The Sickness

By Dylan J. Morgan



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2 mins

Chapter One

Grass grew thick across the field but here, where the body rested just beneath the surface, the disturbed soil lay bare. An unkempt hedgerow grew close to the makeshift grave as though the meadow tried to conceal its sordid secret. No marker stood at the head of the grave—none needed for someone meant to be forgotten. The horizon had only just pulled the sun into its embrace, but gathering clouds above the estuary hastened night’s arrival. Static air simmered across the expanse of farmland: nature holding Her breath in expectation. Amid sky the color of a dark bruise, stars blinked in distant constellations.

A ring of salt surrounded the area, sprinkled delicately along the edges of overturned earth. Four black candles were forced into the soil at strategic locations; north, south, east, and west. In the grave’s center, a handful of lavender and sandalwood burned slowly, smoke curling into lazy clouds.

A match flared to life, causing shadows to stutter and retreat into the nearby hedge. Touched gently to wick, the match’s flame faltered momentarily before brightness grew. When the final candle grasped onto fire, the clouds above the estuary swarmed en masse and encased the heavens.

It was no coincidence.

Arms stretching out above the grave, a monotone voice split the gloom.

“By the force of Fire and Air . . .”

Wind moaned like a tormented spirit and thunder bellowed in the distance. Candlelight quivered with the approaching storm. The bloated underbellies of thunderheads crackled with electricity, charging the atmosphere, giving life to the baleful memories of this place.

“Water and Earth . . .”

Fingers curling open, presenting a palm, the other hand clasped tight to a dagger and pressed its blade into soft flesh. Dragging the edge across the hand, skin split open in a vicious line. Without a wince or falter, the voice droned on.

“The elements lend their power to return you to the living.”

With a clenched fist squeezing hard, blood dropped from the wound to merge into soil. Although wet from storms not long past, the ground sucked eagerly at the offered solution; incantations urging the blood to find slowly rotting flesh.

“I give you the fluid of life freely that you may live.”

Raindrops peppered the ground, offering a gentle rhythm to the macabre proceedings. A blast of energy forked across the estuary waters, lighting the fields, and thunder cracked loudly. Flames danced with the wind but the candles held resolute to their glow.

Glancing down at the resting place of a wretched individual, the shadowy figure said, “Accept my offering, and return.”

For a short moment the surrounding world remained as it was, locked in the grip of a strengthening storm. The blood had gone, filtered into the earth. A lump of soil rolled from the grave, almost unnoticeable at first, until charred lavender peeled away from sandalwood with a hiss.

Pale under candlelight, a grime-coated hand emerged from the sodden dirt.

Dead fingers opened, awkward and stiff—reaching out, clutching at the ground, hauling its corpse from the grave.



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