Dead Don't Die
THE DEAD DON’T DIE
Dallas G. Releford
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Clay Arnold said to Lisa Bennett as they waited for the school bus in front of Mitchell’s Hardware. Lisa held the blue umbrella so it would shield both of them from the heavy downpour.
“Maybe I did, at least I saw something that disturbs me,” Lisa answered. “I didn’t sleep all night.”
“That’s not a good thing,” Clay said. “Don’t keep me in the dark Lisa. C’mon, tell me about what you saw.”
Clay was her best friend. Lisa trusted him. She would never dare to tell anyone else but him about such a thing. Nobody else would believe her and she was grateful that she even had a friend that she could trust so much. “What would you do if you saw someone that you absolutely knew was dead --- I mean, there wasn’t much meat on his skeleton --- and you saw them walking out of the graveyard in the dark?”
The big yellow bus screeched to a halt and the door flopped open inviting them to enter. “I guess I’d run as fast as I could,” Clay admitted as they climbed the wet steps and took a seat in the back of the bus. “I’d run and I’d never go back there again.”
“That’s what I did,” Lisa said, “but I can’t run from the memories of what I saw. And, it terrifies me to think that I might see it again.”
“Where did you see this?” Clay asked probing deeper into her memories beginning to wonder if she was really telling the truth or if she had just dreamed it all.
“Do you know where the old town cemetery is on Ridge Road, the one that they don’t keep up much?”
“Yes,” Clay said, “that was here when the town was first founded. It’s one of the oldest cemeteries in the entire state of Maine. Somebody told me that dozens of sailors are buried there. They were killed in a storm at sea and their bodies were washed up on the shore. The ship was destroyed because the town closed down the lighthouse and the captain of the ship didn’t know about it.”
“Did you say that they were sailors?” Lisa asked with sudden interest.
“Yes of course,” Clay told her. “There were a couple of hundred of them. They were American sailors and it was an American ship, I believe.”
“The man --- thing I saw had on a tattered, decaying light blue faded shirt and a soiled, decayed sailor’s hat. His skin was hanging loose in places, his eyes were gone and he looked like he’d been dead for a very long time.”
“Gross,” Clay remarked. “Are you saying that what you saw was a sailor from that ship who suddenly decides that he’s going to come out of his grave where he’s been for over a hundred years and run around the town?”
“Can you think of a better explanation?”
“No, but I wish that I could. Where did he go after you saw him?”
“I screamed at him and he went back into the cemetery. Even though I was terrified, I didn’t stop running until I got home.”
Lisa was just starting her homework in her bedroom when the weather person on the television screen mentioned the solar storms that were slamming the earth with an excess of energy shutting down computer systems, satellites and power grids. He said that it was expected to last for at least forty-eight hours. She picked up the remote and changed the channel just as the power failed.
She got up from her desk and carefully made her way to the window in the dark being careful not to stumble over anything. There weren’t any lights to be seen anywhere but there was fog, a lot of it and Lisa could hardly see the house next door as she looked out her bedroom window.
As she stared out the window at the wall of darkness, she sensed a loneliness that she hadn’t known before. Lisa abandoned the window and stumbled around in the dark in an attempt to find her way to the living room. She suddenly needed the company of her parents as the fear in her grew. She wondered what kind of creatures she might meet in the darkness and that thought sent cold shivers all over her body.
“Mom --- DAD!” Lisa yelled as she found the living room but when nobody answered her, she became concerned. She checked the kitchen but nobody was there either. Where has everyone gone she wondered as she fumbled around in the kitchen cabinet trying to find the flashlight?
She finally located it after breaking several dishes in the process and turned it on. Lisa directed the powerful beam around the room and finally into the living room. Finding nothing or nobody there, she returned to the kitchen and was surprised to find the backdoor standing wide open. Her next big surprise was when she found the front door open too.
She couldn’t even imagine her parents leaving the house without telling her or inviting her to go with them. Yet, it was clear they weren’t there. More disturbing to her was the fact that the living room looked like a serious storm had gone through it. What had happened there? She wondered as she stood in the living room shaking all over. Why hadn’t she heard any activities in the living room that was right next to her bedroom? Had she been so engrossed in her studies that she had just sub-consciously ignored it? Was her television too loud and it had drowned out anything that might have happened in the other part of the house?
Lisa decided to check the bedroom but as she started down the dark hallway, she ran into something solid, hard and smelly. She had the beam of the flashlight focused on the floor of the hallway and hadn’t seen anything directly in front of her. She stepped back and as the beam of light from the flashlight illuminated the Zombie standing in front of her, her heart beat faster and she screamed.
She screamed some more as she stood there frozen to the floor, dropped the flashlight and ran out the front door not caring where she was going as long as it was away from the horrible creature. She desperately needed to get help and she knew it.
She ran down the sidewalk ignoring the thick fog. As she turned right on Benson and ran toward the Police station, she was horrified to see a figure, nothing more than a dark shadow coming at her through the fog.
“Clay,” she said, “what are you doing out here?”
“Trying to get to you before those creatures got you too,” he answered almost out of breath. “They’re all over the place and they killed all of my family. I barely escaped.”
“What are we going to do?” Lisa cried frantically tears rolling off her beautiful cheeks. “Where are we going to go? My parents are missing too and I’m worried about them.”
“I don’t know Lisa,” Clay said, “but I spent most of the afternoon on the Internet doing research on the incident that cost all those sailors their lives.”
“What did you find out?” Lisa asked looking all around her expecting to see one of the Zombies walk out of the darkness at any moment.
“Apparently Lisa, the captain was the only survivor and he only lived for a very few days. He blamed the town because they had not had the lighthouse in operation and the ship crashed on the dangerous rocky shoreline.”
“Yes, I believe that you said something about that,” Lisa advised him.
“I did say that,” Clay agreed, “but that’s not the most interesting thing that I found out.”
“What else?” Lisa watched a police car pass right by them with the emergency lights flashing but the Police officer didn’t even slow down. It was the only vehicle that she had seen on the dark, foreboding street.
“Well, it seems that the mayor of the town claimed that he saw the ghost of the captain several times after his death. The mayor said that the captain warned him that they would return and seek revenge on the town when the sun was shining at its brightest. The mayor was committed to an insane institution. The local newspaper printed the story and it has been published in several books about ghosts and other odd things since then.”
“Wow!” Lisa exclaimed. “What did he mean about the sun?”
“I don’t know but we’re having a very weird solar storm right now as I speak.” Clay thought about it for a second and then the thought of the solar storm hit him in the face like a hard blast of wind. “Oh yeah, we’re having one of those storms now and all that energy has an effect on satellites, television and many other things. Maybe that is what the captain meant about the sun being the brightest when they return? The sun does send out a lot of flares and bursts of energy during that time.”
“But we’ve had many solar storms before,” Lisa acknowledged. “Why did they wait for this one to appear?”
“Maybe this is the first one that happened under the right conditions or something?” Clay said. “But I really don’t know why?”
“An interesting story,” Lisa admitted, “and a bewildering mystery. That still doesn’t solve our problem though. The way I figure it, if the solar storm is supplying them with energy then the solar storm will probably only last for a few more hours. All we have to do is to find a place to hide for a few more hours and then we’ll be safe.”
“That sounds reasonable to me but where is the safest place in town to hide? Is the Police station safe? Would the hospital provide safe shelter for us? Is there any place that is safe from them?”
“I don’t know,” Lisa admitted. “If I have a choice then I guess the Police station would be the most likely place.”
They ran up the street toward the Police station and saw several slow-moving, cumbersome shadows but they managed to avoid them. They were relieved to see several cars in the lot of the Police station.
When they went into the lobby of the Police station, they discovered that all the officers were Zombies. They were mostly ignored by the one sitting at the front desk. He was talking to another zombie that didn’t have a mouth. They all were dressed in uniforms and Lisa supposed that they had taken the uniforms, weapons and badges from the cops they had killed.
“How do we stop these things”? Lisa asked as they made their way quickly out of the Police station and ran toward the hospital.
“What if we locked the gate to the cemetery? They couldn’t get back in and maybe they would disintegrate when the sun comes up or something like that. There has to be a connection between them and the cemetery. Maybe they have to be back there before the sun comes up? That’s the way it always happens in the movies.”
“That sounds logical,” Lisa said. “There is something that I’ve been wondering about though,” Lisa admitted. “If they are running off energy from the sun then why are they still active after the sun has gone down?”
“They were charged up during the day just like a battery charger charges a battery. Sooner or later, they will begin to discharge. I figure that they will sense that and head back to their graves.” Clay explained running beside Lisa.
“Let’s hope that it’s that easy,” Lisa said almost out of breath, “but we must find a way to put them out of business for good.”
“Do you have any ideas?” Clay asked.
“Nothing more than what I’ve seen in the movies,” she admitted.
“That isn’t much and I don’t remember much about that,” Clay told her, “but we better get that gate locked before they start coming back. I don’t want to be there when they do.”
As they stood in front of the huge gate that led to the dreaded, dark cemetery Lisa suddenly got an idea. “Clay --- don’t you think that these guys will go back into the ocean rather than come back here?”
“Why do you ask that Lisa?”
“Because their graves are now open and they don’t’ have enough physical form to close the graves again. I was wondering how they managed to be in such good shape after two hundred years but I figure that they have been getting enough of the sun’s energy in the same way over the years to keep their bodies rejuvenated. I figure that they’ll return to the ocean once they’re finished with the town. But, how did they get energy from the sun if they were underground Clay?”
“Some of the sun’s energy penetrates the earth and just about everything else. There are invisible beams such as cosmic rays that do things like that. But your idea sounds like a good theory to me,” Clay said, “but when they’re finished, all of our families will be dead along with everyone else in town.”
“That’s true,” Lisa admitted sadly knowing there wasn’t much she could do about it, “but I think my parents are already dead and we know that yours are. Clay where do you think the safest place in town is now?”
“I guess there isn’t a safest place anymore,” he said.
“How about the cemetery? If I’m right and I think that I am, they won’t return here and even if they do, they won’t be able to get in if we lock the gate behind us.”
“Say,” Clay said becoming wide-eyed as the impact of the idea sunk into his tired mind, “that is true. What happens though if more of them start coming out of their graves? We’ll be trapped in there with them.”
“There won’t be enough energy by the time the sun comes up for them to climb out of the graves,” she explained. “We can always climb over the high wall. They can hardly walk much less climb a high wall so we should be safe. We just have to stay awake until the day comes.”
“I like that,” he said. “So let’s get the gate locked and see if we can lock the utility shed. I don’t think they keep it locked and maybe we can secure it somehow from inside so they can’t get in.”
They both huddled there in the cold utility shed wondering if each sound they heard was another body tearing itself from the hard earth or maybe several of them trying to tear down the front gate. They made it through the rest of the night and as they stood there greeting the first rays of the morning sun, they wondered what they would find when they went back home. They somehow wondered if the worst of the nightmare wasn’t to come with the morning sun.