My eyes shot open and immediately I was assaulted with the bright daylight streaming through my bedroom window and the less-than-pleasant smell of dirt and old sweat. My head throbbed no doubt from the fall I took last night. A brief touch of my fingers to my temple confirmed the large knot there that made me wince for even touching it. Between the pain and my overall grogginess I couldn’t quite grasp how I managed to get back into my room or why I was so damned filthy.
I touched my hand to the sheets beside me and I felt dirt. As my sense of awareness grew I took a look at my surroundings and instantly wished I hadn’t. In the bed next to me looked to be the skeletal remains of a woman, in the fetal position, next to me as if she had risen from the grave just to curl up with me. The horror of it had me stumbling out of bed with a surprised yelp of justifiable panic. For a few minutes I couldn’t even think, let alone breath correctly. The gasps of hyperventilation had set in as I struggled futility to control the abject madness of the matter before me. Had I done this? Did I dig this woman out of a grave somewhere when I blacked out and brought her back here?
I strained to focus on logic and looked at what truths I could. I was covered in dirt, I had sweated profusely at some point and as I further inspected myself and the room, I also had splotches of blood on my shirt and on my hands. I couldn’t tell if it was mine, but I knew that it wasn’t my surprise bedroom guest from beyond the grave; there wasn’t enough muscle matter on her to constitute that possibility. Had I murdered somebody in my sleep walking grave robbery?
My first instinct was to call the police but as my hand want to snatch my iPhone off my nightstand I hesitated. I feel insane simply looking at the scene before me; explaining it to the police will get me locked away for sure. Instead, when I claimed the phone, I flicked down to my office number and called. Louise, my aged and rotund secretary answered the phone with her perfect, slightly southern-sounding voice that led people to believe she was far more attractive than she really was. As I half listen to her babble on about a meeting I missed, an appointment canceled and a problem with the coffee maker I really couldn’t care less about, I find myself drawing a blank as to what to tell her about why I had been absent. I couldn’t actually put the skeletal woman next to me on the phone like I used to do with my ex-wife. When I heard her tirade about the coffee maker end, I tersely stated that I had a family emergency and I would be out for the rest of the week. Today is Tuesday, so that gave me hopefully enough time to figure out what the hell is going on here. I went through that entire conversation fighting the urge to vomit, because of the smell of the rotting corpse the clung to me as readily as the stench of my body odor did. I wanted to shower in the worst way, but knowing I had to do something with my boney night visitor. I put it out of my mind for now. I was going to get a lot dirtier than this before my day was through.
I took a moment to take a hand towel, dampen it and tie around my face as to act as a sort of air filtering mask. The stench coming off the corpse was overwhelming but I had to get a closer look at her to figure out why I dug up this woman. She was wearing the remnants of a cornflower blue and white checkered dress, but it didn’t look like something somebody would be buried in. I guessed it for a 1960’s style dress a homemaker might wear given its length and cut. I remember my mother wearing a dress like that when I was very young and the thought of it made me shudder. I leaned in closer to look for any jewelry or perhaps old blood on the filthy dress that might give me some explanation to this woman’s fate and why I carried her to my bed. Her right hand donned a wedding band that still had the four tiny diamonds set into a Celtic knot style ring. It looked old, older than the skeleton that wore it and certainly older than the house it and its deceased owner were discovered in.
I slipped the band from her finger and tried to ignore the fact that said finger just crumbled to dust in my hand. Inside there was an inscription that read: What has been bound cannot be unbound. What has been made cannot be unmade. So too it is with our love. I shook my head at the sentimentality of that statement. Having been divorced from the ex for about two years now, I could attest that marriages came unbound all the time. The whole notion of marriage being a sacrament of God and yet people split every day showed how much people really believed in God or what He considers sacred. I tossed the ring back onto the skeleton’s chest, no wiser and more cynical than I had been when I awoke to this grisly confusion. The next obvious place for investigation would be the basement, where I had a vague memory of a shadow-thing prowling closer to me, just before I blacked out.
As I wandered through the house, I noticed dirty shoe prints tracked throughout that could not be anybody feet but mine, or somebody who wore a similar size thirteen. I made these footprints. I must have dug that skeleton out and took her to my bed, but why? It made no damned sense! My footsteps became swift as underlying panic mingled with morbid curiosity. The tracks led me to the basement door, which I had guessed had been my point of origin but what had been down there that made me do this? Against the common sense I normally had, I opened the door to the basement, to find the light still on and the trail of dirt continuing down the stairs and into a far corner of the basement that was shrouded in just enough shadow that it was impossible for me to see through, without going further inside..
This time I obeyed my survival instincts and backed away from the door. I was debating whether either go back down with one of my handguns or call that psychic back. When I turned on my choice of the latter, I was greeted by a eyeless, skeletal visage I had become all too familiar with in the past few hours. All sense of logic and rationale fled as I froze in place, too terrified to stay but too morbidly curious at the impossibility of what I was seeing to run. I just stared in surprise as a voice hissed from the unmoving jaw.
She said my name. She said it like the voice in the basement did and said it like she was like a lover of mine. Raspy, alien and strangely full of need for a thing I could not provide, her voice was a horrible, alluring song to the grave; one I had no choice but to follow.