Steeple chimes echoed through the clapboard chapel’s rafters. Christie raised her forehead from the altar railing. Polished oak furnishings glinted in the candlelight, while darkness oozed through the stained glass windows.
Perspiration trickled from her temples and followed the lines of her long neck. She wiped her moist palms across the front of her jeans. As the chorus tolled, Christie grabbed a small pitcher from a wooden stand at the railing’s end. She gulped. A tide of cool water soothed her scorched palate and throat.
The altar candles dimmed as the last note hung in the air. Christie rose and turned toward the exit. With a clenched jaw, she marched past the vacant rows. She couldn’t read the engravings on the end of each pew, but she knew the missing families’ names. Jacob and Missy LaCour… Elvin and Martha Smith…Joe and Elizabeth Brown…Ms. Minnie Harrison…The aisle’s carpet deepened to burgundy as the light waned.
Her heart threatened to burst her eardrums as she pressed her cheek against the ivory door frame. “I know you’re out there.” She took a deep breath, then straightened and rolled her shoulders back.
She thrust the door open. A humid gale rushed into the chapel, extinguishing the remaining glimmer of light. Christie stepped forward and pulled the door shut behind her. She scanned the moon-silvered oaks. Moss dripped from their limbs, as if melting in the torrid night. One bough wriggled its spindly tips.
A cloudy figure emerged from the leaves of a high bough. It leapt into the wind. Bones appeared within the mist. Sinews and flesh materialized over the skeleton as it swept toward her. Striking green eyes glared in contrast to the creature’s porcelain skin. A statuesque ghoul alighted on the step beside her.
He grabbed Christie’s arm and an icy chill shot through her veins. “I’ve been watching you come here every night.” His lip curled up to one side, revealing a long fang amid rows of dagger sharp teeth. “I saved you for my special treat.”
Christie jerked her arm free. “I don’t belong to you.”
He grabbed her by the throat and lifted her off the ground. Christie kicked at the air. Shallow breaths from her nostrils drew in his acrid stench.
He drew her a few inches closer and sneered. “Preacher’s kids taste like honey, I hear.”
to be continued ….