14 - Heirloom


 “We have to go back!” Karen screamed.

“Are you out of your mind? You know what’s back there!” Vijay countered, aghast at the mere notion of turning the car around and going back to the ancient cemetery. Rotting evil lurked there, and their transgression had awoken it, sure, but that didn’t mean they had to offer themselves up as sacrifice. He'd only been on two dates with Karen; he wasn't quite ready to die for her yet.

“You don’t understand, I lost my earring!”

“You want me to go back to that tomb, where that wretched thing is no doubt waiting for us, to fetch a piece of fucking jewelry?” Vijay asked, exasperated. He took his eyes off the road and stared  at Karen with widened eyes, a single raised eyebrow and flared nostrils, a peculiar expression that simultaneously said are you out of your mind and go fuck yourself .

Karen opened her mouth to explain the significance of the heirloom, how it could help them, but before she could speak, the headlights of the oncoming car lit up Vijay's face, and they both recognized, too late, that Vijay had diverted his eyes from the darkened highway for far too long. Vijay had just enough time to look down in horror at the realization that he'd been too busy running from that - thing - to buckle his seatbelt.

Karen would later reflect on how remarkable the slowing of time was during the crash. She was able to see the windshield buckle in a million hairline cracks as the cars collided, then give way, quite beautifully, as Vijay's head went through, followed by the rest of his body. The shards of glass flying outward, each sparkling in the light of the headlights, reminded Karen of the particles of alcohol flying from a fire-breather's mouth before they were lit by a flame.

Time sped back up and Vijay's limp body bounced off the hood of the opposing car and flew into the night.  

The horn of Vijay's car blared loudly in the night. Karen unbuckled her seatbelt, wincing in pain at the soreness from where her body had worked against the belt. The airbag didn't deploy. Just as well, Karen thought, it might have broken my nose.  Okay, time to get out.

She tried the door- it wouldn't budge. She had the same luck with the window; apparently the crash had killed the power controls. It'd have to be the windshield, then. 

Karen carefully crawled over the dash and placed her fingertips on the hood of the car so as not to touch any of the broken glass littered over the crumpled metal. She looked up and glimpsed the driver of the other car: an older man draped over the steering wheel and partially through his own windshield. His white hair was spotted with flecks of crimson. A large piece of glass from the windshield jutted out of his neck, blood pouring down it into the dashboard.  Somebody's grandpa, Karen thought.

As she began to pull herself through the windshield, Grandpa reached towards her and gave out a gurgling cough, spewing blood onto Karen's face before falling lifeless back onto the dash. She screamed, and her fingertips slipped, letting her palms fall onto broken glass which bit into the fleshy parts of her hand. She winced and gave a low hiss, then climbed all the way out, sliding neatly off the hood onto the pavement.

"Shit," Karen said to herself, exhausted and bleeding. From the cemetery a half mile back down the highway came the sharp, wailing howl of the death she and Vijay had brought to life in the old resting ground. "Shit!"

Karen let out a long sigh. Vijay was gone, almost definitely. Grandpa was gone, and there was nothing she could do about that. She couldn't leave that thing wandering the cemetery, though. Some curious kids may stumble on it, or worse- it may find its way out. That'd be on her, and that was more bad karma than she was willing to carry.

She gripped the hem of her dress with her bloody hands and pulled hard. She let out a soft scream as the cuts on her palms opened, but the dress gave way, and she got what she needed. She split the white cloth into two even parts, and bandaged her hands as best she could. 

Karen stood and turned to face the cemetery. She reached up to her left ear unconsciously and rubbed her remaining earring. Almost immediately, as if reacting to Karen caressing her mother's earring, the howl came across the night air again, sharp and steady.

Karen bit her lower lip, then spoke softly into the darkness. "I know, Dad," she said as she walked towards the howling. "I'm coming for you."