Maxwell stared blankly at the gates of the cemetery. They headlights of his car made them look dark and menacing. He had one hour.
He got out of the vehicle, holding the rose in hand. He pushed the left gate open causing it to creak loudly. Maxwell closed his eyes and swallowed hard. He checked to make sure his mothers knife was still in his belt loop. It was. Maxwell started down the path.
The cemetery was very beautiful in daylight. After walking through the gates, a winding path filled with flowers, trees, and vines led to the graves. It was normally quite beautiful. At night, however, the path was dark and intimidating. Maxwell moved cautiously down the path, keeping an eye out for the creatures.
Maxwell reached the end of the path, and looked out into the graveyard. Like the path, the graveyard was quite a sight during the day. Beautifully sculpted headstones and statues were scattered among the vast sea of graves. But under the moonlight, the sea looked dark, mysterious, and dangerous.
Maxwell spotted the groundskeeper’s building. The light was on inside, but Maxwell couldn’t see the groundskeeper inside. He was probably in the graveyard somewhere. Maxwell would have to be sure to avoid him. It was after-hours.
Julie’s grave was towards the back of the cemetery, next to his great-grandfather’s. Maxwell started the long walk towards it, constantly looking around for the creatures. He found it odd that the creatures had not tried to stop him yet. They surely knew he was at the cemetery. Where were they?
Maxwell decided not to dwell on the thoughts and continued to walk. Rocket let out some squeaks. His head poked out of Maxwell’s shirt pocket staring at a particularly large statue.
Maxwell walked towards the statue cautiously. There was nothing strange about it. It was an angel staring up towards the sky. It’s wingspan was about as big as the statue was tall. Maxwell wondered what Rocket was trying to tell him. Maxwell began to walk around the statue, and ran into the groundskeeper. Or what was left of him.
“Shit!” Maxwell exclaimed.
The groundskeeper was pinned to the statue by a piece of metal that had been thrust through his chest. His eyes had been violently ripped from his skull. Bloody tears dripped from the empty sockets. His body had been cut up, several limbs broken. Blood dripped from his feet, forming a small puddle at the base of the statue.
Maxwell knew they were here. He was about to run to Julie’s grave with the rose. He turned, but came face to face with Crispin. His arm was outstretched, holding the bloody, severed head of Samantha. Fear filled Maxwell’s eyes.
Crispin let out a wicked laugh. A laugh of satisfaction.
Maxwell back peddled, trying to get away from Crispin. He tripped over a rock falling to the ground, but continued to push himself back.
Crispin tossed the head aside and walked towards Maxwell. Maxwell continued to crawl backwards. He ran into a headstone and stopped.
Crispin stood over him, laughing. “You’ve put up quite and entertaining fight, Maxwell. Came pretty damn close to ending me. I have to admit you gave us all a good scare. But this is where it ends.”
Rocket jumped out of Maxwell’s pocket and tried to run past Crispin. Crispin quickly leaned down and snatched him up. Crispin held the mouse in front of his face, staring at Rocket with discontent. The mouse had been a real nuisance. Crispin wondered how the mouse knew so much.
While Crispin was distracted, Maxwell grabbed a stone. He launched himself at Crispin, smashing him in the head. Crispin’ dropped the mouse upon impact, allowing him to run away. Maxwell stood staring at Crispin, his eyes filled with rage. Anger had taken over. He would not run this time. He dropped the rose.
“You’re a brave one,” Crispin said, chuckling. “You’re a fool to think you can fight me.”
Maxwell didn’t respond. Instead, he launched himself at Crispin, taking him down to the ground. Maxwell threw several hard fists into Crispin’s face.
Crispin continued to laugh.
Maxwell came back to reality.
Crispin grabbed Maxwell’s injured shoulders hard, and pulled him in close. Crispin whispered into Maxwell’s ear. “Fly away.” Maxwell’s eyes widened.
Crispin threw Maxwell into the air. Crispin snatched up the rock that Maxwell hit him with, and swung it into Maxwell’s chest as he came down from his short flight. The blow sent Maxwell through the headstone near Samantha’s head.
Maxwell got up, a little dazed. Maxwell noticed something protruding out of Samantha’s mouth. He pulled it out. It was Samantha’s necklace. He placed it in his pocket and got up. He grabbed his side and hobbled away from Crispin.
“Where you going, Maxwell?” Crispin called out. “This just started getting fun.”
Maxwell spotted a freshly dug hole with a shovel standing up inside it. The groundskeeper must’ve been digging it when Crispin got him. Maxwell pulled out the necklace. Maybe…
Crispin walked up behind Maxwell. Maxwell kept his back to Crispin.
“Turn around,” Crispin commanded. “I want to see your face when I drain the life from you.”
Maxwell turned around, grasping the shovel in his hands.
Crispin smiled. “What are you going to do with–” Crispin noticed Samantha’s necklace wrapped around the base of the shovel. The shovel was lightly glowing.
“Yeah,” Maxwell said, enjoying Crispin’s moment of shock.
Maxwell swung the shovel at Crispin, attempting to use it like a blade. The shovel cut into Crispin’s arm, causing him to shout in pain. Maxwell swung again at Crispin’s leg, cutting into it. He raised the shovel over his head, and brought the blade end down on Crispin’s shoulder, cutting in deep. The blow brought him to one knee. Blackened blood started to pour from Crispin’s cuts.
Crispin breathed hard. “You can’t kill me with–”
“Shut the hell up!” Maxwell cried, slamming the flat end of the shovel into Crispin’s head.
Maxwell swung again, slicing open Crispin’s throat. More blackened blood spewed from the cut. Crispin placed a hand over the cut. Maxwell made a move to swing again, but Crispin used his free hand to stop the shovel, grabbing the base of the handle. It took little effort for Maxwell to shake him off. Though the blows wouldn’t be enough to kill Crispin, he was growing weak.
Maxwell had enough. He threw down the shovel, and pulled out the glass knife. Maxwell circled his prey. Crispin’s eyes were half open, trying to watch Maxwell.
Maxwell crouched in front of Crispin, bringing his face two inches from Crispin’s. Crispin swung his free hand at Maxwell’s head, but Maxwell swatted the hand away with ease. Crispin tried again and again, Maxwell continuing to swat the hand away.
Maxwell had enough. “This is for Julie,” He said. “And Mom.” He leaned over so Maxwell’s mouth was near Crispin’s ear.
Maxwell plunged the knife into Crispin’s chest. Blood filled Crispin’s mouth. Maxwell whispered into Crispin’s ear. “Fly away.” Crispin’s eyes widened.
Maxwell gripped the blades handle, and broke it from the blade. He heard the glass shatter in Crispin’s chest.
Maxwell stood up and took several steps back. Crispin collapsed to the ground, convulsing. Streams of shadowy smoke started to flow form Crispin. His body appeared to expand outward. Maxwell took this as a bad sign and ducked behind a nearby headstone.
Crispin strained his neck, attempting to look up. He let out a scream as his body exploded, blackened blood spraying everywhere. Maxwell stood up, expecting to see chunks of Crispin’s flesh everywhere.
There was mainly blood. Streams of the shadowy smoke came from the chunks of flesh until the flesh disappeared.
Maxwell walked over to the shovel and picked it up. He wanted to throw some dirt over the spot where Crispin had just been killed, saying something smart. But he was in pain, tired, and running out of time.
Maxwell limped over to where he had dropped the rose. He picked it up. He was relieved that the other creatures hadn’t come out to get it. Maxwell figured that the creatures were relying on Crispin to deal with him.
Maxwell heard the voices talking again. They kept saying time was running out. They were getting weaker. Maxwell was unsure why. Maybe it was because time was running out. Maybe because of his weakened state. He started for Julie’s headstone.
The voices continued to speak, but were quickly faded away. Maxwell limped down the path to Julie’s resting place, carrying both shovel and rose. He felt a presence behind him. He turned around and looked.
In the distance, he could see Toral standing where his brother had been killed. He cried out. Maxwell picked up speed.
He got to Julie’s headstone, and quickly looked around, clutching the shovel, ready to swing. None of the creatures were waiting for him. Maxwell dropped the rose, and began to dig a small hole for the rose.
Maxwell looked behind him. Toral was coming towards him. Maxwell threw down the shovel and placed the rose in the hole. He put his hand on the pile of dirt he made, and started to push it to the hole. He heard Toral in the distance, screaming at Maxwell to stop.
Maxwell turned to the now running Toral. “Screw all of you!” He yelled. He pushed the dirt into the hole, firmly planting the rose. Maxwell stood up smiling. He won…
He turned towards a shocked Toral. Toral looked his body up and down, waiting for something to happen. After a minute, he realized the rose had failed. Maxwell realized it too.
Maxwell looked back to the rose. He started to panic. What went wrong? It was Julie’s grave. The rose was planted. He looked at his watch. It wasn’t midnight yet. He pulled Samantha’s necklace from the shovel and touched it to the rose, desperately trying to make the rose work.
Maxwell turned around. The whole family of creatures stood around him. They were all laughing. Tears filled Maxwell’s eyes. Was this it? Did he fail?
The blue eyed creature walked over to Maxwell, and placed his arm on Maxwell’s shoulder, in a sick taunt. “You did your best, huh kid? Sorry to see you little rose didn’t work. Scared us half to death, you did.” He looked at his brothers. The all gave a chuckle. “Well, Maxey. It’s been fun.”
“Got that right,” Maxwell tightened his grip on the necklace. “Killing your brother was invigorating.”
Maxwell squeezed some of Crispin’s blood out of his shirt, and wiped it on Blue Eyes.
Blue Eyes swung at Maxwell, but Maxwell caught his fist with the hand containing the necklace. Maxwell threw Blue Eyes’ fist away. He tried to swing his own fist, but before he could throw a punch, he was punched in the back by Toral. Maxwell collapsed falling face down, facing his sister’s grave.
A purpled eyed creature came forward, and stomp on Maxwell’s legs, shattering them. Maxwell screamed.
“Guess you won’t be running away this time.” Toral said. Maxwell swung a fist at Toral’s feet, but Toral caught the swinging arm with him foot. “This is for Crispin.” Toral pressed, crushing Maxwell’s arm.
The creatures huddled, and started to slice Maxwell’s flesh. Maxwell continued to scream.
“Let’s end this,” Blue Eyes said, motioning to the green eyed brother.
The green eyed brother stepped forward, a long green blade protruding from his arm. He brought it down, piercing Maxwell’s flesh, through his back and out stomach. Maxwell spewed blood.
Maxwell heard Rocket’s squeak. He glanced over at his great-grandfathers headstone, where Rocket stood. The grave read:
Here lies Ronald K. Sheppard.
Father, Brother, Husband, Musician.
He gave his blood, to save his family.
His great-grandfather allowed a gang to kill him, in exchange for his families lives. He gave his blood… Maxwell knew how to stop the curse. Maxwell knew he was about to die, but he was going to take these bastards with him.
“I’d love to see you suffer,” Blue Eyes said. “But there is no need. We’ve almost absorbed your sister’s soul.” Blue Eyes stood over Maxwell now. “Any last words?”
“Yeah,” Maxwell replied, smiling. “Enjoy your death.”
Blue Eye’s look at him with confusion.
Maxwell spit the blood collecting in his mouth at the rose, covering it.
Just as soon as the Maxwell’s blood hit the rose, it began to absorb. As before, the rose lit up. But this time, beams of light shot out from the rose. Blues, reds, greens, yellows. Many different colors.
The light grew brighter, lighting up the cemetery. The lights shot out faster, almost violently. As the light grew brighter, Maxwell could now see the strange streams of energy connecting each of the creatures to Julie’s grave. The beams shot towards those streams. They were severing the connections.
The creatures tried to reconnect themselves to Julie’s body, but it wasn’t working. The rose pulled their connections to itself instead. Purple Eyes tried to run, but couldn’t. The new connection seemed to be acting like a leash. All of the creatures panicked. They began to scream with pain. The little multi-colored bursts of light started to attack them. Each stream of light acted as a blade, cutting the dark flesh of the creatures.
A bright blue light, formed on the rose. It shot out towards Purple Eyes. It was a much larger stream. The light pierced Purple Eyes throat. Purple Eyes went down, coughing up blackened blood. He looked at a dying Maxwell. He tried to lunge, but the blue laser light came back at him. This time, the light sliced completely through Purple Eyes neck. His head rolled towards Maxwell. Within seconds, his body began to fade away into smoke.
A purple and red light formed on the rose. The lights shot out towards Green Eyes and Toral. Both ducked out of the way. The lights shot up into the air, and hovered over the two creatures. Toral and Green Eyes looked up. The lights split into multiple streams and came down on the two, puncturing several holes in their bodies.
More creatures began to pour out of the cemetery walls. Maxwell smiled. He knew they came to stop the rose, but it was too late. Maxwell knew this was it. He knew the curse was ending.
The rose continued to shoot out larger streams of light, killing many of the creatures in the process. Maxwell noticed the ground around the rose was changing. At the base of the rose, dark blue cracks in the ground appeared. Maxwell looked harder at the cracks. The cracks weren’t real, just an image. They shot out. Multiple cracks covered the graveyard, and seemed to go beyond the cemetery walls.
Maxwell used his good arm to roll over, and prop himself up. He leaned against Julie’s headstone, watching the carnage unfold. Blue Eyes was also looking, obviously flustered.
Blue Eyes snapped around to stare at Maxwell. He snarled and lunged for Maxwell. Maxwell closed his eyes. wincing, ready for a blow. A moment passed. Nothing hit him.
He opened his eyes to see Blue Eyes’ fist at his face. Blue Eyes’ arm was being restrained. Blue, vine-like shadows had shot out from the cracks. They were pulling Blue Eyes back. In fact, all the surviving creatures were being held in place by the same kind of vines.
The rose stop glowing suddenly. Maxwell looked over at the rose. The glow moved from the rose down one of the cracks. The light raced away from the rose, following the crack leading to Blue Eyes. As the light reached the vine restraining him, it shot up, lighting up the vine, then illuminated Blue Eyes. Blue eyes screamed as his whole body lit up. The light grew brighter. A few seconds passed, and the light began to dim. The vines fell to the ground as the light dimmed further.
The light faded completely away. A rose stood where Blue Eyes had once been. Suddenly, multiple lights shot out from the rose, following each of the cracks. The lights shot up the vines restraining the other creatures, as it did with Blue Eyes. All of the creatures lit up.
The whispers started up again. Louder than ever before. His family was yelling at the creatures. Revenge, Revenge. The voices got too loud, the light became too bright. Maxwell shut his eyes, and covered his ears.
* * *
The voices stopped. Maxwell felt familiar hands embrace him from behind.
“We did it, Maxey,” Julie said gently into Maxwell’s ears. “The curse is over. You saved me. You saved the family.”
Maxwell opened his eyes and looked at his watch. 10 past midnight. Maxwell looked around the cemetery. It was now adorned with hundreds of roses. A sign of victory.
Maxwell was pale. He had lost too much blood. He felt death knocking on his door. He winced in pain when he tried to look at Julie.
“Don’t strain yourself,” She said to him quietly.
Maxwell relaxed, decided to enjoy these last few moments. Julie kissed him on the cheek, and placed her head at the base of his neck. Maxwell smiled.
Jacob Townsend woke up to another beautiful morning. He leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek. She woke up and kissed him back.
“Morning, beautiful.” He said to her. “Ready to get this vacation going?”
“Mmm Hmm,” She said as she stretched out.
“Okay, I’ll go get the kids.”
His two children were already ready to go. They waited at the front door with their bags in hand, giving their daddy a stern look. “Oh wow,” He said to them. “You guys are on it!”
“You’re late, Daddy!” His five-year-old daughter exclaimed.
“I know, sweetie. I’ll be ready in a minute.”
“Hurry up, Dad!” the son said.
Jacob went to back to his room. He told his wife that the kids were more than ready. He went to his closet to get his bags. As he did so, something unusual caught his eye.
There, on the floor of the closet, was a bright red rose.
He picked it. “That’s odd.”
He gave the rose to his wife. She smiled, and kissed him for it.
When everything was gathered, the family headed to car. They stowed there things in the trunk and took off. Jacob started up the car, and began to reverse, when he spotted another odd thing.
“What is it, Honey?” His wife asked.
“Nothing,” He responded, cautiously. “I thought I saw someone staring out the living room window just now.”
She looked and saw nothing. “There’s nothing there, Baby. It must be work. All this stress is making you see things. This vacation will be good for you.”
“You’re probably right.”
Jacob continued to reverse. The family took off down the road.
Back in the living room, Maxwell and Julie stared out the window.
“He saw us,” Julie said.
“He did,” Maxwell agreed. “But just for a second.”
“So why did you want to come here? Jacob is safe. We stopped the curse, remember?”
“We never crossed over, Julie. I have this funny feeling that our adventures with the paranormal, strange, and weird are just starting.” He paused. He shot a look at Jacob’s rose. “And it looks like one of those creatures was watching Jacob.”
Julie looked too. “Sure was. So what are you saying? We are going to be Jacob’s guardian angels?”
“I’m just saying we make the best of our circumstances and make sure we haven’t overlooked anything.”
Julie thought about that. “Well, in keeping with ‘making the best of our circumstances,’ I say we hit up the theatre and watch a movie. After all, being dead means we get in for free.”
Maxwell laughed. “Yeah. You got that right.”
As the two left the house, a small drop of blood fell from the rose. From the tiny puddle it formed, a finger popped out, curving to grasp the counter.