Copyright © Tom Raimbault 2016
Copyright © Tom Raimbault 2016
All rights reserved! No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, without permission from the author!
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This work is 100% fiction. All scenes and events within these pages have been an invention of the author's imagination, and to his knowledge never occurred in reality. Any resemblance to the reader's own experiences is purely coincidental. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
He awoke at the edge of the pond in an alarmed and confused state of mind. The last the caretaker remembered; he was clunked on the back of the head by what he assumed to be a club. Then he was pushed down the cellar stairs. They probably locked him down there until deciding what to do with him. It’s what the caretaker deserved after the horrible thing he had done.
But what came of it all? Why was he now laying on the ground some distance from the house and beside the pond? It was best that he pushed himself up and head back to the house—maybe into town—where he would face the ugly music. But before doing so, the caretaker decided to take what could be one, final visit to his cemetery. It wasn’t far from the pond, after all. And the cemetery had become his pride and joy.
Walking a short distance, the caretaker could see the open patch of headstones surrounded by lush, green forest. It was his favorite place to be; would often spend many hours just sitting and visiting the dead. And of course it was still there. They weren’t going to pull up all the headstones, exhume the bodies and bury them in another place. The dead, after all, must be allowed to continue resting in peace.
From the day he accepted the job as caretaker of the Everden’s Cemetery, he had been given a new life’s purpose. The cemetery served as burials for the young immigrants who had been working on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The work was dangerous, and some of those young men unfortunately lost their lives. Now they lay in graves, some of them unmarked and waiting for official documentation as to whom they were. Even still, some of those unfortunate men had traveled to America without families. They now waited for loved ones to come and visit them at their final resting place. It was the job of the caretaker to see to it that all remained beautiful and peaceful, until those days of what the deceased hoped for finally came.
Not all the residents of the Everden’s cemetery were those who had been killed while working on the canal. Families who lived in the area buried their loved ones here as well. There was Mrs. Rogers and her infant daughter. The baby girl sadly died during birth and had been buried with a small headstone to mark the grave. On summer nights with his bedroom window open, the caretaker swore he could hear a baby crying from the cemetery. It most often happened on nights during the full Moon. A year later, Mrs. Rogers died from yellow fever and was buried next to her daughter. Interesting thing; the caretaker no longer heard the crying baby from the cemetery late at night. Mother apparently rushed to her crying child when necessary.
Then there was the farmer who died while plowing his field with a horse. He was too close to a nearby pond where something apparently startled the horse. It caused the horse to fall into the pond. The farmer desperately tried to save the animal, but had gotten tangled up in the harness and drowned. Although now buried in the cemetery; people swear that he is still out there and plowing his field, horse and all. It made the caretaker wonder if the world of the dead was intermeshed with the living.
Maybe he spent too much time with the dead. Maybe the caretaker spent too many hours just visiting the cemetery and drinking in the peace of the dead. He would return to the house where he would grow impatient with his wife and kids. Unlike the dead, they were noisy and chattered.
“They’re only children, Dear.” the caretaker’s wife reminded him. “Of course they are going to play and be noisy.”
The caretaker wanted to explode and shout in reply that his work required the cemetery grounds to be a place of peace and quiet. But she wouldn’t understand. He simply bit his tongue while keeping his rage bottled up. And that might have been what ultimately triggered the caretaker to go mad.
One day, the caretaker was peacefully working, in the cemetery when he saw a disturbing sight. In the distance he could see his eight-year-old son at the edge of the pond and playing with a toy boat in the water.
He immediately approached his son. “What are you doing out here? You know you’re not supposed to be this close to the cemetery!”
“I was just playing with my boat.” the boy reassured his angry father.
But to ensure that this mistake was never made again; the caretaker gave his son the beating of his life, which included welts and bruises to his lower torso. The beating was so severe that the boy could hardly walk.
“How could you do such a thing?” the caretaker’s wife cried in outrage upon discovering her beaten child. “You did this just because he was playing at the cemetery? In the couple of years that you’ve worked here as caretaker, you’ve turned into nothing less than a monster!”
For many days thereafter, the caretaker understood the meaning of Hell knowing no fury like a woman’s scorn. His wife turned against him and influenced the kids to do the same. It caused such a disturbance and unrest throughout the grounds. And you would think that the incident would have served as a wake-up call for the caretaker. But rather than realize that he was a bit, too occupied—nearly mesmerized—with his cemetery and the dead; the caretaker simply believed that he finally understood what was wrong with his wife and kids. The problem: they weren’t dead like the other residents who lived there.
And so on a cold, autumn night in November—after some weeks of much deliberation and planning—the caretaker quietly arose from bed and smothered his wife and children to death. He did so one-by-one with the use of a pillow.
Although satisfied that his family was finally perfect and dead, the caretaker eventually felt some remorse for what he had done. It was, after all, murder. But now his beloved family could be laid to rest in his cemetery, and be part of that place that was his pride and joy.
Of course there couldn’t be a funeral. This would launch an investigation by the police in which they would surely conclude that the caretaker murdered them. As for a coffin with a proper burial; the caretaker would have to construct the caskets himself, and then lower his family in the ground in their individual plots.
And so his dead wife and kids lay on the front room floor for some days, rotting and smelling up the home with a deathly stench; all the while, the caretaker feverishly constructed coffins for them. He nearly completed the job had it not been for a surprise group of visitors; townsmen who accompanied the sheriff. They just walked in the house with grave expressions on their faces and seeming knowledge of what the caretaker had done. You see, there was a visitor the prior day who wished to make arrangements for a deceased loved one to be buried in the cemetery. But the caretaker was so engrossed in completing his sinister deed that he wasn’t aware of having company. Whoever was there saw the caretaker’s rotting family laid out on the front room floor. A visit to the town’s sheriff soon followed.
“What are you up to?” The sheriff now asked the dazed and somewhat incoherent caretaker.
The caretaker said nothing; simply appeared irked that he had company which now disturbed the peaceful grounds of his cemetery.
“Well I’m afraid you’re under arrest for what clearly looks like the murder of your family.” announced the sheriff while approaching the caretaker with handcuffs.
But the caretaker wouldn’t go down without a fight. He was the one who cared for and protected the residents of the Everden’s Cemetery. He fought and tried to wrestle with the sheriff, but neglected to realize that there was a room full of townsmen. One of them clubbed the caretaker on the back of the head.
Dizzy and nearing unconsciousness, the last thing the caretaker remembered was being shoved down the cellar stairs. He must have passed out before hitting the floor.
The caretaker recalled all of these things shortly after waking up near the bank of the pond and while visiting his cemetery for what (he believed) could very well have been the last time. But now it was time to face the ugly music; head back to the house and see what became of it all.
He walked westward from the cemetery and connected with the path that brought him back home each day. It was then, for the first time since waking up at the bank of the pond, that the caretaker noticed something very wrong with his surroundings. There were green leaves on the trees, and it was warm outside. This was obviously an indicator of being sometime—perhaps—in late spring or in the middle of summer.
“Leaves?” the caretaker exclaimed out loud. “How can that be?” You see; he murdered his family on a cold night in November when autumn was well underway. All the leaves had changed color in October and fell to the ground so that the trees were bare for the upcoming winter months. Now the leaves were green, again.—impossible!
Nearing the house and at a point where he should start seeing it, the caretaker was further thrown into confusion with the absence of his home. The house was gone! It was as-if it never stood there!
“Gone?” the caretaker exclaimed. “Where did it go?” He went to the very spot where the home’s foundation and cellar had originally been dug. But even the very hole of the cellar had been filled up with dirt. Grass covered it up.
Heart racing and nearing shock; the caretaker walked towards the edge of the property, near the gravel road, and took some deep breaths. Then he looked behind him to see if the house was still gone, but was relieved to see it standing there like before.
“Ah…” the caretaker sighed. “I must be going crazy!”
But what was this? While walking back to the house, it vanished before the caretaker’s eyes!
“No!” he cried out. “What’s happening? Where did it go?”
Left with no choice, the caretaker walked towards the edge of the property and gazed out along the gravel road that he and his neighbors traveled throughout the years. He could see the farmhouses and cabins off in the distance. Everything appeared normal. Then he turned back towards the direction of where his own house used to stand.
It was there, again! And this time, the caretaker’s wife came out onto the porch to flag him down. Even his son—the boy who received a serious beating for playing at the pond—came out after her.
Relieved to see that all was well, the caretaker nearly ran back to his home. But just like before, it vanished before his very eyes.
“Blast-it, anyway!” shouted the caretaker. “What in the hell is happening?”
It was as-if the home was now just a mirage. It belonged to that world of the dead that had no substance; the world that played out before the caretaker day after day… night after night; the crying baby of Mrs. Rogers in the cemetery, and the farmer who could still be seen plowing his field with the horse even after the two had drowned. But he could never touch them or receive one tangible shred of evidence that they were there.
Frustrated, the caretaker threw his hands in the air and walked out onto the gravel road. He walked and walked, mostly out of confusion but soon hoping he could reach one of the neighbors’ houses—anyone that could restore some sense of reality.
It felt like he had walked for miles. It was so long that day actually turned into night. What baffled the caretaker was the fact that he had reached the creek in the forest which wasn’t all that far from his house. Where did the time go? And where was his neighbor’s cabin that used to stand there?
Just then, two young men guided by lanterns emerged from the forest while laughing. They must have been wealthy kids from the city—the educated type that wore clothes typically not seen in rural areas. They came upon the caretaker and were terribly startled.
“What are you doing here?” the caretaker asked. “You’re here for trouble aren’t you?”
“No!” they argued. “We really didn’t mean any harm. We weren’t going to vandalize the graves or anything…”
“Vandalize the graves?” asked the caretaker. “What would make you say such a thing?”
“Well, it happens… you know…?”
The other young man finally spoke up. “Listen… I know we are not supposed to be out here after dark. We were just curious about the house, that’s all—the farmhouse.”
“The farmhouse?” asked the caretaker. “What farmhouse?”
The young man continued to explain, “Well there’s an urban legend of a farmhouse that can sometimes be seen near the cemetery. Curious people who find it try to go up to it, but then it disappears. It doesn’t really exist; it’s just some sort of mirage. We wanted to see it. Legend has it that the house belonged to a cemetery caretaker who went crazy and murdered his family. Then he committed suicide. The house was burned down to the ground after people discovered it. Supposedly it’s some sort of ghost house.”
“That’s nonsense!” snapped the caretaker. “That never happened! And there is a house near the cemetery! Do you want to see it?”
“Yeah!” answered the one.
“Yeah, could we?” chimed in the other.
Both young men were very excited and eagerly followed behind the caretaker.
While leading the excited, young men back to his house; the caretaker suddenly noticed the absence of another neighbor’s cabin. It was gone just like the other cabin that was supposed to be by the creek. The entire property—wagons, tool shed, barn, even the firewood was gone. In its place was a paved region that was marked by a large, wooden sign that read, “Bachelor Grove Forest Preserve”.
“Bachelor Grove Forest Preserve?” The caretaker turned to the young men behind him to see if they knew anything. But they were gone. “Well all be a son-of-a-bitch!”
The paved area and sign weren’t the only discoveries. The most unspeakable things were now happening there late at night. Back in the caretaker’s day; if men were far from home and feeling lonely, they could visit a brothel and spend the evening with a whore. Never would men choose to engage in vile acts of sodomy with one another! It disgusted the caretaker and nearly caused him to upchuck.
“What in the hell is happening?” he exclaimed while nearly running back towards the gravel road and to the place where his house used to stand. “The cemetery! I’ve got to get to the cemetery! It’s the only place where, surely, nothing has changed.”
Since it was dark, the caretaker chose to follow the gravel road to where the pond could be seen. He could easily cut through, walk along the bank of the pond and to the cemetery. But when he reached the pond, the caretaker made a horrific discovery: a dead business appearing man who was dressed in a suit and floating up towards the bank. He had taken a bullet to his head. Although nothing more than a lifeless corpse, his hand reached above the water and appeared to say, “Don’t forget about me. You need to bury me in one of those graves.”
Was this the fate of the caretaker for his evil deed? Was he now to collect murdered and disposed bodies to bury in his treasured cemetery?
The caretaker continued walking until the headstones of the cemetery could be seen in a distance. But what was this? As he neared, he made the most God-awful discovery. The only place that could give him peace and serenity had been destroyed. Painted words of vile profanity had marked the beautiful gravestones. Some of them had been tipped over, even smashed. And it appeared as-if someone with a ghoulish fantasy had dug one of the coffins up to rob and molest the sleeping dead.
The caretaker fell to his knees and sobbed. “What’s happening?”