Welcome to FROST HARROW, my new modern (1990s) gothic horror series! If you’d like to support this and my other work, go to www.CushingHorrors.com and become my patron! You may also enjoy the Scribe Award-Winning MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE – In print, for kindle, and for all e-book formats. And check out my retro-horror-comedy classic CANOE COPS VS. THE MUMMY as well as my other books. Now… On with the show!
TWENTY-FIVE – GRAVE MARKERS
The clock in some distant church tower was just striking ten as Ivy Frost laid a small bouquet on the ground next to the graves of her parents.
Calling the faithful to morning services, she thought. Uncle Dan, Dexter, Lydia, and Aunt Annie were seated in their front row pews by now, Ivy knew. Colin and Morgan were probably thinking up new ways to profane the Christian Sabbath. Tony would be sleeping late.
Ivy stroked her fingers over the plain plaque engraved with the Star of David that marked her mother’s final resting place, then turned to the simple slab that represented her father.
She often came here to think when she felt troubled. But the chill of the morning and the mist drifting through the cemetery weren’t making her feel any better.
“God, Mom,” she said softly. “What’s happening to me? Lately I feel like you wouldn’t even know your own daughter. I hardly feel like I know myself.
“Ever since the crash, since I dreamed I saw you on that distant shore, I’ve felt different. It’s like I’m seeing my life in a whole new way. Everything’s changed.
“Parts of it I like. Like Grant. And you know what? Uncle Dan doesn’t scare me quite so much anymore. Took almost being killed for me to grow a spine, I guess.
“But there’s also this fire I feel building up inside me—like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It feels good in a way. But in another way, it feels wild, out of control. I’m afraid of what I might do if I let the fire out.”
She wiped a tear from her eye.
“Anyway, I wish you and Dad were here to give me some advice. I wish I could talk to you again, so you could tell me what’s going on. Was what I experienced after the crash real, or did I just imagine it?”
Ivy sighed and looked up. “I guess I’ll probably never know, will I. Not until I really di…!” Her voice trailed off. Something had caught her attention. A person lurking nearby, amid the tombstones.
She tried to focus on it, but the blowing mist made the figure look insubstantial. And then she realized it was insubstantial—just the shadow of a man, moving between the graves.
But the shadow had red eyes.
Ivy turned and ran headlong through the graveyard, not daring to look back.
She dodged between the markers, trying to ignore the fire building in her legs, working its way up her body. A husky, sibilant voice buzzed in her head.
Come back. I’ve come for you. Let me touch you. We can be one. You know you want it.
Ivy tripped and fell to the ground, her head missing a marble gravestone by less than an inch. Something touched her foot—something hot. But she sprang away and began running again.
The fire grew worse, blazing through her trunk now, making her feel warm and languid. Making her want to turn around. She resisted, pushing her legs as fast as they would go.
She dashed over the top of a hill and down the other side, running headlong into something. A man.
He looked down at her, a puzzled smile playing across his face.
“Grant!” she said, very much relieved. “Oh, God, you scared me! What are you doing here?”
“Visiting my parents’ graves. How about you?”
“Me, too,” said Ivy, trying to catch her breath. “We seem to keep running into each other.”
Grant smiled again, more warmly this time. “Must be fate.”
Ivy laughed. “Mind if I lean on you for a minute? I’m beat.”
Grant shook his head. “No problem. Why were you running?”
“I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but someone was following me.”
“Here? In the graveyard?”
“Just over that hill.”
“Let me go look,” he said, trying to gently move her aside. But she stopped him.
“No, don’t,” she said, hoping he couldn’t see fear in her eyes. “It was probably just my imagination,” she continued. “Just shadows in the fog.”
“Well, if you’re sure you don’t want me to check…”
“Do you want to tag along with me for a while?” Grant asked. “I came down to see my family. I might even go visit Uncle Abner. His tomb’s a beaut. Best one this side of, well, the Frosts’.”
Ivy smiled. “I’d love to.”
“Say, tell me something,” Grant said as they walked arm in arm.
“Why were you down here? Isn’t the Frost crypt on the north side of the cemetery?”
“Yes, but my parents aren’t in the crypt.”
Grant frowned. “Bad blood?”
Ivy nodded. “And my mother wanted a plain, Jewish marker anyway.”
“Tell me where it is, and I’ll put a stone on it the next time I’m through.”
Ivy smiled. Such a considerate man, she thought.
You know you want him, said a voice in her ear.
Ivy looked around but saw no one. Grant didn’t give any sign of having heard the voice.
She felt the fire begin to well up inside her once more.
Do it here. Do it now. No one will see.
Ivy shook her head.
“Are you okay, Ivy?” Grant asked.
“I’m not feeling very good, really,” she said, trying to fight back the warmth in her crotch. “I haven’t been sleeping well lately. Would you mind walking me back to the car?”
“No problem,” said Grant. “Just point me in the right direction.”
Together they picked their way between the ancient markers. Five minutes later Grant closed the door of the Rolls behind Ivy and the chauffeur drove her away.
Grant scratched his head as he watched her go; she watched him, longingly, in the mirror.
Was he thinking about how soft and warm she’d felt leaning against him?
“Where to, Miss Ivy?” Kaplan, the chauffeur, asked Ivy as he turned the Rolls out of the cemetery gate.
“Home, please,” said Ivy. “And please roll up the screen. I’d like some privacy.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Kaplan. The one-way mirror rolled up between them.
Ivy lolled her head back, sweat pouring down her brow.
Bitch. Whore. You know you want it. Sooner or later you’ll give in.
She crossed her legs and desperately resisted the urge to masturbate.
TO BE CONTINUED…