The Adventures of Gravedigger

 

 

BY BARRY REESE

 

A Reese Unlimited book

Copyright © 2013 Barry Reese

Published by Pro Se Press

 

 

The stories in this publication are fictional. All of
the characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. No part of this publication may
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic,
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information
storage or retrieval system, without the permission in writing of the
publisher.

 

Edited by David White

Editor in Chief, Pro Se Productions - Tommy Hancock

Submissions Editor - Barry Reese

Publisher & Pro Se Productions, LLC Chief
Executive Officer - Fuller Bumpers

 

Pro Se Productions, LLC

133 1/2 Broad Street

Batesville, AR, 72501

870-834-4022

[email protected]

www.proseproductions.com

 

Front Cover Art and “Gravedigger” logo by George
Sellas

Cover Format and Production Design by Sean E. Ali

E-book Formatting by Russ Anderson

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Sovereign City, October 28, 1776

The Hessian spat out the blood that filled his
mouth, hefting his saber for another attack. He was standing in ankle-deep mud,
his uniform stained with grime and gore, and the men he faced were poorly
trained Revolutionaries. Their main advantage was the fact that they knew the
territory well but the Hessian also knew that a man fighting for his home and
family was given extra strength and ferocity.

The Hessian roared, stepping over the severed limb
of one of his compatriots. He approached an opponent from behind, reaching
around with his blade to slit the man’s throat so deeply that the head was only
attached to the body by a thin strip of gristle.

The rain had begun again and the roar of thunder,
coupled with the sounds of battle all around, made it hard for the Hessian to
focus. He dodged the thrust of a young man’s bayonet before finishing the youth
with the point of his sword.

It was moments like these that filled the Hessian
with joy. Unlike many of his fellows, he had volunteered for service, rather
than being conscripted by Landgrave Frederick II. He was a soldier in wartime
and a killer in peacetime. The names mattered little to him. He had grown up
the youngest of six bloodthirsty brothers, trained to be rabid murderers by
their drunk of a father. The only thing that the Hessian enjoyed as much as
battle was sex, and both were done with equal amounts of violence and glee.

He whirled about, eager to kill again. He was not
a handsome man and he currently looked even more nightmarish than usual. His
longish hair was caked with blood and his right eye, marred by a small scar
that ran underneath the bottom lid, was bloodshot and slightly bulging. Earlier
in the battle, he had come into close quarters with an enemy, biting off the
man’s earlobe. Now blood stained his teeth and dripped from the corners of his
mouth.

He saw the enemy on the hill, packing one of their
cannons for another shot. They were a motley group and their weapons misfired
as often as they worked. But the Hessian knew that his own regiment was not
faring well. Of the 80 men they had begun this battle with, less than a fourth
were still standing.

Charging towards the hill, the Hessian hacked his
way through those in his path, friend and foe alike. A well placed shot from
that cannon could end the battle and he could not allow that. He screamed a
German battle cry and then stopped in his tracks, eyes wide. It was too late,
the cannon’s fuse had run out.

An explosion of fire and smoke accompanied the
launching of the cannonball. It soared straight towards the Hessian, who was
suddenly frozen with the realization that his life of brutality was about to
end. The cannon smashed right through his skull, leaving his body standing in
place. It twitched and danced for a long moment, as if it hadn’t quite realized
yet that its head was gone. The torso twisted and the hands reached out, as if
in hopes that it could find its missing top.

The Hessian’s body spun about and crashed to the
mud, coming to rest no more than four feet from the remains of his head, which
smoldered in the rain.

PART ONE: THE RISING DARK
Chapter I: Little Dead Girl

 

 

October 31, 1936

This is not a decision entered into lightly. It
is a tremendous gesture of faith that you are about to receive.

There was a pause before The Voice continued.
Charity stirred within the casket, fear beginning to mount within her. How long
had she been buried beneath the earth? How much air was left to her?

You will have three years in which to redeem
your soul. Find those who are unfit for the world of mortals and destroy them:
man or demon, the enemy of the innocent is now your enemy. You will put them
into their graves and shovel upon them the dirt that symbolizes their eviction
from this plane of existence.

On Halloween Night, 1939, you will be called
back to this place and you will be judged for a final time. If your soul has
been made pure, you will find your reward. If your soul is still tainted black…
Your suffering will never know an end.

Do you accept these terms? Do you want to live?

Charity had forced the words out, ignoring the
pain it caused her. Her throat was dry and raw. “Yes. Yes! I want to live.”

So be it.

 

***

 

January 1937

Hector Martinez was nervous. He was smoking his
fifth cigarette in the last hour and his hands were shaking. He paced back and
forth outside his ramshackle home, located deep in a crime-ridden area of
Sovereign City.

The nighttime sky was cloudy and the smell of
fresh rain lingered in his nostrils, mixing with other, more unpleasant odors.
Locals joked that a day without rain in Sovereign was like a cat without a tail
– you saw one on occasion but it was a rare thing, indeed.

The door behind him opened and closed. Julio,
three years Hector’s senior and the oldest of all the family’s sons, bore a
large grin beneath his handlebar moustache. He laughed when he saw Hector’s
anxiety, writ large on his little brother’s face. “It’s done little brother. No
more worry, si?”

“We shouldn’t have done this,” Hector replied. He
threw down his cigarette and ground it out beneath his shoe. “We get caught and
we’re going to fry in the state pen.”

“Nobody saw us take her,” Julio said, taking on a
more serious expression. He put his hands on his brother’s shoulders and pulled
him close, staring into his eyes. “If you keep your mouth shut, we’ll never get
caught.”

“Her body…?”

“Burned. Along with all her clothes. It’s like she
was never here.”

Hector exhaled, breaking away from his brother’s
gaze. “God will never forgive me for this.”

“You are a man, mi hermano. We see what we want
and we take it.”

“But she was just a child,” Hector said, feeling
ashamed as hot tears began to burn to his eyes. He could see Rosalita at play,
skipping rope in her Sunday dress. She was only six years old but he’d coveted
her smooth skin and dark eyes. He’d never acted on his desires for children
before
,
but on this day, he’d succumbed to his dark lust. He’d grabbed her and dragged
her away, tying her up in his home. The rape had gone quickly but in the
aftermath he’d been so scared and ashamed that he hadn’t been sure what to do.
He’d called his brother because Julio always took care of him.

To his surprise, Julio hadn’t been shocked in the
least by what he found at his brother’s house. He’d told Hector go outside and
leave him alone with the girl, who was still alive but very quiet.

Hector had ignored everything from that point
forward: the sounds of struggle, the brief cry that was quickly snuffed out,
even the horrible smells that drifted from the large oven in his home. Julio
had handled it all, every disgusting detail, and Hector loved him for it.

Julio reached out and touched his brother’s chin,
tilting his head back up. “No more talking about it, si? It’s over. If anyone
comes by asking about anything, you tell them to talk to me.”

“You are too good to me,” Hector said.

“We are family.”

Something moved in the shadows and Hector jumped.

“What is it?” Julio asked, looking about.

“I thought I saw someone.”

Julio stared into the gloom but he could see
nothing. There were few streetlamps in this area of the city and the darkness
was almost like a living thing, growing in size as the midnight hour drew near.
“It’s just your nerves.”

Hector started to reply but his words twisted into
a squawk of terror as a figure leaped from the night, landing beside Julio. It
was a woman, dressed in a form-fitting red and black bodysuit. Weapons of all
type were fastened about her body and she held a curved Arabian-style sword in
her right hand. Her face was hidden beneath a black facemask and hood, adding
to her mystery.

Julio never knew what hit him. He had scarcely
realized the reason for his brother’s terror when the woman had begun to swing
her sword in a deadly arc. It cut through Julio’s neck, decapitating him in one
fell swoop.

Hector emitted a high-pitched scream and took off
running, the sight of his brother’s head flying through the air etched into his
mind’s eye. He sprinted into the darkness, not knowing or caring where he was
going. This was God’s Vengeance, manifested in human form. Or was it Rosalita’s
spirit, come to claim her revenge?

The wraith-like woman was suddenly in front of
him. Hector tried to stop but he lost his balance and tumbled to the ground,
rolling until he was almost at her feet.

The woman knelt in a smooth motion, catching
Hector’s throat between two blades – the curved sword with which she’d killed
his brother and a smaller knife that gleamed in the moonlight.

“Please!” he begged, feeling the cold touch of the
weapons. One of them pricked just deep enough to draw blood.

“Did you listen when Rosalita begged?” the woman
said. Her voice was as cold as the steel she wielded.

Hector closed his eyes. “Madre de dios, please forgive
me.”

“There is no forgiveness for you.”

Hector looked into the woman’s mask, as dark as
the night that surrounded them both.

“You dug your own grave, Hector. All I’m doing is
shoveling the dirt on top.”

Hector’s life ended quickly, as the twin blades
snipped together, tearing through everything in between.

 

***

 

Gravedigger stood up, pulling a dark cloth from one
of the pouches on her waist. She cleaned her weapons and sheathed them. There
was no joy in her heart over this victory. She had arrived too late to save the
girl, despite her best efforts to trace her kidnapper. But she’d heard enough
of the brothers’ discussion to know what had to be done.

She left the corpses where they lay, entering the
house and examining the oven’s contents. Julio hadn’t been quite as good as his
word – there were plenty of bones that were identifiably human, as well as
scraps of cloth that came from the girl’s dress and underwear.

Again her hands darted down into the pouches at
her belt. She retrieved a miniaturized walkie-talkie and turned it on. Static
filled the room but she depressed the talk button and said, “You can contact
the police. Send them to 142 Bloch Avenue.”

“Any survivors?” a man asked in reply. His words
were spoken with a clipped British accent, which always surprised people in
Sovereign when they saw him. Mitchell was a massive black man with a shaved
head and a menacing face. But he had been born in London and had a heart of
gold.

“No.”

Mitchell heard the sound of disappointment in
Gravedigger’s voice. “You can’t blame yourself for this, luv. Nothing can undo
that little girl’s death but at least you made her killers pay.”

“I’m sure that will help her parents sleep at
night.”

“It just might.”

Gravedigger ceased communications and put the
walkie-talkie away. She knew that Mitchell would be along soon, driving his
plain, unmarked sedan. She didn’t feel like talking any more about this but she
had a feeling he wasn’t going to let the matter drop.

A calendar on the wall caught her attention.
Someone had drawn red x’s through all the days of the month, all the way to
today. A chill ran down her spine before she whirled about and left the house.
Time was like an unstoppable juggernaut. Every second grew into minutes, then
hours, then days.

Three years was not so much.

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