The stroke of midnight brings with it the touch of evil. While the small town of Thornhill sleeps, the dead leave their coffins to strengthen their ranks. A blood fueled radio broadcasts its deadly message to all the walking dead. Kill the living.
Cold earth. Somber and deathly still. Thirsty for the October night sky to weep for the dead buried beneath its quiet embrace. Patiently, the parched dirt rests beneath the shadow of heavy stone effigies. Worn from time and endless sorrow, the tombstones barely give remembrance to those now resting under the blanket of death. Restless dark clouds begin to moan and sob. Their cold tears fall to share in the sadness buried just below the surface. The dead. Posed and proper. Resting in pieces. A collection of shells reflecting no ocean. Only the deafening silence of our mortality. Yet they still speak to us, and us to them. Reaching out from their graves to touch us in our waking lives while their bodies remain entombed, deep in the soil, under a crying night sky. The wind whistles between the tombstones. Its pitch raises to a scream until the shovel hits the dirt.
Deep in the night. Deeper in the Earth. The shape of a man digs. His shovel stabs at the grave. The sky weeps no more. The wind holds its breath, as if biting its lip in fear. The night recoils in terror from the man and his shovel. Lightning flashes on high to illuminate his silhouette. Darkness clings to his skin, allowing the light to only touch the very outline of his presence. It is as if he had been cut out of a picture. A black hole in the shape of a man. All light disappears in his void. Only the razors edge of the shovel shines like fire under the moonlight. The mud soon gives way to soft soil. The pace quickens as the hole deepens. It is not long until the metal finds its mark. Hacking away at the buried coffin, the shovel seems to glow with every thrust. Unyielding in its attack, seeking out every crack and weakness until the prize is revealed. The sleeping corpse is once again touched by the waking world. Decomposed lips are peeled back to reveal a sardonic grimace, as if happy and content to feel the night air once again. The shape of a man gently brushes the long soiled hair away from the corpses neck. He softly begins removing the body from its rest. Like a mother carrying a child, he lifts the dead from the earth and gently places it in a small clearing between rows of tombstones. The shape stands above his treasure silently, cocking his head to one side as if studying a work of art. He slowly turns and walks back to the open grave to retrieve his shovel. This night’s plunder is far from over. The metal tip of the blade flashes bright under the moonlight once again. The digging continues for more buried treasure.
Five corpses. Lifeless and still. Decomposing under the night sky. Rotting skin and muscle clinging to aged bone. The promise of death is that of peace. The end of suffering. To be burdened no more by the agony of every waking step. One could not tell of this peaceful transition by the horrifying appearance that now lay above the dirt, spread out in particular fashion under the shadow of a shadow itself. Reaching into the darkness, the man retrieves a large pouch from his person. The bag is tipped to empty its contents slowly. The corpses lay within a circle, each lifeless head pointing to the center. Ash falls from the bag leaving a small pile that grows into a line, connecting one corpse to its opposite. Another bag, much larger than the first, is retrieved from beneath a dead tree close to the horrific scene. The man reaches within the bag and removes a rolled bundle. The bundle is placed next to the dead circle. The fabric unrolls and its contents, for a moment, are gazed upon by the night shadow. Ten large silver knifes, ornately marked with a language not seen on this earth in aeons. Edges so sharp, it burns the eyes that hold their vision. One by one, the knives are removed. The hand of each corpse pops and cracks as they are opened. Flaking skin and tissue give way under the strength of the shadow man. Within the open palm of each corpses hand, the silver blades now rest. The large sack is finally emptied of its final secret. From within its cloth, a box is removed. Its surface, decorated in much the same fashion as the knives, is tarnished and filthy, giving the impression that it too had been unearthed like the corpses. With no seam or clasp to open, the only way to reveal its contents lay within four small gashes cut into a recessed valley at its top. The box is placed within the center of the damnable circle. Slowly, the shadow man places his arm onto the valley at the top of the mysterious box. For a moment, all is still. The wind seems to inhale and hold its breathe, waiting in frightened anticipation for what is about to come. A dull hum emanates from within the unholy construct. From beneath the four slots, a metal whirring rises in volume, culminating in a banshee’s wail. Four spinning blades, stained in the blood of ancients yet still retaining their sharpened edge, spin and slowly rise. Flesh gives way to metal as the blades penetrate through the resting wrist. Blood spills from the wounds, staining the surface of the machine. The viscous tissue seeps between the blades and into the heart of the box. The sound of scorched fluid mutates to black static as the night air carries its resonance to the waiting ears of the dead. The four blades deep within the shadow man’s wrist, having quenched their thirst, begin to retract and rest once again inside the machine. From the very words inscribed on the box, the living red fluid begins pouring from its letters and finds its way to the ashen lines that connect the heads of each corpse. Grey gives way to deep red as the stain of blood envelopes the ash. Like demonic tendrils, the ash absorbs the blood and slowly makes its way closer to fill the dry mouth and sockets of the thirsty dead. The signal has been sent. The message received. Not one man, but six figures now stand in the middle of the graveyard. The shadow man stands, the weight of his evil pressing against the soil under his feet. Five corpses hover just above the ground. Their toes drag the earth as they sway in place. Dead fingers curl tightly around the handle of each silver knife. Lifeless features stained with mud and blood stare into the void of the shadow man. Invisible words are uttered through the eyes as the message is written in the blood. The box still hisses and whispers at the center of the circle. Its intent now clear, broadcast the black static transmission.