Al Bruno III
Knox saw them twice every day; once on drive to work, once on the way back. Gravestones, pale weathered gravestones sitting just a few feet off from the side of the road surrounded on each side by a worn looking fence. It seemed like each day he forgot about them until he passed them and his mind set to wondering. Had they run the interstate through an entire cemetery? Or worse yet over one? And how old were those pitiful headstones? What names and dates might each one hold.
One day on the way back from work Knox decided to find out. He pulled his car well off the soft shoulder, set the hazard lights blinking and made his way to the object of his fascination. The day was overcast, the air heavy with the promise of a downpour. The roadside was thick with litter and the scraps of old tires that blown out and come apart. The old fence was waist high with posts that sagged this way and that. Seen up close the headstones were blunted and the color of ivory; they jutted out of the earth like a mouthful of rotten teeth.
Eager for a closer look Knox hopped the fence- after taking a cautious look around. None of the cars zooming past in their rush hour frenzy noticed. The ground was brittle and dusty beneath his feet, it cracked and crunched with every footstep. He knelt before one of the headstones, erosion had rendered the names unreadable and the angels faceless but he could just make out the dates.
1793? He smiled to himself and ran his hand over the stone, how many other drivers out there knew that they passed a sliver of history every day? Knox vowed to return here with some wax paper and some charcoal. He wondered how such a thing might look framed on a wall. Would guests take it as archeological keepsake or a morbid conversation piece? Was there really a difference?
Such plans however were for a different day. Knox started to stand up only to have a strange bone-deep weariness wash over him. He waited for it to pass but he just knelt there listening to the blood roar in his ears. He laughed to himself thinking he might have stood up to fast or that he might be coming down with something. Knox tried to raise himself up again, his legs wobbled beneath him and he pitched face first into the dirt. He tried to raise himself up only to find the weakness spreading to his arms. His panicked breaths spat and inhaled dust. This was no ordinary paralysis, he could feel it starting to rain, thick cold drops pelting him everywhere. He tried to move again but he barely had the strength to move his fingers and all they could do was trace pathetic patterns in the dust.
He wondered what was wrong with him, was it a stroke or some other strange illness? The rainfall grew heaver, the wind driving the precipitation in wave after bruising wave. With nothing else to do Knox wondered grimly how long it would be before a police officer spied his car and came to investigate. Not long surely.
The rain turned the ground into a mud, he felt it congealing around him, drawing him down. It sucked greedily at him like quicksand. Again he tried to move, hoping fear might give him strength but what little movement he made just made him sink faster. He didn't even dare cry out for fear of choking on a mouthful of mud. His face began to sink below the surface, half his head was swallowed up in a matter of moments.
And in those last moments before he was lost forever Knox realized that while the bodies been buried here so long ago might have turned to dust these graves were still hungry.
So very hungry...