Bad Luck

Bad Luck

 

Bad Luck

by Frank Stascik

 

I figure some people just live and die. Others live, and then die, and then try to get some lesbian love, and them finally end up unleashing the living dead upon an unsuspecting world.

Let me tell you about luck.

Back before I got me an up-close with the business end of a satanic goat-slicer and wound up chained to a barren field somewhere in the Kentucky Mountains, my daddy used to say that luck was a concept born of ignorance.

I remember being five and going to the mall with him, and since it was the beginning of December there was a giant Christmas tree on display with Santa Claus sitting right underneath it. Of course I want to take a picture with Santa, but instead of getting into line my daddy knelt in front of me, looked me in the eye and said, “Son, Santa Clause is a character from Dutch folklore. He’s based on a real life man named Nicholas of Myra, a 4th century bishop who was also the patron saint of sailors. Now, all accounts have this man dying sometimes between the years 342 and 352 A.D., so the chances that he’s here at the Shepperton Mall today are extremely slim. No, son, the man sitting in that chair is quite obviously Lonnie Barker. You know, the fellow who sleeps behind the A & P and rummages through our trash for glass bottles. I really don’t think I approve of you sitting on his lap.”

“But maybe if I’m lucky he’ll make me a sailor!” I exclaimed. I guess from an early age I’ve always had this ability to only hear the things that I want to hear.

My dad narrowed his eyes and shook his head. “Luck, Tommy? The sooner you wise up the better it’ll be for you. There is no God. There is no Devil. There is no gentle force that grants you wishes if you’re good, and no evil power that menaces bad little boys in the middle of the night. There is no luck, son. There is only the magnitude of effort. Everything else is an excuse for failure.”

Thirteen years later I was jogging down Maple Street when in front of me the door to Axley’s Astounding Antiques opened up, and a small nervous man stepped out onto the sidewalk. He was a local business man, and budding Satanist, named Charlie Higgins. Apparently he’d heard that young girls liked to get naked and perform black masses in the local graveyard, and recently-divorced Charlie Higgins, well, he wanted in on that action. So Roger Axely had sold him something called “The Eternal Dagger of Astaroth”. Supposedly it had been used in countless Satanic rites throughout the centuries, and its very presence would assuredly cause the brides of darkness in the cemetery to gush with uncontrollable lust.

Turns out that it wasn’t, in fact, “The Eternal Dagger of Astaroth” after all. No. It was “The Recently-Forged Dagger of Lou Danvers”. Lou Danvers was a failing farmer who, after getting drunk and watching “The Devil and Daniel Webster” o the late late show, had crafted a dagger, stolen a goat, and tried to summon Lucifer in an attempt to sell his paltry soul for a helluva lot more than it was worth. Problem was Lou Danvers couldn’t forge a knife worth a shit. He tried to cut the goat’s throat, but the damn blade was too dull. Still, maybe for the first time in his often-hazy life, Lou didn’t give up. He just kept sawing back and forth at the animal’s neck until the thing got pissed off and head butted him in the throat, crushing his windpipe. Lou died, the goat wandered away, and Roger Axely bought the dagger at an estate sale.

But back to me minding my own business as I was jogging down the street, when out came Charlie Higgins admiring his ticket to a wonderland of underage snatch, and he was so transfixed by it that he turned into me and I saw him, and I saw the blade pointing right at my chest, and I tried to swerve out of the way, I tried as hard as I fucking could. But I guess the magnitude of my effort was lacking.

Goddamn bad luck.

It wasn’t long after that I realized my daddy had been wrong about a lot of things.

 

Two ladies walk right past me. The taller one is easily over six feet; a regular Amazonian goddess. I think I’ll call her Stretch. I put her in her mid-thirties, but damn is she holding up well. She’s got this wavy, jet-black hair that cascades down her neck and tickles her shoulder blades. She’s got these dark, secretive eyes that know so much more than they’re letting on. She’s got this… ah screw it. Look, she;s got huge tits. There, I said it. Enormous, firm tits. They may be plastic, I don’t really care.

But I’m not so much a boob guy, which is why I like the other one. Let’s call her Slim. She’s about a foot shorter and a decade younger than her willowy friend; whip-thin but owning it. She’s dressed in shredded black and through all the rips and tears in her tight clothes I can make out a tangle of tattoos that twist around her arms and down her back. What little clothing she’s wearing obscures most of the detail, but that’s all right. I have a feeling I’ll be getting a better view in a few minutes.

See, Charlie Higgins was right. I can tell by the way that Slim is flitting around her friend; laughing, brushing her fingers against Stretch’s arm. I can tell by the way she tilts her head down and looks up at Stretch through strands of painted yellow hair. They may have a camera, but these ladies haven’t come to Holy Resurrection Cemetery to take pictures. Not really.

They’re standing at the edge of the clearing that I call home, not yet crossing that first line of tombstones that marks the beginning of the graveyard. I stand a few feet away from them and hope they keep it that way.

“I love old, crumbling grave markers,” says Stretch. “They remind me that nothing lasts forever.” I move close enough to see a pale circle around her left ring finger. I’m not exactly saddened by the sight, cuz she’s also wearing this glittering diamond bracelet around her left wrist.

I’m guessing she gave the ring back as a token of her independence, but kept the bracelet because hey, independence doesn’t sparkle when you hold it out and jiggle it in the light.

Slim licks her lips and winks. “Don’t worry, baby. I’ll cheer you up. C’mon, take some pictures of me.”

Slim presses the camera up to Stretch’s chest and just sort of holds it there. Stretch raises an eyebrow and asks, “Are you giving me the camera, or are you just trying to touch my boobs?”

“Well now.” purrs Slim, “doesn’t that just sound like the sweetest invitation I’ve ever heard.” Then the camera hits the ground and her hands are all over the Amazon’s tits. Even though she’s wearing these thick, monster boots Slim is suddenly up on her toes and her face is buried in Stretch’s neck.

Stretch throws her head back and with one hand she digs her fingers into Slims hair, and with the other hand she goes roaming down the inside of her friend’s tight pants.

I’m ready for the fireworks; ready to initiate my part in the festivities, when suddenly Slim is pushing and Stretch is pulling and the both of them are moving backwards toward the tombstones. And I try to jump forward, but they were just too close to the edge to give me enough time.

They cross over into the graveyard. I hit the wall and shout at them to come back. But I’m dead and they’re alive, so they can’t hear a goddamned thing I yell.

 

Time for a history lesson:

Seems that a few hundred years back there was a deformed man who lived in a town nearby. Folks said he could speak to spirits; some even claimed he could shape shift. When he died, he was buried in an isolated field, far from the town which feared and despised him. But small towns have a way of creating outcasts, and it wasn’t long before there was another body that couldn’t be buried  next to decent folk. So up into the mountains it went, right next to the first one.

This continued down through the years; slowly filling up this plot of land with the bodies of witches and demons. Some of them were innocents, but many of them were exactly what they seemed to be. Hell, the scariest thing about a mob full of angry villagers wielding pitchforks and torches and chasing down monsters in the wee hours of the night is that sometimes they’re doing the right thing.

They stopped burying people here in the early 1900s. For about sixty years the cemetery sat unnoticed; forgotten. Then sometime in the late sixties, stories started to pop up, mostly campfire tales told by local teenagers about ghostly sightings in the woods near where the cemetery was hidden.

By 1979 the place had become a hangout for drunken kids and ghost hunters alike. Grave stones were knocked over and broken. Bodies were dug up and scattered.

But small towns have a memory, and some run longer and deeper than others. There are things buried in Holy Resurrection Cemetery – things that shouldn’t be dug up. Making a fuss about it would only have made folks more curious. So instead, over the course of a couple of days in the middle of winter, during a cold snap that lasted more than a month and kept everyone indoors, some of the town’s finest came by, pulled up all of the gravemarkers, and moved them a few hundred yards down.

Cold snap ended, kids came back. Not one of them noticed the change. Goddamn ghost hunters dug and dug, and when they found nothing but dirt  it’s not like they were going to file a complaint. Grave robbing ain’t exactly legal.

I don’t know what the hell kind of ghostly spirit used to stand guard over Holy Resurrection, but I can tell you two things about it. One, it did a piss poor job of keeping the annoying kids and nosy mystics out, And two, it took the advantage of the fact that in changing the parameters of the cemetery, the townsfolk had in effect created a new cemetery. Putting the headstones a few hundreds yards further into the field had changed Holy Resurrection just enough so that the guardian could claim its given word no longer existed.

So it bolted. Right at the moment that that hundreds of miles away in the sunshine and warmth of southern California, a dagger plunged into my heart.  A cheaply-made dagger, yes, but one that was nevertheless used in a Satanic rite which had technically ended in the death of a man. So in effect, I was killed by a cursed blade. Kinda, Just as a vacant slot for a cemetery guardian opened up.

 

The only prerequisite to becoming a cemetery guardian, other than being killed by something cursed, is that you have to be a virgin, This explains why so many folks claim to hear wailing children near graveyards; most guardians tend to be kids.

Now, up until the day my insides were emptied out onto the front of a shocked Charlie Higgins, I had been the star quarterback of my high school football team. And what with my strict diet and exercise routine, I was in prime physical shape.

Yet despite my boyish good looks and coveted school status, when I died at eighteen, I was still a virgin.

Let me tell you a little more about bad luck.

At twelve years old, out of the blue, I decided to have my first go at myself. You know, I wanted to toss one off. I hadn’t done it before, at least not full on. Sure I pushed and pulled at my jingle bells from time to time while flipping through a dirty magazine my friends and I had found in a garbage can, but that was about as far as I’d gone. Thing is, a boy can only fiddle around so long before he feels the itch to go for the gusto.

“You gotta use cream or something”, Dougie Jarrett told me. He’d been my best friend my whole life, or at least since we had a bloody Shasta-fueled knockdown drag out fight in the second grade over which was cooler – Mars or Jupiter. “If you don’t use cream you’re gonna shred your shit up,” he said.

I most definitely didn’t want to shred my shit up.

So when I finally felt it was time for me to have my magical moment of meat mashing magnificence, meaning the first time I got home from school to find that my parents were both still at work, I found myself standing in my bathroom with my pants around my ankles, trying to decide what the hell Dougie had meant by “cream”.

I could see just fine, even though I didn’t have the light on. My mom had always been into crafts, and that year she was obsessed with making candles. Every goddamn room had five or six of mer giant multicolored pillars blazing away. Even in that tiny bathroom, there was one on the sink, another by the shower, and another on the magazine stand across from the toilet, That’s right, there was an open flame sitting on a pile of magazines. It was ridiculous. But I figured what I was planning on doing would be better off confined to the shadows anyway, so I left the candles lit and the lights off, and finally settled on the ever-popular Vaseline as my cream of choice.

Here’s the first thing I didn’t know. Earlier in the day my dad had dropped his jar of hair gel, breaking the jar and spilling the contents all over the bathroom floor. Instead of accepting the loss, though, the penny-pinching bastard had scooped up the now-grungy gel into an empty receptacle so that he wouldn’t have to feel bad about wasting a buck twenty-five.

Hey, guess what that empty receptacle was?

So I folded the dirty magazine open to my favorite picture; two words – ‘roller skates’, and I dipped my fingers into what I thought was Vaseline and then I started working on myself. It wasn’t long before I realized that something was wrong. MY hand was getting all sticky; my dick was getting all sticky. Much too soon.

What the hell did I know? I’d never done this before. In one irrational moment, I suddenly convinced myself that I was jerking off in some horribly incorrect way and as a result my hand was going to become stuck to my dick. It was a stupid thought, and in another moment it would have passed completely out of my mind.

But then the mailman walked past my house. The family German Shepherd, Poncho, who was normally a friendly, even-tempered animal, started barking his ass off. I was already freaking out, and when that damn dog started yapping I thought my parents had come home and I panicked. I turned around to grab a towel from the cabinet next to the magazine stand, and I forgot all about the candle that was blazing away behind me.

Right about crotch level.

Here’s the second thing I didn’t know. Certain types of hair gel are flammable.

Goddamn bad luck.

Even the captain of the football team can be a virgin at eighteen when half of his penis is scar tissue.

 

I’m trapped in a giant box. In each direction, I can go as far as the corpses do and no further. What am I watching for? Who the hell knows. I sure don’t. Even if something were to try to invade the cemetery, it’s not like I could stop it. I have only one thing that I can do, but it’s pretty useless. It’s like a crappy version of possession; I can hitch a ride inside of something alive while it’s in my domain, but I can’t take any sort of control and I get kicked out as soon as it hits the edge of where the bodies are buried. Still, at least it’s something to do every once and a while to break up the monotony.

I mean, I suppose it is kind of neat in a way. If I jump into a jackrabbit, I feel what the jackrabbit feels. I see through its eyes, smell what it smells. I get to experience senses again. It works with people too. Problem is that most people who come up here make right for the tombstones and it’s pretty pointless hitching a thirty-second ride with someone just to get from one side of this field to the other.

But what really stings is that cemeteries are where the cool kids come to fuck. At least once every few days some leather-clad, black-lipstick wearing vixen stumbles past me with a lucky guy or girl in tow. I once heard a young trollop utter the line, “This misty world of the dead is the only place I truly feel alive.” The stud she was with just about shot his load on the spot. I yelled, “There hasn’t been any goddamned mist up her for four years, you dime-store slut!” She didn’t hear me, of course. She just knocked the guy onto his back, draped his head with plastic wrap, and then crapped on his face while cutting into her arm with a razor blade.

I guess sex has changed a bit since I passed on.

Okay, so I’m a little bitter. It’s just that I’m still a virgin. A dead virgin, yes, but that’s beside the point. I can jump into bodies. I can feel what people feel. I should be able to experience the joys of the Great Three-Legged Donkey Race hundreds of times over! But nobody ever plans a sexy jaunt to a cemetery just to get it on in the empty field next to the cemetery. Or at least nobody has in the fifteen years I’ve been here standing guard against a threat that never comes.

But hey, maybe my luck is finally starting to change.

Slim and stretch are turning Holy Resurrection into the hottest pinball table ever. They’re still wrapped around each other; bouncing from tombstone to tombstone like they’re trying to earn a free sexy game.

And then they fall to the ground. Right in front of me. Stretch straddles her younger friend, and when she pulls her shirt off, Slim cackles in delight.

I try to will them to start rolling. A few feet is all I ask for. One rotation, maybe two, and they’ll be across the barrier. One little game of “I’m on top. No, I’m on top,” and maybe I can finally get in on some action.

C’mon you gorgeous slut,” Slim yells playfully, “Unleash those things so I can get my mitts on ‘em!”

Stretch reaches behind her back and unhooks her bra. I swear the thing nearly shoots off her chest from the built up pressure. Her tits are perfect. Too perfect to be real, but that doesn’t seem to bother Slim. The kid reaches up and Christ, does she start to go to town. Stretch loves it. She moans, arches her back and starts grinding her hips.

I stand three feet away and focus my will on Slim. I utilize the fullest magnitude of effort that my ghostly form will allow to force her to say the words that I am just aching to hear.

And for once in my life, it actually works.

“Screw this,” says Slim. “Time to quit fucking around.” She rolls Stretch, rolls her right over the barrier, so that she’s on top now.

I don’t waste any time. I slide myself into Stretch’s body and suddenly I’m looking up at Slim. Stretch’s insides are hot and shuddering and I can feel her need and I can sense her desire, and it is exhilarating.

I watch as Slim pulls off her ripped up shirt. Underneath, there’s no bra, just pale skin and black ink. Now I’ve seen plenty of tattooed girls up here, but Slim has got them all beat. Her stomach is a pit of snakes. Her ribcage is bursting with bizarre, alien insects. Her arms drip spiders and scorpions. And her collarbone is lined with cracked and broken skulls.

“Why me?” I hear a lusty voice ask. I realize Stretch is speaking. “I’m old, I’m ugly. Why did you pick me out when you could have left with anyone you wanted?”

Slim smiles, and even though she has some fucked-up tattoos, at this moment she is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

She reaches a hand behind Stretch’s neck, pulls her head up and kisses her deeply. I’m along for the ride, and I don’t know what that little girl is doing with her tongue, but me and Stretch are getting lightheaded.

Slim breaks away and stares into my eyes. Well, Stretch’s eyes, but I’m not arguing. She wets her lips and says, “Because I liked your bracelet,” and then she stands up and backs away.

Stretch is sitting up now, and for the first time I feel this tremendous weight on her chest and I think to myself, God, these plastic tits must really be hell on her back!

But then Stretch looks down, and through her eyes, I see the knife.

Goddamn it! What the hell? Twice? Twice I get stabbed? Are you kidding me?

I’m so stunned that I don’t notice Stretch has gotten to her feet. The confusion flooding through her brain is mixing with my own, and I can feel her gagging and gasping, and I can taste the blood that’s welling up in her mouth.

Jesus, this feels familiar.

Slim pulls her shirt back on and she’s got this bemused expression on her face as she watches Stretch stumble backward, with me still in tow. And that’s when things really go to hell.

I don’t know if it’s because Stretch is dying. I don’t know if maybe Slim used a cursed blade. I don’t have a clue about the why of it all. What I do know is that suddenly Stretch is standing outside of the cemetery boundary.

And I’m still with her.

For the second time in as many minutes, I find myself unable to comprehend what is happening, Slim has her hands on her hips a few feet away; she’s just watching Stretch die. When Stretch falls to the ground. I let her fall away from me. I stand there, looking over at the patch of land that had been my prison for fifteen years. I lift my arm and try to reach across the boundary, and I hit the wall. It doesn’t look like I’m getting back in. Not that I’d want to, but I still find it unnerving.

Suddenly I notice that Slim isn’t looking at Stretch anymore.

She’s looking at me.

“Where the fuck did you come from,” she asks. “And why are you naked?” The weird thing is that she sounds genuinely curious. It’s really disarming.

I’m about to answer, when I hear a strange sound. It’s coming from behind Slim. Behind her, and down.

I realize something. There is currently no spirit guarding Holy Resurrection Cemetery. I’m trapped on the other side of the wall. And while I’m stuck here, there’s nothing standing watch over the bodies that are buried underground.

The bodies of witches and demons.

Oh, goddamn it, I was looking at it wrong the whole time, wasn’t I?

The sound grows louder; it;s the deep rumble of shifting earth. Slim hears it too, now, and she turns and watches as ten feet behind her the earth swells up, and an arm bursts out. Maggots spill from gray, decaying flesh as the arm comes down and slaps the dirt, looking for something to grab onto.

Slim turns back to me, and her eyes are wide with wonder, She points at the flailing arm and asks, “Is that a fucking zombie?”

“Kinda,” I answer, and it looks like she hears me. “Whatever it is, I have a feeling it isn’t going to be the only one.”

She squints, then asks, “Do you think it likes to sink its ‘kinda zombie’ jaws into some warm flesh every now and again?”

“Probably,” I answer. I’m wondering how much otherworldly trouble I’m going to get into for this, so I’m only half paying attention to the girl.

She barks a short laugh, and then says, “Good. Less clean up for me!” She walks over and kneels in front of Stretch. I’ve got visions of my eternal soul roasting on a spit running through my head, so I don’t move out of her way. I just stand there while she goes about her business around me.

First, she pulls her knife out of Stretch’s chest and tries to jab it into my stomach. When her arm passes right through me she just shrugs and says, “Nice trick,” and then wipes her blade off on her jeans and slides it into her boot.

Next, she pockets the diamond bracelet.

The she lifts her head, and I finally come back from thoughts of a potentially horrifying future to find her staring intently at my crotch. She points at it, then looks up at me and grins. “Damn,” she says, “I’ve seen erotic scarring before, but that is some wicked shit. You are hardcore, my man. If your slow-ass doesn’t get eaten by the ‘kinda zombies’, you should track me down sometime. Maybe we could have some fun.” The she grabs Stretch by the legs and pulls her over to where the undead thing is trying to pull itself out of the ground. She takes hold of the creature’s hand, and sets it down on one of Stretch’s enormous tits.

I stand quietly at the border of the graveyard and listen to the earth rumble again, this time much louder than before.

Slim stands, waves goodbye to me in a five-year old sort of way, and saunters into the woods. I sigh.

Goddamn bad luck.

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