The Resurrectionist Part Two
By: Zach Ellenberger

He turned to make his way toward the gate when – to his horror – was confronted face to face with the hideous silhouette he had been chasing all night. He cried out in frightful horror. In his shock, he realized the silhouette was that of Annie Mae Caulfield, withered and decrepit. Her hair resembled cobwebs, her skin broken and cold to the touch. Her sunken pitch-black eyes – empty and soulless – were a source of tremendous and overwhelming fear unbeknownst to Edmund; instilling within him an unforgiving sense of dread and trepidation. The entire length of Edmund's back seized up, gripped by the cold embrace of fear as he fell helplessly to the ground. He struggled to look away but could not break his gaze which had been fixated upon her hideous face. She then pounced upon him like a spider, pinning him against the very grave in which she once resided. He pleaded desperately for his life.

"Spirit, I beseech thee! Have mercy. I'm but a simple watchman and I've no desire to perturb you. I am merely tasked with tending to the deceased."

Then, the spirit spoke like that of a hundred voices in one.

"Dweller, cursed be you still! For you do not stand free of consequence and must answer for your sins against innocent flesh."

"Great spirit, you mistaken me. I've done no ill will against those living or dead. What is it that compels you to torment me? The dead do not trouble themselves with the concerns of the living!"

"But the living troubles themselves with concern for the dead. They fear fate, and yet, fate is inevitable no matter what they do. Lest they forget, death is the final form for all."

"Then, why has thou come for me?"

"You have desecrated the remains of those who reside within this sacred ground. You have laid your hands upon blessed souls since passed on and sold their remains to hollow men for your own gain. Now, their souls may never rest."

Edmund began to weep uncontrollably, begging for his life.

"Please, it is not as you say. I only did so for the good of the town. Death has run rampant here in Barrington. These deaths have been attributed to nothing more than disease. It was only my intention to assist Dr. Penn who has worked to develop a cure for the sick. You see, I was trying to save them!"

"The less you know, Resurrector. You fail to recognize the doctor's true intentions. The doctor is the reason disease has returned to Barrington. He has been going about town infecting innocent lives with formulated doses of the cholera disease. Once he collects their bodies, they become his puppets to do with as he pleases."

Edmund could not begin to comprehend the apparition's claim.

"That can't be possible," Edmund protested. "Dr. Penn has been well favored among the townsfolk for years."

"Then perhaps you are the fool the doctor claims you to be. Either way, the devil will have his due."

"But I am not ready to die."

"Your death will come in time. But, not this night. For now, you serve a more important purpose."

"What purpose is that, pray tell?" Edmund insisted.

"Every corpse you've resurrected represents a soul that has been unaccounted for, a body desecrated by the blasphemous hands of Dr. Penn. Therefore, an imbalance exists in nature. The devil demands his due and he will have it. He requires seven souls. If you wish for this torment to end, deliver these seven souls before the stroke of midnight tomorrow. Only then will your torment cease."

"I shall do as I am bid. Of whom does the devil seek?"

Without answering, the ghost of Annie Mae curled back her lips, revealing razor-sharp fangs like that of a wild animal and, lurching onto Edmund, sunk them into Edmund's neck. Startled, Edmund struggled to free himself from her grip to no avail. His sight faded to white as he felt the pain shoot from his neck throughout his body. The same cold embrace seized his entire body this time, causing him to twitch and squirm uncontrollably. Thinking himself dead, he stopped resisting and let himself succumb to the pain. Suddenly, the white light faded, and the pain vanished as Edmund regained consciousness. He found himself in the center of town far from the cemetery. How he got there, or what time of the night it was, he could not be sure. The ghost of Annie Mae was nowhere in sight nor was any living soul. Edmund climbed to his feet when he noticed something troubling. His vision remained hazy and his body went numb. And yet, he was still moving, walking in the direction of Dr. Penn's lab. Edmund was distressed for it was as if he had no control over his body and was being led by someone or something else. He fought his movements at every turn, ultimately unable to change his course.

By God, I must be possessed! he thought to himself as he hobbled down the street towards Dr. Penn's medical institute resembling that of a cripple. Suddenly, the disembodied voice of the apparition – that of a hundred voices in one – spoke to Edmund, as if it were Edmund himself speaking.

"The balance between worlds must be maintained. A debt is owed, to be paid only in blood. The first souls the devil demands are those of Dr. Penn and his handlers, Vincent and Malcolm. For years, the doctor and his handlers have preyed upon the townsfolk for their own gain. He is a defiler of flesh and life and his henchman remain blind by greed, paid to hold their tongues; monsters of inherent chaos, abominations to the sanctity of human life. They must be eradicated."

Edmund approached Dr. Penn's lab, a puppet under the control of the vile apparition. He was led to a door at the rear of the building, isolated from view of the streets. Edmund yanked at the door handle to find that it was locked. He then heard the sound of a light click and the door silently swung open. The door led into a storage room packed to the brim with experimental medical equipment and devices that had been previously rendered obsolete. The shelves within the storage room were stacked with tools and notebooks full of medical notations as well as the discarded bones of humans and beasts alike. They created a maze-like labyrinth which led to a pair of double doors. Edmund stepped through the double doors and found himself in the medical auditorium. Here, Dr. Penn's peers would gather and bear witness to his latest atrocity, claiming it to be the work of a medical genius.

Edmund came upon one of Dr. Penn's handlers, Vincent, who was fast asleep in one of the pews. Edmund felt his heartbeat race as he approached the sleeping man. Vincent was a scraggly man with an unkempt beard and wiry frame. Standing over the man, Edmund fell short of breath and began to panic. He tried to remain standing so as not to awake Vincent, but his entire body went limp as a cloud of fog began to fill the room. Vincent was awakened by Edmund's body falling to the ground, startled and confused as to how Edmund got inside. Edmund remained weak and helpless. Thinking he had failed his task, he forfeited himself to Vincent. But as Vincent reached for Edmund, the ghostly apparition of Annie Mae appeared from the cloud of fog behind Vincent. Stunned and shocked, Edmund watched the apparition seize Vincent by the throat and proceeded to tear out Vincent's eyes, ears and tongue. Vincent cried out in unimaginable pain and agony, but eventually died on the spot. His screams alerted the second handler, Malcolm, to Edmund's presence. Malcolm rushed into the auditorium only to find Edmund lying next to Vincent's dead body. Malcolm was twice the size of Edmund and much taller, drenched in sweat from exerting even the simplest amount of energy. His clean-shaven face bore a look of disgust as his gaze wandered back and forth between Edmund and Vincent. The look transfigured into anger as he marched toward Edmund. But the apparition appeared before him, snatching his tongue from his mouth and ripping out his eyes and ears as well. Before Malcolm could realize what had been done to him, fell to the ground, asphyxiated by his own blood. Both men were dead in a matter of minutes. The apparition looked toward Edmund with her blackened eyes before disappearing once more. As soon as she did, Edmund regained his strength and continued on. In the back of the auditorium was the door to Dr. Penn's personal chambers where he resided.

The room was dimly lit by candles as Edmund snuck through the door. What he witnessed on the other side of the door was a dungeon of horrors far surpassing anyone's imagination. Along the walls, there hung what looked like sheets of flayed human skin, boiled and treated. There were anatomical sketching's of humans and beasts alike, both skeletal as well as muscular structures. Between the sketching's were aged stains of blood coated all over the place. But, at the center of the room lay the butchered bodies of Dr. Penn's lab experimentations. The bodies were surgically opened and drained of their blood. Though difficult to recognize, Edmund knew they were the deceased townsfolk that he had sold to the doctor, now nothing more than playthings for Dr. Penn's twisted machinations. A man stood before the far wall of the room which displayed what could best be described as a shrine comprised of human and animal body parts. The beastly shrine had taken the form of the monstrous Wendigo. Edmund recalled the legend of the Wendigo which still circulated amongst the town with those still close in trade with the local natives. Some say Barrington was cursed at its founding by the tribal chief in response to the atrocities committed by the colonists against the natives which only caused further tensions between the two cultures. Legend has it that that chief's curse summoned dark, vengeful spirits such as the wendigo among others to prey upon the land and its new inhabitants. Now it seemed as though the legend had come to life.

The hybrid body had been fastened to the wall with wood and nails. The arms and torso carried signs of human origin while the legs were hooves and the head adorned with a large animal skull fitted with antlers. The flesh that clung to the bones was pale and discolored. The discoloration had been brought about by syringes filled with a peculiar discolored serum. The man standing before the shrine was hunkered over the table examining the liquid within the syringes. His once white apron had been heavily stained with blood

The man turned to Edmund, who had been standing directly behind him now. It was none other than Dr. Penn. He had a sinister, twisted look in his eyes; his face pale, gaunt and coated in blood.

"Edmund? You dare enter my lab without permission? You are not welcome in this place!"

Edmund was incensed with uncontrollable ire. The doctor had been the source of all his suffering at the hands of the apparition. Edmund would not dare to let this opportunity pass.

"She was never sick, was she? None of them were before you put your cursed hands upon them."

"You know nothing of the darkness that curses these lands," Dr. Penn hissed. "The great spirit has lurked among the town's periphery for years plaguing it with disease and famine. The only way to survive is to appease it. It has chosen me to herald its arrival. Yes, I am the bridge between worlds; the conduit between spiritual and physical. I am its harbinger and it demands sacrifices in flesh and blood in order to be fulfilled."

Edmund could no longer contain his anger. Never had Edmund desired to take the life of another, but Edmund could not stop himself from killing Dr. Penn. He seized a stray syringe of the serum from the table and stabbed Dr. Penn in the neck, dispatching the green liquid into him. His anger was such that he repeatedly stabbed the doctor. As Edmund regained his senses, he could see the doctor's skin turn jaundice and blotchy as the veins in his head bulged. The whites of his eyes turned red and the doctor began foaming at the mouth, choking violently. Whatever Edmund had injected the doctor with had accelerated the decay of his insides as his body shriveled and turned ill. By the time the doctor was actually dead, his body resembled those of his tortured victims. Upon the doctor's death, another crash of what seemed like thunder filled the air shaking the entire building violently. It was a piercing sound that caused the shrine's skull to fall from the structure, shattering the syringes below.

Edmund could feel his heart still racing as he once again faded out of consciousness. It felt as if he had begun floating upon a sea of calm, bathed in the white light, weightless and horizontal. It did not last long, for once again he regained his consciousness only to find himself back outside the Lord's Haven Parish standing in the entrance to the cemetery. The ghost appeared once more before Edmund, startling him yet again.

"I stand before you pleading mercy," Edmund begged. "I am not a man of violence. I beg you, make swift work of me so that I may peacefully continue on with this dreadful life."

"Your trial is but only halfway complete. The next souls the devil demands are that of the parishioner, Father Campbell as well as George and Cynthia Caulfield."

This time, Edmund protested the apparition's instructions.

"Why? Why, tainted spirit, do you find it necessary to take these good people and condemn further innocence?"

"The less you know, Resurrector. The souls you deem to be innocent are far from such. What they do behind closed doors does not escape the sight of the devil himself. Father Campbell disguises himself as a godly man while concealing his true identity as a violator of young children. For years, the priest has preyed upon the children of this town to satiate his perversion of lust. Annie Mae Caulfield was one of the priest's victims, the latest in a sequence of debauchery to which the town remains incognizant."

Edmund could not believe what he had heard; he didn't want to.

"That can't be. A man of God, he is. And what reasons do her parents have to suffer?"

"George and Cynthia Caulfield's sin is one of ignorance toward their daughter. Annie Mae's beauty was incomparable, apt to catch the attention of any man. This was cause for concern among George and Cynthia. Fearing the attraction of undesirable suitors and wanting to protect her from any harm or danger, George and Cynthia left her under the supervision of Father Campbell and the parish to better learn the ways of God. After Father Campbell defiled her, Annie Mae approached her parents about it. But they would not believe her. They refused to believe that a man of the cloth would commit such cruelty against a child. So, she was sent back to the parish day after day under the priest's care. Eventually, Annie Mae refused to go back. Once a sweet, kind girl, her behavior grew erratic and prone to sudden outbursts of aggression. George and Cynthia took her refusal to return to church as a sign of her denouncing God. Suspecting a decline in her mental health, they sent her to Dr. Penn. But Dr. Penn had his own plans for the young Annie Mae. Betraying the Caulfield's trust, Dr. Penn tended to young Annie Mae, using the opportunity to inject her with a syringe of the formulated Cholera leading to her death."

The story had at last been fully revealed to Edmund. Its veil had finally been lifted to reveal the quaint little town he had come to know as the scourge and abomination that it truly was. The revelation had conjured a sickening taste in his mouth, one of disgust and repulsion for the human condition. He no longer harbored fear and apprehension for his well-being, but only interminable anger and contempt for the town and its people for enabling such vile acts to transpire. A murderous rage had taken hold of Edmund, inflicting upon him an irreconcilable conscience retaliative to the loss of innocence.

"And what of the seventh soul? Who, pray tell, shall be the last to retribute the soul of Annie Mae?"

"The honor shall be yours, Resurrector; he who profits from the dead shall live among them."

"…So sayest thou, Spirit. Thy will shall be done…"

"Spare no moment, necromancer. The midnight hour fast approaches and the devil awaits his prize."

For the last time, the apparition vanished, never to be seen again. With nothing else to lose, Edmund took off toward the chapel to fulfill the devil's work and bring an end to his ill-spent life. It was the last that anyone would ever see of poor Edmund Raye.

***

The next day, a quiet morning dawned as the town awoke to a grizzly scene of murder and mutilation across Barrington. In the home of Mayor Caulfield, a house maid discovered George and Cynthia in their bedroom asphyxiated, hanging from the chandelier. Despite every rationalization, no one could determine how they manage to reach the lighting fixture to hang themselves.

Near the center of town, the fetor of decay emanated from Dr. Penn's medical institute, leading the town to uncover many dark secrets remaining within. The bodies of Dr. Penn's handlers, Malcolm and Vincent, were found sitting upright in the pews of the auditorium, each missing their eyes, ears and tongue. Inside Dr. Penn's personal chambers, Dr. Penn's remains were found among a scene of ritualistic sacrifice. His corpse, drenched in an unknown substance and displaying advanced stages of decayed flesh, lay under the guise of his fallen idol of the demon Wendigo. Infected and highly contagious, Dr. Penn's remains became the source of a renewed outbreak of cholera throughout the land and had to be burned.

Not far from Dr. Penn's medical institute, Father Campbell turned up dead inside Lord Haven's Parish. His body had been impaled onto the altar by a sharpened crucifix. Whoever had committed such a heinous act must have been a person of great strength, for no one could determine how the killer was capable of forcing such a large crucifix into the chest of Father Campbell. It was a horrific sight many found to be unwarranted, until they had discovered the remnants of Father Campbell's personal effects. In the parishioner's office, there existed a secret room behind a cabinet. The cabinet had been moved and the door to the secret room left ajar. Inside the room, the townsfolk uncovered a dungeon filled with torture devices and skeletons of dead children chained to the wall. Most of them were still in the process of decomposition. Every one of them, boy and girl, met a painful end at the hands of the priest.

But what remained a mystery at the time to the townsfolk that day was the whereabouts of Edmund Raye. His absence led many to believe that he was the murderer, but without any evidence, no one could be certain. It wasn't until a few days later that the townsfolk discovered the tombstone of Annie Mae Caulfield had been torn from the ground. The remaining members of the town dug up the coffin to ensure no one had tampered with Annie Mae's body. What they found in the coffin left everyone that was present speechless and horrified. Annie Mae was nowhere to be found! Instead, they discovered the body of Edmund Raye, buried alive as it were. On the lid of the coffin was a message that looked to have been carved by Edmund with nothing but his fingernails. The message read, "I shall be vindicated!"

Not long after the discovery of Edmund Raye and the gruesome Barrington murders, the townspeople had finally succumbed to disease, leaving the town dangerously few in number. After the Civil War, the town was completely abandoned. To this day, all that remains of Barrington are the overgrown ruins within the ancient Appalachian forest. Rumors abound that few travelers who have passed close by the lands that were once Barrington can still hear the voices of the damned – chanting, cursing one another in eternal torment – and a woman clad in white seen wandering through the woods. The body of Annie Mae Caulfield was never found.

THE END

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