longer for the stone to break. It’s not as easy as it sounds, when the metal hits the stone, the metal vibrates so much that you almost drop the bar, it takes some getting used to. The Marble ones break the easiest. Funny, because they’re the most expensive.
Look at Lenny, swinging that thing like it’s a croquet mallet. Faggot. He’d have better luck fucking the gravestone with his little acorn dick until it breaks. I always thought he suited the name Lenny, because it’s a stupid name. It’s a loser’s name, I don’t know anyone else called Lenny.
I’m thinking about how they’ll react, my parents, when they find granddad’s grave all smashed up to shit. I’m smart like that, the police; they’ll never think it was me.
Mum and Dad? I bet they’ll cry. I hope they do. I can’t wait for tomorrow when they see what we’ve done. I bet we’ll make the local paper. Should piss off that old faggot of a vicar for certain. I fucking hate him.
It makes me think of those old zombie films, you know, where the dead climb out of their graves. I can’t see why anyone would be scared of zombies, I mean, they move at about half a mile an hour, you could easily outrun them. I wouldn’t though, not me. I’d take my iron bar and smack them straight around the chops, take their head clean off. No zombie would get to me. Plus, people are buried like, six feet underground, they’d never be able to crawl out like that.
I look at the headstone in front of me, and smash at it, pretending it’s a zombie climbing out of the ground. I leap backwards as an unusually large chunk of stone falls forwards, rolling towards my feet.
“Lenny” Tom shouts over, “Over here” He states, pointing towards the north side.
Why does he have to shout my name out loud? He thinks he’s so smart. Ah fuck it, there’s no-one around anyway.
The northern part of the graveyard is the darkest, it was the only part that they didn’t mow or maintain, so the trees were really big and overgrown. I always thought it had a funny smell to it too.
Graveyards are always so serene, peaceful. Although, in a strange way, they amplify my existing feelings of grandeur. I feel like, amongst the ranks of the dead, I am infinitely more powerful. In many ways, I am greater than every dead person who has ever lived. This is purely down to the fact that I still have the potential to change the world, my pages are unwritten, whereas the power of the dead rests with their bones.
At this moment, only my beating heart distinguishes me from the bones that lie all around me. Under the cold earth, I can barely breathe. The bones of Harold Palmer lie below me. He shall be my muse tonight. I lie still, but I can hear my audience approaching.
On the north side, there is very little of interest. Just a few crusty old gravestones, covered in mould and overgrown grass. I can see the moon through the knobbly twiggy branches of the trees all around. I look up at it briefly, but find it is too bright, it’s almost like looking at the sun. I glance down to allow my eyes to recover. As the blurriness from my eyes begins to fade, I notice the grave in front of me looks a little bit different to the others. The moss on the grave has been scratched away, revealing the name “Harold Palmer”. Maybe a relative of someone. I look at the date; he died in 1816. Probably not.
“Hey Tom” I say, pointing towards the grave, “Look at that, someone’s been digging this one up.” I continue, pointing towards the freshly dug soil of the Palmer grave.
“Probably a recent burial” He says dismissively.
“Nah man” I say, “He died in 1816” I say, pointing again at the grave.
“Who fucking cares?!” He says angrily, raising the pole above his head, “You’ll die now if you don’t fucking shutup!”
“Fuckin’ hell, chill out man, what’s rattled your cage?” I ask backing away from him and the grave.
He turns to the gravestone and strikes it with the bar.
“I fucking hate this town.” He spits.
Suddenly a hand emerges from the grave and grips his ankle.
“Jesus Christ!” He says yanking his leg away, as the figure slowly rises from the grave.
Tom stumbles backwards dropping the pole, then falls to the ground.
Without hesitation, I run.
I hit the deck with a thump, throw my hands behind me and crawl backwards away from the thing. I look at him as he stands tall, towering over me. Fresh soil crumbles away from him as he brushes himself off. Then he looks me in the eye. His face is silhouetted against the brightness of the full moon behind him. I clamber to my feet, gripping the pole and holding it in front of my face defensively. Slowly, he moves towards me. I try to break my gaze and run, but seem to be locked in place by his eyes. As he steps forward, I swing the pole down towards his head with all my strength, but he casually sidesteps my attack. I back away even faster than before, and his slow advance begins to pick up speed. I swing the pole once more, this time horizontally, but once again he simply leans backwards, avoiding contact. Thoughts of vengeful ghosts cross my mind, and I briefly wonder if my attacker really is a spirit from beyond the grave.
With unnatural speed and force, he charges me immediately after I swing the pole, sending me crashing to the ground. He pounces on me like an animal, pinning my arms to the floor and twisting the pole from my hand.
He presses his face against mine, heavily breathing in my ear.
“Nos ossos qve aqvi estamos pelos vossos esperamos”
He picks up the pole and raises it above my face. I close my eyes and turn my face away. He strikes me in the face, bursting my nose and slamming my head into the cold ground. Stunned, I allow my eyes to creep open. He rises to his feet. I scramble to escape, but before I can move, he strikes me across the legs. I attempt to crawl away as he repeatedly smashes at my legs with the pole.
Suddenly, the onslaught stops and my assailant flees. My adrenaline rush subsides a little, which allows me to feel more of the pain I am in. Writhing on the floor, I feel like I am dreaming, as if what has just happened was, and is not, real.
Nobody heard your iron bars breaking the graves apart, now nobody will hear your screams. But you already know that. Be grateful for every breath I have allowed you to breath, young man, enjoy and savour each breath, because what you are now, they once were, and what they are now, you shall be. But first, I must deal with the coward.
What the fuck is going on, Jesus Christ!
I should have known, I should have believed. Don’t speak ill of the dead, that’s what my grandma always said. Now they’ve got Tom, they’re dragging him down into hell. Maybe they’ll take him and not me. I’m not as bad as him, he hates everyone!
I’m heading towards the gate now, out onto the street. I’m running faster than I’ve ever run before. Arms in, face forward, never look back.
Finally, I’m free. I cross the street. I can’t run alongside the graveyard wall, I don’t want to know what I might see. Just another forty yards or so, and I’ll be on the main road. Maybe a police car will pick me up. Oh god please let a police car pick me up.
Fear, anger, sadness. All of these emotions cause us to act irrationally, conversely, irrationality can lead to such emotions in the first place. Oddly, the actions of a man in fear, in all of its irrationality, can be predicted.
That’s how I knew you’d exit through the main gate, that’s how I knew you’d head right, towards the main road, and that’s how I’m going to catch you.
I throw myself forward, leaping over and between graves, towards the wall. As I approach the wall, I can see he has crossed onto the other side of the road. I throw my arms forward, bounding over the wall, in only three long strides I have caught him. He is so enslaved by his shock and horror, that he cannot fight back. I beat him to the ground, and drag him by his legs, face down, back into the graveyard.
I cannot walk, I cannot even stand, I can barely crawl. My legs are broken in so many places I cannot begin to know where. I have dragged myself about 12 feet across the ground. My throat is scratchy from screaming. Why can’t anybody hear me? I cannot go on like this.
Slow, determined footsteps, the scraping sound of the rocks. He is coming back. I claw desperately at the ground, I need to get away from him. Out onto the street. Anywhere but here.
The footsteps are getting closer. Each one seems to take longer, as if time is slowing down. The more he pauses, the further on my journey I am. He’s right behind me now. His foot appears in front of my face, and he stops. He is dragging Lenny by his legs. He drops him next to me, and retrieves the metal pole. He raises it above his head, and I bury my head into the earth awaiting impact.
I hear the loud cracking sounds of bone breaking, but it is not me, but Lenny crying out in pain. He continues beating Lenny until his cries become a whimper. He is sobbing hysterically. I quiver uncontrollably as he lifts me up to face him. I cannot stand to look at him, and leave my head to hang limply before him. He carries me some distance, I feel him carrying me up the stone steps, where he slams me against the door of the church. With one hand, he pins me up by my neck.
I look at him, he is paralysed in his terror.
“Look at me.” I say coldly. He merely whimpers, as tears roll down his red cheeks.
“Look at me!” I growl, leaning into him.
I pull the rusty mountain knife from my belt and place it on his neck. I swiftly cut his jugular vein, tearing the knife across his throat. I allow the warm, dark blood to run down my arm for a moment, then drop his body to the floor, collapsing in a heap. The blood from his neck runs down the stone steps and onto the ground, soaking into the earth below.
I grip his legs and drag him before the church. I gather up the metal poles, and drive them into the ground in a cross, above his face.
I feel the warm sensation of urine run down my shattered legs, pooling around me. He has taken Tom away, then he’ll be back for me. I can hear him returning, I glance up briefly at his legs. He grips me by the shoulders, and drags me some distance, then sits me up to look at Tom. He is lying still, in a pool of blood, with the poles forming a cross above his head. His forehead is covered in blood, he has cut a symbol into his head, but I don’t know what it means.
He kneels down to look me in the face, but I cannot stand to hold his gaze.
He puts his lips to my ear and whispers to me.
“Open your eyes, bear witness to the horror. Cherish it, study it, accept it.”
I carefully open my eyes, and take a brief look at Tom, before snapping them shut and squeezing them tightly.
“Remember what you saw tonight, it will be the last thing you ever see.”
Another murder. This time in a church yard. It’s getting worse, but I know this won’t be the last. Something has to change. What a sick world we live in.
“Thomas Berris, dead” Officer Garetty states, “Leonard Spencer, critically wounded. He’s in the hospital-”
“-With grievous wounding to his eyes.” I interrupt.
I’d heard it all before.
“Garetty, I want you to get as much information out of him as you can” I command, “We need to get as much information from him as we can, before he-”
“He’s already fallen into a state of septic shock, they’re doing everything they can to save him, but his chances of survival are minimal. He could be dead by tomorrow, and he’s on too many drugs to give any meaningful statement.” He explains.
I sigh deeply.
“Did you find anything on the scene?” I ask pessimistically.
“We’re still waiting on the forensics to come back, but we did find a message written in blood on the grave of Harold Palmer.” He states gravely.
“Nos ossos qve aqvi estamos pelos vossos esperamos”
I look at him inquisitively.
“What does it mean?”
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