(Editor's Note: If you have not yet read "Part One - Eleven", please go to the
Horror Archive and read those stories, first. Thank you, TDS.)
Early the next morning, Susan awoke when she heard Justin moaning in pain as he tried to get out of bed; the simple movement stretched his burned and blistering skin. She sat up, yawned and turned to him. “Need some help?”
He looked up from where he was checking the bottom of his feet for evidence of burns. “I don’t think I’ll need any, if I go slowly. There aren’t any burns on the souls of my feet, only my shins.” Justin slowly stood up and with a deep sigh, shuffled from the room. He called from the hallway, “When I get back, I think we’ll need to redo these dressings.”
“Okay,” she yelled, as she climbed out of bed and removed her night clothes and headed to the wardrobe.
By the time he returned, she had finished dressing and already gathered the first aide supplies she would need to attend to his wounds. “So,” he said, “where do you want me?”
Turning to face him, she answered, “On the bed, with your feet at the very edge.” As he positioned himself on the bed, she told him, “Put those pillows under your thighs to raise your shins.” She joined him on the edge of the bed and said, “I have a story to tell you while we do this.” After a small pause, she clarified, “A ghost story, about my latest midnight visit from Emma.”
Lifting his head off the bed, Justin asked, excitedly, “No? Really!”
“Yes, really,” she answered, smiling. “Now, lie back and let’s get this done.” As she began unwrapping the dressing, Susan said, “Once upon a time…”
Over the next hour, while she undressed, cleansed, applied Silvadene, and redressed his burns, Susan told Justin about witnessing the murders of Frank and Ivy Gehlt, as well as John Milton Johnson, and the personality forming event from Archibald’s younger days. When she revealed that Archibald had kneeled on his victims’ chests, thereby crushing their internal organs and suffocating them to death, he jerked himself up into a sitting position, spilling a small container of hydrogen peroxide on the bedspread. “That means Archibald killed all of his victims in basically the same way he killed Emma and Jebediah; by smothering them under extreme weight, just as he smothered the others under the extreme weight of all that dirt while burying them alive.” Shaking his head in wonder, he laid back when Susan pointed an extended index finger down at the bed. “Pretty inventive way to kill someone; absolutely evil, but inventive none the less.”
She stared at his amazed face for a few seconds before taping the gauze to secure it in place. “I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re right.” She brushed off her pants as she stood up. “Well, that’s that, I guess.” Gathering up the trash off the bed around Justin, she asked, mischievously, “So, what are you planning to do today?”
Scooting backward across the bed a few inches, Justin sat up and looked at Susan. “I didn’t really have any plans for today. Why? What are you thinking?”
“I think that we need to try to find those graves and I don’t know how to do it, but we need to honor them, somehow. Any ideas on how to accomplish that?” she asked as she brushed some hair out of her eyes.
“Actually, yeah, I do. It might be a little on the simplistic side, but at this point I’m thinking simple is good,” he said, and once again struggled to gain a standing position next to the bed.
Dumping the trash she was holding into a small wastebasket next to the wardrobe, Susan looked over at him and opened one of the drawers. “Are you going to tell me or make me guess?” She reached inside the drawer and asked, “Jeans or sweats?”
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