Read Grave Danger Online

Authors: K.E. Rodgers

Tags: #death, #flesheaters, #florida, #ghost, #ghost stories, #murder, #paranormal romance, #romance, #sci fi, #st augustine, #thriller, #vodou, #zombies

Grave Danger

BOOK: Grave Danger
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Grave Danger

By: K.E. Rodgers

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A Smashwords Edition

Published By:

K.E. Rodgers on Smashwords

Copyright © 2010

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This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, place and events are either the product of the author’s
imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons living
or deceased is coincidental.

Author Note
: I’ve
always had a thing for a good ghost story. They’re creatures
engrained in almost every culture, past and present. Despite the
vast amounts of literature using ghosts as characters or elemental
themes, I believe there is always room for more. I came up with the
idea for this story with the city of St. Augustine in mind first.
It too is an interesting character. I’ve visited this oldest city
many times, amassing numerous pictures, along with historical books
and fictional books from local writers. This
is
a rather unorthodox story of love between two
very unlikely persons. But in the end they seem to complete each
other very well. Of course I can’t forget my infatuation with the
other dead people. The flesh-eaters in my story or what you might
know as zombies. An unappreciated, misunderstood species. They’re
not likely what you would expect. I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 1

 

Clarissa Schofield woke on the eve of her
twenty-ninth birthday to find herself dead. It was an unsettling
and quite new experience to be dead. She had never died before and
therefore had no idea what to expect.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she frowned at the
face staring back at her. It looked very real - very human, but at
the same time it was not. Even as inexperienced as she was by the
logistics of death, she knew with no uncertainty that she was a
ghost.

To be honest, death wasn’t how she had envisioned
her birthday celebration to play out. Clarissa should be eating
guilt free birthday cake and laughing with her friends, opening
gifts and drinking enough cosmos to get her to that point where she
was tipsy but not overly drunk. Birthdays were a celebration of
life and the fact that you made it one more year. However, being
dead took the helium out of that would be happy moment, turning her
balloons of life to lead and her dreams to dust.

Turning away from her spectral visage in the mirror
she transported herself from the Orlando hospital to the open
streets of an entirely different city.

She didn’t know why she was here or what had drawn
her to this city. Something inside her had compelled her to this
exact spot like a deathly honing beacon. Somehow, Clarissa knew
this was where she belonged.

The old city gates stood at the entrance of the
oldest part of St. Augustine; a lasting monument to the history of
this ancient city. St. Augustine boasted the fact that it was the
oldest city. More accurate, it was the land where oldest colonized
settlement existed; predating the settlements of Jamestown and
Plymouth by forty some odd years. That first settlement no longer
exists, but the structures that stand in their place give visitors
a personal look at American and Florida history. Preservation and
tourism are keys to keeping this ancient city alive and
thriving.

St. Augustine was a cultural and historic icon, but
even more famous than the Spanish charm of its buildings, the
colossal structures built by Flagler and his ilk or simply the
tropical beauty of the land, were the legends of its paranormal
inhabitants. Long before New Orleans claimed itself a Mecca for the
unnatural world, St. Augustine laid the grounds for ancient magick.
Within this city of old there existed the deathly inhabitants of
two communities.

They co-exist with a frayed and thin strand of
mutual understanding. As long as the two abide by the rules laid
down long ago, their acceptance of the other remained intact. Their
bitter and apathetic attitude of the other likely stemmed from the
simple truth that each possessed what the other could never have
again. For the flesh-eaters, that was a soul and for the ghosts the
feeling and look of human flesh.

And in this land of ancient magick, Clarissa
found herself a new member of the Eidolon, (ghost) community. She
knew nothing of the legendary flesh-eaters and even less about
being a ghost. To her, the entire paranormal world was the warped
imaginings of oddball people. Clarissa prided herself on living in
the real world, not fantasy land. But she no longer
lived
anymore.

Evening darkness was just now descending on the
city, heralding the tourists who were beginning to emerge from
their hotel rooms, ready to prowl the streets for drinks, shopping
and excitement.

A family of out-of-towner’s walked casually past
Clarissa on their way to a sightseeing tour of the city. It was a
ghost tour, one of many which the city provided for visitors to the
area. Too bad they didn’t know they had just walked right past a
very real ghost. The living creatures didn’t as much as turn their
heads in her direction. It could certainly be seen as a waste of
their time and money to go on these tours if they didn’t even have
the capacity to see one right in front of their fleshy faces.

Clarissa folded her arms around herself, a
tight hug to hold herself together as she stood at the entrance to
St. George Street which led to the Spanish quarter of St.
Augustine. She felt ridiculous simply standing alone in a crowd of
living creatures, not knowing what to do next. There should have
been a handbook to go along with being dead like in the
Beetlejuice
movie. Yet, despite her
discomfort, Clarissa felt a strong compulsion to remain here, like
the essence of the city was calling to her. In her deathly form she
seemed more attuned to the magick of this land.


Good, you didn’t get lost. I was hoping we
wouldn’t have to go looking for you.”

Clarissa whipped her head around, focusing her eyes
on a man as he came strolling up the sidewalk. She watched him as
he maneuvered through a group of tourists who didn’t bother to
glance in his direction as he came ever closer to where she was
standing.

He looked to be in his early forties with silver
wings on the sides of his otherwise dark brown hair. Clarissa
always thought that on men peppered gray hair gave them a
distinguished and worldly look, a sexy unconventional look. He
smiled at her as he drew closer, showing a little dimple in his
handsomely scruffy cheek.


Are you talking to me?” Clarissa asked
hesitantly.

She gave herself a mental reprimand. It was obvious
that he was addressing her, as his sharp focus was undeniably right
on her otherworldly form and not on anyone else. It was the first
time in days that anyone had actually looked at her and not through
or around her. To others, it was as if she no longer existed. But
she did exist, even if it was in a strange and unnatural form. More
than anything she wanted to be acknowledged; for someone to speak
to her, even just a glance at her in passing. It wasn’t much to ask
for.

Clarissa had spent the first days of her death
walking the halls of the Orlando Regional Medical Center, not
knowing why she was there or even who she was. Her death was a blur
of mixed up feelings and thoughts. In death, even her own name was
beyond her grasp. All she knew was that she had died and was now
relegated to this deathly animated state for an undisclosed amount
of time.

No one would speak to her. And as she screamed and
ranted at them to take notice of her right in front of their
oblivious faces the truth of her new existence became clear. She
was a freak of nature now, an abomination of the natural world. So
the doctors, nurses, hospital staff and patients ignored the
hysterical ghost and never took notice of her effervescent
presence.

After six days of haunting the halls of the
hospital, she gave in. A trip to the nursery where they kept some
of the newly born living had solidified the truth in her mind.
Normally she wouldn’t have been allowed to see the tiny living
creatures, but because the nursing staff ignored her deathly
presence, she could slip into the room undetected.

They were beautiful little things and they were so
lucky to possess the one thing Clarissa would never have again. She
wasn’t flesh and blood anymore. Therefore she couldn’t belong with
them. Clarissa would never touch the world with the flesh of a
mortal. She was nothing but a spectral of her living self.

Running a finger along one of the living creature’s
cheeks a ghostly moan resonated in her throat. The babies’ warm
skin tingled along her cooler skin. If skin was what one would call
the strange coating over her form. It wasn’t like the living’s
skin. Instead it was something composed of electrical currents and
an ancient magick long forgotten by time.

It wasn’t fair. She shouldn’t have to give any of
this up. She shouldn’t have to end her life. Not yet, at least. Was
it so much to ask that she be allowed another thirty, forty years
before she bit the dust? Twenty-nine was too young to die, but then
some died much younger than that.

Clarissa departed the Orlando hospital, leaving
behind any hope of living again. Finally, she had come to grips
with her death and so felt the pull to her new home in the old
city.

Looking up at the kind face of the first person to
see her in her spectral state, she was momentarily comforted. He,
in turn, held out his hand in welcome as he stood in front of
her.


What’s your name?” he asked, as she lightly
placed her hand within his grasp.

Clarissa hesitated for a few seconds, trying to draw
information from her ghostly brain. It was difficult at times to
remember much about her living self. Death had seemed to strip most
of the living memories along with the flesh. The identity of the
living was lost to the recently dead, for a time at least. Death
was such an all consuming experience. It would take awhile to
remember who she had been before it.


Clarissa,” she answered, finally remembering
that fragment of information. “My name is Clarissa Schofield,” she
continued, speaking as if she were in one of the support groups for
living creatures seeking help for some personal issue. But the dead
had no issues. Death should have meant the end of such living
concerns. “I just arrived, but I’m not sure why I’m here. You’re
dead too I guess.” He nodded. “I’m dead. I know that.”


Hello, Clarissa,” he said, giving her hand a
friendly and comforting squeeze. “I’m Henry Portier. I guess you
didn’t have too much trouble finding the place.” She shook her head
in the negative as he continued. “I’m here on behalf of the Eidolon
community of St. Augustine to welcome you to our city. I know this
is a difficult time for you. I’m a kind of a polestar for the
community; a guide for our newest citizens.” He let go of her
hand.

Henry was a ghost, just like Clarissa. That was why
he could see her. Clarissa had no idea there was such a concept as
a ghost community; citizens of the dead organized into a united
congregation. She just assumed ghosts wandered the earth alone.
That was why they moaned and ranted so much.


How did you know I would be here?”

Henry pointed up to the ancient gates of the old
city. Clarissa turned her head to look behind her and up at them as
well. Two large blocks of stone, aged by time and human influence,
they remained standing even in this modern time.


The old city gates are like a honing beacon
to the newly deceased. You felt the pull of the magick of the land.
It is strongest here. Likely because so many of the living pass
these gates, it leaves a mark which calls us in.”

Clarissa could feel it too. Now that she was dead,
her other senses were stronger. The ability to detect the magick of
the land was just one of them.

Henry outstretched his arm in front of him, touching
the old stone. Looking over his shoulder at Clarissa he gestured
for her to do the same.


When one of us is made, you can feel it in
the stone,” he continued as he watched her hesitantly put her hand
to the gate. “It makes a quivering movement. It’s almost as if it
were alive inside.”

Clarissa moved closer as she put her hand on the old
city gates. As her fingers brushed the cold stone, she felt the
movement of energy under her finger tips. It really was alive. Or
at least, it felt that way.

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