I started this one earlier this year, then set it aside when I took my hiatus from writing anything more involved than a grocery list. I think I need to get it back on the desk and see where it wants to take me. Here’s a sample:
A knock at the door brought W. Bryce Magill, Esq. back to the present. He turned to his desk and called out, “Yes?”
His secretary opened the door and ushered a man into the office, introducing him to Will before she left, closing the door behind her.
Jason Nightwalker was a distinctive man. Tall and thin, the old timers would have described him as wiry, he radiated surprising strength for his build, as Will discovered when he shook his hand. His grip was quite strong, his hand firm and calloused. His face was deeply seamed, as though from years under the sun, his hair pure white, thick and lush. He wore brown boots, well-worn jeans and an open chambray shirt, revealing a unique stone on a leather cord around his neck. The stone was gray, shot through with flecks and streaks of a deep red, a color of stone Will had never seen before. Jason noticed him looking and smiled.
“They call it a bloodstone. It’s rumored to possess special powers, but I like to wear this one for luck.”
His voice was surprisingly rich and deep, reminding Will of the actor James Earl Jones in his heyday.
“I’ve heard of it. Isn’t it said that the color is supposed to come from the crucifixion, when the soldier speared Christ in his side and his blood fell onto the stone at the base of the cross?”
“That is one of the untrue legends of the stone, yes. In fact, the stone was originally called a heliotrope, and was in the possession of man for centuries before that crucifixion ever took place. The unique composition of shades and color gave it its value and led to the legends of how it might be used… in the proper hands, of course.”
“Oh, I had no idea. A fascinating story, Mr. Nightwalker. Please, have a seat”
Will gestured at the seats in front of his desk as he returned to his chair behind it and his visitor sat down.
“How can I help you, Mr. Nightwalker?”
“There is no matter I need the services of an attorney with, Mr. Magill. I have merely come to offer my condolences. I understand your partner was also a friend.”
“Thank you, Mr. Nightwalker. Yes, Tom and I first met in high school, and wound up opening the firm together when we both graduated law school.”
Nightwalker’s right eyebrow raised as he nodded slightly.
“A long friendship. Most young people will never realize the value of such a relationship, concerned as they are with themselves and their possessions. You’re a fortunate man, Mr. Magill, to have enjoyed this friendship.”
“Thank you for that, Mr. Nightwalker. Tom and I were always there for each other, to celebrate the good and to offset the bad.”
“My people believe a man has three lives, Mr. Magill. He has his public life, the one he presents to the world at large, then he has his private life, which is the one he shares only with those close to him. Your friendship enjoyed both of those.”
“You said there were three?”
“Yes. A man also has his secret life, the things he shares with absolutely no one. Most men will never admit to having such a life, but it is there. We all have things we keep entirely to ourselves… wouldn’t you agree?”
Nightwalker smiled at Will’s hesitation, which said all that was needed to be said.
Will looked around the room, an overwhelming sense of déjà vu sweeping over him. He was in the funeral parlor again, but this time he was seated alone in the last row. Tom’s family and his other friends were all sitting in front, weeping and talking softly, just as they’d done when Tom died only a year ago.
The coffin was closed by necessity. Tom had been on the turnpike, driving faster than he should have been in the sleet and freezing rain that day, making his way to an appointment he should have put off in deference to the storm. When the tractor trailer ahead of him jackknifed, sliding across all three lanes of the road, Tom hit his brakes hard, but the locked wheels slid freely on the black ice. Tom’s car rammed into the middle of the trailer, the roof crushing down and decapitating him before the car finally came to a hard stop, wedged beneath the trailer.
The side door in the front of the room opened, but it wasn’t the funeral director coming in this time. It was Jason Nightwalker, grinning at the room as he strode in front of the coffin, a weathered leather duffel bag in his hand. When he reached the foot of the coffin, he set the bag down, the bloodstone on the leather cord around his neck swaying freely. Opening the bag, he produced a long brass rod, an offset at one end ridged like the head of an Allen wrench, and a long offset at the other end with a mahogany handle on it.
He stood, pressing the ridged end into the foot of the coffin, where it locked in place with an audible snap. As he wrapped his hand around the wooden handle, it seemed as though he was staring directly at Will, a maniacal grin on his face, his green eyes glittering in the soft light.
And he began to turn the handle counter-clockwise.
From the ceiling speakers, usually used for a sermon or a eulogy, came the distinct sound of a calliope, just like you’d hear on a merry-go-round, playing “Pop Goes The Weasel” very slowly, in time with the rotating brass bar.
Will jumped to his feet, horrified that no one else in the room was reacting, or even seemed to notice what was happening.
Jesus Christ, don’t they hear it? Don’t they see him? The voice in his head was deafening, despite his own silence, his jaw agape.
Just as the song reached the final line, there was a loud click from the coffin lid, and Will threw his arms up in front of his face, closing his eyes, unable to watch what might happen next as he screamed… and woke himself up from the sound of his own screaming.
He shook his head back and forth, peering in the darkness for a moment before realizing he was in his bed. He threw the covers off, saturated as they were from his sweat, and got up out of the bed.
There would be no more sleep for him after that.