A single candle burned bright against the swallowing darkness, illuminating an old sunken tomb that had been liberated by an old woman, swathed in black. She moved with ethereal grace as she pulled a stool up to a large stone coffin, wiping away the dust with a dirty rag, before laying out a partially built doll on the clammy stone surface.
“I must finish it,” she murmured, eyes wild with madness. Her fingers dipped into her pockets, pulling out spools of thread and a needle, which she used to continue her work on the two-foot tall doll’s costume, a pristine white dress.
Outside the rain poured relentlessly, creating vast mires within the swamp that threatened to flood the mausoleum… but she didn’t care. She was old, and she was brittle. The heat and humidity made her joints stiff and ache while her arthritic fingers endlessly toiled away on the dress, sewing in jewel after jewel that she fished from a satchel she had laid out. Soon, the dress glittered with diamonds and rubies, sapphires and emeralds, all against a pristine white silken dress. The hard wood of the doll, polished and painted a lovely off white, knocked against the stone coffin as she lifted it into the air to examine it. Blonde tresses rained down around her weak wrists, and glassy blue eyes met mossy green as the woman stared at her creation.
“They’ll never find me in here.” She murmured, setting the doll down as she stood up, slowly but painfully, from the stool and walked over to a wooden box shaped like a coffin. “Now she just needs to lay her head down to rest and soon enough she’ll be found.”
The woman struggled as she lifted the box, her own black garments clinging with sweat and rainwater as she placed the coffin atop the stone sarcophagi. Inside was a plush lined of crushed red velvet, with a plump pillow for the dolls head. Picking her up with all the grace she could muster, the woman laid the doll down in the box.
The barking of dogs and a long low siren caused the old woman’s eyes to snap up, looking at the stairs leading down into the crypt. They’d found her! Turning back to the doll, she laid it down in rest and carefully closed the lid, before taking the satchel, tinkling with stolen gems and jewelry, and slung it over her shoulder. Picking up the luger she’d set down before she’d begun her labor, the old woman moved with purpose towards the stairs, holding the luger with grim determination.
Shouts could be heard above, as well as the sloshing of boots through mud and mire. Still, the old woman stood her ground, facing the entrance of the crypt with a wrinkled face of determination. As the glare of a flashlight rained down from the twisted stairwell, she cocked her pistol and held it up, arm stiff as a board.
A young officer, dressed in slickers and knee high waterproof boots, carefully came into view, looking down at the grime of the crypt with obvious disgust. He didn’t see her standing there amidst the darkness.
She was okay with that.
“Murphy, I’ll say this – if she’s as crazy as you say she is, I can see her coming into a place like this!” The young officer called up, holding a hand out to steady himself against slipping where he stood, the flashlight wavering as he tried to regain his foothold. “This whole crypt is flooding!”
The old woman fired two shots into the man, the echoes of the pistols cannon fire deafening her for a moment. One bullet sank into his chest, creating a red fountain which pooled from his yellow slicker, while the other caught him in the neck, a spray of arterial blood spattering the walls in a wet splash. The officer looked up for a brief moment, his flashlight zooming over the old woman, before he collapsed.
Turning quickly, as she heard the men above all call out over the shots fired, she hastened her step to the mausoleum’s centerpiece. Using a crowbar that she’d liberated from the funeral home above, she began wheedling the stone lid inch by inch open, until the decaying body within could be seen.
Tattered clothes and moldy leather boots, the body of William Morsely lay in gentle repose, his features like dried wax, drawn tight over his skeleton. Smiling as if seeing an old friend, the old woman took a moment to say a prayer asking forgiveness for violating the dead in such a way, before she slid her dolls wooden box into the raised stone coffin. Turning as she heard men gathering at the stairs above, their boots splashing in the mud, she grabbed her pistol once more and fired two shots into the wall of the stairwell.
“Stay back, all of you!” She called out as if in a panic. “The officer is still alive but if you come down here, I’ll shoot him in the head!”
“Bill! You alive down there?” One of the men called out.
“Y-yes… do as she says… stay back…” the old woman grunted, mimicking the young officer’s voice in a pained sense with a wide smile.
Turning back to her task, she lowered the jewels into the coffin, between the corpses legs, before moving to pull the coffin lid back over the body. Already her candle was growing dim, and she had little time to spare if she wanted to get everything right. Walking tightly over to the dead officer, she dipped her index and middle finger in the blood, swishing it around a bit until her fingers were thoroughly coated.
Bringing the fingers up, she looked down at the body with a smile. “Here’s hoping you were innocent, eh?”
The dead officer merely watched with glassy eyes as she began drawing intricate, alien symbols over the withered flesh of her face, mumbling all the while. Above, the men were growing restless, shouting down for the old woman to give up, to turn over their injured comrade, to make a bargain.
Heh, she thought when she heard the last plea. A bargain is exactly what I’m doing you fools.
And with that, she brought the pistol up to her mouth, slipping the barrel inside before counting to three.
One, the men were all shouting as the thunder rolled over the harsh Louisiana landscape.
Two, her eyes wandered over to the sealed crypt of Mr. Morsely, one of the towns’ oldest and most respected families.
Three… the chamber went dark as a dulled flash followed a loud bang, the candle blown out by an unseen draft as the crypt was showered in red and gray gore, along with one final bullet lodged into the ceiling.