“Eric,” huffed Steven, “You’ve got to come and see this! There’s a woman in the old farmhouse!”
Eric regarded his friend carefully, Steven was a slightly chubby twelve year old boy with a reputation for exaggeration. Eric was also twelve years old, but was wary of any story that seemed too incredible to be true. Since no one had lived in that big old farmhouse for years, he was duly suspicious of Steven’s account immediately. However, Eric was secretly afraid of going to the farm house on his own and since Steven was willing to do it that gave spurs to his courage to go there too.
Steven lead Eric around to the backyard of the old two story weatherboard house. The summer heat had killed off the garden leaving it a shrivelled and brown. There was a rectangular depression in the ground near a window of one of the back rooms. Eric looked at the weathered grey husk of a building and shivered. The atmosphere of emptiness within the building was so great that it seemed to be drawing the boys into its jaws. Steven was moving towards the back door as though in a trance so Eric tapped him urgently on his shoulder and pointed to something written on the waterboards next to the door. Steven looked groggy for a few moments before he focussed on what Eric was pointing out to him. Just faintly the word “WITCH” could be traced on the exposed wooden panels.
“What do you think that’s about?” asked Eric.
Steven eyes seemed to go in and out of focus a few times before he answered.
“You need to come and see this.”
Steven lead Eric to the back window and the two boys looked inside. The room was bare of any pictures, paraphernalia, or personal items, but it did contain furniture. There was an old stained bed in the middle of the room and a dilapidated dressing table just to the left of the window where they were looking in from.
“Is this where you saw the woman?” Eric inquired.
Steven nodded gravely and reached under his collar and pulled out a gold chain necklace.
“It’s so that you can see the woman too.”
The necklace had pedant on it shaped like half a heart torn down the middle. On it Eric read the following four lines:
From the arrangement it was obvious that the other half of the pedant must contain the missing words.
“Where did you get this Steven?”
“I found it. Here, quickly have hold onto the chain with me and look in the window!”
Eric complied and gripped the loose end of the chain and peered inside the window only to find the room was now completely furnished with candles, books, and incense holders strewn everywhere. On the bed lay a beautiful young woman with pitch black hair and the most pale white skin the boys had ever seen. She was wearing a night gown but the fabric was so thin that they could divine the features of her body underneath. The boys shivered with embarrassed excitement at what they saw. Then the woman’s eyes flickered open and she slipped off her bed and started moving in their direction.
Eric wanted to duck down and hide from her but Steven spoke to him with an uncharacteristic firmness, “keep looking, don’t turn away!”
The woman didn’t appear to notice them and sat at her dressing table just by the window. Eric noticed that she was wearing a gold necklace with the other half of the heart. But try as he may he couldn’t focus on the words on the other half. The woman was brushing her long hair and Eric found himself staring at her chest in awe. He was so fixated at trying to trace the contours of her bust barely hidden underneath the thin garment that he hadn’t noticed the man enter the room and stand behind her. He was tall, well built with his left hand hidden behind his back. Eric flinched when he saw that the man’s face was contorted with naked hostility.
The woman didn’t seem bothered by the man’s appearance nor his presence of mind. She smirked at him playfully and pushed him back wards with both hands on his chest. The man stubbled and the arm that had been behind his back the whole time popped out so as to help him regain his balance. There in his hand was a large silver hammer. This time the woman looked frightened and she silently pointed at the hammer in his hand. From the expression on her face she was shouting something at him, but the entire scene played out in eerie silence. The man passed the hammer to his right hand and gripped her throat with his now free left hand, but she pulled herself free and made for the doorway. The man dragged her back into the room and threw her violently against a wall. She started throwing books at him from the floor but he grabbed her throat again and held her up against the wall and started beating her with the silver hammer.
Up until this point the entire scene had been in complete silence but now each time the hammer came down on her head a loud dull thud echoed in the boys’ ears. Eric felt sick watching the once silver hammer turning red with blood. He tried to look away but Steven grabbed the back of his head and pushed his face up against the window so he had to watch every last stroke of the angry man creating his murder. Eric was impressed by the strength of Steven’s grip.
The woman’s lifeless body slipped down to the floor. Her face a bloody mess of bone and flesh. Here the scene at last shimmered away like a mirage restoring the room to the original bare scene the boys’ had gazed upon. Steven relaxed his unusually strong grip on Eric and took back the heart pedant to slip back over his head.
“Now you know what happened, she was so young and beautiful. It wasn’t fair for her to die.”
Eric tried to speak but found himself sobbing from the horror that he had just witnessed. He wanted to ask what were they supposed to do about it and although he couldn’t get the words out Steven seemed to understand what he was trying to ask. He pointed to the rectangular depression in the ground.
“She’s buried down there, we need to dig her up, we need to give her life another chance. It’s only fair.”
Eric felt a blinding headache come on the instant he thought of running away, his vision got blurring his knees wobbled beneath him.
“Think of digging up her grave, it’ll help with the pain!”
Eric resisted at first wanting nothing more than to leave the farm house immediately. But the idea of picking up a shovel and digging up the grave flashed across his mind and he felt a brief sense of relief from the affliction affecting his mind. He tried to resist thinking about it, but the pain and nausea just kept coming over him stronger than ever. He found himself thinking about digging up the grave more just to avoid the pain inside his head. Steven had produced two spades and offered one to Eric, the boy winced from the pain of just thinking about refusing the spade. Reluctantly he accepted the spade and pointed it at the ground. Caught between the pain of refusing to dig and the fear of what he might find beneath the soil he eventually decided to start digging in earnest with Steven who seemed to be in a trance. Eric wondered if maybe the pendant around his neck was somehow exhorting demonic control over him.
The boys dug down about two feet when they came across the body of an animal. Steven explained, “When Jerry killed her, he buried a dog in the grave above her body so as to confused the police. It worked. They didn’t find her body.”
A shiver ran through Eric’s body as he shovelled bit of dead dog out of the hole. If the police never found her body, does that mean this killer, Jerry, was still loose? How did Steven know the killer’s name was Jerry? The hole got deeper and deeper. They were now so far down that one of the boys had to get down inside to keep shovelling the dirt out. Steven seemed obsessed with the digging compared to Eric’s half-hearted efforts, and when he jumped down the hole it was almost above his head when at last they struck wood.
A wooden crate was buried down the hole and it had rings for tying ropes onto to it. Steven duly tied on the ropes and the two boys had to heave together to drag the heavy crate up out of the hole. There Steven rushed forward with a spade and frantically used it as crude crow bar to pry up the nails. Eric gasped in horror as Steven pulled opened the lid of the box and there stuffed into the box was the worm eaten remains for the woman with jet black hair. The left side of her forehead caved in from multiple hammer blows years before.
Steven turned to Eric and beckoned him to come and help him pull the cramped body out of its container.
“Help me take her inside, we must place her on the bed so that she can rise again!”
Eric had never felt more frightened in his whole life. Clearly some demonic force had taken possession of his friend, but every time he tried to walk away blinding seizures would start through his head. He struggled for several minutes trying to move away from the corpse, but it seemed to be drawing him closer to it, as though the dead bones and worm eaten flesh were somehow still alive and drawing him towards it. He eventually grasped the body which was still clothed in the thin night gown and helped heave it up out of the box. When he did this he noticed the other half of the heart shaped pendant lying on her rotten breast.
A few minutes later they were inside the house and placing the corpse on the bed where it had once laid alive many years earlier. Eric seized the opportunity to look at the pendant and read the words missing from the half that Steven wore around his neck.
He finished reading it out to see Steven kneeling at the foot of the best with his hands clasped around the pendant around his neck.
“Deanna! Live!” he cried and releasing the pendant splayed his arms out wide. A stream of white smoke poured out of Steven’s chest and snaked across the room planting itself into the corpse on the bed right where the heart of the woman would have been if her body hadn’t been so decayed. Eric watched in horror as the dead body twitched under the influence of the smokey snake burrowing into her chest. Steven’s face was growing paler and he realised in an instant what was happening, Steven’s life was being sucked out of him to feed this dead woman and to what end? To bring her back to life? What would happen to Steven?
He made for the door to cry out for help when he was savagely pushed back by a hand that send him tumbling to the floor next to Steven. There in the doorway stood the figure that had terrified Eric when he had peered into the room from the window earlier. There standing before him was Jerry, the man who had killed Deanna! He was much older, probably about ten years older than before, but unmistakeably the same man. He was also holding the same silver hammer he had all those years ago when he had murdered Deanna.
“What have you boys done! You’re bringing that witch back to life!” He shouted and he started advancing on Steven.
Realising that the man meant to beat Steven’s skull in Eric quickly grabbed the necklace off Steven who collapsed in the floor like a rag doll, the tube of white smoke instantly evaporating. Jerry’s hammer swung down through the empty space where a moment before Steven’s head had been. Jerry had swung the hammer with such force that when it failed to connect with Steven’s head the man toppled forward with his head pointed out. While his head was down low Eric threw the necklace over Jerry. All at once the white smoke burst out of Jerry’s chest and plunged into the corpse on the bed. The man’s eyes opened wide with horror at seeing the supernatural smoke coming from his heart. He dropped the hammer at once and tried grasping for the pedant which had slipped underneath his shirt. Eric grabbed his hands and tried pulling them away from the pendant. The man tossed Eric aside and reached for the pendant again. Eric sprang back up from the floor and grabbed his arm. Jerry was surprisingly weaker than he had been just a few moments before, the pendant was obviously draining his strength away and now he wasn’t strong enough to shake the boy loose with just one arm, so he raised his other arm to punch Eric in the head when Steven grasped the other arm and held it back. The man pulled and jostled with the two boys trying to break free but he didn’t have enough strength anymore to resist. Slowly the man slid down to his knees huffing and growling like an animal and the white smoke was now gushing from his chest and into the woman’s corpse at an alarming pace.
Eric looked over his shoulder to see the new flesh bubbling up like beer froth and then crawling over the bones and holes in the corpse gradually filling them in. The flesh was slowly thickening and changing colour from the dark rotten colour of decay to a ghostly grey and finally to porcelain white skin. Most sickening of all was that the body would twitch and writhe even when the stained bones were still visible underneath the freshly reformed skin. The movements grew less spasmodic and became more rhythmic and eventually Eric realising that it was now breathing as though it was alive again. The hole in the side of her face closed over: First with a layer of bone, then a layer of gristle, and finally a layer of perfectly white skin. Deanna, whoever she was, whatever she was, was coming back to life again.
Meanwhile the man they were holding down had lost all the colour in his hair for it was bleached white. The muscles under his skin had shrivelled away, leaving him simply as a bag of bones wrapped in a thin layer of grey wrinkled skin. Eric considered that this man had taken her life, so maybe he deserved to give it back to her? However, this woman had tried to suck the life out of Steven, a boy who had done nothing to her, maybe Jerry had done the right thing all those years ago to murder her? Turning back to the bed he watched as the dead eyes opened for the first time. The eyes were not gentle or kind, but wild with malevolence. Realising the danger Eric reached out and snatched the necklace from around Jerry’s neck and tossed it across the room where it slipped down a crack in the floor boards and vanished underneath the house.
Jerry immediately passed out much to Eric’s relief, however, Deanna and Steven both howled like wolves at the same time. Eric watched in horror as Steven dived across the room desperately seeking the lost necklace, the expression on his face making it obvious he was still obsessed with obeying his undead mistress. Steven scraped and picked at the warped floorboards with his fingernails like a maniac. Eric looked at Deanna who was struggling to pull herself up, but her body had obviously not finished regenerating enough. The expression on her face slipped from malice to agony and back again every few seconds. She might well still be rotten in the inside and unable to stay alive for much longer without the pendant. Eric grabbed the silver hammer from the floor and went to strike the wounded witch but to his dismay Steven pounced on top of the bed and hissed at him like a stray cat.
Eric brought to hammer crashing down on his friend’s head and his body tumbled down head first onto the floor by the bed. The witch screamed one last time and fainted. Eric realised that the power that had hurt him every time he thought about escaping was suddenly gone. He turned and ran out the door, leaving the three bodies alone in the house as he disappeared into the twilight. Had he just left three dead bodies behind, or three unconscious bodies behind? He didn’t care anymore, he just wanted to get away from there and never come back again. He never told his parents what happened that day, and when the people asked if they knew what had happened to Steven he kept him mouth shut. Every night thereafter he lay in bed haunted by the memory of Steven’s possession, Jerry’s withered body, and Deanna’s screaming and he clutched the silver hammer as close to his heart as he could praying that the witch was really dead this time.
Eric never stopped thinking about the three people he left unconscious in that house that day, and the question foremost on his mind was this: who woke up first?