All characters in this story are over eighteen. Some are well over a hundred.
My cunt hurt. It was dry and raw, but poor Brian kept sawing away, humping me, doing his damnedest to put us both over the top. He buried his face in the pillow next to my ear, drooling on my neck, and he grunted with every thrust of his dick.
"Come on baby," I whispered. "Oh, God yeah! Fuck me! Fuck me!"
Something crawled across the ceiling. I could see it clearly, because I had my glasses on. It had long, spindly legs that whirled around a tiny body and cast long shadows in the light from the study lamp on Brian's desk. I usually freak out around bugs, but this time I managed to keep it together. I didn't want Brian to get distracted. He'd only want to start over, and I wanted to get home.
"I can't believe how fucking hard you are. I'm come ... I'm come ... I'm coming!"
That did it. Brian gave one last hard push, which really pinched. To keep myself from yelping, I squeezed his ass as his muscles got rigid. He let out a long sigh, and it was over, finally.
"Oh," I whispered. "That was so nice."
He lifted his head and looked at me with that smug post-coital grin.
"Did you come?"
"I'm not sure," I said. "It was all over so fast."
"I said I did, didn't I? Or didn't you hear that part?"
I glanced up at the ceiling. The creepy-crawly was gone.
"What?" Brian asked.
"Nothing," I said.
"Are you OK?"
"I'm fine. It's just my vagina's sore."
"Have I been wearing you out?"
"You think you could move?"
He reached between us, and, tweezing the rolled base of the condom between two fingers, he pulled his dick out of me and flipped over. The air was suddenly cool on my sweaty thighs and breasts where he had weighed me down. I could breathe again.
I could also see the digital clock on his desk. It was almost nine. Brian caught me looking at it. It was a thing between us.
"Do you have to go?" he said.
"Come on," I said.
"Why don't you spend the night?"
"I can't," I said. "Mom will know what I'm doing."
"You should move into the dorms," he said.
"I told you. We can't afford it, and I have more room at home."
My name is Dorothy. Everybody calls me Dot. Brian and I are sophomores at a Catholic college in the city. He came from out of state on a scholarship, but I commuted from home, like almost everybody else on campus. Brian and I had already had the conversation about me moving to the dorms. We had already had every conversation I could think of, even though we'd only known each other since the middle of our freshman year, and we hadn't seen each other all summer.
Brian tugged at the condom, which slid off his dick with a rubbery snap and a sprinkle of his come on my leg. He tied a knot at the open end and, taking careful aim, tossed it toward the desk. It just snagged the rim the wastepaper basket before it dropped it to the floor.
"Agh!" he said. "My record is shot."
At least I didn't have to hear him say "two points" again.
I got off the bed and picked up my clothes. Brian got up, too, bouncing off the end of the mattress. He got fresh underwear from his dresser, and a fresh pair of socks.
"What are you doing?" I said, stepping into my panties.
"I'll walk you to the bus stop."
"You don't have to."
"I want to. I worry."
The college was the best part of a bad neighborhood. There were reports almost every day of women being attacked on campus. One was even raped.
"I'll call security," I said. The school had this program where you called a number and a student volunteer in uniform would walk you to your car or wait with you for the bus.
"It's no problem," he said. "What can security do for you? They don't have guns."
"They have walkie-talkies," I said. "What do you have?"
"Just let me come with you."
Brian already had his sneakers tied by the time I fastened my bra. Guys' clothes are so much easier to deal with. He watched me with what I thought was impatience while I pulled my cotton dress over my head, buttoned it up to the Peter Pan collar, and, sitting on the edge of the bed, put on my sandals. I'd kept my wooly socks on during sex. I looked like a refugee from a convent, but I was only dressing for school. And it was October. The weather was getting cool, and I liked my feet to be warm. We each put on a sweater. Brian picked up my bookbag, and when he was satisfied I hadn't left anything behind, he clicked off the lamp on his desk.
"Wow," he said, looking past me at the window. "Look at the fog."
It moved in while we were fucking, a gray monster that filled the glass with its flat gray face. Somewhere in its heart burned a frosty-edged globe of amber — the glow of the security lamp on the side of the building, struggling through the soup.
"And seeing that it was a soft October night, curled once about the house, and fell asleep," Brian said.
English major. He always had a quote ready.
When we walked out through the iron gates of the dorm, I could just see the library across the street. The rest of the world was swallowed up in the creature's wooly hide. The mist prickled my face and slid its damp hand up my skirt. The air was still, but I swear I could hear the wind wailing through the dorms. It spoke to me, or to anyone who loved the fog like I did.
"You," it said. "Yoouuuuuuuuu."
"This is weird," Brian said.
"I think it's cool."
"It was clear an hour ago."
"It wasn't clear," I said. "It's been cloudy all day."
"Why are you arguing with me?" he said. "You're usually in a good mood afterward."
"I just have to get home."
We crossed at the light and waited at the corner in front of the administration building. It feels like you're standing there a long time when you have nothing to say. I began to count the times the traffic signal over our heads cycled through its colors, turning Brian from a green ghost to a yellow ghoul to a red devil. I was up to thirteen when, at last, a white glow grew in the fog, then burst into a blinding glare as my bus materialized out of nowhere. If I hadn't been standing at the curb, the driver would never have seen me. I took my books from Brian and gave him a quick kiss goodnight, but when I got on the bus he bounced up behind me.
"Now what?" I said.
"I'm taking you home."
"Come on," he said. "I've never seen where you live."
"Why not? You can introduce me to your mom."
"I'll just say hello and come back."
I couldn't argue. Brian had already dropped his change in the box, and the bus was on its way.
I walked to the back and plunked down next to a window. Brian slipped in next to me and put his arm around my shoulders, but I turned away from him. For a guy on scholarship, he could be pretty dense. If he had really been smart, he would have let me go home and talked to me on Monday. But he wanted everything to be all right, and he thought all he had to do was say the right thing, and it would be.
And then there was my mom. I'd never told her about him, and if I showed up at ten o'clock on a Friday night with a boy in tow, she'd suspect I hadn't spent the evening at the library, which is what I had planned to tell her.
We rode along in frosty silence. Or I did. Brian tried to tell me something he had learned about his art history class, but gave it up when I wouldn't respond. I rested my forehead on the cold window and gazed out. It was hard to see the buildings going by, as the neighborhoods gradually improved, and I was afraid I'd miss my stop. Nothing looked familiar again until we passed the 7-Eleven, which was bright and welcoming in the fog.
"This is it," I said — my first words since we sat down — and I yanked the bell cord, twice.
But I was wrong. In the fog, I lost count of the streets, and we got off one stop too soon.
"Don't worry about it," Brian said. "We just have to walk a little farther."
I led Brian down the cross street, past a ball field where the fog hovered in a mat above the grass. Beyond the field, at the end of the block, a dark cluster of trees hid the steeple of the old Trinity Church.
"It was like walking on the bottom of the sea," Brian said. "As if I had drowned long ago. As if I was a ghost belonging to the fog, and the fog was the ghost of the sea. It felt damned peaceful to be nothing more than a ghost within a ghost. — Don't look at me as if I'd gone nutty!"
"What's that from?"
"Long Day's Journey Into Night," he said. "I emailed you about the acting class I took over the summer. I did it for my mono—whoa, hello!"
He jerked his chin at something across the street.
"Speaking of ghosts!" I said.
She might have been nineteen, she might have been thirty — a lean specter in the fog, running back in the direction Brian and I had just come from. Glossy black hair hung down her back. Tight jeans were tucked into high brown boots. Her olive skin turned green as she passed under the streetlight, and in the light there was no mistake: she was topless. She hugged herself to cover her swaying breasts, arms crossed, fingers clutching her bare shoulders. A big dark nipple bulged through the crook of her elbow.
"Hey!" Brian called. "Are you all right?"
She didn't answer. She didn't look at us. She only kept on, fading around the edges as she put the streetlight behind her. When she reached the corner, she turned abruptly into the side street and vanished in the fog.
"Should we call the police?" I said.
Brian already had his cell out.
"I'm not getting a signal," he said.
"That's weird. There's an antenna on the church steeple."
"Nothing. It's dead."
"We can call from my house."
"She'll be long gone by then. I'd hate to bring the cops in and find out she was just fooling around with some guy and dropped her shirt somewhere."
"She looked scared."
"Or embarrassed. Nobody's after her. She's probably fine."
He tucked his phone back into his pocket.
"And it was fun for you, too, I'm sure," I said.
"God, yes. She had terrific tits."
"You told me you liked boyish girls with small breasts."
"Sure, I do," he said. "When they put out."
I punched him in the shoulder.
"Oh, harder!" he said.
I was about to oblige, but I heard the wailing again. The leaves in the trees were dead still, but the voice kept calling me. You. Youuuuuuu. I froze with my fist raised.
"What's the matter?"
"What is that sound?"
"I don't hear anything."
"Stop shitting me," I said. "You gotta hear that. It's all over."
"There's nothing, sweetie. You sure you're all right?"
"I'm fine," I said. "Walk me home."
The brick parish house stood back from the street. To the right of it, bordering the sidewalk, was the low end of a stone wall that enclosed the churchyard on three sides. The wall got taller as it ran toward the corner, and ever since I was a little girl, I was never able to figure out how. It was like an optical illusion. The brick coping seemed level all the way around, and the sidewalk didn't slope much, either, and yet the wall was only knee-high where it began, and it was over my head where it turned at the far end of the block.
I took Brian's hand and led him inside. Through the trees, we saw the back of the church. It was red brick, like the parish house, and milky-looking in the light of the globe lamps that dotted the churchyard. Grave markers huddled along the flagstone path, growing older and humbler the closer we got to the church. The towering obelisks and the hulking granite sarcophagi stood farther off. It had always seemed to me that the first families of the parish, the pioneers, were content just to rest beside the house of God. It was the ones who came later, the self-important businessmen and soldiers, the ones who built the factories and fought the Civil War, who insisted on being remembered. They erected monuments to themselves, and nobody remembered them, anyway.
"I can't believe you'd walk through here on a night like this," Brian said.
"It's a shortcut," I said. "There's a gate on the other side. My house is across the street and over a block."
"Wooooooo," he said. "Spooooky."
"You can't scare me here," I said. "I love this place."
"I know what you mean. I've always liked cemeteries. It's the history."
"The cool thing about this one is that all the people the streets are named for around here are buried here — all the Cottmans and Unruhs and Knorrs and Longshores. Let me show you something."
I pulled at his hand, and he followed me off the walkway. We went squishing over the damp, uneven ground. Brian stumbled under the weight of my bookbag, and he grabbed a marker to stop himself from tripping. The stone was more than 250 years old, grainy with age and green with moss, and the lettering had long since eroded to a blur. We couldn't read it in the lamplight, but I knew what it said, and I recited it:
Born November 19th 1751
Passed from this world
October 31st, 1769
in the eighteenth year of her age
"And who was she?" Brian asked.
"A friend of mine."
"I always thought it was sad she died so young. I used to sit out here when I was little and talk to her. I still bring her flowers."
"That's weird," he said.
"It is not weird!"
"No, I mean somebody's been digging around here."
He was right. The soil in front of the stone was dark and loose, like coffee grounds. There was a black depression in the center of the grave, and a scattering of fresh dirt lay to one side. We stood there a moment, gazing at the headstone, and then suddenly, it seemed, we were both thinking the same thing. Brian dropped my bag and turned me toward him.
"I think it's very sweet you come out and see Constance," he said.
We kissed in the chilly fog. Brian was a full head taller than I. He had to bend to reach my lips. If anything — or anyone — was behind him, I never would have seen it. He pulled my skirt up and put his hand on my ass. It was the weirdest place for it, I know, but suddenly I liked being felt up out in the open. I could feel myself getting creamy, which I hadn't done when we were alone together in bed. Brian held my butt through my panties. I kissed him harder.
His hand came around front, tracing the line of the leg-hole, and he gave the elastic a tug.
"Yeah," I murmured. "Do it."
His finger went up inside, worming between my cunt lips. I welcomed his touch with a soft hum and a gush of pussy juice.
He was getting hard, so at first, I thought his grunt just meant he was excited. His arm fell from my back. His finger popped out of my hole. The kiss broke, and he slid down my body, sinking to his knees. His fist closed around the crotch of my panties, and he dragged them off my butt. I gave him a dirty, encouraging grin — I thought he was going to go down on me right there — but I stopped when I saw his face twisted in pain.
All he could say was "gaaaaa" — a fluttery sound like air leaking from the toy balloon. Black blood bubbled in his mouth. A thread of it trickled from the corner of his lips. He grabbed my sweater, trying to break his fall, but something much stronger than he was kept pushing him down.
And as his head sank, another rose behind it. It was brown and orange, creased and shriveled like a rotten pumpkin and topped with filthy black hair. Its lips were rags, and its nose was a triangular hole split by the jagged septum. One eye was blank, glittering with white slime. The other was an empty socket plugged with dirt.
I just knew.
"Constance," I said.
And the rotten pumpkin opened its ragged mouth.
"You, " it said.
It was not a human voice. It was the far-away wail of the wind.
Brian knelt between us, his head bowed, and I saw the misshapen little thing had buried her fingers in the base of his neck. Had she closed her fist, she could have torn out his spine. But she let go, and he fell over, clutching his bleeding wounds. I saw all of her now. She was hardly five feet tall, and she was shrouded in a gown that had once been white but was now gray and tattered after two centuries under the ground.
She raised her hand. The nails were like daggers, as though they had been growing all through her long sleep, and they were black with Brian's blood.
She reached out to me, and her dripping nails scratched my cheek. Instinctively, I backed away, but my panties were caught around my ankles. Brian was still holding on to them. I fell on my bare ass, kicking and squirming.
"Brian, let go! For God's sake let me go!"
Pumpkin-head stepped over his body. A beaded white slipper flashed beneath the gown. She planted her dainty feet on either side of my legs, and, bending toward me, attempted what looked for all the world like a smile. The cracked corners of her mouth curled back, exposing a pair of broken gray stumps.
"You, " she repeated.
I kicked again, and miraculously, one foot popped out of my panties. I flipped over and clawed the ground. My knees pumped, desperately seeking traction. Somehow, my other foot got loose, and I jerked ahead, leaving Brian in a fetal position with my panties in his fist. I clambered over the headstone as the dead girl's claws closed on my skirt. The whole back ripped away, but I was free.
I ran bare-assed with the front of my dress flapping around my knees, and at once I was lost in the fog. The globe lamps gave me no direction, and the endlessly calling voices seemed to come from everywhere. But the churchyard was small, and no matter which way I ran, I knew I would come to the wall, or the church, and then I could find my way out. I would run home and call the police, and an ambulance for Brian. But to be of any use to him, I had to get away. No matter how badly he was bleeding, I couldn't help him if I stayed with him and let whatever that thing was rip off my clothes.
So I ran.
For the longest time, it seemed, I went nowhere. I pushed my self forward, gasping, but it seemed I hardly moved, like in one of those dreams where you're being chased, and you feel like you're running underwater. I banged my shins against the gravestones. I stumbled into fresh-smelling holes. Someone had been digging up the graves, and not just Constance Whittaker's. Covered with dirt, my butt exposed to the cold air, I saw my goal at last — the rusty gate that always stood open. How lucky I was! It was the same gate I used when I came to visit Constance, the one that led to my house, and here it was, offering me a clear and safe way home. I dashed for it, but just as I got there, a figure stepped in front of me, barring my path.
This wasn't the pumpkin-head in gray. This was something else — something in a high-collared black dress, with gray hair pulled into a bun. Half its face was gone, but it still had both its eyes. I stopped a foot in front of it, breathless.